What is a Rubber Roof? Your Ultimate Guide to Rubber Roofing

Rubber roofing has multiple applications—the most common being low-sloped and flat roofs.

Traditional shingles work well to repel moisture on steep roofs, with the help of gravity. But shingles don’t create the type of watertight seal needed to protect a low-pitched or flat roof from water.

On low-sloped or flat roofs, roofers often use specially-manufactured roofing materials made of rubber or PVC plastic. This type of roofing is known as rubber roofing. 



 

Benefits of Bowie Rubber Roofing

Single-ply rubber roofing is the ideal material for flat and low-sloped roofs because of its durability and water resistance.

Each type of rubber roofing material—whether it contains synthetic rubber polymers or plastic polymers—was specifically designed to protect low-sloped roofs from water damage.

Rubber roofing has many benefits, including the following:

• Long lifespan of 20-25 years on average and up to 50 years in some instances.
• Easy cleaning and maintenance.
• Energy savings.
• Improved curb appeal.
• Relatively short installation time.

Rubber Roofing Applications

Rubber roofing has numerous applications and uses. Below, we’ll go over the three most typical applications for rubber roofs.

Flat and Low-Sloped Roofs

The intended application for rubber roofing is on flat and low-sloped roofs, where shingled roofing isn’t the best option.

Shingled roofing is the perfect choice for steep-pitched roofs, but it isn’t ideal for low-sloped roofs.

This is because shingled roofing uses a stacked formation (one on top of the other with overlapping ends) to repel water as it travels downwards off the roof.

On low-sloped or flat roofs, water can drift in different directions and seep in between the shingles, causing leaks.

For roofs where shingles aren't the ideal choice, rubber roofing is often the most practical solution. Rubberized roofing materials repel moisture and protect the structure underneath from pooling water.

 

On Top of Your Shingled Roof

Rubber roofing isn’t only relegated to the field of flat roofs. It can also be used on pitched roofs, as a way to extend the lifespan of the existing roof structure and add value to the home.

On sloped roofs, rubber roofing is typically applied over the top of the existing shingles. A roofer can apply a layer of insulation onto the shingles, followed by the rubber membrane.

This option can save you money in the long run since rubber roofs tend to last longer than other types of roof replacement.

As an added benefit, installing a rubber roof on top of your shingled roof can dramatically lower your energy costs by insulating and deflecting heat away from the home.

 

Fixing a Metal Roof

Metal roofing is another popular low-sloped roofing option. Metal roofing can last many years, but when it becomes rusted, leaky or damaged, it can be difficult and costly to replace.

If you have a damaged metal roof, a rubber roof may be a better solution. Rather than going through the process of tearing off the existing metal roof, you can install a rubber roof over the top.

Similarly to installing a rubber roof over the top of a shingled roof, topping a metal roof with a rubber roof can improve curb appeal and reduce energy costs significantly.

 

Types of Rubber Roofing

 

Nearly all modern flat roofs are topped with one type of rubber roofing membrane or another.

But as mentioned above, not all rubber roofs are actually made of rubber, and not all are created equally. Each type of rubber roof material and system has its own pros and cons.

Below are the rubber roof options for installing or replacing a Bowie roof.

1. EPDM

Ethylene propylene diene terpolymer, or EPDM, is one of the most popular materials for flat roofs.

 

Pros of Bowie EPDM Roofing:

 

  • Long lifespan. EPDM has one of the longest lifespans of all rubber roofing materials.

 

  • Original rubber roof. EPDM is the original rubber roof product, which means it’s stood the test of time.

 

  • Lower cost. EPDM is one of the lower-cost options when it comes to rubber roofs.

 

Cons of EPDM Roofing:

 

  • Absorbs heat. EPDM is naturally black, so it offers less heat protection than rubber roof materials that are lighter in color. EPDM can be ordered in grey or white for an additional cost.

 

  • Potential weak seams. EPDM seams are sealed with adhesive or tape, which leaves them more prone to leaking than hot air-welded seams.

 

2. TPO

Thermoplastic polyolefin, or TPO, is a single-ply roofing material that is similar to EPDM but different in several key ways. First, TPO is a relatively new product in the roofing industry, which means it’s not as time-tested as EPDM and PVC roofing.

