Top 5 Signs of Flat Roof Damage and How to Fix It

Ballast flat roof

Flat roofs on residential and commercial buildings in Florida are very common. Installing a flat roofing system is typically less expensive than a pitched roof. A flat roof may also allow you to add a roof deck to enjoy year-long sunshine in Florida. And it’s easy to add unobtrusive solar panels to reduce energy bills. 

Although they have advantages, flat roofs can be prone to damage. For example, heavy downpours, tropical storms, and constant sunlight can cause extensive flat roof damage. This can result in water pooling on the roof. Eventually, signs of flat roof damage become apparent indoors — ceiling water spots and brown drip marks on walls indoors. 

Unfortunately, by the time you see indications of flat roof damage indoors, there is probably already extensive damage to the roof. Therefore, it’s always best to arrange for a regular roof inspection after the hurricane season in Florida. 

How can you tell if there is damage to your flat roof? What essential steps can you take to fix flat roof damage and make your building watertight again? Please read on to find the answers to these questions. 

Five Signs of Flat Roof Damage

To check for possible damage to your flat roof, it’s a good idea to make an annual visual inspection. Tell-tale signs that you need to fix a flat roof include damaged flashing, puddles on the roof, or blistering and cracking of the roof membrane. Drips on ceilings also indicate water seeping in through the roof.

Here are five common signs that you should address damage on a flat roof.

1. Damaged flashing

Flashing is a metal edge around a flat room that seals joints and other areas prone to water exposure. This protective element prevents roof leaks and water damage to your property. Damaged flashings can be rust, broken seals, or other types of damage. However, loose seams on flashing can also cause water damage during extreme weather.  

If not repaired promptly, damaged flashing can cause more extensive damage, resulting in costly roof repairs or even an entire flat roof replacement. 

2. Water pooling on the roof

After heavy rainfall or a storm, water puddles on the flat roof can signal trouble. Typically, water runs off a flat roof because it’s installed on a slight slope. However, sagging or a blocked drainage system can cause water to pool. 

It’s good to remember that puddles of water on the roof can eventually destroy seals and cause more severe leaks. In addition, pools of water should never be on a flat roof. Therefore, they are an indication of problems with a flat roof structure. 

A professional roof inspector can determine if the ponding water is due to clogged drains or a weakened roof structure. 

3. Cracked, bubbling, or blistered surfaces

Flat roofs in Florida must withstand harsh climatic conditions. For example, damaging UV rays from the sun, hurricanes, and excessive humidity can cause cracks and blisters in the roof membrane. Unfortunately, even the most minor cracks can cause serious water leaks on a flat roof. 

Typically, it is relatively straightforward and inexpensive to repair tiny cracks in an asphalt, PVC, or thermoplastic polyolefin membrane on a flat roof. Therefore, it’s never a good idea to put off repairing minor signs of damage as they can quickly become a significant repair expense. 

4. Water dripping inside the building

Dripping water from the ceiling is an apparent sign of damage to the flat roof. The water leakage could be due to cracks in the roof surface, damaged flashing, blocked gutters, or drainage system. However, the source of the leak could also be due to a faulty plumbing or HVAC system. 

Because the source of the leak is difficult to locate, it’s always best to call a professional roofing company to inspect the flat roof and repair the damage. 

5. Musty odor or mold

Minor damage on a flat roof may not result in obvious water leaks. However, excessive moisture that permeates the roof membrane could cause musty odors or mold growth on the ceilings and walls. While the roof damage may not seem severe, it can lead to more problems. 

For example, the CDC reports that leaks in roofs and around pipes or windows can cause mold and dampness. This could appear as discolored black, green, or brown patches on surfaces. And exposure to moldy environments can result in several serious health issues. 

How to Fix Damage to Flat Roofs

Fixing a leaking flat roof promptly is essential. Especially in Florida, the extreme weather conditions can quickly cause minor roof damage to become a significant problem. The last thing you want to do is try and fix a severe water leak during a tropical storm. 

The first step in repairing a flat roof is to locate the damage. However, signs of flat roof leaks are rarely directly below the source of the leak. This is because flat roofs are on a slight slope, and water runs down to lower points. 

Generally, it’s best to leave flat roof repairs to a qualified flat roof repair company. In many cases, a DIY roof repair causes more damage because of using substandard or inappropriate roofing material. Also, climbing onto a roof is dangerous, especially if you have no experience working at heights. 

Professional roofing experts will typically fix minor flat roof damage this way. 

  • Look for apparent damage on the flat roof. This could be where water is pooling, damaged roof flashings, or cracks in the roof membrane.
  • Remove any debris as this may reveal more damage. 
  • Dry the surrounding area before removing the damaged membrane. 
  • Apply roofing cement to the area under the removed membrane. 
  • Press the flaps of the surrounding membrane onto the cement to reseal the cut.
  • Cover and seal the area with an appropriate roofing membrane

In some cases, roofing contractors will use a specially designed roof coating to provide long-lasting protection. 

Diagnose Signs of Flat Roof Damage With a Free Roof Inspection

Don’t wait until you notice signs of flat roof damage before calling roofing experts. Why not arrange a professional roof inspection today to check for potential issues before major roof damage occurs. 

Call Code Engineered Systems today to arrange a free roof inspection. Our team has many years of experience fixing and installing flat roofs in the Tampa Bay area. 

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