A common misconception is that a flat roof in British Columbia’s wet, rainy climate doesn’t make sense. It DOES make sense, particularly if you have height restrictions in your area and want to maximize your view or if you have a large building and want to minimize your cost.
Like any roof, flat roofs require regular maintenance and care. There are a number of things you can do (and not do) to make sure that you get the most out of your flat roof.
DO perform visual inspections.
Regular inspections are an important factor in maintaining your flat roof. Look for signs of splitting, blistering or ponding and excessive standing pools of water. Regular inspections give you the opportunity to perform maintenance that will prolong your roof membrane’s life span and avoid the costs and headaches associated with major repairs.
Inside, keep a close eye on anything wrong with your ceiling. Blistering, sagging, water stains or mildew/mold which can all be signs of trouble.
DO perform regular maintenance.
Hire a professional to safely remove dirt, leaves and debris from your roof, gutters and drains on a regular basis. The most important thing on a flat roof is to not impede the water flow. Use the least invasive tool for each maintenance item in order to prevent further damage.
It is also important to ensure all overhanging tree limbs are cut back to avoid blockage and damage due to fallen leaves and branches. Vegetation and growth can penetrate the membrane eventually leading to roof failure.
Water is more likely to pool on a flat roof. If the pooling is excessive it could be a sign of building settlement or that not enough slope was provided during the previous roofing phase. Snowfall can also cause significant damage and should be shovelled off the roof carefully as soon as it’s safe to do so.
DO NOT, unless your roof has been designed for it, use your flat roof as a living area. Most membranes, specifically EPDM roofing systems are not designed for foot traffic. Standing or repeated walking on a flat roof can damage and compromise your roof and roof deck as well as potentially puncture the surface. Modified bitumen roofing systems can typically withstand more traffic. If you don’t know which type of roof you have, it’s best to avoid unnecessary traffic.
If you do identify any issues, DO NOT attempt repairs by yourself. This often leads to a lot more problems than what you began with, especially if any open flame is required. It is also important to remember that compatible materials need to be used during repair to avoid failure and maintain any warranties that might be valid.
A general rule of thumb is if your flat roof is more than 10 years old, it might be time to call in the professionals. Make sure you check references and hire a roofing contractor that has the experience and knowledge to do the job properly.
Penfolds Roofing & Solar provides commercial and residential roofing services. Founded in 1937, Penfolds has grown to become one of the largest and most trusted roofing companies in British Columbia. Built on quality, value and trust, Penfolds specializes in roof installation and roof repair for all types of roofing materials as well as solar panel installations. Contact us for a free, no-obligation quote.