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Flat Roof Repair- Different types of roofs have different life expectancies

Things to know before you call someone to repair your Flat Roof

There are many factors that should be considered in a flat roof repair

Flat Roof Repair List

Flat Roof repair list of things to know before deciding what to do

  • Step 1 – Determine how old the roof is
  • Step 2 – How much the repairs will cost
  • Step 3 – What is the current life expectancy of the roof
  • Step 4 – What type of roofing membrane is on the roof
  • Step 5 – How much a replacement will cost
  • Step 6 – How many repairs are already there

Follow this list to make better decisions whether you should repair or replace the flat roof.

Contrary to what most Roofing Contractors would want you to believe, the three commonly used roofing systems each has their own proven life expectancy. EPDM has the least life expectancy and a 2 Ply Torch Down will outperform all the systems on the market.

Life expectancy with little maintenance of each roofing system


TPO Vinyl

Torch Down Roof

Before making a flat roof repair:

What type of roofing system is on your roof?

There are three types of roofing systems commonly installed on flat roofs

Each roofing system has its pros and cons, and it’s important to know which one you have to make a wise decision whether you should repair or replace.

The rule of thumb is if you have an EPDM rubber roof, then you should be very careful about spending money on repairs. Most of the time, if a seam starts to cause a leak, all the others seams will eventually start leaking.

If you have a Modified Bitumen Torch Down Roof, it is very likely that it can be repaired, depending on other factors. Most Torch Down roofs can are repairable.

TPO roofing systems depending on the age can are repairable, but it is harder to make a wise decision.

flat roof repair on EPDM, TPO Vinyl and MB Torch Down rubber roofs

Before making a flat roof repair!

Find out how old the flat roof membrane is?

It is important to know the age of the roof. Every roofing system ages differently. One roofing system will last longer with little maintenance than another. EPDM rubber would show defects and leaks much sooner than that of Modified Bitumen Torch Down Membrane. In general, an EPDM rubber roof system will have seam failures from as early as 3 – 5 years. The adhesives used to bond the seams fail prematurely. A  Modified Bitumen Torch Down system, with no silver coating or ceramic surface to protect it from UV rays, will last 15 years.

In general, an EPDM rubber roof system will have seam failures from as soon as 3 – 5 years. The adhesives used to bond the seams fail prematurely. An EPDM Rubber roof is considered old at eight years due to the adhesive failure.

Important fact!

A Modified Bitumen Torch Down system, with no silver coating or ceramic surface to protect it from UV rays, will last 15 years. If silver coating was applied and well maintained, the roof can last indefinitely. But if there is no protection, then 15 years is considered old.

What is the life expectancy of your roof?

Most manufacturers warrant their roofing materials for 12 – 15 years. This is not a very long time for any roofing system. EPDM Rubber roofing systems will fail prematurely due to the adhesives that are used bonding the seams. For the most part, if an EPDM roof is 10 – 12 years old, then there is not much life left.

A Modified Bitumen Torch Down System may still have a long life left even after 15 years if it was coated with silver paint or if it has ceramic coating embedded.

TPO systems start to show failure around 15 – 20 years of life. TPO material is white and reflects the sun better than that of EPDM. Both these materials will be affected by UV rays much sooner than that of Modified Bitumen membranes.

Before making flat roof repairs!

How much will the repairs cost?

The rule of thumb is, if the repairs of a roof are more than 20% of that of replacing the roof, then a replacement should be considered. Other factors can also come into play.

In the case of EPDM, the decision should more heavily lean on its age rather than the cost of replacement. The reason is, if one seam starts to go, the rest will follow, and the repairs will never stop.

In the case of Modified Bitumen Torch Down, with every repair, the roof increases its life expectancy. Torching and fusing layers together increase the life’s expectancy of the roof with more than 30 years.

How much will a roof replacement cost?

Every roofing contractor has their ideas and opinions whether a roof must be replaced or not. For the most part, these opinions are biased and will always lean toward a roof replacement. That’s why estimates can vary between contractors up to 40%.

My best advice is, if a replacement is necessary, then consider a two ply Modified Bitumen Roofing System. If installed correctly, it will last beyond 40 years with little maintenance. Watch the videos where we have demonstrated how this works and why it’s the best roofing system.

Flat Roof Repair – flashing causes leaks

It is often the case that the transition between flashing and a roofing membrane is what causes the leak. Roof technicians find it most difficult to bond a roofing membrane to metal flashing. For the most part, they will run the membrane up the wall a few inches to avoid connecting to the flashing. There are many drawbacks to this method.

Adhesives are used to glue EPDM rubber to metal, but there is a 50 % chance to fail. With TPO, the manufacturer will prefabricate flashing with the TPO attached to the metal, making it easier for a roofing technician to attached the roofing membrane to it.

Modified Bitumen also has its challenges. Most roofing professionals will try and melt the membrane to the metal. This technique can work, but instead, we have developed a system where we use Modified Bitumen Adhesives to make the transition. Our system has been tested and proven for over 20 years.

When flashing has gone wrong, it means a roof replacement

This video shows a general idea about why flashing is almost the most important part of a roof. The leaks on this house were caused by flashing and siding problems.

Water got behind the flashing and under the roof causing the plywood the get wet and rot. One important thing to know before making repairs on a flat roof is to know how much damage has occurred already. If the leak is limited to a small area, then the roof can still be repaired.

Other articles and videos to watch on flat roof repairs