The Met Office have recently released figures that reveal that England has been subject to an entire month’s worth of rain in the first two weeks of January and there seems to be little let up. Weather forecasters are warning that the rain looks likely to continue well into February, combined with a drop in temperatures which will only add to the misery.
There are continuing flood warnings and flood alerts in place across much of the country as further rain threatens in the week ahead. Many people in all parts of the country have been affected by the floods, and even those not directly affected have seen the devastation caused over the last month, yet when researching the damage it would appear it’s not just the residents directly in the line of fire from rising tides and burst rivers that are suffering.
Up and down the country, it would appear that flat roofs are being problematic, with many suffering leaks. Although in part this may be a result of poor workmanship installing the roof membrane, poor maintenance by the building owner or as a result of age, it’s like to be compounded by the incredibly high volume of rain water we have seen of late, particularly what can only be described as “sideways rain” that seems to have the ability to create leaks where none ever existed previously! A British flat roof typically has a timber structure, covered with roofing felt, and is not able to cope with extremes of weather.
Often when a flat roof is leaking, it rapidly becomes evident in the rooms below. When you come to check the top side of the roof, the point of penetration is usually clearly visible but may not be directly above the point where it appears below. This is generally because water enters the top layer and then runs between subsequent layers, until it finds its way through your ceiling boards.
Flat roofs, despite the name, aren’t in fact completely flat and should have a slight gradient to them in order to allow water to run off, however one of the reasons for their popularity is the fact that they are economical to construct but if the work is done “on the cheap” this can lead to problems down the line. Regular maintenance of flat roofs is required, as they are not as hardy as steeply sloped roofs. The most common problems are that rainwater outlets become blocked with leaves and other windblown debris, ultimately not allowing the rain to drain away and causing it to pool on the roof. If left unchecked, pooled water will breakdown the materials of the roof, eroding and gradually breaking down the components of the rubber or plastic used and will create further problems.
Historically, traditional mineral felts were used to repair leaks or for construction of new flat roof builds, but felt has a short life span and so it may be that if you have an older flat roof you need to consider recovering it. With the advancement in technique, plastics have changed and the more modern roof coverings will give a twenty or thirty year long-life span.
You may be lucky, a well designed and waterproofed flat roof should not cause problems or leak but from what we are hearing from the trades people we see every day, many homeowners are suffering at the moment.
We’d be interested to hear if the current weather has caught you out, or if you have been surprised that your house has actually got away with no damage during this period? And don’t forget, if you are in the midst of repair work, then we have a range of materials available to help you, so do give us a call on 01474 444150 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org