Flat roofs are a commonly featured aspect of modern architecture, Santa Fe style homes, and commercial buildings and require higher levels of maintenance than pitched roofs. In truth, a high percentage of the roofs in the flat category are actually pitched to a small degree to facilitate some drainage, but low profile inclinations still tend to capture and hold more rainwater, snow, snowmelt, leaves and debris than steeper roofs. Here are some of the extra steps that can reduce wear, protect against leaks, and preserve a flat roof for the long term.
1) Clear the roof after weather events Leaves and other forms of debris can stay on a flat roof indefinitely, ending up in the drainage system, trapping water, and leading the growth of moss and algae. All of these issues can be mitigated by clearing the roof of all forms of debris on a regular basis. Do not use a hard-bristled broom as it can damage the roofs water-proof membrane or scratch off its protective coating.
2) Clear the gutters and downspouts of the drainage system Use a high-powered hose attachment to spray debris out of gutters and check for steady flow out of the downspouts to prevent clogs that can back up water on to the roof. If your downspouts clog easily, consider the purchase of the type of snake that plumbers use to clear pipes. Additionally, make sure to clear debris from drain filters to prevent water from backing up around them as well.
3) Cut back any branches that now overhang or are in contact with the roof Even if you trimmed nearby trees in the fall, the position of branches can be changed by wind and/or by the weight of snow that they carry. If branches have been lowered or shifted to the point where they are now overhanging or are in contact with the roof, another round of trimming is in order. If there is snow on the roof or footing is tricky, consider hiring a professional service for the work.
4) Do a visual inspection for developing structural issues Check flashing for cracking and separation from vents, ducts, and other structures that are cut through the roof deck to the interior from the exterior. Pooled water may be indicating that the deck is either warping or is sagging under the weight of accumulated snow, ice, and/or water. The appearance of water-filled blisters in the decks membrane is a sign that there is a leak nearby. Call a professional roofer for repairs immediately if any of these deficiencies are present.
Flat roofs do not shed water, snow and debris with the efficiency of inclined roofs and require a higher level of vigilance regarding maintenance. Taking these winter maintenance steps can ensure that your flat roof drains properly, isnt overstressed by heavy snow or water loads, and gets needed repairs as quickly as possible.