Leaky Flat Roof? Below are the options for flat roof repair and replacement.
Flat roofs leak. Even new flat roofs can leak because they are custom installed and expansion and contraction or improper installation can cause leaks. Storms, ice dams, the suns rays, aging low slope membranes, plugged drains, flashing problems and more can cause roof leaks.
What to do if your flat roof is leaking?
The first thing to do is to assess whether it is an emergency roof repair or if the repair can wait until the next business day (if it happens on the weekend or at night). If there is a concern with patron or pedestrian safety or the roof may collapse due to weight loads from water or snow loads then it is best to call our emergency roof repair dispatch that is available 24 hours a day.
While you are waiting for our crew to arrive to inspect and repair the leak be sure to catch any water you can coming in the ceiling with buckets and mop up the area to protect public safety (if commercial building). If the roof could collapse you may have to have people evacuate. If you attend to the roof be safe and always be careful with using ladders.
How Our Roofers Will Help With Your Roof Leak?
The first step is to inspect the flat roof. Our flat roofing expert will attend to your roof to assess the roof and provide you a verbal and/or written report and options for repair, replacement and pricing options.
When your roof has been inspected and you have the report with costs for repair or replacement you can then make decisions. Sometimes this needs to be done immediately so our roofer will provide you with verbal inspection results and pricing and you may want to authorize the repairs at that moment.
Flat Roof Problem Areas – What to Inspect When Experiencing a Roof Leak?
When inspecting a flat roof check the sealants to be sure they are not dried out and cracked. Be sure roof drains are clear and allowing water to flow down (or scuppers and downspouts). Sometimes leaves or snow and ice can plug roof drains. Check all mechanical units such as air conditioner curbs and any roof tie-ins and parapet walls flashing.
A common place for problems on a flat roof are at rooftop unit curbs and flashing. Also check membrane for holes, punctures, blistering, splitting, ridging and any other irregularities.
Typical Flat Roof Repair Costs and Options
Most flat roof repairs are fast and relatively inexpensive, unless you have allowed the roof to deteriorate over the years without proper annual maintenance.
Most repairs a simple repairs to blisters on tar and gravel, torch on patches on SBS modified bitumen roofing, quick rubber patches on EPDM and for TPO and PVC roofing the repair is usually a quick heat weld to seams or rooftop penetrations.
Metal roofs can usually be repaired and maintenance with roof coatings and spot repair to the fasteners, seams and rooftop vents.
Materials Available for Flat Roofing
Modern membranes include many options not available when most flat roofs in USA and Canada were originally installed. Over recent decades there are many options beyond traditional built-up tar and gravel.
Complete article dedicated to flat roof membranes.
When we prepare pricing for flat roof repairs and replacement we include all options. Some are as follows:
Tar and Gravel Roofing (Built-Up)
Tar and gravel is the standard flat roof (old school style) you may have seen. There are pebbles (pea gravel) on top to protect the layers of mopped on bitumen from the suns UV rays. If the rocks are larger then it is not likely a standard tar and gravel built up roof (BUR) – it is most often a ballasted EPDM or inverted roof system.
Torch-On Roofing (SBS Modified Bitumen)
SBS modified can also be applied as a cold application or mopped on. Typically SBS Modified is torched on however.
This product choice is newer than tar and gravel systems and comes in rolls that are usually torched on. The granules are on top and many customers refer to it as the shingle looking roll style when they call me for service.
Next came the single ply roof membranes. Standard are EPDM, TPO and PVC.
EPDM is a rubber roll usually 10 x 100 (but comes in many sizes) that is applied by way of glue, mechanically fastened or with rock ballast (a rock similar to river rock). The picture to the right is a fully adhered EPDM membrane in Edmonton, AB on a commercial property.
TPO and PVC
TPO (thermal plastic olefin) is another type of single ply membrane and is usually white in color. The rolls are welded together with a heat welder vs. using adhesive as with EPDM (above).
PVC (poly vinyl chloride) is similar to TPO and the seams are welded in the same fashion as TPO. The chloride in the PVC caused some issue with the market when it was released so TPO was brought to market shortly after.
Roof Coatings – Fluid Applied
Another category of products are the liquid applied products such as liquid rubber (which is a cold application coating), Spray Foam (SPF) and there are also hot applied rubberized asphalt coatings.
Liquid rubber / elastomeric roof coatings are typically used to coat metal roof systems. Liquid rubber is available in various colors. Best to stay with a darker coating but lighter coatings such as white and reflective are also available.
And finally spray foam (SPF) is available which is a spray foam that is applied over top of the roof and a coating (usually polyurea but also silicone and liquid rubber are used) is sprayed on top of the spray foam.
The biggest challenge with spray foam roofing is that spray foam expands and contracts and the top coating can peel if not the right top coat or if done improperly. Be sure you have a good contractor if you choose spray foam – it has to be right or there can be big problems.
Our inspection report and pricing options will detail the pros and cons of each product and provide pricing for each membrane type. Our quotations also provide pricing details for replacement of insulation, metal flashing for parapets and deck (substrate) sheathing if required.
Eco-roofing is a green roof (low slope / flat roof) that supports vegetation or is a cool roof (reflective white roof) that reflects the sun’s thermal energy away from the building.
A green roof (eco friendly) is one that has growing vegetation over a significant proportion of the area of the roof. Water and energy conservation is the goal with a green roof. The low slope assembly is made up of a waterproofing membrane (such as above – EPDM, TPO, or PVC), a drainage layer, an organic growing medium (soil) and vegetation.
A cool or white roof is one that reflects solar and thermal emissivity and reduces heat build – up in the building. A white reflective roof (or cool roof) is applied as a coating over an existing system such as a low slope metal roof or over an existing or new waterproofing membrane (listed above) on a flat roof.
Balcony Waterproofing Membranes / Rooftop Decks / Patios
If you have a balcony membrane that is leaking (also used on rooftop decks or patios) our journeyman install material such as deck areas.
If your deck or patio is above a living area (including a garage) then you need a waterproofing membrane material such as PVC product that is suitable as both a flat roof and a patio membrane. It is very important to choose a material that is suitable for both uses.
If your flat roof needs repair or replacement my best suggestion is to be sure that you are provided with ALL options for replacement material and methods. Ask for a complete and detailed report and pricing explaining the pros and cons of each material type and method.