Repair of flat roofs: an overview of possible damage and ways to eliminate them

Because of their affordability and adaptability, flat roofs are a common option for many types of buildings. But over time, they are vulnerable to different kinds of damage, which, if ignored, can result in leaks and structural problems. Maintaining the integrity of your building depends on your ability to identify and fix common issues that flat roofs encounter.

Ponding water is one of the most common problems with flat roofs. This happens when water collects in the roof’s low-lying areas, usually as a result of poor drainage. Water ponding can eventually cause leaks by causing the roofing materials to deteriorate. Essential preventive measures include installing drainage systems correctly and conducting routine inspections to make sure water is removed from the roof effectively.

Damage to the membranes is another frequent issue. Membranes like EPDM, TPO, or built-up roofing materials are frequently used on flat roofs to provide waterproofing. Over time, these membranes may become perforated, torn, or blistered, particularly in regions with harsh weather. In order to preserve the roof’s water-repellent qualities, damaged membranes must be patched or replaced.

Perhaps the most obvious indication of roof damage is a leak, which can be caused by a number of underlying problems like cracked sealants, broken flashing, or deteriorating roofing materials. It can be difficult to find the source of a leak because water can trickle down roof structures and into the building’s interior. Finding leaks and fixing them quickly are essential to halting additional water damage and the spread of mold.

Moreover, flat roofs are susceptible to thermal expansion and contraction, especially those with inadequate insulation. Temperature variations force roofing materials to expand and contract, putting stress on the roof structure and possibly causing damage to joints and seams. The lifespan of the roof can be increased and these effects can be lessened with proper insulation and routine maintenance.

It takes knowledge of typical problems and practical fixes to repair flat roofs. This article examines the different types of damages that can occur to flat roofs, including membrane damage, ponding water, and leaks. Through early detection of these issues and application of suitable repair techniques such as patching, recoating, or even complete replacement when required, homeowners can increase the longevity of their flat roofs and guarantee improved weather resistance. The integrity and functionality of flat roofs can be preserved by proactive maintenance and prompt repairs, whether the issue is fixing membrane cracks or enhancing drainage systems."

What types of damage are?

Among the primary damages to the flat roof are:

  • surface cracking;
  • local mechanical damage (holes, through cracks, cuts);
  • peeling of the roofing at the edges and in the seams;
  • the appearance of folds;
  • rotting rotting;
  • blooming, bubbles;
  • wear (loss) sprinkling the upper layer of the roofing carpet.

Defects can be caused by a number of things, including mistakes made during installation, inadequate attic floor insulation, mechanical influences, and environmental factors.

Anyhow, leaks and the disintegration of concrete ceilings are inevitable consequences of damage to the roof’s structural integrity. This made it necessary to perform the current local flat roof repair during a time when a full replacement is not yet required.

Repair of roller bitumen roofs

Roofing material or its equivalents from a range of fused bitumen waterproofers (euro-ruble, rubemast, glass insult, etc.P.) are typically used to cover flat roofs. Let’s begin with them, then.

Local damage (cuts, breakthroughs, penetration)

The purification of the roof from snow in the winter, hail entering, and human movement can all cause mechanical damage to the surface. Additional potential reasons include base deformation and the initial marriage formed during coating installation.

Repairing a damaged area with a patch eliminates local defects. The material used for the main coating is also used to cut out the patch. Its size is designed to block the defect by 10-15 cm in all directions, and its edges are rounded to lessen the chance of detachment.

Conventional repair work algorithm:

  • The place of damage is cleaned (including from protective sprinkling) and dried;
  • cut the patch;
  • glue it on mastic or swim using a building hair dryer;
  • smooth the patch with a roller or other suitable item to equal the edges of the patch with the main surface.

If all goes according to plan, the roof’s integrity will be fully restored and the patch will hardly be noticeable.

The following procedure for applying the patch over the bitumen coating crack will be recorded for the video:

Vast damage to the bitumen roof

It usually happens when moisture penetrates the bitumen layer, damages a significant portion of the roof, and starts to rot it. In order to reinstate the coating’s integrity, the subsequent procedures are executed:

  • The damaged area is cleaned of gravel (in the presence of sprinkling);
  • Cut the square or rectangular piece of the canvas containing damage (layer by layer);
  • clean and dry the educated gap;
  • Using a cut piece of the canvas as a template, as many patches are cut out of bituminous material as it was decided to replace the layers;
  • They smear mastic on a bare section and glue the patch for stamping, smooth it with a roller;
  • Similarly glue the following layers of patches;
  • Cut another finish patch, so that it blocks the damaged area by 10-15 cm from all sides;
  • They spread mastic and glue the patch on it, smoothed with a roller.

The material is used for repairs in the same manner, with the exception of gluing piles together using bitumen mastics. The waterproofing patch is heated from below the thermophene until the bitumen layer that is adhering to it melts. After that, a roller is used to smooth, fix, and lay the patch in place.

Crossing the bitumen surface

Bitumen materials are susceptible to the development of minute surface fissures when exposed to elevated temperatures and sunlight.

In order to seal cracks on the surface, the following is done:

  • The spoiled area is cleaned of dirt, old mastic and sprinkling (if any);
  • dried;
  • covered with mastic in 2 layers;
  • Bold the updated area with a coarse -grained sprinkle.

Patches made of the same material as the primary coating may also be applied to areas where there is a network of cracks. In this instance, its size should obstruct the defect’s area from all sides by ten to fifteen centimeters. The lower side of the patch is preheated with a stream of thermophen before it is adhered to the mastic using the fusion method of choice.

Air or water bubbles

Formed in the summer when the roof quickly cools and warms due to seasonal or daily temperature fluctuations. The bubbles are produced by the expanding air in the roofing carpet’s insulating layers. In the event that moisture seeps into the undercarbon space, the same outcome occurs. It vaporizes when heated and forms swelling.