However, TPO was created as a more economical and energy-efficient alternative to these other rubber roofing materials, making it a popular choice.

 

Pros of Bowie TPO Roofing:

 

  • Durable and flexible. TPO is highly flexible, which means it can better withstand impacts and other types of potential damage.

 

  • Environmentally friendly. TPO doesn’t contain some of the chemicals used to produce other roofing materials, including chlorine. TPO is UV resistant (and can be ENERGY STAR rated), which means you can use less energy to cool your home in the summer. TPO is 100% recyclable.

 

  • Hot air technology. TPO is hot air-welded, making the seams strong, flexible, and highly water-resistant. The seams of a TPO roof are up to four times stronger than EPDM seams, which must be sealed using adhesives.

 

  • Color range. TPO is available in white, but it can also be manufactured in grey or black for aesthetic purposes.

 

Cons of TPO Roofing:

 

  • New technology. TPO was introduced to the roofing industry in the 1990s, making it a relatively new rubber roofing material as compared to the others.

 

  • Inconsistent formulas. TPO manufacturers are still working out the best formulations for their businesses and for their customers. Some manufacturers produce TPO products that are less expensive but more prone to failure. When you install a TPO roof, it’s essential to choose a roofer who uses a high-quality TPO product.

 

3. PVC

Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is similar to TPO in that it’s made of thermoplastic materials. It offers similar benefits in terms of flexibility and water-resistance, with similarly hot air-weldable seams.

However, PVC contains plasticizers and chlorine salts, giving it different benefits and drawbacks from TPO.

 

Pros of Bowie PVC Roofing:

 

  • Even more flexible. The plasticizers and other chemical components of PVC rubber roofing make it even more flexible than TPO. This makes it resilient and resistant to building-settling.

 

  • Time-tested product. Roofers have been using PVC for over 50 years. As a long-time industry favorite, it’s easier to find a roofing contractor who specializes in PVC roofing than in a newer product like TPO.

 

  • Energy efficient. Like TPO, PVC is energy efficient and can help reduce your cooling bills during the warm summer months.

Cons of PVC Roofing:

 

  • Chemical breakdown. The plasticizers and chemical components of PVC rubber roofing usually cause it to break down faster than TPO or EPDM.

 

  • Contains chlorine. PVC rubber roofing contains the chemical chlorine, making it a less environmentally-friendly option than TPO.

 

How Long Do Rubber Roofs Last?

 

Rubber roofing, when installed professionally, can last 25 years or more. TPO and EPDM roof systems have similar lifespans of 20 to 25 years.

High-quality TPO roofing that is reinforced with fiberglass can last even longer.
Modified bitumen roofs last an average of 10 to 12 years, and built-up roofs (BUR) last between 15 and 20 years.

Compare these lifespans to the life expectancies of other common roofing materials.

 

Cost to Install a Rubber Roof

Many homeowners make the mistake of assuming that flat roof installation and work is less expensive than pitched roof work. After all, flat roofs are much less complicated to access, and it’s a lot easier to move around on a flat surface than on a sloped one. We have some tips on hiring a flat roofing contractor for your convenience.

However, many roofers will attest to the fact that working on flat roofs is more physically taxing than working on steep ones. Flat roof work may not call for a harness and brace system, but it does involve more stooping, bending, and lifting than pitched roof work.

Additionally, flat roofs require more elaborate installation processes that involve the handling of adhesives and the use of sophisticated application techniques.

For these reasons, installation and labor costs for a flat roof can be as high as—or higher than—those of a pitched roof.

Rubber roofing materials are typically more expensive than traditional composite shingles, as well. However, a rubber roof will last longer and offer more benefits than asphalt shingles or asphalt roll roofing.

 

Maintaining a Rubber Roof

 

If you have a rubber roof, or you’re considering installing one, it’s important to know how to maintain rubber roofing correctly.

 

1. Regular inspection.

Inspect your sloped rubber roof regularly from the ground, if you can. If you can’t see the top of your low-sloped or flat roof, use a ladder to climb up onto the roof safely and cautiously. (If you don’t feel safe doing so, always call a professional roofer instead.)

