Many commercial flat roofs are made of a modified bitumen membrane roof. Although cost-effective and durable, there are a few issues that can affect these roofs.
1. Poor Seam Adhesion
Most bitumen roof membranes use heat welding to seal the seams. A torch is used to heat the seams, which are coated with an adhesive that "welds" the seam to the underlayment to create a waterproof bond. If there are gaps at the seam, or if the seams are peeling upward, then they weren't torched down properly. The good news is that seams can be repaired, you just want to catch the problem before leaks occur at the failure point.
2. Foot Traffic Damage
Walking on the roof isn't a good idea. Most modified bitumen roofs have specific zones that are reinforced for maintenance foot traffic. Traveling over the unsupported areas can damage the membrane or its protective coatings. Signs of wear include scuffs, thin areas, discoloration on the membrane, and leaks. Some damages can be patched and repaired if caught early, but more extensive damage will require the installation of a new membrane.
3. Unsupported Edges
A properly installed bitumen membrane won't extend beyond the roof edges unsupported. If it does, the material can bow and eventually fail. This failure will allow moisture under the edges while also increasing the danger of uplift damage from wind. On roofs with unsupported edges or worse, the beginning signs of edge failure, it's important to bring in a commercial roofer to fix the problem as soon as possible.
4. Wrinkle Wear
Ideally all modified bitumen roofs are installed without any wrinkles, but in reality, a few wrinkles are usually unavoidable. Although not usually a concern, if the wrinkle begins to look worn, creased, or cracked along the top edge then it may need to be repaired. Larger wrinkles that trap water or debris should also be fixed, as this damming effect can lead to roof damage.
5. Extensive Cracking
Some cracking is normal as a roof ages. Fine alligator cracking that doesn't penetrate beyond the very surface layer of the bitumen is nothing to be concerned with, as it is primarily an aesthetic issue. Large cracks, those that penetrate deeply, or those that peel around the edges indicate that the roof membrane is failing. A commercial roofer needs to assess the extent of the damage before a leak occurs.
Contact a commercial roofer if you notice any of these defects on your modified bitumen roof.
To learn more, contact a company like H & S Contracting Inc.