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How Long Does A Flat Roof Last? (3 Tips to Maximize Lifespan)

October 11, 2022 | 4 min. read

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A new roof is a significant investment, and when you spend upwards of $10,000 to make an upgrade, you want it to last a lifetime.

Often roofing contractors aren’t transparent about the longevity or quality of their products, which leaves homeowners frustrated when their roofs don’t live up to their expectations.

That’s why every homeowner needs to know how long a roof lasts. Unfortunately, most homeowners don’t know this information, but we’re here to change that. 

Rescue My Roof has been Wisconsin’s premiere roofing contractor for over a decade, serving homeowners throughout Southeastern Wisconsin. We take pride in our high-quality products and the education we provide to homeowners.

You deserve not only a roof that keeps your home and family safe but an education that allows you to make the best decisions for your home.

If you’ve ever wondered how long a flat roof lasts, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss the real life of a flat roof and the factors that impact it.

In the end, you’ll know exactly what to expect from your new roof, and you won’t be caught off-guard when issues arise.

How Long Does A Flat Roof Last?

The realistic lifespan of a flat roof in the roofing industry is 30 years. However, the average lifespan is 20-30 years for flat roofs.

The material of your roof plays a large part in determining the roof’s lifespan. EPDM roofs may last approximately 20 years, while TPO roofs can last up to 30 years.

You’re in the clear if your roof is installed correctly and ventilated! As long as an act of God isn’t around the corner, your roof may make it to 25 years or above

However,  roof lifespans don’t solely depend on the material, ventilation, or installation. The climate you live in plays an important role as well.

A Climate’s Impact On Roof Longevity

The climate you live in may make or break how long your roof lasts.

For consistently warmer climates, roofs don’t undergo as much expansion and contraction that occurs during drastic weather changes.

The same principle applies to consistently cooler climates. While there may be other obstacles with moisture in the air, ice, and snow, they still face more consistent weather.

Cold Climates and Flat Roofs

Snow surrounding skylights on a flat roof.

Wisconsin is famous for having a wild climate. We face hot and humid summers while being buried in ice, snow, and frigid temps during the winter.

Because shifts in weather are so drastic, roofs in Wisconsin constantly deal with expansion and contraction. This puts additional wear and tear on the roof. 

Wisconsin also receives tens of feet of snow every winter and ice dam buildup is frequent. Once again, weather events generate more wear and tear on a roof than other stable climates. 

After everything our roofs endure in the constantly changing Wisconsin weather, the average lifespan for a Wisconsin flat roof is 10-15 years with proper installation and ventilation.

How to Ensure the Longevity of your Roof

Upwards of $10,000 on a roof replacement, every 15-30 years is extraordinarily expensive – you don’t want to replace or repair your roof sooner than that. 

There are ways you can protect the longevity of your roof. Following these steps, you may even be able to see your roof after 20 years.

1. Check Your Ventilation Frequently

Exhaust vents on a flat roof.

Ventilation is one of the most critical aspects of your roof. Without proper ventilation, you can face many problems. Ice dams, excess moisture, and inefficient heating and cooling of your home are a few. 

Ventilation is essential to flat roofs in colder climates, as proper ventilation will melt excess snow and ice on your roof. 

When you inspect your ventilation frequently – we recommend twice a year – you ensure that you catch problems before they get out of hand.

When inspecting your ventilation, there are things you want to look out for. 

  • Insulation blocking exhaust or intake vents
  • Extreme Hot or Cold Spot in Your Attic
  • High energy bills

If you notice the signs above, you may have issues with your ventilation. Conduct an energy audit or speak to a professional to diagnose the problem.

2. Inspect Your Roof Once A Year

Walking around your house to inspect your roof once a year is one of the key things you can do to catch problems before they arise.

While walking the perimeter of your home, make sure to take note of any areas where there may be:

  • Visible Flashing
  • Blistering and cracking
  • Pooling water
  • Impact Damage

Many of these issues can be combated by calling in a professional to begin repairs before water can find its way into your home. 

However, some of the more severe problems, like blistering or cracking, can lead to a roof replacement. That is why it is best to call in an inspector so they can accurately diagnose the issue. 

Your roof takes the most damage in the winter. So after a long season of snowfall and ice, inspect to keep your roof in the best shape possible.

3. Need A Repair? Do It in a Timely Manner

A roofing contractor repairing a flat roof with a patch.

If you notice roof repair warning signs, take care of them before they get out of hand.

Minor issues can turn into big ones in the blink of an eye. That small leak you noticed a month ago could now be rotting your decking and damaging the drywall in your home. 

Don’t wait. The safety of your home and your family is at risk. If you notice pooling water, visible flashing, or roof cracking, call a roofing contractor to get an inspection and evaluate your options.

Signs You May Need A Flat Roof Replacement

Now that you know how long flat roofs last, it’s essential to know the signs of an impending replacement.

Roofs can’t last forever. When they begin to lose efficiency, they also lose the ability they once had to keep your home and family safe. You may begin to notice leaks, pooling water, and rusted flashing. 

You can learn more about the warning signs with “10 Signs You Need A Roof Replacement. 
Is your roof at the end of its life? Contact Rescue My Roof today for a free, fast, and honest roof estimate.