Repairing flat roofs can be a lot more challenging than repairing slant or pitched roofs. You can avoid bulk of repairs if you take some precautionary steps. Regularly inspect your flat roof for cracks, flashing and other types of damage.
How Flat Roofs are Built
The basic material used for constructing flat roofs is asphalt. A series of asphalt roll roofing strips or asphalt building paper is initially mopped with hot asphalt liquid. A layer of pulverized stone or preferably gravel is uniformly strewn on the hot asphalt to create the abrasive surface.
Flat roofs are usually constructed by building professionals as the required equipment is very expensive.
Inspection of Flat Roofs
The National Roofing Contractors Association / Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (NRCA/ARMA) is of the view that the major cause for flat roof problems is lack of preventive maintenance by the owners of flat roofs. Bulk of the defects and gradual deterioration of flat roofs can be avoided if you carry out a simple inspection at least once a month. You should organize inspections by qualified building staff at least twice a year.
During these routine inspections, look for ruptures, blisters or bubbles in the roofing. The other likely trouble areas include flashing and roofing giving way from near chimneys or around vents, and other roof projections such as skylights. Areas around roof drains where water enters the gutters and other drainage points are most susceptible to flat roof deterioration. You should pay special attention to areas where the roofing is without gravel and nakedly exposed. The ideal time for you to undertake a flat roof inspection or carrying out repairs should be a cool but dry day when there is no dampness on the roof.
Carrying Out Roof Repairs
After completing the inspection, you should note down the defects and the areas of repairs and then determine the tools and materials you will require to carry out the repairs. Also make sure the day for repair is less humid or moisture is less. It is advisable you carry out all the repairs at the same time to avoid repeated ladder climbing or walking across the gravelly roof surface. Make it a point to wear thick rubber-soled shoes, to protect your feet.
You should promptly repair all punctures, peeled off bituminous coatings, open seams and failed flashings lest serious leakages can occur. Leaks can also take place if there are damages to the roof membrane or flashing. You should understand that roof leakages can seriously damage the building and wet insulation boards can be truly dangerous. You must ensure that all major flat roof repairs are done only by roofing professionals and preferably before the monsoon sets in.
The manual of NRCA/ARMA says the roof replacement becomes necessary when the roof has exceeded its expected lifespan. When you notice large-scale deterioration of roof surface, damp insulation, numerous leaks of a serious nature, rupture in the roof membrane - then you should prefer roof replacement instead of roof repairs.