• Bluedrop Blogs and Guides
  • Bluedrop Insurance Guides
  • Maintenance guide to avoid flat roof repair

    Maintenance guide to avoid flat roof repair

    A flat roof is classified as any roof that has a pitch of less than 15 degrees and remains a very popular choice for many homeowners when getting a conservatory or house extension. Flat roofs are unobtrusive, affordable and cheaper and easier to maintain than traditional roofs. However, because of the use of felt, asphalt-based and other similar materials, insurers are often uneasy about insuring this type of roof because of concerns over their longevity, especially when compared with more traditional slate, tiled or more modern EPDM roofs. Which is where flat roof maintenance comes in... 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.

    Depending on the quality of the original installation and continued maintenance, flat roofs can in actual fact easily last for up to 50 years at a time before needing to be replaced. This lifespan is almost as long as a tiled roofs, which themselves can last for up to 60 years.

    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.

    By carrying out regular checks and flat roof maintenance, you can make sure that your roof doesn’t suffer from any major damage or excessive wear and tear which could affect its performance, allow in damp, draughts or lower its level of insulation.

    It is typically recommended that you check your roof every spring and autumn, as well as after particularly harsh weather conditions, such as storms, strong winds and heavy snowfall.

    Flat roofs are often covered in a felt-based material, meaning that they are specifically prone to splitting, blistering, ponding and movement from the felt which doesn’t just affect the appearance of the roof on a superficial level, but can also cause damage to the inside and outside of your property; including leaks, draughts and damp.

    So, in order for you to know exactly how to keep your flat roof looking and performing its best and prevent any substantial damage, we have put together a short, helpful and informative guide on how to fix a leaking flat roof and flat roof maintenance which will help to extend its lifespan for years to come.

    How to fix a leaking flat roof

    If you want to repair any splits, blistering or damages yourself then you must properly examine the damage first before committing to fixing the leak in your flat roof.

    You should start by examining the damage to the ceiling so you can locate where the water is getting in from the roof. Once located, check the roof to see if you can see any visible damage, you may need to clear the roof of any debris or dirt to get a better view of the damage.

    You should then clear the area of any damp or water before you fix the leaking flat roof.

    Splitting and blistering are the most common damages found to felt roofs that need repairing.

    Flat Roof Repair From ‘Splitting’

    Flat roof repair from splitting

    Splitting is a rather common problem for flat roofs, occurring when the felt or asphalt material covering the roof suffers from cracks or tears. This doesn’t just affect the outer appearance of the roof, but it can also allow water to get in through the gaps and into the interior of your property, resulting in leaks and damage from damp which can be difficult to fix in itself.

    Splits in the roofing material can be caused by a number of things, including wear and tear from exposure to the elements, stresses on the material (such as someone walking on it), water pooling, freeze-thawing or simply poor workmanship when the roof was first installed or recently repaired.

    If you have noticed staining or the beginning signs of damp appearing on the ceiling or on the tops of the walls inside your property underneath the flat roof, this can also be a sign of splitting or other damage to the roof that is allowing in water.

    Repairing a split can be a quick and simple fix, with the damaged area of material needing to be removed, the underneath cleaned and dried and a new section of material being laid over some new adhesive.

    If you are confident with DIY you can realistically carry out this type of flat roof maintenance yourself, although it is recommended that you hire a professional to perform the repair as this means a high-quality repair that won’t affect any insurance claims should your roof suffer from any major damage later on.

    How to fix splitting in your felt roof

    If you're fixing a flat roof yourself, you should start by examining the size of the split and measuring the size needed to cover the damage.

    Before you repair the flat roof, you need to clear the area, you can then fill the space under the split or tear with bitumen adhesive or you can use roofing cement to seal down any loose areas of the felt roof.

    Failing that, if you are wondering how to fix a flat roof, there are felt roof repair kits that come as large patches to place over the top of any splits or tears. You will need to cut a piece of felt that is big enough to allow a 15cm overlap around the damage. Then seal it down with bitumen adhesive or roofing cement. You need to ensure that the patch is placed firmly on top of the adhesive and make sure that the edges are well sealed.

    For extra protection and waterproofing, you can apply an extra layer of roofing concrete on top of the roof patch.

    Flat Roof Repair From ‘Ponding’

    Ponding on flat roof

    While flat roofs are, as their name suggests, flat, they still have a slight slope to them that encourages any water to run off their surface and into the drains around the roof. However, if you have noticed that your roof is collecting large puddles of water when it rains it could be a sign that your roof’s drainage system isn’t working to its full potential.

    Ponding can cause deep concave indents to occur around the roof, as well as stains and watermarks to occur on the inside of your property. These indents will continue to collect water, damaging the material and over time may allow water to begin to seep through into the interior of your home.

    Ponding is usually caused by insufficient drainage, so, if you have noticed the beginnings of ponding on your flat roof, check that your drains and guttering is clear and free of any leaves, sticks or other things that could be blocking it up and preventing the water from running away.

    However, if your roof is still suffering from ponding even with clear drains, you may need to add additional external gutters to help collect the excess water, especially if the ponding is occurring around the edges of the roof; while automatic pumps can be used to deal with ponding in more central areas of the roof that cannot easily runoff.

    Additional drains can also be installed, as well as having lower or sunken areas of your roof built up and re-laid to create more of a slope so that water doesn’t collect in those areas.

    To prevent ponding from occurring in the first place, regular flat roof maintenance can help you to catch early signs of ponding while they are still small and easier to deal with before the damage becomes a more major problem.

