Flat Roof Repairs: Causes of Leaky Flat Roofs

Flat Roof Repairs- Causes of Leaky Flat Roofs

Flat Roof Repairs: Causes of Leaky Flat Roofs

Flat roof repairs may be necessary for your home. Safety in the home is not just about getting the best doors and gates to protect your building. Also, you need to take proper care of the roofing used in your home. 

There are different types of roofs, however, flat roofs are more aesthetic and of course, durable. And just like any other roof, there will be a need for flat roof repairs, irrespective of how durable they are. This is because roofs will always be prone to harsh conditions, and they will need maintenance to last for a long time. 

Other than the flat roofs, there are major roofing systems, which include; asphalt shingles, tiled roofs, or wood shake. All of these are designed to overlap, in the bid of shedding water. The flat roof, however, comes with a different design. The roofs, in this case, don’t readily shed water. This is one fundamental difference. 

This difference makes these two forms of roofs, worlds apart. With regards to installation, repair, and maintenance. If you own a flat roof, there is no need to worry about flat roof repair, once you know everything there is to know about your flat roof. In this guide, we will be taking an in-depth insight into how the flat roof benefits you, why you need to maintain it properly and the factors that cause leaky flat roofs.

Related article: Flat Roof Repair – How to Repair a Leaky Flat Roof


What are Flat Roofs?

The term “flat roof” is used to describe roofing that is almost level. As a layman, you may expect this roofing to be a horizontal one. But in most cases, an angle is included, to make sure that there is proper water drainage. One factor that significantly influences the angle of tilt is the terrain where the building is situated.

Flat roofs are experiencing an explosive level of adoption right now in Toronto, and it is only right to know about the flat roof repair methods. For an effective repair, however, you need to know the causes of leaky flat roofs. There are different types of flat roofs out there, which have various levels of resistance to the elements. This, in turn, influences how well they can stand the test of time. 

In many cases, you will only find a flat roof in outdoor living and some storage spaces. It is also used extensively in house extensions and many industrial buildings. Adoption and suitability for use are all that matters with roofs, and a flat roof is just perfect for a minimal but modern house. 

Types of Flat Roofs

There are different materials used in the production of flat roofs, and the one you pick is based on your preference and unique needs. This is the standard because there is no rule, regulation, or hypothesis that states which material is best. If there is any concern you should have when trying to get a flat roof for your home, it should be one of either price or guarantee provided by the manufacturer. 

When you finally decide on what roof should be installed in your home. Then you should take note of the following, material performance, the complexity of the structure, and how beautiful it is. All these factors are essential, as making the right decision will save you from perpetual flat roof repairs

If, however, you don’t know what type of flat roof you want, it is best to consult with a company that can help you with such a decision. Here are the different types of flat roofs based on the material used in production. 

Torch-on felt

This is a roof type in which about three layers of bitumen sheet are used by gas torch to form the coating of the roof. This option of roofing is cost-effective. However, the total cost incurred is relative to the grade of coating on the roof. 

One good thing about this flat roof type is that it is malleable. Also, it features a multi-layering approach that adds more to its durable nature. This type of flat roof is preferred for places where resistance to the elements is hugely important. 

PVC single-ply Membrane

There are several single-ply membrane options out there, such as the PIB, TPE, and TPO. In this type, there is the polymerization of gas to form a vinyl resin, which makes it very durable. The cool thing about the PVC roof is that it can come in different colours. 

These roof types are known for value for money. If you are looking to make use of a flat roof on your industrial, commercial, and residential house, this may be your best choice. 

EPDM Rubberized Roofing

This is one of the most common flat roof types in Toronto. This roof type can be used more than once. You can remove it from one place and then install it in another building. One advantage of the rubberized roof is its durability.

There is also a great deal of protection against the dangerous effects of UV rays. It is also widely used and can be easily installed, whatever dimension you need, you can easily get it installed by professionals. 

