Flat roofs are the bane of many a homeowner’s existence. This type of roof is alluring and used in new construction for modern, “Frank Lloyd Wright” style houses as well as in traditional houses over storefronts, back porches or other additions. Though attractive, such roofs are particularly prone to leaks and subsequent repairs. However, according to “This Old House” contractor, Tom Silva, a properly installed and well-maintained flat roof should last at least 20 years, with no leaks.
Unlike traditional pitched or slanted roofs, flat roofs allow rainwater to collect on top of the roof, rather than glide off into the gutters. If there’s even the smallest flaw in the roofing seal, water can enter the house and cause leaks in the ceiling. This is just one of the many reasons why you will need to do your homework before beginning any type of flat roof repairs. Some may choose to do it yourself, while others may choose the route of a professional. Both of these are viable options.
How to Patch a Tar and Gravel Flat Roof
One of the most challenging aspects of flat roof repair is actually finding the spot that needs to be repaired. Water is adept at traveling down joists and beams, and the place where the water is leaking inside the house may be several feet, or even yards, away from the outside problem. Once you locate the hole, clean and dry the area thoroughly. Apply a layer of roofing cement to the trouble area, apply a fabric patch (available at most home improvement stores) and cover the area with another layer of roofing cement.
When to Call a Flat Roof Repair Contractor
Not all flat roof repairs should be tackled by homeowners. If your roof is relatively new (under one or two years old), it may still be under warranty. Contact the firm that installed the flat roof to check and have them repair if the warranty still applies. You don’t want to pay for repairs unless you have to.
Another time to call a professional roofer is when your roof is damaged beyond what a small patch will fix and needs to be totally replaced. Such jobs require specialized knowledge and missing one step, like improperly installing the flashing, will cause the roof to leak.
Maintaining Your Flat Roof
If you’d like to avoid needing a flat roof repair, there are several things you can do to help keep your flat roof leak free. First of all, avoid walking on the roof at all costs. Even the lightest foot pressure can break the seal of the roof. Clear debris from the roof regularly, at least once in the spring and again in the fall.
Owning a home with a flat roof doesn’t always have to be stressful. Although, this type of roof has been known to be more prone to problems than a pitched roof, with a little maintenance and care, you’ll be leak-free for years and years to come.