    Flat Roof Repair From ‘Blistering’

    How to fix a blistered leaking flat roof

    While ponding and splitting often occur because of excessive water and damp conditions, blistering usually occurs because of excessive heat.

    Because of the multiple layers of felt and felt substrate, air can easily become trapped in between the layers. When this air becomes warmer, especially during the summer months, flat roof maintenance can become essential as air pockets can begin to occur, causing the material to bubble up.

    Over time, these air pockets will expand and contract with the changing temperatures, eventually resulting in the material bursting or rupturing, tearing a hole in the material. These, much like splits, can allow water to get in between the material when it rains, leaking through into the interior of your property and causing potential damp and water damage.

    Even if the blisters haven’t burst yet, the bubbling of the material can still allow moisture to get in.

    Once blistering occurs you may need to replace the material covering the affected area, the same as your would for splitting, as mentioned above. Professional repairers will ensure that the new material is properly weatherproofed, preventing any moisture from becoming trapped and protecting against more air bubbles from occurring.

    How to fix blistering in your flat roof

    If you decide to fix any small blistering yourself, you can do so by cutting around the area with a small utility knife until the area is flat. Make sure you don’t damage the layer underneath or around the blistering.

    Before you attempt fixing a flat roof, make sure the roofing where the blister was is dry before you attempt to seal or patch the area. You can do this by carefully using a heat gun on the area. Just make sure you don’t overheat the surface otherwise the felt roof may melt away.

    Once the area is dry, fold back the loose sliced bits of felt roof, apply some bitumen adhesive to the exposed area and then press the previously cut segments on top of the adhesive to stick it down.

    You will then need to apply a new piece of felt to cover the damage. Cut the felt to size, ensuring you fully cover the damage as well as the area around it. Apply some adhesive over the repair and apply the patch on top. Use some pressure to ensure the edges and sides are well sealed for waterproofing.

    Flat Roof Maintenance

    In order for your flat roof to properly perform to its highest quality, it is important that you keep up regular maintenance every 5 years to extend the life-span. While this may sound like a chore, it only needs to be done around twice a year, usually around spring and autumn so that you can be sure that no damage has occurred during the harsher weather of winter and summer.

    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. 

    Here are a few easy-to-do checks to ensure that you are aware of any potential damage to your roof so you can catch it before it becomes a more serious problem:

    Regularly check your roof

    As mentioned above, keep an eye on your flat roof. This can involve looking at it from a nearby upper floor window, or by going up a ladder to take a look at the surface. Most issues can be easily spotted visually, especially splitting or pooling.

    Clean your roof

    Flat Roof

    Either by using a leaf blower or hiring a professional, safely remove any dirt, leaves or debris from your roof so that any water can easily run off the roof. The slight slope to the roof allows for most rain and light bits of dirt to wash away in the rain, but larger bits of debris and moss can block their path and encourage water to pool.

    Don’t stand on your roof

    Unless your flat roof has been specifically installed to be able to be stood on, flat roofs are not designed to hold a person’s body weight. By standing on the roof you can cause damage to the material, encouraging splitting and leaks, as well as being a general risk to your own safety. If you cannot reach an area of the roof to clean or mend yourself, hire a professional who is experienced in flat roof maintenance to do it for you.

    Clear the drainage

    A major cause of pooling or ponding on flat roofs is because the drains are not working properly, meaning that water cannot easily run off of the roof. By clearing any leaves, sticks, dirt or other blockages from the drains, water will be able to easily flow away rather than remain on the roof.

    Prune surrounding foliage

    If there are any overhanging tree limbs above or surrounding your flat roof, it is usually recommended that you have them cut back so that there is at least a 1-meter clearance. This not only prevents leaves and twigs from potentially blocking your drains, as well as moss and additional growth on the roof itself that feeds on the nutrients of the fallen leaves, but it also prevents the risk of larger branches falling onto the roof and causing major damage.

    Check your roof after storms

    After any heavy weather conditions, such as storms, it is important to check your roof for any damage. Strong winds can tear felting away from the roof, and after heavy rainfall, you will also be able to see if your roof is suffering from ponding. Heavy snowfall should be immediately cleared off of the roof as not only can the melting snow cause leaking and damp, but the weight of the snowfall itself can cause damage to the roof.

    Keep an eye on your ceiling

    As well as checking your flat roof for any noticeable damage, it is also important that you keep an eye on the ceiling of the interior room underneath the roof. Stains from water damage is a good visual indicator of unseen damage, trapped moisture or damp which need to be dealt with sooner rather than later to limit the amount of damage caused to your home.

    Insuring a Flat Roof

    Despite their long lifespan and easy maintenance, flat roofs are seen by a lot of insurers as an insurance risk because of their apparent increased risk of water damage and thieves gaining easy access to upper floors. When trying to insure a property with a flat roof you usually have to find a specialist provider who is willing to cover your property.

    Bluedrop Services can provide you with a comprehensive, non-standard flat roof insurance for your property so you can be sure that your home is fully protected and that you won’t be left out in the cold (quite literally).

    Bluedrop services also provide the following business insurance options:

    Fleet Insurance

    Professional Indemnity Insurance

    Liability Insurance

    Landlord Insurance

    Want to find out more about Bluedrop's non-standard construction insurance?
    Return to guide menu
  • Get a quote today
    • I have read and accept the Privacy Policy
    • I'd like to receive news & product updates