All residential and commercial buildings that have been built with flat roofs need regular inspection and maintenance to ensure that the roof remains weather resistant. This is especially important as the roof ages. Rain and wind wear on roofing in all climates, but the weather in Fort Lauderdale can cause catastrophic damage. Following a regular preventative schedule for flat roof maintenance will help minimize potential problems.
Flat Roof Characteristics
A flat roof is one that is level or almost level rather than having a definite slope. This kind of roof is covered with a waterproof membrane such as rubber. The material is installed to allow water to drain into a gutter system. This type of roofing system has been widely used because it costs less to build than the traditional sloped roof. Also, flat roofs have been particularly popular in Fort Lauderdale and area since the 1960s because they do not require shingles that tend to rot easily in a Florida climate.
While flat-seamed metal roofing has a history of use since the 19th century, today there are three commonly used types of flat roof systems:
• asphalt roll roofing employs a layer of fiberglass or organic base felt attached with nails over roof felt and cold asphalt cement, and then covered with a granular surface like gravel to reduce wear from the weather
• different types of single ply membrane roofing with various installation approaches, from self adhesion to installation with hot asphalt and heating the membrane before application
• multiple ply or built up roofing with overlapping rolls of felt or mats with layers of asphalt and then covered with a granular roofing sheet to help reduce wear
Each flat roofing system has special application requirements, and requires the skill of a qualified roofing contractor for installation, maintenance and temporary or permanent repairs.
Need for Regular Maintenance
Cost is the primary reason for installing flat roofs. Eventually, though, even flat roof coverings are going to need attention. Weather conditions, failing joints and the inflexibility of the system cause problems:
• broken, torn or cracked roof surface
• loosening fasteners
• rusted or incorrectly sealed flashings
• separation of seams
• ponding water
• loss of granular material
• an incorrect pan roof tie-in
Any leak, even a small one, can result in serious damage over time.
A leak that occurs on a flat roof often is not noticed for a long time. This allows water to soak into the structure and insulation below. Rot can easily develop, and resulting mould can be a health risk to people and pets. This rot can also seriously damage the roof structure itself. It is often hard to determine the location of a leak because visible water is typically some distance from the actual leak. A water leak can also cause the roof to actually sag, quickly compounding the problem.
All flat roofs should be inspected at least twice a year and definitely after major storms. There is a checklist of items:
• all flashings and lap seams around any rooftop penetrations must be water tight
• be sure all roof drains are clear
• check for any damage to the actual membrane
• be sure there are no signs of water ponding
• ensure asphalt based materials are covered with gravel
• fix blisters or creases to forestall any leaks
• apply a roof coating to fix leaks
In difficult situations, infrared thermography might be needed to actually locate roofing leaks. The roofing system lasts years longer if repairs are done immediately.
Roof Damage from Fort Lauderdale Weather
Home and business owners in Fort Lauderdale face another challenge in maintaining the integrity of a flat roof system. The roof provides shelter from all elements, and also receives the most wear and tear. This is particularly true for Fort Lauderdale, where the tropical climate, summer rains and salty air from the nearby ocean have a negative impact on roofing systems.
Even more concerning are the unique weather patterns affecting the area. Severe storms and hurricanes are common. In fact southeast Florida cities like Fort Lauderdale are most likely to be targeted, with about a 27% chance in a given year of having a hurricane pass within 75 miles. These storms can cause extensive and expensive damage to roofing systems.
Day to day sun, winds, moisture, and storms will cause problems with an aging roof. An older roof or one that may have been damaged in a recent storm may require professional attention.
Choosing a Contractor for Flat Roof Maintenance
A local roofing contractor with experience in flat roof repair will understand the requirements of proper roof maintenance and repair for Fort Lauderdale buildings. Here are some important points to consider when choosing a flat roof maintenance professional:
• the roofer should be certified, licensed and insured
• obtain a written quote that allows comparison with similar jobs in the neighborhood
• check references
• be sure to have a written agreement, specifying work to be done, materials to be used, cost and payment schedule, guarantees, approaches to problem resolution
Some research and planning will ensure professional results from a Fort Lauderdale flat roof maintenance and repair contractor.