Inspect the roof for debris, as well as any areas that look damaged or appear to be crumbling or cracking.

Check the seams for lifting—even what may seem like minor pealing—as well as the areas around flashing and roof fixtures.

 

2. Gentle cleaning.

Several times per year, you should clean your flat rubber roof to remove built-up debris. Use a soft broom to gently brush leaves and other small debris off of the roof. Use a mild detergent and wet mop to lightly scrub stubborn spots.

 

3. Gutter care.

An essential part of maintaining any roof system is making sure your gutter system is working correctly. Each year, gently clean debris out of the gutters and check for damage. If the gutter is cracked, sagging or leaking, call a professional to make repairs.

 

4. Professional maintenance.

If you notice any level of damage to your rubber roof, or if your roof has been impacted by a large tree limb or other large debris, call a professional roofer for a thorough inspection.

 

Alternatives to Rubber Roofs

If you need to replace your low-sloped or flat roof, you have a few different flat roof options. The following are the most popular alternatives to rubber roofing.

 

Asphalt Roll Roof Systems

The most common rubber roof alternative for flat and low-sloped roofs is asphalt-roll roofing. Asphalt roll roofing is applied in sheets in a fairly easy installation process.

For this reason, asphalt roll roofing is popular for sheds and small buildings, as well as for do-it-yourself projects.

However, asphalt roll is only a temporary roofing solution, as it has a very short lifespan.

 

Modified Bitumen and Built-Up Roofing

Modified bitumen is also known as roofing tar, and it’s a popular choice for flat and low-sloped roofs.

Modified bitumen systems can be applied as a self-adhering compound or using torch-down application. It is also used in built-up roofing (BUR) systems.

Modified bitumen and BUR roofs tend to have a shorter lifespan than rubber roofs, and they don’t offer the same energy-saving benefits.

 

Composite Shingles

Shingles aren’t the ideal roofing material for flat roofs, as discussed above. But it is still possible to use conventional composition shingles on a low-sloped roof.

To do so, the roofing materials need to be installed differently than you would do with a sloped roof.

Although shingled roofs can be less expensive than rubber roofs, this intricate application process will raise the price, and the roof won’t last as long as a rubber roof would.

 

Sealing a Metal Roof

If you’re considering sealing a leaking metal roof with a rubber roof, an alternative option is to top your existing metal roof with a one.

This would involve covering the existing roof with a layer of insulation, followed by the new metal roofing. Depending on your roof, however, installing a rubber roof may be the more affordable option.

Another option if your metal roof is leaking is to reseal the roof with fiberglass webbing.

 

Hire the Right Rubber Roofer Near you

As with any other type of roof, hiring the right Bowie rubber roofing contractor is the most important step.

When installed correctly by a skilled Bowie roofer, a rubber roof can last 20 to 25 years.

But an incorrectly installed rubber roof will need to be replaced within just a few years. More importantly, a roof that’s installed incorrectly can cause damage to the structure underneath.

If you’re in the D.C. area and in need of a rubber roof contractor, contact us at Capitol Improvements for a quote.

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Flat Roof Replacement vs. Repair: When to Repair and When to Replace Your Flat Roof

Your flat roof is starting to show its age. Maybe it’s even been damaged by a storm or impact. But is it really time for a full flat roof replacement? If you have a damaged or aging flat roof, you may be wondering if you can get by with just a few repairs, instead.

For over 30 years, Capitol Improvements has been helping homeowners and business owners make tough decisions when it comes to their flat roofs. In this article, we’ll discuss your options for flat roof replacement and repair, as well as a few alternatives.



Replacement vs. Repair: Top Deciding Factors

If you’re wondering whether it’s time for a full replacement of your roof or just a few repairs, the following factors can help you decide. These are the top factors to consider in the decision to repair or replace a Bowie flat roof.

1. Roof’s Age

The number-one thing to consider if you’re not sure whether to replace your Bowie roof or not is the roof’s age. Some roofing materials have longer lifespans than others, but no roofing system lasts forever.

