A flat roof is a nice choice for homes, but it will require very specific maintenance. A home with a typical roof pitch uses a combination of shingles and gravity to keep moisture from entering the home. Water that sits on a roof for any length of time can lead to a leaky roof. In a traditionally roofed home, the pitch of the roof expedites the water running off the roof after a storm. The shingles prevent the water from penetrating until it can run off.
A flat roof, or even one with a low pitch, does not have the advantage of gravity to remove water from the roof. It is important, therefore, to have a covering that will provide a moisture barrier for your home, as well as a way to pull the water off of the roof after wet weather.
One way to keep the inside of your home dry if you have a flat roof is with rubber roofing. Rubber roofing is a single ply membrane that is made of synthetic materials. This roof coating is fastened to your roofing deck, either by fasteners or glue. The rubber roofing is available in wide widths, so that you can cover the roof completely, eliminating the need for seams. Any seam will automatically be an area where the membrane may fail.
Another way to keep your home dry if you have a flat roof is with the use of a siphon. It is possible to create a siphon that, when set on a timer, will run for one minute several times each day. If there is water on your roof, the siphon action will continue to drain the water from your roof after the motor kicks off. Eliminating standing water as soon as possible after rain is the best prevention against a leaky roof.
With all of the maintenance required in a flat roof design, it is easy to wonder if they are worth the trouble. In warm climates, flat roofs are a nice choice. They allow complete use of the space inside the home. You do not lose any head room due to the pitch of the roof. Many people use the flat roof as an extended living area, and create a terrace or garden on the roof. Some people even plant turf on their roofs. The plants absorb water from rain before it can reach the rubber roofing, helping to keep the roof dry.
In colder climates, flat roof designs are not as popular. Water that freezes in cold weather can create ice dams, making it difficult to prevent moisture from remaining on the roof. If you have a home with a flat roof design, it is important to get on it several times a year to make sure that your moisture barrier and roofing material are in good condition. Catching a problem early is the best way to prevent a costly roof repair later.