Solution For A Small Leak
Some roof leaks are tough to locate. Sometimes the water shows up at a ceiling spot distant from the leak. If your ceiling has a plastic vapor barrier between the drywall and the attic insulation, push the insulation aside and look for flow stains on the plastic. Often water runs to openings in the vapor barrier, such as at ceiling light fixtures.
If you canât see any telltale flow marks, and since the stain is fairly small, look at the underside of the roof for âshiners.â A shiner is a nail that missed the framing member, in this case when the carpenter nailed the roof sheathing to the rafters. Moisture that escapes into the cold attic from the rooms below often condenses on cold nails. Sometimes you can spot this if you climb up into your attic on a cold night. The nails will look white because theyâre frosted. When the attic heats up a bit during the day, the frost melts and drips, then the nails frost up at night again and so on. The solution is to simply clip the nail with a side-cutting pliers.
Bitumen Flat Roof Repairs
Bitumen based flat roofs come in two different flavours:
- old fashioned pour and roll
- a more modern torchon system
The two photos below explain the difference:
Flat roof installation
Pour and roll felting to flat roof
Both types of felt will last between 15-25 years and there are some situations when they can be repaired:
How To Deal With Flat Roof Leaks
Flat roofs are a common sight right across the country, often found atop garages in residential areas, or large commercial and industrial structures. Choosing a flat roof has many benefits, especially if youre looking to save time and money both during construction and maintenance. However, one issue that often plagues flat roofs is the dreaded roof leak. Flat roof leaks can happen for a multitude of reasons, that may not be immediately obvious. If your flat roof is leaking, youll need to carry out a thorough inspection to identify the root of the problem and get it fixed. Failing to do so quickly could lead to all sorts of issues, including flooding, rotting timbers, condensation, mould, and more.
Identifying A Flat Roof Leak
The first sign of a leaking roof for many is the damage it causes. You may not be aware of an issue until you start to see water marks on your walls or ceilings. When a roof is leaking, the water will look for a pathway. It could be that it finds its way down through the ceiling or via the walls. You may not even notice for a while. We dont spend our time walking around and looking up at the ceiling. It is usually by chance that we spot something. It could go unnoticed for some time. In fact, if it is in a hidden spot, behind a wardrobe for example, it could be a long time before the leak becomes apparent perhaps because of the smell of damp.
When you do spot a leak, depending on how long it has been there, it can present as a yellowing patch or it could be much further along and be black and mouldy. Leaks that are left untreated can also cause wood to rot and perhaps even structural damage depending on the size of the leak and where it is.
Flat Roof Leaking Causes
There are a number of reasons why your roof may spring a leak or other roof damage may occur.
Natural disasters like hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, electrical storms, floods, wind damage storms, and related severe weather often damage commercial roofing.
If you experience one of these natural disasters, inspecting your roof and assessing any damage is something that you should prioritize during the aftermath, even if you do not notice any leaks right away.
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Keep The Epdm Roof Smooth And Wrinkle Free During Installation
Notice how nice and smooth the installer has made the new EPDM? No wrinkles in this fully-adhered rubber roof repair. Some roof studies we cite below note that installation of EPDM membranes that were not fully cured or that were at a very different temperature from the roof can contribute to EPDM roof failures.
At the right side of this photo you can see the second segment of rubber roofing half-bonded in place and with end seam overlap primed and ready to adhere as well. We used bricks to hold back the to-be-overlapped width of original roofing during this application so that all final seams would be lapped and glued in the proper direction.
Above Ron is bonding the lap-over length of original roofing onto the upper edge of the new EPDM that has been run along the roof edge. That extension cord visible in the left photo was powering the leaf blower used to keep debris off of the to-be-glued surfaces.
How To Tell You Need Flat Roof Repair
Flat commercial roofs have a finite lifespan. Over the years, the hot Las Vegas sun can break down roofing material that protects your buildings roof from leaks. Below are some ways to tell you need flat roof repair:
- Repeated, extensive water pooling on the roof
- Large tears, cracks, or rips in the roof or seams
- Blistering and bubbling from adhesion failure
- The presence of moisture and leaks inside the building
- The pulling away of flashing from the corners of the roof
- The presence of lichen, mold, moss, and\or algae
- Damaged top coat
Some commercial roofs are made of materials that hide problems. It is best to call professional roofing contractors to address these unseen problems.
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Make A Temporary Leak Patch
Once youve found the leak you can make a temporary leak patch from some plywood or shingle and some roofing tar. Use a putty knife to spread the tar into the leaking hole on the inside of your roof. Place the shingle or plywood onto the tar and spread more of the tar around the edges of your patch.