Flat roof materials like EPDM generally last up to 20 years, with an upper limit of about 25 years. How long your roof lasts depends on the quality of your roofing materials and how well you maintain your roof.

Once a flat roof reaches the end its intended lifespan, repairs can only extend its life for a few years at most. If your Bowie flat roof is reaching this age, it’s time to start considering a full flat roof replacement.

2. High Energy Bills

One of the major benefits of flat roofing materials is their ability to save energy. High-quality TPO, PVC and EPDM roofing can go a long way in keeping heated or air-conditioned air inside the house, reducing your energy costs significantly.

If you’ve recently noticed a substantial hike in your gas or electric bills, and you can’t pin the increase on anything else, your roof may be to blame.

A damaged or too-old flat roof will begin failing in its job of insulating the home. When this is the case, there may be one damaged area of the roof that can be repaired, or the entire roof may need to be replaced to improve its ability to insulate.

3. Roof Leaks

If you notice a leak in your roof, it’s important to act fast. Water coming in through your ceiling means that moisture is finding a way in through a damaged spot in your roof.

If you act quickly in this situation, you may be able to simply repair the damaged and leaking spot. But if leaking goes unchecked for an extended period of time, the roof can become severally moisture-damaged and require a full replacement.

As soon as you notice a leak in your roof, take steps to manage the leak on your own and call a professional to address the problem as soon as possible.

4. Visible Damage

One of the best ways to determine whether your roof needs to be repaired or replaced is by giving it a once-over. Luckily, climbing up on a flat roof is a lot easier than ascending a steep-pitched roof.

If you’re concerned that your roof may be damaged and in need of repair or replacement, you may want to climb up there and check it out for yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, you can always call a professional for a thorough roof inspection.

Roof Damage: What to Look For

flat roof replacement signs

If and when you examine your flat roof for yourself, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the following signs of roof damage. Some types of damage can be remedied with a roof repair, while others may indicate it’s time for a full replacement.

Damaged Flashing

Flashing is an often-overlooked but extremely important part of a flat roof system. If the metal flashing around chimneys, vents, and other fixtures is lifting, damaged, or even missing, your flat roof will undergo severe moisture damage over time.

If caught early, damaged flashing can be quickly and relatively easily repaired. Replacing the flashing on your flat roof before more extensive damage can occur will save you a great deal of money and stress in the long run.

Blistering and Cracking

Flat roofs have unique signs and symptoms that it’s time for repairs or replacement. One of these signs is blistering, bubbling and cracking of the roofing membrane.

If the top layer of your flat roof looks like it’s been damaged by the sun or high temperatures and it’s beginning to bubble or crack, it’s likely time to replace the membrane. If blistering only appears in one isolated spot, a patch repair might just suffice.

Pooling Water

One of the most tell-tale signs that a flat roof needs to be replaced is standing water. Although we call them “flat roofs,” all roofs are actually slightly sloped. This is to help ensure the proper shedding of water and prevent pools of standing water on the roof.

If the roof deck and materials warp due to age or damage, your roof will stop repelling water as effectively, which can cause a buildup of water. These pools and puddles will quickly lead to even more damage as the moisture makes its way into the roofing system.

If you notice your flat roof sagging, or you seeing puddles starting to accumulate on the roof, it’s time to call a roofing contractor quickly for a replacement.

Impact Damage

If you’ve just experienced severe weather or a major storm, you may notice gouges or dents in your roof. If you see any impact damage that’s isolated to one small area—such a as a small tear or puncture in the membrane—a patch repair may be a viable option.

How Do You Replace a Flat Roof?

Once you decide it’s time to replace your flat roof and hire a reliable roofing contractor to do the job, you’ll be in for an extended process. You may be wondering, what is the flat roof replacement process like?

Below, we’ll go over the flat roof replacement process, step-by-step, so you know what to expect.

Step 1. Remove roofing membranes

Step 2. Clean the roofing system, including flashing, vents, and wood areas.

Step 3. Remove and replace rotted plywood.

Step 4. Remove and replace rotted fascia.

Step 5. Install new HVAC stands and features if required.

Step 6. Install new insulation.

Step 7. Install new roofing membrane.

