Posted on: 18 May 2023 by John Brook AssocRICS

How to Deal with Flat Roof Leaks

If properly maintained, a flat roof can last up to 20 years, but if exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations, high winds or heavy rain, or if there are underlying issues with the structure, it could start to leak well before this. Replacing a flat roof can cost thousands of pounds, so being clear on the problem and what needs to be done to rectify it could save you a lot of money.

Why is My Flat Roof Leaking?

While there are a few tell-tale signs that your flat roof may be in need of repair, the most obvious ones will be cracks and water damage on your ceilings. If you notice this, getting your roof assessed as soon as possible is essential, as the situation will only worsen. By having your flat roof surveyed, you’ll be able to find out exactly what’s causing any issues. Most likely, the culprit will be one of these six factors:

Poorly Installed Flat Roofing Membranes

While you may expect wear and tear to be one of the biggest contributing factors to a leaky flat roof, poor installations can also be to blame. This could be an option to explore if you’ve only recently installed your roof membrane. Be sure to check how long work is guaranteed for when you have any repairs done – you don’t want to end up footing the bill for poor workmanship.

Ageing Membranes

However, older flat roofs can be more fragile than more recent replacements, and membranes can be prone to split and blister, especially during more extreme weather. It may be possible to patch these membranes rather than entirely replace the flat roof, though, so fully investigating the cause before committing to major repair work is advised.

Leaking Lead Flashing

Lead flashing is used between the joints of a flat roof to provide a durable and watertight seal. As this degrades over time, its integrity and adhesiveness may fail, allowing water in. It may also be that the flashings were not correctly fixed to the wall or inadequate adhesives were used to secure them. Repairing the flashing should only cost a few hundred pounds, so it’s essential to find out if this is the cause rather than just assuming you need a new roof.

Damage to the Flat Roofing Material

It’s also possible that the roof could have been punctured or other damage inflicted that created a leak. If you’re having home repairs done, a tradesperson could have walked on the roof, or their equipment could have accidentally caused a puncture, for example. This will be less likely if you opt for more durable materials such as fibreglass for your roof construction.

Lack of Maintenance

While it makes sense that you would assume issues with the roof cause any water damage or pooling, the reason could be less concerning. Blocked gutters can cause water to overflow into the adjacent flat roof structure, so checking the state of your gutters regularly can be an excellent way to help your flat roof last longer. If blockages have caused damage, you may still need to repair your flat roof, but regular maintenance could be all it takes to prevent any future issues.

Soffit and Fascia Damage

When checking your guttering, don’t forget to look at the soffits and fascias that secure them and that help to protect your home from rain, snow, ice and the like. Suppose they’re discoloured, rotting or damaged. In that case, it’s worth having them repaired or replaced, ideally with UPVC or vinyl, as these will have a longer lifespan than traditional materials such as wood.

Why Get a Roof Survey From Surveyors

While knowing the possible reasons why your roof is leaking is useful, it can still be difficult to find the exact cause. You may initially call a roofer or builder to come and assess the situation, but can you be sure they’re offering an impartial, reliable diagnosis? To get the most accurate assessment of the state of your roof and to ensure you get the proper work done at a fair price, getting a roof survey from a surveyor is often the best bet.

By getting a roof survey from a professional surveyor, you can be sure that you’re receiving a fair, accurate and detailed view of the condition of your roof and, crucially, it’s not from someone who has a vested interest in how much money you need to spend on any repairs. The difference in cost between repairing flashing and replacing a roof will be thousands, so opting for an impartial survey can be very cost-effective.

A professional roof survey will not only detail the extent of any damage but also give you an idea of how much it will cost to make the necessary repairs. This can be invaluable when getting quotes to fix the problem. A roof survey will also highlight the cause of the problem, so if it’s due to poor workmanship and it’s still under guarantee, you’ll have a better chance of getting the original company to rectify their work.

If you claim on your insurance, an impartial report can be a key piece of evidence in encouraging them to cover your repairs.

Finally, but crucially, a roof survey carried out by professional surveyors will help protect your home’s structural integrity. Not only will it identify any immediate areas of concern, but the survey report will also tell you the life expectancy of your roof so you can plan to replace it in good time. It will also inspect all aspects of your roof, including the guttering, soffits and fascias, so that you can be confident in the condition of your flat roof in its entirety.

Novello offers timely, accurate and cost-effective roof surveys carried out by expert roofing specialists. To find out more, contact us or arrange a free quotation now.