How do I find a leak in a flat roof?

a flat roofing system

Keeping Your Roof Safe

From Pennsylvania and all across The Great Lakes area, commercial buildings get bombarded with the weather all year long. This leads to a lot of commercial roof repairs for leaks, and other common flat roof problems. As a business owner, knowing the type of problems that typically occur with these roofing systems can be important for your building’s operations. This can help you identify these issues far sooner.

Common Flat Roofing Problems

Some of the most problems with flat roofs include: 

Moisture and Roof Leak

Moisture and leaking roof can happen for a variety of reasons on a flat roof.  Some common commercial roof repairs are from BUR roofing (built-up roof) is leaking, usually where there is missing or improperly installed flashing. A commercial roof may leak if the modified bitumen roof was improperly adhered, or the moisture barrier was left off. 

Poor Installation and Workmanship

A professional and proper installation is key in a commercial flat roof effectiveness and lifespan. Many commercial roof repairs are due to a poor installation job and sub-quality materials. A proper adhesion process requires a clean, dry, and primed surface before the installation. Common problems that require a commercial roof repair service are blisters, leaks, and wrinkles because the roof was installed when the temperature and weather were not ideal. 

Regular Maintenance

Without routine roof maintenance and inspections, minor issues become major problems requiring professional commercial roof repair. 

Ponding and Puddling Water

This is a common problem for a flat roof is usually because of clogged drains or and improper slope. A commercial roof repair will include a thorough inspection, clearing any clogged drains or HVAC condensate drain lines, and inspecting the slight slope is sufficient. 

Penetrations and Punctures

A common commercial roof repair is foot traffic damage. With foot traffic and workers on the roof, there is always possible damage happening. From improper footwear by the workers to tools being dropped. 

Improper Commercial Roof Repairs

Previous commercial roof repairs where incorrect materials were used can cause more damage. This is especially so with a metal roof where caulking and cement were the wrong type. 

Surface Erosion

Blistering, erosion, ridging, and splitting are common commercial roof repairs on BUR roofs. If these issues aren’t addressed and repaired, bigger problems will follow. 

For any of these commercial roof repairs, you should always hire a professional commercial roof contractor that knows how to repair a commercial flat roof. Not all roofing contractors are experienced in commercial roofing or with flat roofing. 

How do you stop a flat roof leaking in the rain?

To know that the leak is repaired, finding what causes a flat roof to leak is the first step. Once you have determined what is causing the leak, the following flat commercial roof repairs can be done:

  • Leaks on the flat roof surface can usually be done with silicone as a patching material that is brushed over the leak.
  • If it is the leak is around or at the flashing, the flashing should be replaced and then secured in place with silicone. 
  • Leaks around a vent is fixed by replacing the rubber boot. 
  • Leaking that is coming from the HVAC unit, have the HVAC contractor check the unit to make sure there isn’t any issue with the unit.  

What is the best way to repair a flat roof?

The age and condition of the flat roof are taken into consideration when doing a flat commercial roof repair. The most common roof repair material types are: 

  • EPDM –an extremely durable rubber material common for flat commercial roof repairs in this country and around the world. Made mostly of ethylene and propylene, has the composition like car tires. 
  • Modified bitumen – primarily an asphalt combination of different rubbers and solvents that is heat applied using an open flame torch. 
  • BUR – a tar and gravel roofing is a built up roofing systems that has been around for over a hundred years with layers of bitumen and reinforced fabrics.
  • TPO Roofing – this single ply roofing is created from ethylene-propylene rubber and polypropylene that are polymerized together and can be fully adhered or mechanically attached. 
  • PVC roofing –crafted from two layers of a PVC roof material that has polyester in between the layers for reinforcement. 

Can I repair my own flat roof?

With the roofing materials listed above, a commercial flat roof repair can be done by building maintenance for small leak repairs. If the leak is of significant size, it is better to have it a professional commercial roof repair. 

How much does a flat roof cost to repair?

The cost for a flat commercial roof repair depends on the severity of the damage, the area needing repair, and the type of material of the existing roof. The cost can range from as low as $800 and as much as $5000 with the average roof replacement around $15,000.

a dark flat roofing material

At The Top Of The Building and at the End of this Topic 

What is commercial roof restoration? When a commercial roof repair isn’t enough for the damages and problems, but a new roof replacement isn’t in the budget, a roof restoration is a good alternative.  A commercial roofing contractor will apply a durable, waterproof coating to the existing roof after making some roof repairs. This coating will stop any leaks, prevent rusting, and expand the lifespan of the roof until the budget can afford a new roof. Sometimes when a commercial building owner is faced with deciding on flat roof repair or replace, a roof restoration will give you time to make that decision.