Step 8. Install perimeter flashings and fascia caps.

Step 9. Clean up debris.

Alternatives to Flat Roof Replacement

flat roof replacement

If you don’t feel ready for the full commitment of a flat roof replacement, you have a few different alternatives. Below are your options if you’re avoiding replacing your flat roof.

1. Patching

Understandably, you may be wondering if you can patch the damaged areas of your roof rather than replacing the entire roof. In some cases, patching a smaller damaged area can work. However, patching part of a flat roof is only effective if moisture damage hasn’t yet spread to the underlying roof deck or surrounding areas.

2. Re-Covering

A second option for avoiding flat roof replacement is roof re-covering. This is the process of adding another membrane (like EPDM or TPO) over the top of your existing flat roof without removing the damaged materials first. Roof re-covering can work in situations where the roof isn’t leaking or overly damaged but is simply showing signs of aging or minor deterioration.

3. Roof Coating

A similar process to roof re-covering is roof coating. With roof coating, a roofing contractor applies a thin liquid membrane on top of your existing roof. This is a proactive measure you can take if your roof isn’t already showing extensive signs of damage. A roof coating can give your roof membrane additional heat and UV protection. This alternative works best when there are no insulation issues and no underlying structural issues.

Flat Roof Replacement Tips

flat roof replacement tips

If you have to replace your flat roof, there are some steps you can take to make the process simpler and get the best result. Here are a few flat roof replacement tips from Capitol Improvements:

Know Your Options

No matter what kind of flat roofing system you have currently, there is a wide range of flat roofing materials from which you can choose. Before you begin your flat roof replacement process, be sure to review all of your flat roof options so you can decide which is best for you.

Get Guaranteed

A roof replacement is a major home improvement process and one that you want to go correctly the first time. But if something does go wrong, you’ll want to make sure you have a warranty and quality guarantee in place. Before you start the roof replacement process, double-check with your roofing contractor that both the materials they use, as well as their work, are backed by a warranty.

Check Your Insurance

In most cases, a roof replacement is the homeowner’s responsibility. An exception to this rule is if the roof replacement is required prematurely, before the roof has reached its expected lifespan, due to damage or inferior quality. No matter when you choose to replace or repair your flat roof, it can never hurt to check with your home insurance provider to see what’s covered and what’s not.

Hire the Right Contractor

The single most important factor in getting the most of your flat roof replacement is working with the right flat roof contractor. Hiring the right contractor can mean you get high-quality roofing materials rather than low-quality materials, a long-lasting roof rather than a roof that only lasts a few short years, and a stress-free roof replacement process rather than a stressful one.

Choosing a Flat Roof Contractor

If you have a flat roof, you need a flat roof contractor. Many roofing contractors specialize in sloped or pitched roofs but have little to no experience working with flat and low-sloped roofs.

Whether your roof needs repair or a full replacement, it’s important to find a flat roof contractor you can trust to help you make major decisions regarding your home. A good flat roofing contractor will be able to inspect your roof and let you know for sure whether it’s time for a flat roof replacement or not.

When you choose a flat roof contractor, don’t choose solely based on the price. By investing in a high-quality flat roof replacement with professional and expert installation now, you can rest easy for years to come.

Contact Capitol Improvements for a Flat Roof Replacement Quote

If you live in the D.C. area, contact us at Capitol Improvements for a quote on your flat roof replacement.

We work with Enerbank to offer flexible financing that can help you pay for a high-quality flat roof replacement as soon as you need it.

Best of all, we have experience working on flat roofs for over 30 years, and we offer a quality guarantee for our work and the materials we use.

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10 Tips for Managing Roof Leaks Until You Can Get Professional Help

The first thing to do when your roof leaks is to call a professional roofer to install a new leak-proof roof. Unfortunately, you may not always be able to get help to your home right away. So, what can you do to stop a roof leak and minimize damage on your own? Capitol Improvements recommends following these 10 easy-to-follow steps until your roofer is able to inspect and install a new roof.



Managing Roof Leaks

A leaking roof is nothing to take lightly. Even seemingly minor roof leaks can result in serious water damage down the line. If you notice your roof leaking, take action right away to minimize the damage as much as you can. More importantly, make sure you work with a professional Bowie roofing contractor to fully inspect, identify and install a new leak-proof roof.

