Roof Repairs for Leaky Flat and Low-Sloping Roofs

Roof repairs can be a home owners nightmare!  The biggest cause of early-onset roofing problems is failure in the early stages to find and resolve any minor faults or deterioration. On relatively low-sloped roofs this holds particularly true of roofing materials.

Adverse weather conditions require inspection of roofs, and emergency repairs may need to administered, because water leakage into a building can happen at any time (nights, weekends, holidays and so on).  Be aware that it is not advisable to attempt repairs on roofs during storms because of the danger of lightning striking, and high winds, and caution should be taken when inspecting a roof after such adverse weather in case of damage to the structure, which may have left the roof in a hazardous condition.

If there is any cause for concern about the condition of the roof, contact a professional roofing contractor to arrange inspection and any repairs required.  If there is no-one available, and to prevent damage to the interior of the building and its contents, emergency repairs can be undertaken.  These should be as simple as possible to maximize safety of non-professional roofers, and they should be classed as temporary only – the permanent repairs being undertaken as soon as the weather allows.

If there is a manufacturer’s warranty, the manufacturer and the installation contractor should be contacted right away.

Roof Repairs – Procedures

There is a vast number of types of roofing membranes, too many to tailor to emergency roof repairs individually.  If literature or advice cannot be found, or if there are no procedures available for emergency repairs, the following guidelines are suggested:

Protect the interior: Use containers to catch water leakages and plastic sheeting to protect building contents.

As much water should be removed from the roof as possible.  Drains and scuppers need to be checked for any blockages and that they are functional.  Excessive pooling of water on the roof causes leakage and collapse, and it is usually caused by blocked drains and/or scuppers.

While clearing debris from drains, utmost caution needs to be exercised, as draining water causes excessive suction force which can suck tools, hands and limbs quickly into the vortex and down the drain.

Locate the source of a leak: The area of leakage in the interior of the building should be inspected to locate the exact point on the roof surface above when determining the source of a leak.  From here, check the condition of rooftop mechanical equipment and all flashing at terminations and penetrations.  Next remove any ballast from the immediate site of leak and inspect the membrane surface for any damage.  Lastly, check roofing membrane seams (laps).

PLEASE NOTE: On a roof membrane that has been installed over insulation on a structural concrete deck, it can be very difficult to locate the source of a leak, as well as over an existing membrane or vapor retarder.  Where the source of the leak cannot be located, the building owner or maintenance personnel may have no other alternative than just controlling the spread of water until professional help arrives.

Perform emergency repairs: Choose roofing materials which will cause the minimalist of damage to the roofing membrane once the source of the leak is located.


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