Many people believe that flat roofs, low slope, SBS (torch-on) roofs are maintenance free... Not so!
There are simple things that one can do to look after a flat roof installation and save a lot of money in the long run. You can do some preventative maintenance yourself, but don't hesitate to consult your local roofing contractor/professional for your modern roof. When climbing up on your own roof always take extreme precautions especially if climbing ladders is not in your field of expertise.
Use a ladder with absolutely no defects and always remember to tie it off. Homemade ladders should not be used.
The first thing you need to look at on your residential tar and gravel roofing system is drains.
Are they plugged?
Do the roof drains have screens?
Are the drain screens clear of debris?
Simply take the screen off and clear the leaves, needles or moss and place in a garbage bag and reinstall the screen. Some modern roofs don't have a roof drain, but scuppers.
They work the same way and generally don't have a screen. Scuppers drain through the outside parapets of your home or building. If your scupper does not have a screen contact your local Flat roof/residential roofing supply store. The screen for a scupper actually looks like the end of your kitchen whisk you beat your eggs with. You could make a whisk into a screen by using wire cutters and cutting about 3.5 inches out the end of the whisk; should work up to a 2.75 inch drain.
If your residential roof has parapet walls then you probably have a base flashing running along the cant strip detailed portion of your roof. You can simply easily lift some of these flashings up and look for pollen staining. Pollen staining will let you know how high the water levels are reaching. While you have the flashing lifted also look for cracks in the membrane. If you see any defects or cracked membranes then consult a flat roof contractor that deals with residential homes.
Some flat roofing systems will have a straight drip edge (torch on roofing) where your roof will drain into a continuous eaves-trough. At every joint where the flashing overlaps the next piece there is often a tiny split or separation that you can fix yourself, but we highly recommend calling a professional.
Generally these joints only need to be fixed once throughout the life of a membrane roof. You could attempt to fix this yourself but this practise is not a good idea as it makes it more difficult to repair afterwards because unsuccessful cold process sealing complicates the repair and will drive up roofing technician costs - cured cold liquid membranes are very difficult to scrape and remove!
The eaves-trough gutters should be regularly cleaned out once or twice a year depending on how many trees are nearby.
Call me now for any advice about flat roofs or visit my website.
Modern roofing - flat roof leak repair
Chris Fraser, founder and owner of XL Roofing Edmonton Alberta.