As a homeowner, you might put off replacing that leaky roof for fear of a costly repair bill. With flexible financing options, Capitol Improvements ensures that you can replace your roof quickly and affordably before the leaks create more extensive--and more expensive--damage.

If you notice your roof leaking, don't ignore it! Call your Bowie roofing contractor right away, and follow the 10 steps below to manage roof leaks until help arrives.

1. Minimize Interior Damage

After you’ve called a Bowie roofer to schedule a professional repair (or if it's the weekend or after closing time), the first step in managing a leaking roof is minimizing the damage to the interior of your home.

This means rearranging the furniture, removing valuable or cherished items from the area, and covering floors and walls with waterproof materials such as a spare tarp or plastic garbage bags.

Soak up any standing water from the floor before covering the area with your waterproof covering to avoid trapping moisture against the surface. If water from the leaking roof is dripping down an interior wall, you can apply a plastic barrier to the wall, as well.

If you notice the ceiling dipping or bulging as though it is full of water, properly protect the surrounding area and poke a small hole in the ceiling to release the leak. This will help prevent further damage to the surrounding drywall.

Next, place a large bucket or other container beneath the leak to catch falling water. Make sure to surround the container with protective plastic, and don't leave the area unattended for too long. Even a large bucket can fill up faster than you might expect.

2. Investigate the Attic or Crawlspace

If you have access to an attic or crawlspace, grab a flashlight and climb up. You can track the leak within your attic or crawlspace based on where it appears in the ceiling below. However, keep in mind that the way water travels from a leaking roof can be deceptive.

Water from a leaking roof doesn't travel in a straight line. Instead, a Bowie roof leak typically causes water to travel from the damaged roof downwards towards the nearest joint. From there, the leak will find an escape route, where it creates the leak you see in your ceiling. This escape route is usually a weak spot in the ceiling's drywall or the opening for a fixture, such as a vent or ceiling lamp.

This makes finding the cause of a roofing leak in the roof itself difficult, even if you find where the water appears to be entering the attic or crawlspace. But this step can still help you better pinpoint where the water is entering the home. It also gives you the opportunity to create another barrier to stop the water from reaching the ceiling.

To create the barrier, first lay a piece of plywood across the joists within your attic or crawlspace, and place a large bucket on top to catch dripping water. Don’t place the bucket directly on the drywall between joists, as it may break through the drywall when it fills with water. Remember to go up regularly to empty the water!

3. Redirect Leaking Water with a Bottle Funnel

If you’d rather not deal with emptying a bucket or other container every couple of hours, a bottle funnel can redirect water outside the house, instead. The bottle funnel solution can be used inside the home, where the leak is entering through the ceiling, but is best applied within the attic to most effectively deter water damage.

To create a roof leak funnel, grab an empty plastic jug or large bottle. Cut the bottle in half so that you have a wide opening on one end and the bottleneck on the other.

Next, grab a hose. It will need to be long enough to reach from the location of the roof leak to the nearest window or exit.

Using duct tape or other strong adhesive, attach one end of the hose to the bottleneck end of your funnel. Using the same strong adhesive, position the wide end of the funnel over the leak and attach it securely in place.

Now, you can place the other end of the hose outside via a window or door, and the water should flow through the funnel safely out of the house.

4. Examine from a Distance

After you’ve temporarily minimized the damage to your home’s interior, including the attic or crawlspace, it’s time to take a look at the roof from outside of your home.

Again, tracing the source of a leak from the point in the ceiling where water comes through can be difficult. Examining the roof itself can help you connect the dots. You may be able to spot potential problems from close up, or you may need to step back and look at the whole roof.

To do this, you can use binoculars to "zoom in" on your roof from across the street or across the lawn. This is easier and more effective for sloped roofs, since it can be difficult to see the top of your flat roof from the ground.

Signs of a damage may be obvious using this method—a tree limb that’s fallen on the roof, or a missing shingle—or you may need to go in for a closer look to examine the cause of the leak.

