How to Fix a Leaking Flat Roof

If you're dealing with a leaking flat roof, you're probably feeling concerned not only about water penetrating your building interior, but also about harm to the overall integrity and value of your property. On top of that, you might be unsure how to fix a leaking flat roof — or whether you even should.

That's because fixing a leaking flat roof, or low-slope roof, can be deceptively complicated. While some home or commercial flat roof repairs are relatively simple, others might require roof reconstruction by experienced professionals. With a flat roof, it's often easier to spot the source of a leak than a sloped roof, but it's sometimes deceiving: The interior location where you notice water may not be the ultimate source of the leak. Sometimes, water that has infiltrated your roof's membrane can run until it finds a seam in the sheathing and then seeps down into your interior.

If you're dealing with flat roof issues, you probably have some questions: How do I find a leak to repair in a flat roof? What are the warning signs that I might need to fix my flat roof? How does a flat roof drain? How do I go about caring for a flat roof? And can I find help if I need a flat roof emergency repair? Luckily, there are steps you can take to assess the situation, safeguard the integrity of your flat roof, and protect your investment in the property for years to come.

How to Spot a Flat Roof Leak

First, you'll want to watch for the telltale signs that indicate you may have a leaking flat roof in need of fixing. Check out the interior and exterior of your roof: Inside, do you notice any water leaks from the ceiling or damp spots around air vents or fireplaces? Do you see damp-looking drywall or paint around fixtures and outlets? Do you hear dripping sounds or smell musty odors you can't identify?

If you spot a leak inside the property, measure the distance from the leak site to the two nearest walls, and then take the measurements up to the rooftop to locate the source. Inspect the flat roof for problems with your roof membrane, such as worn spots or separation in the seams.

If you don't see any issues there, you'll want to inspect the caulking around the vents and flashing for damage. If you still can't locate the problem, you may want to call a professional roof contractor to help fix your flat roof leak. Your flat roof may have a warranty in place that might cover defective roofing materials or problems with your roofing workmanship; if so, you may need to turn to the original installers for repairs.

Tips on Caring for a Flat Roof

Once the leak is repaired, you might be wondering, "How do I go about caring for a flat roof?" In addition to dealing with leaks as soon as they're detected, you'll want to inspect your roof a few times a year for damage, trim back nearby trees and keep it clear of debris, watch the weight straining it from snow and ice, ensure your drainage system is working well, and watch for pooling water. All of those measures will help ensure that your roof isn't taking damage that will mount into larger problems over time.