There are over 5 million commercial buildings and industrial facilities in the U.S. Most of which possess a flat roof. A flat roof is defined as a roof with a pitch of 10 degrees or less. Flat roofs are easier and safer to inspect, significantly more stable than sloped roofs, cheaper to re-coat and maintain, extremely energy efficient and also cost effective. Flat roofs should be inspected at least twice a year, in the spring and in the fall, by a qualified professional. Professionals should look for these 3 visual clues that repairs may be needed.
Prolonged Standing or Pooled Water
Since flat roofs are built at an angle and have proper drainage installed, runoff rainwater should be efficiently removed from the roofing, and should never pool. If you or a professional have noticed that there is prolonged standing or pooled water on your flat roofs, it may be an indication that there are leakages or premature aging underneath the cover. Leakages can lead to deterioration of the internal structure of the building, and can be difficult to repair. For example, pooled water on one spot can leak undetected into the building and cause steel roof decks to rust and wood to rot.
In addition, standing or pooled water can be quite heavy, and this excess weight may actually weaken the roofing structure entirely, and even cause the structure to collapse. It is important to identify the cause behind why the water is pooling up, and also find a solution that will prevent this from happening again.
Tears in The Roof Cover or the Roof Flashing
The biggest problems associated with flat roofing are related to tears in the seams and the flashing, as this is where leaks typically occur. Depending on the type of material that your flat roofing is made of, you can expect different lifespans. For example, PVC membranes typically last well over 30 years whereas EPDM membranes have a lifespan of about 10 to 15 years. Environmental and elemental conditions may cause these membranes to contract and expand. As a result, small tears may begin to emerge. If you do not re-coat your flat roofing frequently, these small tears will worsen.
Tears in the roof cover or the roof flashing will allow water to penetrate below the surface. This will result in structural deterioration and also microbial growth. In addition, tears may cause parts of the roof cover or flashing to protrude out. This will increase the chances of the flat roofing sustaining severe damages during high winds.
Bubbles in the Roof Covering
If you find bubbles in the roof covering, then chances are that moisture is trapped underneath. This can lead to accelerated deterioration of the roof covering, microbial growth which can become a safety hazard and a reduction in the roof's ability to hold up to uplifting forces during a windstorm. Rising gases that are coming from the insulation of the roofing may also cause bubbles. These gases may be trapped, and will eventually cause the roof covering to burst. To determine what the actual cause is, roofing contractors will need to perform a roof cut.
Depending on where the bubbles are centralized and the size of the bubbles, the repair work may be localized to only a specific section of the roofing. Generally speaking, the roofing cover will need to be removed and the underlying cause will need to be addressed before the flat roofing can be re-coated again.
Most commercial buildings feature flat roofing structures due to the numerous benefits that can be obtained as a result. Flat roofing is relatively easy to maintain in comparison to sloped roofing. Professionals are able to easily get onto the roofing for inspections, and repair work can generally be completed more efficiently and effectively. To detect these problems early on and prevent them from worsening, consider going up there yourself for regular weekly or monthly inspections. For more information, contact a local roofing company, like Align Roofing LLC.