Do You Need to Replace Your Flat Roof or Will a Repair Suffice?

Flat roofs are popular in commercial and industrial buildings, but more recently, homeowners have found that flat roofing is a nice alternative to the traditional sloped roof. Low-sloped or flat roofs create convenient space for the installation of HVAC systems and make it simple to carry out roof repairs and maintenance. But, when your flat roof begins to leak, it’s definitely not pleasant news. You’ll want to carry out a thorough inspection to determine the cause of the leak and make the necessary repairs to prevent water and moisture from causing hazards such as flooding, rotting, and mold growth.

Causes of Flat Roof Leaks

Your flat roof can leak due to a variety of factors. You should repair your flat roof if you find visible damage, you have a roof leak, your energy bills increase, or you have an older roof. If your roof is old, some areas may have deteriorated and will likely fail, allowing rainwater to infiltrate your home. In most cases, flat roofs leak around vents and plumbing stacks or at the edge of the roof.

Other common causes of leaks on flat roofs include:

  • Ponding water – When water remains on your roof for more than 48 hours after precipitation, it can lead to damaging leaks.
  • Damaged Membrane – If your flat roof is made of a single-ply membrane, it can be susceptible to damage due to ponding water or roof traffic. A compromised membrane allows water to enter the insulation, causing more serious leaks.
  • Roof Structures – Just like sloped shingle roofs, flat roofs are vulnerable to leaks around areas where a structure rises up through the roof’s surface. These structures may include plumbing vents, gas lines, pipes, and other building elements. 
  • In many cases, flat roofs can leak when debris is left on the roof for long. It can block water from flowing down your roof or redirect it to other areas. Make sure you regularly clean your flat roof without pushing debris down the drains. 
  • You may also want to inspect the drainage system for clogging preventing water from draining off your roof. Knock on the metal drain pipes using your knuckles and listen. If the pipe sounds dull, then there is some debris stuck inside.

Replacing a Flat Roof

Once you and your professional Guardian roofing inspector examine your roof and decide it’s time to replace your flat roof, you’ll be in for an extended replacement process. During the replacement process the old roofing membrane is removed. Then the roofers will clean the entire roofing system underneath the membrane, including flashing, vents, and wood areas. Any damaged materials like rotted plywood will be removed and replaced. Your roofing contractor may need to install new HVAC stands and features and new insulation. Install new roofing membrane. Then your roofing contractor will install new perimeter flashings and fascia caps. Finally, your Guardian roofing professionals will clean up and remove the debris. 

Alternatives to Flat Roof Replacement

Just because you have a damaged roof doesn’t mean your roof must be replaced. Many times, small areas of damage can be repaired. And you have a few different alternatives. Some of your repair options are:  

  • Patching – In some cases, patching a small damaged area can work. However, patching a portion of your roof is only effective if moisture damage hasn’t spread to the underlying roof deck or surrounding areas. So, if you have an active leak, patching may not be your best option. 
  • Re-Covering – Recovering is the process of adding a second membrane (like EPDM or TPO) over the top of your existing flat roof without removing the damaged materials first. Roof re-covering works better in situations where the roof isn’t leaking or severely damaged but the roof is showing signs of aging or minor deterioration. 
  • Roof Coating – Roof coating is similar to Re-covering in that your Guardian roofing contractor covers your existing membrane without removing it.  The roof coating process uses a thin liquid membrane on top of your existing roof. Usually, this is a proactive measure you can take if your roof isn’t already showing extensive signs of damage. Roof coating may also give your roof membrane additional heat and UV protection. Roof coating is best when there are no insulation issues and no underlying structural issues.

Guardian Roofing offers repairs, maintenance and replacement on most low slope and flat roof systems including: 

  • PVC – PVC Roofing (Polyvinyl Chloride) is a durable single ply flat roofing material designed to be flexible, strong and UV reflective.  
  • TPO – TPO (Thermoplastic polyolefins) membranes are made from ethylene propylene rubber (a synthetic elastomer) and polypropylene (a thermoplastic polymer) which is then polymerized (bonded together using chemicals). 
  • Torchdown – Torchdown is an asphalt based rolled roofing application.  Torchdown has a shorter life cycle than PVC or TPO and cannot be installed with areas of ponding water.  It is still a viable product in certain situations.
  • Built-Up Roofing – Most commonly referred to as Hot Asphalt Roofing consist of fiberglass ply sheet(s) embedded in hot asphalt.  Although this application is no longer common for residential application, many of these roof systems can be repaired before they are replaced.
  • Poly Iso Insulation. Many flat roofs have insulation that has failed or is inadequate. Poly Iso insulation can;
    • Reduce utility costs
    • Create proper water flow
    • Protect the home from damaging condensation.

We primarily install TPO and PVC for our low slope and flat roof systems.  Guardian is one of the only Residential Roofing contractors in our area that is also certified to install a Commercial grade low slope roof system on a commercial building as well as a residential home.  We are a GAF authorized dealer which allows us to offer lifetime and extended warranties for labor and materials. Our roofing technicians are highly trained in all low slope and flat roof applications. 

Flat Roof Replacement Tips

If a complete replacement is your best option, there are some steps you can take to make the process simpler and get the best result. First, talk with your roofing inspector about your options. Likely, new and better products are now on the market. There are a wide range of flat roofing materials from which you can choose and your roofing inspector can discuss the best options for your roof.

Warranties and Quality Guarantee

A roof replacement is a major home improvement process and you want it to be done right the first time. But if something does go wrong, Guardian roofing has warranties and quality guarantee in place. You can discuss the various product warranties with your Roofing inspector as part of your initial roof replacement inspection.

Contact Your Insurance Company

In most cases, a roof replacement is your responsibility. However, one exception is if the roof replacement is required prematurely. Every roof has an expected life-span. If your roof must be replaced before the roof has reached its expected lifespan because of damage or inferior quality, your insurance may cover some or all of the replacement or repair costs. It won’t hurt to check with your insurance company to see what’s covered and what’s not.

Call The Experts

A well-made low slope roof is designed to last for the long haul, but Guardian knows every roof requires regular inspection. When your flat or low-slope roof needs inspections, maintenance or replacement, Guardian is the one to call. 

Guardian Roofing is committed to living up to these criteria and much more. If you are looking for a roof repair, replacement, or maintenance contractor please call us today at 877-926-9966 or complete our online service request form.