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Flat Roof Maintenance

Flat roofs should be designed to keep maintenance needs as low as possible. However, with all flat roofs there will come a time when flat roof maintenance is necessary. It is best practice to organise for any roof you own to undergo a roof inspection on an annual basis. This roof inspection will assess the condition of the roofing and all the detailing around it. An inexpensive survey such as this can save you thousands of pounds by identifying parts of your roof which are on the verge of failing. And provide you the opportunity to cost effectively remedy these areas before they develop into larger and more expensive problems.

To maximise the lifetime of your roof you can also arrange to have bi-annual roof sweeping. This will clear your roof and guttering of any debris. Again this will prevent any problems such as pooling of water or blocked gutters. Another benefit of having annual roof inspections is it provides you with documentation of your roof's condition. This documentation is extremely useful if you ever have to make a claim against your buildings insurance for roof repairs.

To organise roof sweeping or an annual maintenance survey you can call us on 01277 260 204 or email us You can arrange a one off visit or sign up to an annual or bi-annual plan.

What Happens During a Flat Roof Inspection?

During a flat roof inspection the following areas will be assessed:

1) The Surface of the Roof

2) The Roof's Drainage

3) The Roof's Detailing

4) The Surface Chippings

5) The Condition of the Solar Reflective Paint (if applied)

The Surface of the Roof:

During a flat roof inspection the roof will be analysed for debris, leaves, stored goods, nails and surplus building materials. All of these will be cleared from the roof during the inspection.

The general condition of the roof will be noted. This will include any ridges and blisters which have formed in the roof. In most cases it is not necessary to repair the ridges and blisters identified. A situation where it would be necessary to remove a ridge or blister is if it was in an area of the roof which receives heavy use or if it had started to crack. If these works were necessary you would need to seek out a specialist contractor. For example if the surface of the roof was constructed from asphalt and specialist asphalt roofing contractor would be required.

The Roof's Drainage

Another part of a flat roof maintenance inspection includes the inspection of the roof's drainage. Each gutter and rainwater outlet will be checked individually. If blocked with debris such as leaves these will need to be cleaned. Also gratings and wire cages will need cleaning. If any of the guttering, rainwater outlets, wire cages or gratings are failing, they will need to be replaced.

The Roof's Detailing

This part of the inspection will asses the roof's flashing, trims and capping stones. In the case of an asphalt roof, the asphalt detailing such as collars and angle fillets will also be inspected.

The pointing will be inspected on all of the flashing as well it's positioning. Similarly the capping stones will be inspected for their positioning and the integrity of their pointing. And the roof trims will be assessed to make sure they are still attached correctly. If any of these roofing details need re-pointing, positioning or fixing the work will need to be arranged to be undertaken as soon as possible.

Surface Chippings

If the roof has been finished with surface chippings the inspection will identify the state in which they are in. If there are a few bare patches it may be possible to re cover these areas by sweeping excess chippings from other areas on the roof.

Sometimes bare patches will not be able to be rectified in this manner. Possible reasons for this occurring can include:

a) Strong winds blowing the surface chippings completely from the roof.

b) Constant traffic wearing away the chipping over time.

c) Wear and tear over the years. This is often seen in roofs approaching the end of their surface life.

The only remedy to a roof in this situation is to relay the surface chippings, these chippings should be bonded with a suitable bituminous mastic.

Solar Reflective Paint

If a solar reflective paint was specified for the roof which is being inspected this should be re-applied as often as necessary. Normally this is once every 3-4 years. If this is not done the roof will not last as long as the reflective and protective qualities of the solar reflective paint will have diminished and the roof will be no longer receiving sufficient protection from UV rays.

The regular re-coating of your roof in the solar reflective paint should have been agreed when the roof was initially installed. If this is not the case we would be able to help you just call our office on 01277 260 204 or email us And ask about solar reflective paint re-coating.

In the case of asphalt roofing the objective of solar reflective paint is to reduce the surface temperature of the roof and improve the weathering characteristics of the asphalt during the settling down period over the firs few years the roof is in service. With asphalt it is a good idea to cover any flashing with solar reflective paint with asphalt too as the asphalt underneath the lead flashing can be heated to a very high temperature and slumping can occur.

