Misconceptions and Tips About Owning and Maintaining a Flat Roof
Every type of roof has its own advantages and disadvantages, including flat roofs. However, all the negative information you may have heard about flat roofs could make you think twice about investing in a flat roof. You might be surprised to learn that a lot of that information you’ve read or heard about flat roofs simply isn’t true.
Here are a few of the most common misconceptions about flat roofs.
Flat Roofs Easily Cave Under the Weight of Snow and Ice
If you live in an area that is prone to heavy snowfall, ice, and damaging winds, you might have heard that flat roofs will easily buckle under the weight of all that precipitation. In reality, flat roofs are designed and specifically engineered to handle the load of a heavy snowfall. There is no more danger in having a flat roof in the winter than there is in having a pitched roof.
However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still care for your flat roof in winter. Here are a few things you can do to protect your flat roofing system in the winter:
- Schedule a preseason inspection. A professional should look over the flat roof to determine if there are any minor leaks, tears, or other damage that must be repaired before winter.
- Clean off excess snow and ice. Carefully remove any heavy amounts of ice and snow with an approved tool. Because the roof may be slippery, it is best to leave this chore to a professional.
- Watch for damage and blisters. Blisters occur when water gets between the roofing layers and bubbles or damage forms.
Trim away any large tree branches that are hanging over the roof. The weight of the ice and snow on the branches makes them vulnerable to falling and damaging your flat roof.
Flat Roofs Are Completely Flat
Calling a flat roof flat is misleading because in reality, a flat roof has a slight slope. The slope on a flat roof is not as sharp as a pitched roof, which is why compared to a pitched roof, a flat roof is considered flat. Flat roofs are designed with a combination of an ideal pitch and drainage holes to ensure that excess water is able to flow off the roof and onto the ground.
There are a few different drainage options for a flat roof. For example, the designer may recommend interior drains. These types of drains are placed in spots on the roof where water would naturally pool. The drains are then connected to a gutter or downspout that leads the water away from the home.
Interior drains are often more expensive than other options. However, interior drains aren’t as noticeable as other drainage options, which makes them a more aesthetically pleasing option.
Another cost-effective option is to install scuppers. A scupper is a drainage opening made at the edge of the flat roof. Water drains through the scupper and onto the ground. Downspouts can be installed on the scuppers to help direct the flow of water away from your home as well.
Flat Roofs Are Expensive to Install and Maintain
Installing a new pitched roof is a multi-step process that includes removing the existing roofing materials, placing down a new felt underlayment, and placing the new asphalt or metal shingles. This process can get expensive, but it is still less money than installing a new flat rubber roof, right?
In many cases, installing and maintaining a flat roofing system is actually more cost effective than a pitched roof. This is because the materials used for flat roofing are typically less expensive and the process of installing the roof is very quick and straightforward.
Additionally, if you purchased a home and a section is fitted with a flat roof, the cost to create a more dramatic pitch on the roof and then covering this pitch with shingles or metal roofing is far more expensive than laying down a new flat roof.
Flat Roofs Cannot Support Additional Insulation
A big issue many homeowners have with flat roofs is that they aren’t as energy-efficient because they cannot support proper insulation. In reality, adding more insulation to a flat roof is possible, and the potential energy savings from the extra insulation will make a big difference on your monthly heating and cooling bills.
One option for adding more insulation to a flat roof is to install layers of foam board insulation. The foam board is attached to an underlayment with adhesive and nails. A new layer of flat roofing material is placed over the added insulation. The homeowner can choose how many layers of insulation they want to add.
From the idea that flat roofs are completely flat to the notion that a flat roof cannot support the weight of winter snow, there are several common flat roof myths you should not believe. Contact the professionals at The Roof Doctor with any further questions.