5. Look for These Causes of your Bowie Roof Leak

If you feel comfortable and confident doing so, the next step is going onto your roof to inspect the area and find the cause of the roof leak.

If you have an especially high-up or steeply-sloped roof, it’s best to manage a leaking roof from ground level and wait until professional help arrives. However, if your roof is relatively low to the ground, and you have the necessary equipment to follow roof safety precautions (see step 10), you may choose to investigate the situation yourself.

Once you’re on top of the roof, look for these potential causes of a leak:

  • Aged or brittle roofing materials.

Roofing materials naturally deteriorate as they age, gradually becoming less and less effective at protecting the home from water damage.

Look for patches of roof that look especially brittle or damaged by age (lifting edges, crumbling materials, melted tar).

  • Damaged flashing.

Metal roof flashing is used at roof joints and transitions where water flows heavily or where absorption may occur. Flashing is an important part of protecting your home from roof leaks, and aged or damaged flashing is a common cause of leaking roofs.

Look for flashing where your roof joins a dormer, where the chimney travels through the roof, and around the edges of features like skylights and vents.

Examine flashing for sections that have slid out of place due to missing nails, or portions that have lifted because of dried and cracked caulking.

  • Missing or lifted shingles.

If you have a shingled roof, it may be susceptible to damage from strong winds and heavy rain or snow. Severe windy weather can lift a weak shingle and even tear it off completely.

If a shingle is lifted or missing, your roof is susceptible to water absorption in that spot.

While examining your roof, look at your shingles to make sure they’re each laying flat and flush, and that none of them are missing.

  • Pooling water on flat roofs.

If you have a flat roof, your roof is made of waterproof membranes, and it is positioned at a slight angle (usually about a 1% slope) to help shed water.

However, waterproofing materials can age or become damaged, causing water to shed less effectively.

If you have a flat roof, pooling or standing water can be a major cause of a leaking roof.

  • Debris on the roof.

Another way windy and inclement weather can cause roof leaks is by creating a buildup of litter on the roof. Leaves, pine needles and twigs can create a layer of debris that traps water against the roof surface and eventually causes it to seep through. Look for piles of debris on your roof that could be causing a leak.

Additionally, look for larger debris—like fallen tree limbs—that could have punctured or weakened roofing materials upon impact.

  • Blocked gutters.

Your roof’s gutters are critical in keeping water from pooling and soaking through roofing materials. They keep rain and melted snow flowing the right direction—downwards off the roof.

If your gutters are blocked by leaves or other debris, water won’t be able to escape and may cause a roof leak.

6. Clear Away Leaves and Small Debris

If you notice any leaves or other small debris piling up on your roof or blocking gutters, gently sweep the debris off the roof, or reach into the gutter to dislodge the blockage.

Make sure to tend your roof and gutters carefully, as aggressive sweeping or shaking of gutters can cause even more extensive damage.

7. Remove Fallen Tree Limbs

Next, if you notice large fallen tree limbs, carefully remove the large debris while paying attention to the potential damage underneath. You will need to cover any holes or areas of damage caused by the fallen limb.

You may not always be able to remove large tree limbs or debris on your own, and that's OK. Some roof debris will need to be broken down into smaller pieces, which is best left to the experts.

If a tree limb cannot be removed safely--for example, if you can't lift the limb without becoming destabilized, or if moving the limb could cause more damage to the roof--simply cover the area as best you can (see step 9) to prevent further water from entering through the roof.

8. Sweep Away and Soak Up Standing Water

If you find an area or multiple areas of pooling or standing water on your flat roof (or low-sloped roof), carefully sweep water downwards off the roof. Remember to use a soft broom and not sweep too aggressively, especially if you have a flat roof that can be easily damaged by scratching and gouging.

Be mindful not to step or put pressure on the area where water has been pooled, as it may be weakened.

To further reduce potential water damage, you can use a mop or towels to soak up any remaining pooled water.

9. Use a Tarp or Plastic Sheet to Cover the Area

Whether you find a damaged shingle, pooling water on the roof, or a fallen tree limb, you’ll need to repair the area temporarily until help can arrive. The simplest and most effective way to do this on your own is with a tarp (or a sheet of polyethylene sheeting) and several two-by-four wooden boards.

