Maintenance is an essential part of preserving the integrity of your low slope roofing system. Generally, roofs should be inspected twice a year — once in the spring and then again in the fall. While an inspector will perform these formal inspections, it’s important that as the building owner you are aware of potential issues year-round. Keep your roof performing at its best with these five low slope roof maintenance tips:
1. Ponding Water
Ponding water is defined as accumulative water that does not evaporate or disappear within 48 hours of conducive drying conditions. If ponding water is not taken care of, low slope roofing systems can experience membrane degradation resulting from exposure to magnified UV rays, the presence of algae or accelerated heat aging. If your roof is experiencing ponding water, be sure to contact your contractor or manufacturer in order to resolve the problem. You can learn more about the effects of ponding water on a roofing system here.
When examining your low slope roofing materials, be sure to look for blisters. Blistering occurs when liquid gets trapped between membrane plies, causing the vapor to expand with increased temperature while pushing the membrane out into raised strips. Blisters that are neglected can pose a serious threat to the integrity of your flat roofing system. By taking care of any blisters as soon as you notice them, you can prevent water from continuing to seep into your low slope roofing system, preventing further degradation.
There are a variety of factors that can cause cracking in your roofing system. Some roofing systems are more susceptible to damage caused by UV rays; the UV breaks down the low slope roofing membrane and causes cracking and crazing. In other scenarios, poor workmanship could be to blame. Surface stress caused by excessive weight on your roofing system is another common cause of cracking. Regardless, this cracking could lead to more serious problems down the line and should be addressed immediately when found.
4. Snow Build Up
Although this scenario is more common in colder climates, snow should not be ignored on your low slope roof. With low slope roofing, snow won’t be able to slide off your system as easily as it would on a moderate or steep sloped roof. Excess snow can overload the roofing system and cause the roof to collapse. On the other hand, if the snow melts and the roof is not draining properly, you’ll run into a ponding water scenario. Be sure to hire someone to remove the snow if you are worried about your roof, especially if the snow exceeds a foot. Every year serious injuries occur due to inexperienced owners who are trying to do DIY snow removal.
5. Loose Fasteners
Loose fasteners can spell disaster for low slope roofing systems. When fasteners become loose, they no longer anchor the roofing system to your building as intended, causing your roof to be more susceptible to wind damage and potential tear-off. Installation instructions specify the type of fasteners that need to be used on your roofing system. If your contractor uses the wrong ones, your warranty could be voided.
Overall, maintenance routines need to be set in place immediately following the finished construction of your roofing system. Don’t forget to ask your inspector vital questions during your bi-yearly inspections to ensure you are protecting your roofing system, and building, from danger.
What else do you look for when performing low slope maintenance checks on your roofing system? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.