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Sneaky Leaks On Flat Roofs
Flat roofs all share a common problem: sneaky leaks. Unlike a sloped roof, where leaks are relatively easy to spot, leaks on flat roofs behave differently. Should water penetrate the membrane, it can travel a long way before causing visible damage. Thats sneaky. Thats also why tracking down a flat roof leak is particularly difficult.
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How To Repair An Asphalt Roof
With asphalt roofs, you should look for cracks and blisters. For a quick leaky flat roof repair solution, you can use self-adhesive heat-applied bitumen flashing tape once youre done cleaning and drying.
If there are several cracks and/or blisters in the same area, its a good idea to go for one of the more permanent flat roof repair options. We recommend fitting torched-on roofing felt, just as you would on a felt or concrete roof. Torched-on asphalt is also a possibility.
Naturally, here too you or whoevers doing the torching-on would have to be insured to work with naked flames.
Reasons Why Your Flat Roof Is Leaking
Flat roofs face a different set of challenges than sloped roofs. And while there are significant advantages to flat roofs on commercial buildingslower cost, easier access, more efficient use of spacethey are no less vulnerable to leaks.
If you suspect a leak in your commercial flat roof, your first step should always be to contact a commercial roofing professional who can inspect your roof and determine the source of the problem. It also helps if you understand the reasons why flat roofs leak and how you can prevent it.
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Can I Claim On House Insurance For A Leaking Flat Roof
Claiming on your home insurance for a roof leak is a tricky matter. Often, if the leak was not caused by an unexpected event such as a heavy storm or a falling tree, this damage would fall under general wear and tear and youd have to pay for any repairs yourself. Your insurer will look for obvious signs of external damage that may have caused the roof leak, such as damage to your roofing membrane. If no such damage exists, you are likely out of luck.
Best Sealants For Roof Leaks Of 2021
Sealants cover roof leaks and protect the remaining area from water and sunlight damage. To learn more about preserving your roof, read our review on the best roof sealants.
Roof sealants not only cover roof leaks, but they also provide a protective layer to prevent water and sunlight penetration. These sealants come in many forms, including liquid in a paint can, liquid in a spray can, liquid in a caulk gun, and adhesive tape. Theyre also made of a variety of materials, including rubber and polyurethane. To learn more about which type is best for your application, read our review on the best sealants for roof leaks.
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Dips And Bowing Felted Roofs
If the felt is showing signs of bowing downwards between the timber supports then in our opinion, repairs are a waste of time and money.
As the roof continues to dip/bow, any repairs will tear apart and the leaks will resume.
Because you have roof timbers, decking and potentially ceiling boards and plaster under the roof, its just not worth trying to save money by repairing a roof that is in this state. By missing an opportunity to replace the roof, you could end up with significant and costly damage to the timbers or plaster should the roof suffer a major leak.
A better solution would be to remove the felt layer, inspect the decking underneath and replace any boards as required before laying a new felt roof.
Flat roof bowing and bending
Types Of Roof Sealants Which Is Best For My Need
This is arguably one of the more durable choices in the world of roof sealants, which is perhaps why its also a popular selection among roof owners. It has a tough structure, which makes it especially good in offering protection against small debris and falling branches as well as keeping it free from damage against the elements. Because of this, it is considered to be more efficient in the long run than acrylic kind of coating. Its important to note that Urethane will tend to take up more application time and cost because it requires you to put at least two coats for it to work effectively. They are also more pungent during application.
Acrylic coatings are good solutions when it comes to quickly stopping gaps. They are also among the cheaper roof sealants out there. These coatings are ideal for already damaged roofs because they help prevent further damage while still reflecting sunlight. So if you happen to have any leaks on your roof, this type of coating would be the best in keeping out the water. The only downside is they take a lot of effort and time to apply and generally dont last as long as others.
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Flat Roof Vs Sloped Roof
The differences between sloped and flat roofs necessitate a different approach to finding leaks because the water flows uniquely with each roof. Sloped roofs have the advantage that the water will run downward, and you can easily follow the water trail back to where the leak is. With a flat roof, the water will flow less predictably, and it can go in any direction, so locating the leak is less of an exact science. Thus, it may take some special attention. As you look for leaks, you should always remember that the leak wont necessarily flow where you think it should go, so youll have to be patient as you try to locate it.
