Why Water Isn'T The Only Threat To Flat Roofs

When many people talk about the problems of flat roofs, they mostly dwell on those associated with water.  However, the risk of water leaks isn't the only one that your flat roof faces. Other possible threats include:


Temperature affects your roof in more ways than one. For example, elevated temperatures or frequent temperature fluctuations are both bad for your roof in these ways:

  • Thermal shock – The hot sun can damage your roof in a process known as thermal shock. Thermal shock is greatest when there is a large temperature difference between the hottest and coldest time of the day. The high temperatures cause the roof materials to expand and the materials contract when the temperatures dip. This can cause the joints to crack, seams to tear loose and flashing to separate from the roof.
  • Direct SunlightApart from thermal shock, the high temperatures also induce evaporation of the volatile ingredients in the roof materials, such as tar, which also weakens the roof. It also reduces the life of the roof materials considerably.

There are different ways of protecting your flat roof from the effect of temperature. For example, you can install a green roof to maintain the roofing materials at relatively stable temperatures. Additionally, applying a reflective coating on the roof reduces the effect of the thermal shock considerably.

Wind Forces

Although flat roofs are designed to washstand reasonable wind forces, you can't predict the strength of all the winds that may blow in your area. Wind damage to flat roofs occurs in various ways:

  • Suction effect – fast winds over some sections of the roof cause low pressures over those regions while other regions experience high pressures. Thus, some regions may be pushed in while others bulge out, with the net result being.
  • Lift – wind forces can easily lift parts of the roof that aren't strongly anchored, as well as the edges of the roof.   

Wind effects are minimal in properly maintained roofs, so this is what you should aim for. For example, you should ensure that all the seams are intact and flashings are strongly attached to the roof.

Too Much Weight

Due to the nature of their design, flat roofs tend to experience more weight than sloping roofs. The weight can come from different sources such as foot traffic, snow or accumulation of other debris. The weight can easily interfere with the structural integrity of the roof. Avoid excess weight on your roof, for example, by removing snow accumulation.

Just like other roof designs, you can improve your flat roof's durability by inspecting and maintaining it regularly. Pay special attention to the risks discussed above and your flat roof will last a long time. Talk to experts like Homestreet Roofing Inc for more information.