Flat Roof Maintenance Tips
Flat roofs last approximately between 10 to 20 years before they need to be replaced. How do you get your flat roof to last till 20 years – it’s quite simple – you just need to regularly maintain it. Your flat roof can have a much longer life span, provided you look after it through regular maintenance (removing debris, fixing leaks and ponding, etc). Maintaining a roof will involve some costs,but it will save you a lot of money in the long run, as it will last longer -pushing a roof replacement further away
Look for Debris
Some debris can be found on a roof usually after a storm. Debris can scratch, puncture or cause serious damage to your roof so it needs to be removed immediately. You should inspect for any visible damage when removing debris
Repairing Seams & Membranes
Seams are where 2 pieces of roofing material are adjoined. Both seams and membranes can be vulnerable to leaks, specifically in places on the roof that have accessories built into it such as air vents, skylights and air conditioner units
Replacing the Flashings
Flashings are installed into areas of the roof where where two opposing surfaces meet such as parapet walls. These areas require the extra protection that flashing provides.They help prevent water from leaking through the vulnerable areas. Over time, flashings can become loose or deteriorated from excess exposure to moisture and will need to be replaced.
Clogging may occur in drains, vents and scuppers,especially after storms. Scuppers allow water to run off the roof, directing water to flow from the side of the roof down into a drainage system. All drains, scuppers or gutters need to be kept clear
How to Design a Flat Roof That Won’t Leak
The archetypal flat roof, even today, is largely associated with the mid-century modern aesthetic. From the outset, a building is deemed elementally minimalist based on its elongated form and perfectly linear roof. Architects are still attracted to the elegance that flat roofs bring to a piece of architecture, and for good reason. Set a mini McMansion-like suburban home and its steeply pitched roof against a low-lying, glass-clad modernist masterpiece and most design enthusiasts — architects and non-architects alike — would agree that the latter is a purer architectural form.
This said, even with contemporary technology, flat roofs aren’t easy to design with success. If the fundamental job of a roof is to cover a space and prevent water from seeping inside, then the simplest and most elemental roofing design would be heavily slanted. That’s why flat roofs — which are actually slightly pitched — must be detailed and constructed with the utmost precision. Here’s how to do it
Cold or Warm?
First, you have to determine how shallow a slope you can get away with. Flat roofs are typically designed with a pitch of 10 degrees or less. According to the International Code Council, the minimum slope for water runoff is ¼ inch per 12 inches. Some local codes take it a step further allowing a slope of only ⅛ of an inch per foot. When detailing construction documents, it’s imperative that architects specify the exact pitch of their roof design.
Second, you must be aware of the two classifications for flat roof constructions: cold and warm. These types are based on the positioning of the thermal insulation. To keep the interior dry and unaffected by the elements, the warm deck roof method is usually recommended over the cold.
To put together a warm deck roof, it’s important that the insulation be positioned above the structural deck — the layers that make up the ceiling. Zero ventilation space is required, and the construction appears stacked and compact. Above the insulation, a bitumen felt underlayment is torched on to shed water and protect the materials below. This is known as a warm-deck sandwich roof. An inverted warm deck roof can also be installed in which the insulation boards are set on top of the structural deck and waterproof membrane.
Maintenance guide to avoid flat roof repair
A flat roof is classified as any roof that has a pitch of less than 15 degrees and remains a very popular choice for many homeowners when getting a conservatory or house extension. Flat roofs are unobtrusive, affordable and cheaper and easier to maintain than traditional roofs. However, because of the use of felt, asphalt-based and other similar materials, insurers are often uneasy about insuring this type of roof because of concerns over their longevity, especially when compared with more traditional slate, tiled or more modern EPDM roofs. Which is where flat roof maintenance comes in… Unless you approach a specialist non-standard home insurance broker, most insurers will struggle to insure a flat roof property due to concerns with their endurance
Depending on the quality of the original installation and continued maintenance, flat roofs can in actual fact easily last for up to 50 years at a time before needing to be replaced. This lifespan is almost as long as a tiled roofs, which themselves can last for up to 60 years.
