While they do have their perks, flat roofs have design and installation factors that can play into damages and performance issues. In the long run, you may end up with a shorter roof lifespan than you expect – here are a few tips for issues you should consider.
Among all issues a flat roof can experience, this is the most frequent by far. Usually caused by unnoticed ponding water after rainfall, only 48 hours are needed before leaks start becoming apparent. You should check for moisture buildup around seams and flashings around your roof. Clogged drains, chimneys, and skylights are also places where you’ll want to watch for moisture buildup. If any water gets under the membrane and into the sheathing of your roof, there’s a chance rot and mold will quickly start to grow.
A common problem for EPDM membranes is shrinkage – when rubber shrinks, it can pull down other objects like parapet walls or chimneys! This is more likely to occur on a large building or on a building where the membrane was not properly secured and installed. Keep your eyes out for signs of discoloration along with signs of shrinkage to spot problems before they get out of hand.
The last major issue that commonly affects flat roofs and flat roof decking is caused by heavy foot traffic. Often done by HVAC contractors and other visitors who go on the roof, damage can be caused by dropping tools, tripping on fasteners, or otherwise puncturing the membrane and allowing moisture inside. After a company has been on the roof, be sure to inspect for any signs of punctures or other damages.