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  • Maintenance guide to avoid flat roof repair

    By Doug Kelley

    Flat roofs are those with a pitch of less than 15 degrees. You will generally find that unless you approach a specialist non-standard home insurance broker, most insurers will struggle to insure a flat roof property due to concerns with their endurance. They can essentially have a long life span, but only if they are correctly maintained. Life span will also be dependent on the flat roof materials used and you will generally find that felt or asphalt-based roofs are less durable compared to slate or more modern materials such as EPDM.

    To prevent your roof from damage you will need to carry out flat roof maintenance on a regular basis and at least every Spring and Autumn, or following heavy weather conditions.

    Flat roofs traditionally built from felts can be more vulnerable to splitting, blistering, ponding and felt movement. We have put together a short guide to these issues and what you can do to prevent substantial damage through regular flat roof maintenance.

    Flat roof repair from ‘Splitting’

    Splitting can be caused by freeze thawing, stress or pressure, water ponding or simply poor workmanship. It can be that the surface has not been cared for appropriately and solar-reflective paint or stones have not been maintained, or the surface has been damaged due to walking on it.

    Flat roof repair from ‘Ponding’

    Ponding will show as standing pools of water that do no drain or in dry conditions you will notice a concave area with a water mark surrounding it. If ponding occurs on the edge of your roof then you can install hoppers to collect the excess water, or an automatic pump can be implemented for problem areas in the middle of the roof. You could investigate fitting drains or ideally having the lower areas built up to stop the ponding altogether. Regular flat roof maintenance can help to prevent any damage that may cause ponding issues.

    Flat roof repair from ‘Blistering’

    Blistering happens when air is trapped between the layers of felt or the felt substrate. When the air heats it causes air pockets which can lead to puncture when the blister breaks particularly if it is a larger blister and located on a join. If this happens then water can pass through the roof. The area will need to be cleaned and fixed professionally to ensure a waterproof seal is maintained without the presence of moisture.

    Flat roof maintenance

    By regularly checking your roof you can remain vigilant and avoid a major problem, keeping insurance claims to a minimum. Through regular maintenance you can work on a preventative basis to avoid flat roof repair, which will be much more cost effective in the long run.

    Hire a professional to safely remove dirt, leaves and debris from your roof, gutters and drains on a regular basis. Where possible a leaf blower will be the best option of removal as standing of the roof itself can damage it further. Unless your flat roof has been designed for use as an outdoor area it is likely that it will be very fragile. Standing on a flat roof can damage the slanting of the roof which is important to allow for rain run-off as well as punctures in the surface. Ponding will also occur when the run-off is not sufficient and can cause major repair problems.

    Don’t forget that flat roof maintenance should include ensuring that all overhanging tree limbs are regularly cut back, allowing 1 metre clearance to avoid blockage and damage due to fallen leaves and branches as well as removing any unwanted vegetation or growth on the roof itself. Be aware that vegetation and moss can indicate that water is being held in sufficient quantity to allow growth which will ultimately lead to internal leakage.

    After a heavy storm check your roof for damage and ponding and clear away any leaves and debris. Snowfall can also cause significant damage and should be shovelled off the roof carefully to prevent this. Freeze thaw will split the surface so it is important to check for this which can be caused by expanding ice.

    Internally you should regularly check your ceiling for any stains caused by water damage and leaking to ensure that you take corrective action as soon as possible in order to limit damage.

    Insuring a flat roof

    Flat roofs are often seen as an insurance risk because they're thought to make a property more vulnerable to weather damage, require regular maintenance and provide easier access to thieves. In most cases you will require a specialist insurance provider to cover a property with a flat roof. Bluedrop provide flat roof insurance, including comprehensive cover for flat roofs so you won’t be left out in the cold (quite literally).

    Want to find out more about Bluedrop's non-standard construction insurance?
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