Repairs to get rid of bubbles:

  • remove the layers of sprinkle from the place of bloating;
  • The place of swelling is cut with a knife along or envelope (cross-stroke), the edges are bent to dry parts;
  • dry the inner surface;
  • clean it of pollution;
  • process the cavity with bitumen mastic;
  • glue the bent edges back to the mastic, pressed and roll the restored canvas with a roller;
  • A pre-prepared patch is glued with mastic or melted to the cut place with its overlap at least 10-15 cm, pressed with a roller.

Detachment of a waterproofing carpet from the base

It happens when a roll of canvas is installed without first thoroughly cleaning the base (a screed or concrete plate). The installation process was carried out without applying bitumen primer to the base. As a result, there is little adhesion between the waterproofing material and the foundation.

To resolve the issue as stated:

  • The exfolved part of the canvas from below is cleaned of mastic;
  • remove dirt from the base, dry it;
  • apply mastic to the base and glued on it a refined area;
  • press the restored place with a roller;
  • If the canvas of the material at the exfoliation site was torn, then a patch is applied along the rupture line with a width of 20 cm.

Repair of membrane roofs

Membranes made of polymers are more resilient than any bitumen waterproofing. They can provide 50 years of service. However, even membrane roofs are not covered by insurance against a variety of mechanical problems, such as seam depressurization and punctures and ruptures. The majority of the time, coatings are harmed while doing different tasks on the roof, like clearing snow or installing machinery.

The repair of the damaged membrane typically entails the resealing of the seams and the sealing of defects using polymer patches.

Mechanical damage

A polymer canvas may develop gaps and cracks due to careless movement along the roof, using sharp objects to remove snow and ice, dragging objects, or falling objects.

Sequence of recovery work:

  • The repaired section of the canvas is cleaned and degreased;
  • Cut the patch from the membrane, preferably the same type and manufacturer as the main coating; Its dimensions should be such as to block the defect by 5-10 cm on each side;
  • The patch is soldered with a stream of hot air using a welding machine;
  • roll off the stubborn place with a roller.

Every piece of technology looks like this:

You can use the adhesive method of fastening instead of welding when installing a patch on the EPDM membrane.

Depressurization of seams

When the welding apparatus is not moving at the proper speed during installation, it can cause the neighboring canvases in the suture joint locations to separate. An additional plausible explanation could be the initial "interference" created during membrane installation, which allowed unskilled installers to visually mask the base’s imperfections.

Here’s how depressurization is removed:

  • The stratification site is processed with a special cleaner;
  • The seams are soldered by welding;
  • In some cases, to strengthen the places of stratification, on top of the problem seam, a palm on the membrane is applied.

Another chance exists to remove damage without the need for costly components and welding equipment. We are discussing the latest Eternabond technologies that are utilized to repair minor damage and restore seam tightness.

The roll tape that makes up Eternabond repair material has an adhesive layer applied to one side of it. The tape can create a uniform surface with a membrane that is just as strong as an integral canvas.

The following is how Eternabond tape repair work is done:

  • the surface of the defect is treated with a special solvent;
  • cut off the necessary part from the roll of the tape;
  • remove the protective film on the adhesive side of the tape;
  • press the tape to the place of the defect and roll it with a roller.

Repair of mastic roofs

These are not always flattened by polymer canvases or roll materials for flat roofs; in recent years, liquid waterproofing has been used extensively for these purposes. The base of the roof is coated with a unique mastic that, when exposed to air, hardens and transforms into a polymer membrane.

A mastic roof may develop cracks after a few years of use. After dusting and cleaning them, use mastic or polymer-cement mortar to fill the flush.

In the event that strengthening the roofing carpet is required, the site is covered with a layer of bitumen mastic, and windows and glasses are fed into it until it is fully impregnated. The final layer of mastic is applied after the first layer has dried.

If more than 40% of the area is damaged, a continuous layer of mastic is applied. In this instance, mastic is first used to repair the damaged areas locally. Next, a second, at least 3–4 mm thick layer of mastic is applied over the entire surface, and once it hardens, the protective layer is added.

Types of Damage Repair Methods
1. Ponding water Improve drainage; apply waterproof coatings.
2. Cracks and splits Fill with sealant; apply patching materials.
3. Blistering Release trapped air; apply new roofing material.
4. Membrane punctures Seal with adhesive; use patches or overlays.

Because flat roofs are prone to different kinds of damage, repairing them can be difficult. Leaks are a frequent problem that are frequently brought on by roofing material cracks or inadequate sealing around vents and edges. If these leaks are not fixed right away, the building may sustain internal water damage.

Ponding water—a condition on flat roofs where water collects and improperly drains—is another issue. This may occur as a result of poor installation or gradual roof structure sagging. If neglected, ponding water can hasten the deterioration of a roof and necessitate more extensive repairs.

Moreover, weathering, UV rays, and mechanical damage can all harm flat roof membranes. Whether made of EPDM, TPO, or another material, roofing membranes can deteriorate over time, reducing their ability to keep out moisture and necessitating replacement or patching.

Depending on the kind and extent of the damage, there are a number of repair techniques available to address these problems. It is frequently possible to repair minor leaks and cracks by directly applying sealants or patches to the affected area. Ponding water problems can be reduced by resloping the area or adding more drains to improve drainage.

In more serious situations, where the membrane is severely worn out or damaged, a new roof or significant repairs might be required. Roofing experts must be consulted in order to precisely evaluate the damage and choose the best course of action to preserve the flat roof’s long-term integrity.

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Alexandra Fedorova

Journalist, author of articles on construction and repair. I will help you understand the complex issues related to the choice and installation of the roof.

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