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Roof Maintenance

6 Problems With Flat Roofs

November 1, 2022 | 3 min. read

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Replacing your roof is already a stressful project. It can seem overwhelming when you factor in all the decisions you have to make. 

One of the most important decisions you’ll face in roofing is what kind of material you want.

There are many options: metal, cedar shake, asphalt shingles, and hundreds of colors. So how do you choose just one?

Rescue My Roof understands how stressful a roof replacement can be. That is why we’ve spent over a decade in the roofing industry, guiding homeowners like you through the process.

Amongst all of the unique roofing options are flat roofs. They are durable, versatile, and inexpensive. However, they do have their faults.

If you’re considering a flat roof, here are some issues you should know about before purchasing.

The Top 6 Problems with Flat Roofs

Before investing in a flat roof, you should know about the risks.

Here are some of the common issues homeowners run into with flat roofs. 

1. Leaks

An old, leaking flat roof with standing water in the corner.

Leaks are a common occurrence with older flat roofs. Over time, flat roofs lose their ability to shed water effectively without proper maintenance.

If moisture cannot drain from the roof, it’s a matter of time before it finds its way into your home.

To avoid leaks, install your flat roof with a tapered system. This will slightly elevate one end of your roof to allow water to drain.

Additionally, you can inspect your roof twice a year to catch minor problems before they grow. 

2. Ponding Water

Ponding (stagnant) water on a flat roof.

Some flat roofs don’t always provide the proper drainage for water to drain.  While an experienced contractor will try to taper your roof to allow drainage, a lack of natural slope can create issues with ponding water. 

Precipitation will collect in standing ponds on your roof. If left unmanaged, the weight can cause roof sagging or leaks. 

If you experience issues with ponding water, hope is not lost. You can call a professional to fix low spots, flush the drains, or add more drain lines to drain excess water.

3. Blistering

Blistering, Alligator flat roof membrane.

Blistering, or “alligatoring,” is a common issue for flat roofs.

Blistering occurs when a flat roof membrane has deteriorated to the point that it looks like alligator skin. This can be caused by over-exposure to the sun or saturated insulation.

When your roof shows signs of alligatoring, you’ll need to apply a new roof coating. Clean the roof, apply a compatible primer, and apply the new coating.

To effectively fix blistering without replacing your flat roof, you must catch the problem early. Inspect your roof twice a year to catch the warning signs.

4. Debris

Man cleaning debris off of a flat roof with a broom.

Debris is common on roofs, especially when there are surrounding trees.

However, too much debris build-up can potentially clog drains for flat roofs that lack a natural drainage slope/

Remove debris from your roof frequently to ensure your flat roof drains correctly.

5. Punctures or Tears

Torn flat roof.

Flat roofs can tear or puncture from adverse weather, like storms. 

To ensure your roof stays in the best shape, inspect your roof after a significant weather event. 

Using your flat roof as a recreational area, like a patio, where there may be foot traffic, increases the likelihood of punctures.

Put down a rug or another barrier in furniture or high-traffic areas to avoid tears. 

6. Rotting Structure

Rotten decking can be cause for an urgent roof repair

If a flat roof has been leaking for an extended period, the materials underneath can begin to rot. 

When this happens, you will notice the rubber will begin to separate from the base of the roof. Additionally, you might start to see wrinkles where the adhesive is not sticking anymore. 

A roofing professional can cut out your roof’s affected areas and complete a replacement. However, it might be more effective to do a complete replacement depending on the age of your roof. 

Is A Flat Roof Still A Good Option?

There is a reason why flat roofs are so popular. They are cheaper than other materials and still provide the durability needed to keep your home safe.

All roofs are susceptible to their own issues – flat roofs included. While flat roofs may blister, pond water, or occasionally leak, many of these issues can be resolved by installing them using the manufacturer-recommended methods. 

If flat roofs aren’t the right option for you, there’s still hope. You can download our materials guide to learn more about other material options. 

If you’re ready to install a flat roof in the greater Milwaukee area, Rescue My Roof has got you covered. You can contact us today to get a free estimate