Simple Flat Roof Maintenance Guide
Flat roofs have become increasingly more popular. And it’s no wonder, either. Flat roofs complement open-floor plans within a clean and modern structure. This type of roofing is common for homes in urban areas and on new construction like commercial roofs.
Despite being an exciting and modern addition to any home, flat roofs might be a huge change of pace for those used to traditional pitched roofs. As such, a flat roof might pose a few challenges due to the specific kind of maintenance and upkeep they require.
Here are the top maintenance tips you need to know to keep your flat roof in good condition.
Common issues with flat roofs
Properly maintaining a flat roof is essential to prevent damage to your home and keep those living under the roof safe. It’s extremely important to make sure that the roof system functions properly. As a result, flat roofs often require more roof repairs and roof replacements than other options.
The most common concerns for flat roofs are leaks, water collection and debris buildup. There is also a concern for wear and tear of the roof membrane material that could potentially buckle and blister for homes with flat roofing.
How to maintain a flat roof
Maintaining a flat roof is relatively simple. The best method for flat roof maintenance is consistency. Constantly inspecting the roof is an essential part of your maintenance plan. Regular roof inspections empower you to nip any potential issues in the bud that would otherwise become a costly and possibly dangerous issue over time.
Keep debris off the roof
Due to the structure of a flat roof, it’s common for debris to accumulate on the surface of the home. Between trees lining the street to the pollution that makes its way through the air, it’s essential to consistently collect and remove any debris that has gathered on the roof. This is particularly important to do during the colder months of the year. During the winter, it’s easy for debris to accumulate under piles of snow, causing further damage to the roof due to increased weight.
Check the drainage regularly
Despite the name, flat roofs are not actually flat. They are built at a slight angle to allow water to drain off the top of the home through a gutter system or other centralized draining system. While they have this additional feature to help with water drainage, flat roofs lag behind in the efficiency of water and snow drainage compared to traditional sloped roofs. Installing roofing products like ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM), a synthetic rubber roofing membrane and fiberglass can help keep the roof dry, so leaking doesn’t become a problem for your home.
Inspect for leaks and fix promptly
Keeping your flat roof clean and regularly maintaining your drainage system is only one piece of the puzzle. Make sure to consistently check the roofing material for any punctures or rips. While roofing material will vary, a tear in the roofing membrane can result in leaks.
Typically, the roofing membrane of a flat roof is installed with multiple layers of your chosen roofing material for longevity, but it’s still important to thoroughly monitor the material as the roof ages over time. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your roof during the colder months. Winter damage is a common occurrence that results in leaks unless promptly fixed.
Keep unnecessary weight off the roof
A common problem that many homeowners with flat roofs neglect to consider is sinking. This is a typical problem for older roofs with materials that have weakened over time and roofs that have not been properly maintained.
However, excess weight can also result in significant damage to the seal coating of your flat roof. Before bombarding the top of your home with a full outdoor renovation, make sure that you consider the weight of heavier objects, as these are likely to create depressions or ponding in the roof over time.
Remove trees/overhang promptly
In addition to being mindful of weather conditions, homeowners with flat roofs need to be cognizant of trees and other foliage that overhang the roof. While the greenery might contribute to your rooftop space, if left unchecked, it can result in serious issues in the long run.
Knocked-down trees and fallen branches can cause significant damage to exposed areas of the roof and home structure, especially during extreme weather or natural disasters. Plants can also result in some critter nests that may or may not be welcome in or around your home. Moreover, overhanging plants and nature will leave a consistent buildup of dirt and other organic matter that can result in critical drainage or blockage problems. Leaves can clog your gutters, plants provide easy access for pests to nest on top of your home and numerous other serious problems should be considered.
How hard is it to maintain a flat roof, and are they expensive?
While flat roofs may require a bit more attention than traditional pitched roofs, this type of roofing system is not difficult to maintain as long as it’s kept in shape with regular maintenance and proper care. Also, climbing up onto a flat roof is easier than a traditional pitched roof, thanks to its accessible design.
Flat roofs are one of the most affordable roofing options available due to the cost-efficiency and the extreme durability of flat roof installation materials, like wood, timber, steel, concrete and insulated panels. Rubber, in particular, is resistant to cracking, splitting and rotting, making for a long-lasting roofing material for flat roofs. And without a slope like those found on traditional roofs, flat roofs are usually pretty easy to install and maintain.
Since flat roofs are easier to access, maintenance becomes a less tedious task. That being said, it can be beneficial to seek roofing services should you need any flat roof repairs that require expertise that extend beyond a DIY issue.
What is the best thing to put on a flat roof?
When choosing which roofing material to use for your flat roof, it’s important to consider the cost, ease of installation, maintenance and durability of your options. The most popular material for flat roofs is PVC roofing.
Despite being a bit more expensive than other materials, PVC roofing is a commonly preferred choice due to its resistance to impact damage and cracking. Other popular materials include:
- Metal, which has a long life span of 20 to 30 years
- Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO), which is a less expensive single-ply material with a decent life span of 10 to 20 years
- Modified bitumen, which has one of the best price points on the market and a life span of around 20 years
You may wonder what you can put on top of your flat roof. Thanks to its multi-purposeful design, flat roofs can be customized to anything you want. Typically, the dimensions of a flat roof are equivalent to the square footage of the entire floor of the home. That’s a whole lot of space just waiting to be maximized.
From an outdoor kitchen to a lounge area or even a pool, the sky’s the limit. You might also consider installing solar panels or skylights to save energy on your home utility bill and revamp the interior design of the floor in your home. You can also try growing your green thumb with a flat roof through eco-friendly energy initiatives like sustainable garden patios.
How often should you do flat roof maintenance?
It’s important to have your flat roof inspected regularly for common concerns like debris, cracks, drain issues, etc. Ideally, it’s best to inspect your flat roof every few months and, at the very least, three times a year. If your neighborhood has a lot of trees, check it even more frequently.
You should especially conduct regular checks after a heavy rainstorm or snowstorm, as well during the fall and spring seasons to prevent water damage or the growth of mold. It’ll also help you gauge how the roof handles harsher weather climates and if any additional roof coating and sealing are needed to prevent a roof leak.
Protect your home from costly repairs with Cinch
If you have a flat roof, any architect will jump at the opportunity to dwell on the timeless modernity of your home. And with proper maintenance and care, your flat roof can continue to enhance your home’s exterior and design for years to come.
While a home warranty from Cinch Home Services doesn’t cover roofs, you can still protect many other major appliances and built-in systems with a home protection plan. Cinch makes home protection simple by allowing you to pick the coverage you need at a price you can afford. Worry less about unexpected breakdowns and spend more time enjoying your home. Request a free quote today.