GRP Fiberglass Roofing

This is a paint-on solution, and it allows for a great deal of flexibility during installation. If your roof is not the standard size or shape, you can be sure that GRP Fiberglass roofing will work out for you nonetheless. Although the roof is lightweight, you can be sure of its strength and durability.


Benefits of flat roofs

Especially in Toronto, the use of flat roofs is becoming popular, and you may wonder why this is. There are three main benefits you get from the use of flat roofs. These benefits are in terms of aesthetics, price, and minimal repair needed. 


The use of flat roofs in a building adds aesthetics to the building. It makes the building look more aesthetic than it is, adding a sense of beauty. Though it is only best to make use of flat roofs on smaller buildings, which makes perfect sense, they can be used on bigger buildings like airports or supermarkets. 

According to design, flat roofs are always made to be waterproof, and any water retained is drained off into a hopper. Also, with the use of the flat roof, there is the creation of more space inside the structure, as against other types of roofs. Thanks to this feature, whatever the dimension of your home, flat roofs make things a whole lot easier. 


In installing your flat roof, you don’t need a lot of raw materials, which ultimately reduces the total cost incurred in installation. Also, the installation can be done in one day. It is swift to install, especially on smaller and less complex buildings. 

Low maintenance

Unlike the other forms of roofs, the cost of maintaining the flat roof also comes cheaper. You can easily install them, and you can carry out inspections easily. You need to carry out maintenance checks as frequently as possible, and it comes at a low cost. All things being equal, a flat roof will last for a more extended period than you can imagine.


When is it Best to Use Flat Roofs?

The central locations in which flat roofs are used are outside of standard living areas. Examples of these are extensions and garages. Also, flat roofs are used in outdoor living spaces, especially in the garden. This roof type is not adopted for all areas of the home, and this is primarily because flat roofs are not as thermally efficient as pitched roofs. 

Flat roofs are used mainly in areas that are dry, warmer, and with a need for lower heat retention. There are also some recommended uses of a flat roof, which is based on community planning. For example, in a planned environment, if a pitched roof is deemed to be too high for the terrain, a flat roof will be recommended for use. 


The Need to Fix Leaky Flat Roofs

There will always be cases and situations where you need to carry out flat roof repairs, just like other types of roofing. It is not because the roof is no good. Damages, cracks and leaks are bound to occur to a utility exposed to the varying conditions of the weather. 

Flat roofs are bound to leak after some time, and the very first thing to do is to find out the cause of the leak. This is very important. You should also know that different types of flat roofs are bound to have different causes of leaks. 

Generally, flat roofs are constructed by layers of roofing felt and tar, hence, leaks occur at low spots, or where there has been a damaging impact on the roof. Flat roof repair in Toronto is now on the cheap side, and once you notice a leak, it is best to have it fixed right away. This way, you dispel the possibility of total damage on the roof.


Causes of Leaky Flat Roofs

It’s a roof, so you should expect a great deal of wear and tear. Weathering is another imminent factor that flat roofs are exposed to. When there is damage, no matter how little, you need to carry out flat roof repairs. This way, you prevent the damage from spreading, which may cost you more in the long run. It is best to do everything possible to avoid extensive damage. 

Someday, your flat roof will most likely leak. The fact that you maintain your roof as consistently as possible doesn’t mean your roof won’t leak. There will always be lag times, and in those moments, a leak can occur. 

There are different uses of flat roofs, which are commercial, industrial, and personal. When adopted in the home, proper maintenance can help you prevent incessant leaks. However, maintenance is likely to be more tedious for larger sized roofs. This is obvious due to their sheer size.

The various causes of the leaks that prompt flat roof repair always boil down to three main situations. These are:

  • Standing water on the roof
  • The roof is situated in terrible conditions
  • Obsolete roofing technology is used. 

Why don’t we take a detailed look into the causes of these leaks?

Ponding Water

This is one common issue that is faced by flat roofs. It is thanks to this that many installation companies now allow for a degree of tilt when the roof is set in place. Ponding water is when some amount of water remains on the roof for more than 48 hours.

