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Standing Water and Flat Roofs Don’t Mix

Most U.S. homes feature a moderately sloped roof, but some architecturally significant homes and contemporary designs feature flat roofs. Without proper maintenance, flat roofs can develop ponding problems that lead to sagging and leaks. If your Bixby, OK, home has a flat roof, look for signs of damage and contact Decor Roofing & Restoration for repairs to preserve the safety and curb appeal of your house. Let’s consider what to look for and what to do about it.

Signs of Flat Roof Problems

Each month or after each big storm, walk around the perimeter of your home to check for roof damage. You might notice a puddle of water on your flat roof the morning after heavy rain. Check for the same water puddle two days after the rain. If you still see standing water on the roof, your flat roof develops a ponding problem. This ponding issue can indicate one of many roofing problems. Although it creates a major problem itself, consider ponding a symptom of a larger problem. It could mean: 

  • A sagging roof bearing too high a load or improperly constructed
  • Roof leaks
  • Structural distress and settlement
  • Clogged roofing gutters.

You could clean your roof’s gutter system, but you’ll need to hire a professional roofer to repair the roof damage.

A Closer Look at Sagging and Ponding Roof Damage

Water doesn’t pond on a properly constructed flat roof that receives appropriate maintenance. In the U.S., the building code requires the construction of roofs with at least a 1/4″ decrease for each lineal foot. The construction industry refers to this as a quarter-inch per foot slope. This slope helps water drain off the roof naturally. Roof trusses and rafters naturally sag slightly under the load they bear, a condition that engineers refer to as deflection.

By standing inside a home and carefully studying the ceiling, a homeowner can usually spot the deflection in the center of a span of drywall or plywood. On a damaged or improperly constructed flat roof, the roof spans sag more than the built-in slope, causing water to pond when it rains. Other causes of excessive sag include undersized roof rafters, rafter deterioration from long-term exposure to high humidity, and sloppy construction.

Flat Roofs Bearing Too Heavy Loads

Flat roof construction allows for the construction of a roof porch or an outlook but requires a reinforced roof deck. The design of most residential flat roofs isn’t intended for constant heavy weight, such as an HVAC system. Without reinforcement, the constant load bearing of the heavy item causes added deflection, resulting in ponding.

Structural Settlement of the Home

All houses settle, but when this settling happens unevenly, the structural settlement can result in areas of roof ponding. It typically happens in areas where the flat roof and wall intersect. Check the home’s foundation and have a professional roofer check the roofing deck and trusses.

Roof Leaks

Ponding from other causes can cause roof leaks and roof leaks can cause ponding. There’s no chicken or egg with ponding water and roof leaks because it can work both ways. When roofing shingles or other roofing materials crack, curl, or break, it lets puddles form, which worsens the problem. Ponding water can erode shingles, roof sheathing, and roof decking, causing cracks and leaks.

Clogged Roofing Drains or Gutters

Clogged roofing gutters don’t drain water from the roof. Flat roofs with parapet walls above them or those with drains at the roof’s center can clog up easily. In flat roof designs, this can create such a heavy water load that the roof collapses. 

How Professional Roofers Address Flat Roof Ponding

Besides repairing deteriorating trusses and roof decking, a professional roofing contractor may address problems with the exterior roofing material, replacing shingles or metal sheets. On a commercial flat roof, a roofer may fill ponded or sagging areas with roof plaster, evening the surface. This roofing fill helps direct precipitation toward the roof gutters and drains. Other techniques that help alleviate water ponding on a flat roof include: 

  • Flush roof drains or clean roof gutters to remove branches, dirt, and twigs 
  • Install additional drain lines
  • Install roof crickets.

The property owner has the responsibility of scheduling annual inspections and seasonal roof maintenance. These two items combine to help prevent damage by noting developing problems and repairing them.

Contact Decor Roofing and Restoration Today

Have you noticed water ponding on the flat roof of your home or business? Contact Decor Roofing and Restoration for an inspection and repair estimate. We’ve served Bixby, OK for more than 35 years with dependable roofing, restoration, and construction services. Our service area includes the states of Oklahoma and Arkansas. Call us today to schedule an appointment to address your property’s flat roof issues.

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