3 Things That Can Happen If You Neglect Your Flat Roof

You may be one of many homeowners across the country with a flat roof or one with a flat roof joined with a sloped roof. Technically, flat roofs are not exactly flat; they have a slight slope or crown to allow for water drainage through gutters or pipes. Flat roofs are also lined with a membrane, or several layers of tar and membranes, for even more protection from leaks. Despite these protections against wear and tear, flat roofs are not indestructible. Without proper precautions and maintenance, they can have serious problems. Here are three things that can happen if you neglect regular maintenance on your flat roof. 


Leaks can be a problem with flat roofs that are not well maintained. They often happen near flashing around pipes and chimneys or where the walls and meet. Problems with the membrane, or anything covering the membrane, can further expose your roof to leaks. If you live in a climate that doesn't get a lot of rain, you may not notice that you have a leak until you get a significant amount of rain.

Blocked drainage:

Like a slanted roof with gutters, a flat roof depends on its drains to keep water from stagnating. Debris, such as branches and leaves blown from trees, or objects accidentally thrown on the roof, like toys, can block drainage ports. Ice can also cause blockages. If too many of your drain ports are clogged, water could pool on the roof causing the components below to deteriorate. If you already don't have a leak, too little drainage may contribute enough damage to start one. 

Membrane or coating damage:

Membranes can crack and split due to poor maintenance and exposure. Membranes that are normally covered by gravel or stone may be damaged if too much of that material is lost, and what's left doesn't adequately cover the roof leaving the membrane exposed. Membranes can pull away at the seams and curl up at the edges due to poor construction or age. People walking on the roof, or blowing debris, can poke holes that can lead to leaks.

All of these problems can be prevented by having your flat roof inspected at regular intervals or after every major storm. If you plan to check your roof yourself, be aware of the safety hazards involved. If it's been a while since you've last had your roof checked, or you are experiencing leaks or other issues, contact a roofing professional and they will inspect and assess the roof and its drainage system for you.