When the water spends an extended period on the roof, it becomes prone to damages and leaks. The best way around this is to have the roof installed on a slope. There should also be drain points that can be easily accessed by the shelter. Ponding water is the leading factor that elicits the need for frequent flat roof repair. 

As a house owner, you should always take time to check out the roof. Make sure that no water is left stagnant on the roof. Gutters, downspouts, wall scuppers, and drains are components that can lead to ponding of water, especially when they are not properly maintained. 

Most times, places where you will notice ponding are around rooftop structures. This is because when units of components are installed, the weight bears on the roof. There is then a reduction in the functionality of the structures underlying the roof. This is what leads to ponding. 

It is not in all cases that ponding will lead to leaks, but it has a very detrimental effect on the health of the roof. In the case where it does not lead to leakage, it can result in far worse problems. When these problems result, it may cost you more. In worse scenarios, you may need to repair and replace the underlying structure that supports the flat roof. 

Leak and Moisture

This is not wrong. Tiny leaks can combine with moisture to lead to bigger flat roof leaks. If your flat roof has a small leak, the water goes straight down. Hence, there is seeping water down through and into the roof structure. This can lead to the development of mould and fungus, and it can even damage the structure. The problem that may result is that there is more profound leaking. 

When small leaks are not corrected, it can lead to even larger ones, which may cost you more. To prevent the need for extensive flat roof repair, it is best to perform random checks and maintenance. 

Damage to the Roofing Membrane

Flat roofs didn’t just come into prominence. In the old times, there has been the construction of a layered flat roof made of asphalt tar, roofing felt, and gravel. This, however, was time-consuming, despite being a practical approach. To cut down on installation time, membranes are now used. This method is now very popular with huge corporate buildings.

Membranes are made up of very thin single-ply layers that are made from rubber. Unlike the former materials used, these come cheaper and can be easily installed. But with time, membranes are very prone to damage. 

The damages that can occur to membrane roofs are cracks, blisters, and splits. With these damages, water can log and accumulate beneath the membrane. When there is a log in the insulation, it makes the cause of the leak to become difficult to pin-point. Hence, there is a need for you to cross-check the insulation frequently. 

Cracks in the Roof

Unlike the other types of roofs. There is always more pressure on the flat roofs. When the roof is subjected to immense pressure, the probability of a crack on the roof increases exponentially. This calls for immediate flat roof repair if you don’t want things to get out of hand. 

Whenever you notice a break, don’t wait for it to get more pronounced, that could be you shooting yourself in the leg. The crack will expose the structure of the roof to precipitation and is also evidence of a compromised roof. If you can’t get it replaced, it is best to have flat roof repair done instantly. 


Changing weather is a leading cause of the expansion and contraction of the roof materials. This is possible with flat roofs. With constant expansion and contraction, the flashing will begin to pull away from the various corners and edges of the roof. 

When flashing occurs, leak follows, and this results in water being trapped in the roof’s structure. If you want to avoid this, make sure you carry out a due and proper inspection of the roof. When flashing becomes worse in the roof, the only solution is to get a new roof installed. 

Roof Penetrating Structures

Also, whenever there is a structure rising through the roof, it can lead to leaks. Some of the possible structures are; gas lines, pipes, plumbing vents, and some other building elements. Some strategies can be used to prevent this type of leaks. These are rain collars, installation of flashing, field wraps and pipe boots. The easy way out of this loop is to inspect the roof regularly. This way, you can quickly figure out any need for flat roof repair. 

Faulty Structures Besides the Roof

Also, in the commercial and industrial use of flat roofs, the leak being experienced may not be from the flat root itself. It can be as a result of structures like a skylight. Rather than mistaking this, it is better to conduct a proper and well-detailed check. Get a professional company to do your flat roof inspection.


How to Detect a Leak in Your Flat Roof

If a leak is occurring in your roof, it might not originate directly from where you think it. Water may leak at point A, and the crack is actually at a point B. This is possible. 