Life span will also be dependent on the flat roof materials used and you will generally find that felt or asphalt-based roofs are less durable compared to slate or more modern materials such as EPDM
By carrying out regular checks and flat roof maintenance, you can make sure that your roof doesn’t suffer from any major damage or excessive wear and tear which could affect its performance, allow in damp, draughts or lower its level of insulation
It is typically recommended that you check your roof every spring and autumn, as well as after particularly harsh weather conditions, such as storms, strong winds and heavy snowfall.
Help finding the best flat roof material and how to get it insured
If your property consists of either a full or partial flat roof then you will be well aware of the need for continued maintenance in order to prolong its lifetime, as well as the need eventually to replace the covering over time. Materials have developed and advanced over time, but what is the best option? Here are some details to help you in making the most suitable choice for you individual situation as well as how to insure your flat roof once it is laid.
How many years does a flat roof last?
Most traditional flat roofs are made from either mineral felt or asphalt and will have a maximum life span of between ten and 15 years. Unfortunately though they have a bad reputation due to their propensity to leak or become damaged through pooling water. However, if you keep a roof well maintained there is no reason that this cannot last much longer. In general a flat roof these days tends to last about 20-30 years plus before it needs replacing. With the introduction of plastic and rubber materials this can be even longer, so perhaps replacement for your flat roof would be required up to a maximum of two-to-three times during your lifetime depending how long you are at a property
What are the options for flat roof materials?
If you want to improve on these traditional options then you may want to consider EDPM or TPO flat roofing options. Both EDPM and TPO are types of rubber which tend to have a much longer lifespan than the traditional materials. TPO is less-widespread and a comparatively new product but is more easily heat-weldable. There are also the options of Fibreglass, Lead, Copper, and Zinc which are being used more regularly and are all considered much harder wearing.
Bitumen felt roofs are applied in a three layer system including a vapour control layer, a reinforced felt layer and cap sheet. These three layers are welded together and hence the material is often called ‘Torch-on felt’. This type of flat roofing should never be attempted to be fitted through DIY installation due to the danger and expertise required, and you should check that your contractor carries the correct insurance to work with a hot flame. Most felt roofs are guaranteed between 10-20 years, but if treated well and well maintained they can last longer.
EPDM Rubber roofing
These rubber roofs can often be installed in one complete layer without the need for joins, depending on the size of the roofing area. EDPM is extremely lightweight, elastic and tough so a well installed rubber roof can be a very good option. Most EDPM roofs are guaranteed for 30 years upwards meaning they are very hard-wearing and can withstand foot traffic due to the incredible ability for expansion and contraction. Rubber roofs, such as EDPM, are very durable and waterproof when in good condition, however they can be easily damaged or vandalised.
TIPS TO GET YOUR FLAT ROOF READY FOR SPRING
One of the things that makes Toronto such an attractive city to live in is the many beautiful old shade trees that line residential streets, parks, and ravines. But all of this greenery means that debris builds up quickly on flat roofs across the city, and the first thing you need to do once the snow has finished melting is collect all the debris that has gathered over the winter
CLEAN ALL OUTLETS
Contrary to popular belief, a flat roof is not actually flat. Flat roofs are designed to slope gently towards drainage outlets either on the sides of the roof or in the centre. As any Toronto roofer will tell you, keeping these drainage outlets from clogging is the key to keeping your flat roof from leaking.
CHECK FOR PUNCTURES
Once the roof is clean and the drains are in good working order, you’ll want to check the roofing membrane more thoroughly for punctures, rips, or tears. The type of membrane will vary depending on what kind of flat roof you have, but most Toronto roofing membranes are made from PVC Membrane, modified bitumen, or EPDM.
INSPECT PARAPET WALL SEAMS
One of the distinctive elements of Toronto’s older flat roofs is the parapet wall running along the edges of the roof overlooking the streets and alleys. These parapet walls are designed for safety and serve a variety of other architectural purposes as well (they also give the house a sharper and more pleasing profile)
INSTALL A FLAT ROOF DECK
Now that you have made sure that your roof is clean, your drains are not clogged, and there are no punctures or tears on your flat roof, you can start turning it into a summer oasis. But before you haul up the patio chairs and the flower boxes, remember that protecting your flat roof from damage from foot traffic is essential if you want to keep it in good working condition for years to come