Problems with flat roofing and how to avoid them

Flat roofing is a very appropriate choice for a number of roofing projects, from balconies and rooftop terraces in office blogs, to garden buildings and garages. As well as the aesthetics of a roof, they are often cheaper than a pitched roof. However, if the roof is not installed or maintained correctly, it can lead to potentially costly problems and issues further down the road.

The good news? Most of the problems can be fixed if you are proactive (or you use a reputable installer) and take the right steps sooner rather than later. So, let’s look at some of the issues that you can encounter and the correct ways to approach them.

1. Ponding Water

Due to the flat design, flat roofs are always going to have issues with draining – especially if the roof is designed to be walked on. As such, it’s quite common for water to pond on the roof. Essentially this means that the water remains in one place and builds up. This can create stress on the structure of the roof and eventually it will start to cause serious levels of wear and tear.

It can also lead to leaks in some cases. Again, this is caused by the stress which allows moisture through the roof system.

One of the best ways to avoid issues here is to make sure that you maintain the roof and the structure. You need to guarantee that if there is a blockage in the drains then you are removing it immediately without delay.

If this is a new roof that you are adding to your home, then your contractor should be able to help with ponding water and provide the right solution, whether this is an appropriate draining system or selecting the right materials.

2. Blistering

Blistering is generally common in Asphalt or felt roofing and is related to changing weather conditions.

This issue occurs if air or moisture is trapped underneath the roof membrane, between the different layers. These small pockets of air or moisture heat up in the sun, exaggerating the blistering. The membrane becomes stretched and damaged.

Blistering might seem like a massive issue, but it doesn’t need to be. You just need to watch that they don’t pop because that will cause headaches for you.

If they do pop, they will need to be repaired by removing the blistered material so that it remains tight to the roof. You can then add some new membrane materials and make sure that it extends more than six inches over the blister.

Again, maintaining your roof regularly can help ensure that you do avoid issues here. A reputable flat roofing company will use materials that do not blister, and offer a warranty should there be any problems with the roof.

Alternatively, blistering does not occur with ICB Alwitra, a popular flat roofing material that is very resistant to changes in temperature.

3. Alligatoring

This is a term used when the coating on a flat roof cracks (generally caused by sun exposure or extreme temperature changes. The name is derived from the fact that the impact of this looks like an alligator’s skin. It can be due to debris, water, or another problem causing damage.

It’s possible to keep on top of alligatoring through regular inspections and maintenance. Since the issue is cause by UV light, a roofing contractor can apply a UV resistant coating regularly to avoid alligatoring and sun damage.

However, alligatoring usually means that it’s time to replace your roof due to it’s age.

4. Membrane Buckling

Buildings do settle and then shift over time. Due to this, your roof membrane is also shifting which rests between the roof and the rest of the house. As the membrane is typically a single sheet, then this shifting can mean that it buckles. While there’s no easy solution, getting a professional in can help tackle the problem head-on. A roof that is prone to buckling is not a safe environment and can cause major issues if left unattended. If the roof buckles, it’s best to get your roof replaced as soon as possible

5. Thermal Movement causing leaks

We have already touched on this, but if the temperature changes, it can cause the roof materials to contract or expand. While this is quite normal if it is happening constantly, it can cause problems with the roof structure, making it significantly weaker. This can lead to leaks over time. The reason for this is that the materials move away from the edge over time.

To deal with this issue, you need to make sure that your roof is designed and built using the highest quality of materials. As you might have guessed, maintenance is important here too. If you do notice issues, then it is advised you replaced the flashing.

We hope this helps you understand some of the key issues that you can have with a flat roof. Flat roof problems are actually avoidable and will be well known to reputable installers who will offer a warranty for a number of years to ensure the integrity of the roof. For example, we offer a 25 year warranty with any new flat roof to give our customers peace of mind. If you’re looking for reputable roofers in Surrey, get in touch with us today.

View some examples of our types of flat roofing below:

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