Common Flat Roofing Problems In San Francisco

May 1, 2020

Flat roofs are economical, but come with their own set of problems. San Francisco has mild temperatures and low annual precipitation, leading to conditions that are ideal for the use of flat roofs on its homes and other buildings. Flat roofs do not drain as efficiently as pitched roofs, and this can lead to a number of problems in their upkeep and maintenance. On the other hand, they are roofs that are cost-effective, easy to access, and if the proper materials are used, they can also be energy efficient.

Flat roofs are, however, not ideal solutions for roofing, as they can lead to several problems. Flat roofs will have a slight slope for roof drainage, but even so, water can collect in small ponds on the roof surface, and lead to moss and algae growth, besides leaks, both of which can lead to the roof getting damaged. The absence of a proper slope can also lead to debris, like leaves and other things to collect on the roof easily, and this is what often prevents drainage and leads to the creation of ponds.   

Flat roofs, especially those that have an asphalt base can crack and bubble from exposure to the sun, and cause it to resemble the skin of an alligator. If the roof is left as it is without proper remedial treatment, this can lead to cracks in the roof and often a complete failure of the roof. Most flat roofs are made of a continuous sheet of a roofing membrane, and any settlement of the foundation of the walls of the home that support the roof can cause the roof itself to buckle. A badly buckled roof can only be remedied with its complete replacement. 

High winds, that are not uncommon in the San Francisco region can cause a lot of damage to flat roofs, because they comprise a single sheet of material. All these factors, ponding, cracks and bubbles, and buckling can lead to the roof developing leaks. Make sure to get the roof inspected by a San-Francisco Roof Repair company. Leaks can also result from poor installation, damage to flashing, substandard materials, and other factors.

Most flat roofs consist of many layers of flexible materials that have been waterproofed and these layers can dry out or get stretched, leading to joints getting separated or corners cracking. Flat roofs are more vulnerable if any repairs conducted on them have not been properly executed. This becomes all the more acute if the materials used for the repair do not match the existing roof. Flat roofs have a gradient that varies between 1 in 40 to 1 in 80 and this is so small, that if the roof sags at any point, it could lead to ponding and poor runoff leading to leakage. Make it a point to always clean any debris falling on your roof so that the small slope clears any rain falling on it.  

One has to accept the fact that flat roofs, unlike the pitched ones, have a shorter lifespan, which rarely exceeds 15 years, before there is a need for replacement or major repairs. You can extend the life of a flat roof by a proper schedule of regular inspection and maintenance.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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