When dealing with a flat roof, finding a leak is often a challenge. Flat roofs tend to develop leaks more easily because the water sits on the roof longer than it does on a pitched roof, which means the water can more easily go in places that it shouldnt. This problem is especially profound in poorly installed flat roofs. However, flat roofs can last for many years when they are installed well and maintained by owners, which is why its so vital that you know how to take care of your roof and address any leaks that there are before they get worse. Finding a leak can be stressful, but with some simple steps, you can do it without too much worry.
Causes Of Flat Roof Leakages
A flat roof leak may come as a shock to you. Your investment may go up in smoke if you do not take the necessary precautions into account. Therefore, if you have a roof over your head that can save you from stormy and rainy nights, then you should try as much as possible to make it free from leakages.
Leakages are a big deal with a flat roof. Your flat roof will be prompt in showing a leakage as the water gets quickly into the breakage. Before you try to repair your flat roof, you must check on the cause of roof leakage. That way, you can understand the problem before resolving it.
Some key factors which affect the flat roof leakage are:
- The severity of environmental factors such as wind, snow, rain and pressure. These factors can combine to cause cracks and breakage in the roof.
- Water collection which leads to standing water. Over time, this weakens the roof surface and makes it less durable.
- Outdated roof installation and insulation techniques can cause lesser longevity. In this condition, extreme weather conditions and temperatures can make your roof tear.
You can always fix the problem, but that will cause another maintenance charge to your budget.
If the condition is too severe, some replacement options are:
- Metal roof installation
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What Color Of The Sealant Should I Choose
Sealants come in different colors. The most common are clear and white. You can choose as per whichever suits your preference and blends well with your particular roof situation. Also noteworthy is that bright colors tend to reflect more sunlight, which is a good thing because they help prevent degradation from the suns heat. However, much as white sealants are bright in nature, they are prone to getting dirt more often.
Flat Roofing Problem: The Flashing Is Coming Loose
Flashing is an essential part of any roof installation, metal or otherwise.
When you install a new roof, there are going to be gaps where different sheets of metal connect, or where your roof meets your wall.
Thats where flashing comes in. Flashing covers these gaps, preventing water from leaking into your roof and causing significant water damage. Just look for the corners or junctions on your roof for an example of flashing in action.
With a flat roof however, water sticks around for longer, which can result in mould growth underneath the flashing of your flat metal roof.
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Flat Roof Repair Costs
The current average cost of flat roof repair is $600, with an average range of $250-$1,000. The costs will vary depending on the cause of the damage, the size and condition of the roof, the type of roofing material, and the extent of repairs. The cheapest repairs are around $50 for a small area with minor damage. Extensive damage over a large area of the roof can cost upwards of $5,000. Most professional roofing repair companies charge $3-$10 per square foot. Fiberglass roofs are the cheapest to repair while metal roofs are the most expensive.
It is important to know that if you have an emergency roof leak, expect to pay more for repairs. Many companies charge an extra $100-$200 for emergency repairs. Additionally, some flat roof repair companies have a minimum charge for emergencies.
How Do You Fix A Flat Roof That Leaks
Now that youve located the source of the leak, you need to assess the extent of the damage. As youll see in a minute, smaller, individual blisters, cracks and the like are relatively straightforward to fix.
But if you find several sources of leaks on a roof thats getting on a bit, its a good idea to call the flat roof professionals. Theyll do a thorough examination and advise you whether to replace the whole roof.
Hopefully, it wont come to that, so long as youve maintained your roof. In this, case you need to know the type of material the roof is made from in order to determine the appropriate flat roof repair material.
The most common types in the UK are:
Lets take a closer look at each one.
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Do Flat Roofs Always Leak
The first thing you should know is that a flat roof is not genuinely flat. Every roof has to have some slope to it so that it can shed water. On a pitched roof, like on your home, the rain runs off it as it comes dow. It then goes through the gutter system and on to the ground. A flat roof will have drains installed, and the rain runs from the slight slope to the drain and then on to the ground.
A flat roof will develop a leak when the drains are clogged because it has nowhere to go. It will pond on the roof, and if it isnt dried up promptly, it sits and soaks through the membrane. This is a situation where workmanship can be blamed for a flat roof leak.
Poor construction and workmanship are too often the culprits for a flat roof leak. During the construction phase and reroof phase, money is typically on a tight budget, understandable. The contractor, during the construction phase, is concerned with being under budget and under time. Once the building is occupied, it becomes the responsibility of the owner to have regular maintenance to check for a possible flat roof leak and other issues.
Because ownership of a commercial structure has a budget, he may instruct the maintenance team to do the minimal work necessary to patch the roof. If they deem a seam coming loose or an area with ponding water isnt a concern, that can allow water to get under the membrane, and the flat roof leak will happen.