Flat roofs are designed and made differently from other roofs. Because of this, unless you know exactly what to look for, a few common things can quickly go wrong with a flat roof.
Have you just spent money fixing a flat roof, or are you thinking of installing a new one? Then you really ought to know what signs of deterioration to keep an eye out for in order to protect your investment.
Here are the top 3 things that can go wrong with a flat roof…
#1 Cracking, Splitting & Peeling
Cracking, splitting and peeling (delaminating) are unsightly and bad news for the condition of your flat roof and property. This issue affects some types of flat roofs more than others. But the effect is the same; your roof begins to disintegrate as the waterproof and weatherproofing layers start to fall apart, literally cracking and splitting or peeling off your building.
The type of roofs most at risk of cracking, splitting and peeling are felt and GRP. Their materials – felt and fibreglass respectively, are less flexible and more fragile. Your building will experience natural movement, particularly through changing seasons. Fragile and inflexible materials, such as those in GRP and felt roofs, cannot withstand the stress and strain. Instead of absorbing the movement, they will start to break apart.
The great British weather also plays a big part in what can go wrong with a flat roof. Large amounts of rainfall, hot summer days, UV light, freezing winter temperatures, and gale-force winds place a heavy burden on any type of flat roof. Those made with cheaper materials can soon become brittle and break apart.
Once this cracking and splitting start to go wrong with a flat roof, further problems can quickly arise. Water can filter into your flat roof space and seep down into your building. The structure of your roof can deteriorate, and the rest of your property is at risk of expensive water damage too.
Condensation has long been an issue within roof structures. Flat roofs can be particularly at risk if the materials used to construct them are not vapour-permeable or able to waterproof against ponding water.
When your roof structure is laid above particularly moisture-producing rooms such as kitchens or bathrooms, it’s even more important to install a flat roof that is vapour-permeable. Then excess moisture from your heated living spaces can escape your flat roof and minimise the risk of condensation.
Condensation can be caused by poor ventilation or cold roof structures that allow hot and cold air to mix and create further water vapour within the roof space. Do you know the difference between a cold and warm roof? For more of an explanation, check out our recent blog post here.
If condensation starts to build up in your flat roof, it can be difficult to detect before more significant problems arise. By then, you could be facing rotting wood in your flat roof structure, and mould and damp. All of which are extremely expensive and time-consuming to fix.
To prevent condensation from building up in a flat roof, it’s best to ask professional roof fitters to install your roof and get clued up on what causes condensation in the first place.
#3 Flat Roof Leaks
It’s true that leaks can happen with any roof. But flat roofs? Leaks are guaranteed to crop up when discussing what can go wrong with flat roofs. That’s because many flat roofs are DIY jobs or fitted by an inexperienced handyperson, or worse – a rogue roofer! So they’re well-known for experiencing problem leaks.
Anything fitted badly can leak, but the cheaper flat roofs are more prone to failure. Felt deteriorates quickly in harsh weather. While GRP fibreglass roofs cannot handle building movement and require particular conditions to fit seamlessly and bond well. Leaks often occur around vents, joins, plumbing stacks, roof lights and roof edges due to poor fitting.
Most flat roof materials also age fairly quickly. The design of a flat roof makes it vulnerable to ponding water, UV damage and the growth of organic matter, all of which lead to brittle roofs that can split, crack and break after a few years. Even the most inconspicuous cracks can let water seep through into your flat roof space and down into your property, causing a costly repair.
Preventing Issues That Can Go Wrong With A Flat Roof
While some key things can go wrong with flat roofs, all of them are preventable. By using expert roof fitters and paying for the most durable type of flat roof, you can stop the problems from the get-go, or at least hold them off for decades.
By being aware of the most likely things that can go wrong with your flat roof, you can also stay one step ahead, look for the signs of deterioration, and put them right as soon as possible to prevent further expensive damage.
Would you like to know exactly how long a flat roof could last you? Take a look at our recent blog post all about that topic here.