Flat roofs are often constructed on office buildings and homes because they are economical. Less materials are used during installation and attic spaces are reduced to keep heating costs down. Flat roofs are slightly pitched to allow water to run off the structure. Although this is true, flat roofs can leak and become damaged by water if they are not properly maintained. You can easily reduce water damage and leak risks though, as long as you follow the tips below.
Keep Outlets and Drains Clear
Outlets and drains are installed across the sides of your flat roof to allow water to drain away and down through gutters. Large channels collect the water so it can easily drain, but the channels can quickly become clogged with leaves, branches, and other debris. When this happens, puddles of water can collect on the top of your flat roof and the extra weight places a great deal of pressure on your home or office building. Sitting water can also find its way through small cracks in the tar and gravel, rubber, or bitumen that covers the roof surface. You can easily prevent this from happening by cleaning out your drains regularly.
Proper Drain Cleaning Practices
Your roof drain is likely covered with a large metal grate, and you need to clean this grate and remove all of the debris that has worked its way under the covering. You should clean the drain every two weeks in the fall and after every major rainstorm.
To clean the drain, find the metal grate on your roof and clear away the leaves and debris from the cover. Place the debris in a bucket and use a socket wrench to release the bolts that hold the drain in place. Place your hand in the drain and remove loose debris. To clear the leaves and other matter that sit deep in the drain, use a garden hose to flush it out. If the water pressure is not strong enough to rinse the drain, then use a plumbing snake to remove clogs from the tube. A cable auger with a flexible metal hose is the best option to remove drain clogs. Replace the drain grate when you are done.
Once the drains are cleaned, inspect your property and locate tree branches that hang over your roof. Trim these branches so that leaves are less likely to blow onto your roof. Also, consider placing a screen over your drain grate in the fall so that leaves cannot work their way through the large holes of the cover.
Inspect Roof Edges
Your flat roof collects water along the edges and the slight pitch of the roof allows the water to run to your drain. The flow of rain water constantly pushes against these edges and the materials that make up your roof can pull up and allow water to leak through to your home or business. You can keep this from happening by regularly inspecting the edges of your roof and by repairing any loose or ripped material as soon as your notice damage.
Repairing a Tar and Gravel Roof
If you have a tar and gravel roof, then tar and rock materials are built over a felt or fiberglass membrane. If this membrane is exposed or ripped around the side of your roof, then you need to replace the damaged material. Use a utility knife to cut through the tar and the top felt or fiberglass membrane that appears damaged. There will be undamaged material underneath the ripped membrane that you should not cut through.
Pull up the tar and felt material and inspect the membrane underneath. If it is wet, use a rag to soak up water and removed the damaged felt material. If the area is drenched, then use a hair dryer or a blowtorch to dry out the membrane as much as you can. Afterwards, spread a generous amount of roofing cement underneath the tar material and press it over the undamaged felt. Secure the area with several roofing nails and spread either tar or cement over the area to close off any holes.
Fixing a Rubber Roof
If you have a rubber roof, then purchase a self-adhesive rubber patch to cover holes or damage. Make sure to clear debris away from the hole first and use soap and water around the damage, so the patch sticks properly when it is applied. Never use asphalt materials to repair a rubber roof, because asphalt is not compatible with rubber and an airtight seal will not be created over the damaged space.
If your house or commercial building is built with a flat roof, then you should be aware of leak and water damage risks. You can minimize these risks without much work as long as you use professionals from places like Right Way Roofing Inc who keep drains clean and help you fix damaged roof edges.