The Challenge Of Maintaining A Flat Roof
Because they don’t have a pitch, flat roofs must be absolutely waterproof, otherwise they will leak every time it rains and sometimes when it doesn’t rain. Fortunately, maintaining a flat roof isn’t difficult. For one thing, they are easier and safer to work on than pitched roofs, though any worker should still be careful of walking and working on them.
If there’s a leak on a flat roof, one effective way to patch it is with an elastomer membrane. The best way to do this is to hire a roofer licensed by the manufacturer of the membrane to do it, because the materials may be hard for a layperson to obtain. But, if the homeowner can find the materials, the repair is fairly simple.
He or she should wash the deck round the leak with water and mild detergent, then rinse it with clear water. After that, the area should be washed with a “splice wash.”
Splice adhesive should be put on with a stiff brush to the cleaned area. Splice adhesive looks like cement.
A round patch of ethylene propylene diene monomer or EPDM should then be cut. It should be around four inches larger in diameter than the area to be patched.
The splice adhesive should be applied to the patch, then allowed to dry. When it’s dry, the homeowner can put the patch carefully over the area to be patched, then press it down.
After that, the patch should be rolled with a steel roller. If a steel roller can’t be found, a length of steel pipe will do.
The patch should be allowed to set for about a half an hour, then lap sealant should be applied around the edges with a caulking gun.
Flat roofs are often covered with rolled or built up roofing. These roofs are made of layers of felt, asphalt or coal tar and covered with gravel. Sometimes these materials can develop blisters. The homeowner should open one up and see if there’s water inside. If there is, that means that the water has gotten under the roofing, either because of broken flashing or a hole in the membrane. Blisters and cracks can be repaired with roof cement and building paper patches. A patch should be considerably larger than the area it’s going to repair. It should be cemented down, then nailed, then covered with roof cement again. An even more effective repair would be to install a double patch over the area. The double patch should also be cemented into place, then the patches should be covered with any gravel that was removed.
Asphalt/aluminum roof paint can at least temporarily repair small cracks and holes in the roofing or the flashing of a flat roof. The fibered type of this paint can be applied to small jobs. Bigger holes and cracks will need the non-fibered paint.