Leaks can be anywhere on the roof, once it is a place of lower resistance (where leaks thrive). It is not easy to track where the leak is coming from, but some tricks will help you find the leak. Before you go on the search, make sure the roof is as dry as it can be. 

  • Make sure the roof is debris-free. Look for areas where there may be a fault in the roof. Cracks are the major causes of leaks; they are what you should look out for. 
  • Walk around on the roof and look out for the metal flashings. There are always two layers of flashing. These are the inner layers and the outer layers. 
  • You also need to examine the collars situated around the plumbing vents. During this examination, you need to make sure there is a flange protecting the opening in the roof. Also, you should ensure that it does not show any form of crack. 
  • You should also look for patches on the roof. Spots are temporal and can fall over time. 
  • The next thing to do is walk along the seams of the roof. You should look out for flaws that could allow for water to enter into the roof. At intervals, you should pick up on the edges of the seams. This way, you can ensure if the seal is tight. 
  • Also, look out for low spots on the roof. On a dry roof, you will find them as concentric circles that have been left by dried up pools of water. Check out the centers of these circles, in search for any leakage

When you find any trouble spot, you can make use of water from a garden hose. Use it on these spots, and check where and when it leaks in the house. Whatever cracks you find, check if it corresponds to the leakage experienced indoors. 

All these steps may take hours to complete, but it is worth it in the long run. Other than time, you don’t need much equipment to carry out this examination, save the garden hose. 


Other Flat Roof Problems

Many other problems may cause the need for flat roof repairs. Leaks are one of the major causes, but there are others, which may prove to be more detrimental too. 


This is one problem that will most likely require that the roof be changed entirely. The phenomenon is referred to as alligatoring. This occurs when the asphalt that was used in constructing the roof has aged, and there has been a drastic loss in its elasticity.

This causes the roof to crack, bubble, and ultimately resemble the skin of an alligator. Hence, the name. When this occurs, no flat roof repair can be done. You need flat roof replacement services and quickly too.

Buckle in membrane

The membrane used on flat roofs is always in one piece. This is unlike what is found in shingled roofs. When there is excessive movement due to the elements and other factors, the asphalt buckles. If this occurs, you should know that the roof is done. If the roof is buckling, it is not safe to live under it anymore. As soon as you can, make sure the roof is replaced.

Frequently Asked Questions on Flat Roof Repair

There are numerous questions to be answered about leaky flat roofs, especially the cost of repair in Toronto. 

How much will flat roof replacement cost in Toronto? 

Because there is a lot of value offered by flat roofs compared to the traditional shingle roofs, it costs more. Unlike the standard roofs that will cost between $4000 and $5500,  the cost of flat roof replacement is between $7000 and $10,000 on average. Of course, the price is all based on the manufacturer, the quality of material used and the size of the roof. 

How often does a roof need to be replaced? 

Once the damage is beyond repair, the best thing is a replacement. However, if properly maintained, there shouldn’t be any problem for a long time. There are various ways in which a flat roof can be damaged, as discussed above. There are many ways you can also find out faults. When you do this and call for flat roof repair, the roof will last longer. 

Different materials, however, come with varying lifespans. For instance, the EPDM rubber has a life of about 10 – 12 years. For the PVC, you can get as much as between 25 – 35 years of durability. 

Are flat roofs the best?

It all depends on the location of use. As said earlier, flat roofs are more adapted for use with smaller buildings, commercially, industrially, and personally. There are many cases in which the flat roof will never replace the shingle roofs. 



Leaky flat roofs are not ideal and you need to do something about it quickly. Flat roofs are excellent for houses, they have good quality, but there are still some factors which they can’t be resistant to. Knowing the various factors and problems that can cause your flat roof to leak is the very first step in tackling the issue. Before you engage with a professional for your flat roof repair, you need to make sure you know what’s going on. 

However, you still need to fix your flat roof permanently. If you are technically inclined, you can try to fix it yourself. However, it is always best to call in the professionals. We have a team of experts that can be at your home in no time. Contact us today to get your flat roof repaired!

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