It is possible to have residential buildings with flat roofs although flat roofs are mainly used in commercial and industrial buildings. Most people are familiar with pitched roofs as they are typically used in residential buildings. It is important to understand that, although pitched and flat roofs serve the same function, they are different in designs. If your flat roof is leaking, you may have a different problem than if your pitched roof is leaking. There are a few key reasons why your flat roof might be leaking that you should be aware of:
Chimney and exhaust pipe sealant
Since flat roofs are installed mostly in commercial and industrial buildings, these buildings have chimneys to release the gases produced by the heating system. In addition, these buildings have exhaust pipes that allow gases produced by the plumbing system to escape. Chimneys and exhausts require a pipe sealant to ensure they are leak proof but this can become a weak point. If the sealant is not inspected, maintained and replaced regularly, your roof might start to leak. However, there are modular systems available to seal chimney and exhaust pipes. One of these modular systems is the boot which seals the chimney and/or exhaust pipes for 20 to 30 years. The boot is used alongside a tar sealant which needs to be replaced each year. Its exposure to weather conditions and its age will determine how soon it needs to be replaced.
Maintenance and repair of older roofs
Flat roofs can last long if they are properly maintained over the years. Although they do not require regular maintenance like pitched roofing, flat roofs should not be left unattended for years. This can allow a problem to develop which means you may end up facing costly repairs. In most cases, flat roofs have gravel added on top of the membrane to provide additional protection. The gravel should be spread out at least once a year because it will become uneven after exposure to strong winds, heavy rainfall, snow, and ice. The gravel should protect the membrane and redistribute it regularly will ensure that your roof lasts longer.
It is possible to have physical roof damage especially due to large hailstorms, wind or if a tree or branches fall on your roof. When this happens, your roof may develop drainage problems depending on the intensity of the damage. You need to hire a professional to assess the degree of damage and determine what needs to be done to repair the roof. You may have to repair the roof but in the event of serious physical damage, replacing the entire roof could be the better option. Physical damage no matter how small can cause leaks, damage to gutters and drains as well as scuppers.
The age of your roofing system may also predispose it a too early deterioration. Most felt roofing systems start to deteriorate after 15 to 20 years, although this varies depending on the materials used, the design and how often the roof was maintained. If the commercial roof of your building is showing signs of leaking or moisture, don’t hesitate to contact a commercial roofing contractor to identify and fix the problem as soon as possible to avoid further damage and costs.