How to Handle a Leaky Flat Roof Problem
If you find yourself with water stains in your attic space, and in need of an emergency flat roofer, act quickly, but it is also best to consider the problem and all your options to rectify the problem. The first thing you need to know is most roofing companies install shingle roofs all day and you need a roofing company that specializes in flat roofing. Big difference. Flat roofing is highly specialized and you need to locate someone who knows what they are doing. Every roofing project looks and perform great day one, but will it leak in 5 years?
A big question is repair vs replacement. Is a flat roof worth repairing? Or would replacing it be a better long-term investment? The age of the flat roof is the key determining factor in whether a flat roof should be repaired or replaced. Flat roofs in the right situation can last approximately 20 years, but after 15 years, repair costs can mushroom. Throwing good money at bad money into an aging roof will be like putting a new transmission into a 10 year old car. Hence it may be time to get a new flat roof depending.
Flat Roofs Leaks Can be Difficult to Find and Not Worth Repairing?
Let’s hope if your flat roof is leaking, that it can repaired. Repairing a roof is always less expensive than replacement. When it comes to a roof that is flat, sometimes the most difficult part of repairing the roof is actually locating the source of the water penetration. Because flat roofs have a low slope, water can travel a long distance under the membrane before finally dripping down into you attic space. The leak can often be 20 – 50 feet away from the stains inside your property. Roofing contractors who specialize in roofs that are flat charge an hourly rate to find the leak. Once the problem is found, an estimate for repairs and replacement will be provided. In some cases you can spend hundreds of dollars just to get an estimate for a repair that is not worth doing.
Top 4 Reasons Why Flat Roofs Leak
- Roofing Penetrations – including chimneys, vents, air conditioning units are the most common leaky areas. If you a roof that is less than 15 years old, re-sealing or flashing around the penetrations may cure the leaks
- Damaged Membrane – If the flat roof on your home is made of a single-ply membrane, it is vulnerable to damage that is caused by either heavy foot traffic, standing water, weather and age related wear and tear. A damaged membrane will allow water to enter through the insulation, causing a more serious leak.
- Ponding Water – When water starts to pool on your flat roofing system, it can be caused by one of two things. Either over time the roof has settled in a way where the membrane has sunk-in. No roof is totally waterproof like a bathtub. If water stands on the roof long enough it will seep into the structure. If debris is blocking the gutters, downspouts and drains, water will back up on the roof and enter the structure as well. Whatever the case may be, you will need to contact a flat roofing specialist ASAP. Sometimes repairing a roof may be as easy as cleaning your drains.
- Structure of The Roof – If the framing in a flat roof system is not properly installed. Or if the foundation walls have settled in an unfavorable way, there can be roof grade and drainage issues. Roof grading problems will require hiring an engineer and are very complicated and expensive to fix. If a roof has grading issues neither roof repair or replacement will correct the problem. A roof that does not drain properly will always leak.
When you’re experiencing flat roof leaks, it’s not pleasant news. Especially when finding the source of the leak is more difficult then the repair itself. You will want to contact a flat roofing specialist immediately to prevent further water and moisture damage. Ignoring a leak could cause rotting in the frame of your home and black mold growth.
How To Find a Qualified Flat Roofing Specialist
When trying to find a qualified roofer for a job, be sure to do your homework. There are 10 different kinds of flat roofs commonly found on homes in the DC Metro Area. The most popular installation in 2021 is TPO flat roofing. But repairing an existing flat roof requires that the roofer can recognize the material on top of your roof and they know how to successfully repair it. The average exterior contractor will take on the job of repairing or replacing any flat roof because they want to get paid and don’t care what the outcome is. With the most popular roof installation in the DC Metro Area being asphalt shingles, majority of roofing companies are not experienced far beyond that. Premier Roofing Solutions has different crews specialized for all roofing systems. Our slate roof replacement and repair team will never touch a flat roofing system. And vice versa. Installing a quality and efficient flat roofing system is not going to be cheap. So if you’re window shopping and looking for the cheapest price, you’ll end up hiring an inexperienced general contractor or shingle company. Which they will have a great sales pitch and the finished job will look great to the untrained eye. But 5 years down the road you will start to experience issues.
Your flat roof will leak because of a variety of factors including age, roof drainage failure or punctures in the membrane. Areas on your roof can deteriorate over time with age and severe weather conditions. For instance, if you live in an area that generates heavy snowfall during the winter season. It will create unwanted weight and stress within the seams on your roofing systems. Which will potentially split apart, allowing water to make its way into your home or commercial building. In most cases leaks in flat roofs will start around vents, penetrations, and along the edges of your roof.
Flat Roof Repair vs Replacement
When you wake up to water leaking into your home after a storm came through the night before, the immediate hope is that it can be easily repaired by a flat roof specialist. Usually that is the case. The most difficult aspect with flat roofs leaks is not the repair, but rather finding where that leak is originating from. On flat roofing systems water can enter through the membrane in one area, then travel throughout the frame of your home and show up on the complete other side. It takes some time to find the source of the leak. Tears or punctures in the roofing membrane can either be big enough to immediately notice, or it could be the smallest hole to where every square inch of the roof needs to be inspected.
The course of action you take with your flat roof pivots directly with why it’s leaking. If your flat roofing is less than 15 years old and is leaking because of a puncture in the membrane. Then a flat roof repair is all your home needs. Now, if a flat roof is over 15 years old and water is leaking throughout the home or building. An immediate repair is necessary but you will want to get ready to replace it. The worse thing homeowners can do is continuously pay for repairs. And once your stuck in that loop, it will be more stressful to replace it because you have spent thousands in repairs.