A Reporting Procedure for Leaks is A Vital Part of Flat Roof Maintenance

Obviously, if the roof in question is a residential property which you own the steps to take are simple, contain the leak and call a professional roofing contractor. All the steps you need to take can be found here:

However, on commercial properties it is essential to have an established reporting procedure, with a designated member or members of staff specified to take responsibility for the leaking roof. Without this procedure in place a small leak can deteriorate to such an extent a complete roof replacement is necessary. There have been instanced where a small leak has been left for years without any repair work resulting in thousands of pounds in damage for a problem which would have originally been very inexpensive to fix.

The early identification of any leaks makes life easier for everyone. The roofing contractor does not have to spend a large amount of time tracing multiple points where water has entered the building to identify the origin of the leak. And the property owner does not have to lay out a large sum of money to renew the integrity of their roof.

If your roof is relatively new and you are suffering from a leak it is possible this is caused by a defect. This means the contractor who installed the roof should repair the roof free of charge. If you think this is the case with your roof and would like an independent professional survey of your roof please get in touch with us on 01277 260 204 or email us  And we will be happy to help you.

Fault Tracing on a Leaking Flat Roof

Leaking is a common issue with flat roofing. This makes fault tracing a vital part of flat roof maintenance. When it comes to tracing a fault the roofing contractor will first conduct an internal inspection and take measurements. This will allow the exact position of where water is entering the building to be pinpointed at roof level.

Sometimes it is not immediately obvious to identify the cause of the leak when at roof level. This is because the cause of the leak could be caused at a higher point in the flat roof and running down to the point at which it penetrates the building. Other reasons for this include or capstones coming loose or suffering from their pointing breaking down.

Here a systematic approach is needed to identify the cause of the leak.  The search for the defect will need to consider a range of possibilities, this includes:

a) Condensation

b) Wall Defects

c) Damp Proof Courses

d) Windows and Roof Lanterns/Skylights

e) Openings

f) Flashings

g) The Roof Waterproofing System

If the roof waterproofing system is responsible for the defect will be causes by a split or rupture. The roofing contractor will search the surface of the roof for evidence of a split of a rupture. Most often splits or ruptures will be found at the bottom of skirtings, above panels joints and purlins, or around roofing trims or next to gutters.

You can view a video surveying a defective asphalt flat roof by going to the following blog post: Common Problems with an Asphalt Roof.

A great way to save time when identifying leaks is to get access to the original roofing specification. Here you can the find the method of bonding, the type of insulation used and the type of deck the roof is laid  upon. If the roofing specification does not follow good practice, the contractor will have a strong idea of the where the leak originates from. For example, a flat roof using a low quality felt fully bonded to chipboard indicates a high probability of the leak being caused by a split in the felt above a panel joint. This will save the contractor a lot of time as they can make their first port of call to trace and inspect all of the roofs panel joints.

Sometimes splits in a flat roof are not easy to identify. One way to try and overcome this difficulty is to tread around the suspect area in a systematic fashion. The objective of this is to push water or air bubbles back up the roof and through the unidentified split. If this does not work, test cuts should be made at intervals up the slope of the roof from the point at which the water is penetrating the building. The reason for the test cuts is to trace the flow of the water under the membrane or the insulation as it goes back to source.

The surfacing of the roofing system can make leak detection more difficult due to removing the surfacing to access the waterproofing system. Finishes such as concrete tiles bonded in bitumen or hot applied gritting solution are almost  impossible to remove and make leak detection and repair a monumental task. On the other hand surfacing such as asphalt or loosely laid paving stones make repair and detection an easier process.

Another tool which can be used in the identification of leaks is thermal imaging technology. This technology allows the highlighting of the flat roof areas which have a lower temperature in comparison to other parts of the roof. These areas are likely to be points at which there is water in the roofing system. And therefore help identify the origins of the leaking flat roof.

Need a Flat Roof Maintenance Inspection or Fault Tracing

If you require a flat roof maintenance inspection or fault tracing and are within 50 miles of our Brentwood, Essex headquarters please get in touch and one of our team will be delighted to help. You can call us on  01277 260 204 or email us We have a wealth of experience and can a comprehensive range of inspections, fault tracing and roof repairs.

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GRP Flat Roof Maintenance Inspection