Most anyone notices flat roofs as they are a common sight with commercial and industrial buildings found in commercialized areas of a community. You also see them in homes, apartments and motels. They seem like a self-sufficient type of roof that is both energy efficient and streamlined in appearance and can remain in good condition with the right upkeep and maintenance, but like any other roof out there they have their problems. What are the issues that go along with a flat roof? Here is a rundown of some of those common problems.
Water that is left to pool or stand on a flat roof can cause problems as the accumulation of water or ice dam effects can lead to leaks throughout a building or house. Also, the opportunity is there for algae and moss growth and other cumulative damage to happen. With an aging, shifting and settling flat roof, the roof will not be completely level. This will cause indentations or dips in a roof where water, snow or ice can seep into underlying layers and do exterior damage to a roof.
Even though there is a slight slope to a flat roof there is still a good chance that debris will accumulate on it because there is not enough lift for wind to remove tree branches, twigs, leaves, feathers, grass, pods and even paper and wrapper debris. When debris is allowed to remain on a flat roof, it will inhibit drainage. Also, if plant or dried debris is not cleared away, it can retain moisture and eventually freeze, unfreeze and freeze again throughout the ups and down in weather patterns. This will cause damage to the underlying materials on a flat roof
Cracking and Bubbling
Cracking or bubbling referred to as alligatoring in roofing terms means that a flat roof is experiencing issues on its surface that resemble the skin of an alligator. The materials used to put your flat roof together, usually asphalt, are no longer as elastic as they used to be and this causes the cracks and bubbles to appear. Sun exposure over time is usually what causes it and if it’s left like this with more and more cracks and bubbles developing, leaks can occur within a home which may destroy the entire roofing system.
A flat roof is more likely to experience pressure since there is no slant to it for alleviation of that pressure. If pressure builds and becomes excessive, the roof membrane of a flat roof can crack and expose areas underneath to moisture. A major crack can also be attributed to a roof that is structurally unsound, which may mean a full replacement.
Most conventional roofs can tolerate the elements and lose a shingle or two without severe consequence; however, flat roofs are usually comprised of a sheet of material that a little bit of wind followed by gusts of wind can damage in a brief period of time. When the material is lifted away from the roof, the entire roof is in jeopardy and requires replacement.
As a house ages and settles, the roofing membrane of a flat roof goes through the same process. With the membrane being one unbroken sheet, any shifting can cause buckling of the membrane. Significant movement can cause buckles in an asphalt membrane and can be the last straw with the life of a flat roof. Also, improper installation can cause buckling and lead to further problems. A bad installation may result in full roof replacement.
Anything can cause leaks from standing water, buckling and natural elements like the sun and wind, but leaks can develop from other causes besides these. A bad installation, low quality materials or aging in general can also cause leaks and moisture accumulation with flat roofs.
Obviously, a flat roof will be disposed to leaking and moisture retention compared to a sloped roof. With a flat roof being more aligned with the ground, there will be an inclination towards the roof collecting rain, runoff and residual moisture. With water and moisture having nowhere to go but straight down, any of it can find its way into the roof and cause damage to underlying materials and cause mold and fungus growth. The best way to deal with these types of leaks is to consider inspections, to determine weak areas on a flat roof and repair them before more leaks occur.
Flashing on a flat roof can be affected by the expansion and contraction that occurs with changing temperatures. When this happens over time, the flashing on a roof will separate or pull away from the edging and corners of a flat roof, so moisture will probably get caught within the roof. Both the roof and flashing can deteriorate and you may wind up having to replace both.
Compared to other roofs, a flat roof lasts between 15 and 30 years, so there are limits on its lifetime. Asphalt, cedar and metal roofs last considerably longer. Any time you are unsure of the age of a flat roof, there could be reason to believe replacement is not that far around the corner.
Common flat roofing problems can be a concern, particularly when it comes to weighing the benefits of a flat roof versus a sloped one. Though flat roofs may not last as long as a conventional ones, they have advantages in their lower cost, relatively easy installation, durability, water resistance and uncomplicated cleaning, maintenance and upkeep. You can extend the life of a flat roof with extra attentiveness and adherence to a maintenance schedule. You want to know the problems that come with a flat roof, especially if you are considering installing one. If you have further questions about flat roofs, complete the online contact form and a roofing expert will get back to you with the answers you need to make an informed decision.