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How to Maintain a Flat Roof

Flat roofs are more commonly used today than ever before. They offer a lot of benefits to property owners, including providing a modern, clean structure. For those that have these roofs on their homes, it is critical to ensure they are maintained properly to protect both the way they look as well as their overall structural integrity.

Why Some Residential Homes Have Flat Roofs

A flat roof has a wide range of benefits to offer homeowners. They are often used because they provide more space for equipment such as exhausts and air conditioning systems in a commercial setting. However, they have become more commonly used across homes in recent years as well. 

That is because of factors such as their lower cost and ease of maintenance. In addition to this, they create more structural and architectural design elements. Flat roofs are an excellent choice when property owners want to take advantage of their rooftop space, too.

Types of Residential Flat Roofs

There are several different types of flat roofs used commonly on residential properties. This includes;

  • Built-up Roof: Also known as BUR, this option is a traditional hot tar and gravel style roof. However, it typically has three or more plies of a waterproof material along with hot tar. It also tends to be ballasted with smooth river stone. It’s an excellent option for fire retardation and attractive when there’s an overlook. 
  • Rubber Membrane Roof: This type of roof, an EPDM product, is a rubber roof. It has a single-ply membrane of material that is much like that of an inner tube, but it is built to be resistant to damage from the sun. These are easier to install and lightweight but are also highly resistant to damage.
  • Modified Bitumen Roof: This product is applied in a single rolled roof manner, but it has a mineral-based wear surface. Some models are a peel-and-stick system. These are easier to install. These roofs are also great for being reflective against the heat, reducing energy costs.

Maintenance Schedule

It is always important to keep these roofs clean. That means after a storm blows through, it is important to visually inspect the structure to ensure there is no damage to it. Remove all material from it on a consistent basis as well.

After that, it is also important to ensure that you have the roof inspected at least three times a year. This includes after the winter to minimize any snow and ice damage. The biggest concern with flat roofs is pooling water, which can cause damage. Other concerns include any holes, blisters, or soft areas. Cracks should also be repaired as soon as possible. 

Tips for Maintaining a Flat Roof

Property owners with a flat roof need to work to maintain it on a consistent basis. To do that, there are several key factors to keep in mind:

Professional roof installation

At the heart of success are proper professional inspections. Even if a property owner checks the roof on a consistent basis, it can be hard to detect areas of concern fully. That is why it is necessary to have the roof inspected annually. Set this up at least three times throughout the year.

Remove debris from roof

Because there is no angle on these roofs, debris collects on them more commonly. It is critical that you inspect them on a regular basis to ensure nothing is present. When walking on it, be careful not to damage the material. Clear away leaves, dirt, and any other material with a broom. Don’t use anything that has a sharp edge on it.

Trim trees back away from roof

Keep trees away from the overhang on the roof. These pose the most risk to the structural integrity of the material as branches touching or falling on the surface can damage it. Remove tree branches that could grow and rub against and scrape the surface of the roof. Also, note that moss can spread from trees onto the surface of the roof quickly, causing damage to the overall integrity.

Manage roof leaks quickly

Flat roofs can crack, and that can lead to a leak. If you see a crack, assume a leak is present, have a professional inspection, and repair it immediately for the best results. Roof leaks that start small will get larger and more significant over a shorter amount of time if you do not address the concern quickly enough. The most common areas of concern are along the seams and flashing, but they can occur anywhere there is damage to the surface.

Minimize the weight on your roof

Another key concern with flat roofs is the amount of weight they can hold. Most often, this is not a problem, but in heavy snow or when heavy ice builds on the surface, it causes stress and strain to the system, leading to damage. Even if installed properly, the roof cannot take a large amount of weight. Though it is not likely to happen, these roofing structures can collapse under that weight. Unlike an angled roof where water and snow will fall eventually, a flat roof does not have this benefit.

Keep a roof drainage system in place

When you have a flat roof installed, a big part of the process will be having a properly sized and designed drainage system for the structure. This will help to ensure water is moving away from it. If you have pooling water on the structure of your roof, that means the drainage system is not working or is not good enough. There may be a blockage somewhere, or there may be damage to it. In all cases, call a professional out to make repairs as soon as possible on these structures.

A Flat Roof Can Be Worth It with Proper Maintenance

What is most important about flat roofs is maintaining them. Doing that helps them to maintain the way they look and function while also ensuring that you get the longest lifespan out of them, which could be decades.  

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