By definition, a roof is something that not many of us pay much attention to… they are mostly out of sight and hence out of mind! It’s only when problems occur that we start to take notice and by that point you may be in for a nasty surprise as damage may have been occurring for an extended period before visible signs of a problem appeared.
Flat roofs are increasingly prevalent on properties across the UK and need particular care and attention paid to them. Unlike a pitched roof where it’s more immediately obvious if, for example, a tile has slipped, flat roofs are harder to inspect from the ground so bigger problems can stay hidden for longer.
As with almost any property maintenance task, it pays dividends to undertake routine maintenance and fix small problems as they arise rather than allow them to become big (and often expensive!) problems in the future.
Routine Maintenance & Inspections
To maximise the lifespan of your flat roof and ensure it performs as designed we’d suggest the following routine maintenance tasks are carried out:
- Bi-annual roof top checks: It’s really quite important to get access to the roof at least every 6 months so you can thoroughly check for any damage or issues. Look for joins that are coming unsealed, cracks in the roofing material, vegetation growing on the roof and so on. If you feel comfortable carrying out these inspections yourself then great (although always do so with care!) but otherwise a roofing contractor will be happy to undertake these inspections for you. The plus with getting a roofing contractor to undertake the inspection is that they will likely be able to undertake any minor repairs there and then giving you peace of mind that the roof is sound for another 6 months.
- Removal of leaves and other debris: A surprising amount of debris can build up on a roof. Twigs, leaves, algae, sediment and more will accrue at a rapid rate. This must be removed to allow water to flow freely across the roof ensuring it’s able to drain away. Take the opportunity to inspect guttering and clear this as well.
- Internal checks – where possible take a good look in any roof voids and along the tops of walls. Is there any damp? Water marks? Peeling wallpaper etc.?
Common Flat Roof Problems
As roofing contractors we see a lot of problems with flat roofs. Installed correctly they can last for years and year… the problems tend to occur when incorrect materials are used and installation procedures are flawed. If you’re looking to get a new flat roof installed don’t necessarily opt for the cheapest quote you can get. Problems like the ones listed below will become apparent pretty quickly if the job isn’t done correctly.
- Blistering – This occurs when moisture gets trapped between the roof surface and the covering membrane. The moisture expands in the heat causing noticeable blisters on the surface. In the short term these won’t cause any issues, but longer term will cause cracks in the membrane. They are relatively straightforward for a competent roofing contractor to repair.
- Pooling Water – Flat roofs (despite their name) should always have a slight incline to allow water to run off. If this hasn’t been built in or if the slope isn’t steep enough, water can begin to collect and pool. Water left standing on the roof will ultimately cause the membrane to fail leading to an expensive repair. If you do notice water pooling on the surface of your flat roof then get it checked out asap.
- Shrinkage – EPDM can occasionally shrink. It’s a harder problem to spot but look around the edges of the roof to see if any of the covering material has pulled back. Shrinkage will cause joins in the roofing material to break allowing water ingress and should be dealt with promptly.
ER Group are roofing specialists. Competitively priced, our expert team can carry out a wide range of roofing services including roof repairs, tiling & slating and new roof installations. Whether you need a new roof constructed or maintenance work carried out on an older roof we can help. Find out more about our roofing services here.