First, sandwich each side of the plastic sheet between two boards. Nail the two boards together on each side so that the plastic sheet is help firmly in place. You should now be able to pull the sheet tight and set down the boards so that it lays flat.

  • If you have a flat roof, simply spread the tarp out evenly across the damaged area with plenty of room on each side. Set down the boards to hold the covering in place.
  • If you have a sloped roof, you can place one set of boards (one side of the tarp) over a peak in the roof to anchor the covering in place.

When placing a tarp over your roof to temporarily cover a leak, make sure to do so gently and without putting too much pressure in any one spot on your roof. Do not nail or staple the tarp directly to the roof materials, as this can create further leaks.

Make sure the boards are heavy enough on all sides to hold the sheet in place and prevent wind from lifting the sheet from underneath. Boards that are not firmly in place can be hazardous to both your roof and to your neighbors.

After placing the tarp, you will need to periodically check on the solution—especially if you have a flat roof—to make sure water isn’t pooling within the tarp.

10. Follow These Rooftop Safety Tips

Before going up on your roof to look for the cause of a leak or to temporarily fix a leaking roof, make sure to review and follow these rooftop safety tips.

If you don’t have the tools necessary, do what you can to manage the leak from inside the house and ground level until professional help arrives.

  • Don’t take risks.

If you’re fearful of heights or have a particular steep and/or high-up roof, or a roof made of slate or tile, it’s best to manage roof leaks as best you can from inside the house and attic without going up on the roof.

Fixing a roof leak isn’t worth the potential damage—to yourself and to your roof—you could cause if you’re not well prepared.

  • Wait for better weather.

When you notice your roof leaking, chances are high that it’s raining or has been raining heavily.

While it can be tempting to go up to the roof immediately to check things out, you should always wait until the weather clears up and is no longer rainy, windy, or showing signs of lightning.

  • Follow the buddy system.

We recommend never going up on your roof alone. If there’s an accident of any kind, you need someone there to help. A partner can also be helpful when you need materials passed up to you from below.

  • Use your ladder correctly.

Make sure your ladder is in good condition, and set it on a firm and level surface. Your ladder should extend at least three rungs above the edge of your roof so that it can be easily accessed on the way down.

Have someone hold the bottom of your ladder while you ascend and descend to help keep the ladder stable. You can also apply tie-down straps from the gutter spikes to the ladder to reduce movement.

Avoid carrying anything up or down the ladder.

  • Wear the right gear.

Any time you go on the roof, you need to wear solid shoes or boots with rubber soles and superior traction to help reduce slipping. In some states, a safety harness is required to work on roofs that are more than 10 feet high. If the sun is out, make sure to also wear a long-sleeved shirt and sunscreen to protect you from damaging rays.

What Happens if You Ignore a Bowie Roof Leak?

Knowing how to temporarily repair roof leaks and manage water damage until help arrives is important. But even more crucial is getting the damaged roof fixed by a Bowie roofing professional as soon as possible. Here is what can happen if you choose to ignore a roof leak—even a relatively minor one—instead.

  • More expensive repairs.

Ignoring a leak won’t make it go away. On the contrary: ignoring a roof leak will inevitably mean more expensive repair bills later on, once the damage has become more severe.

  • Mold.

Adding onto those repair bills, ignoring a roof leak can lead to a costly and unpleasant mold remediation process. Mold is not only a hazard to your home, but if ignored, mold exposure can also lead to allergic reactions and illness in both people and pets.

  • Decreased roof lifespan.

Roof replacements are a taxing process, and not one that anyone wants to experience too often. While all roofs will have to be replaced at some point, a consistently leaking roof will have to be replaced sooner.

Professional Bowie Roofing Leak Management with Flexible Financing

The best way to manage leaks is with the help of professional roofers. While you can mitigate the damage from a roof leak in the short term, the only way to truly repair a leak is with professional materials and application.

Capitol Improvements is an award-winning roofing provider with more than 30 years of experience in roof repair. Best of all, we offer flexible financing to help you fix that roof leak right now, rather than later.

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