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Common Roofing Troubles, Causes, and Preventions

October 17, 2022

Unpredictable roof problems are always a disappointment, and more often than not, translate into un-budgeted expenditures. A damaged roof can be the result of a negligence at the time of installation, improper maintenance, low quality materials, poor workmanship, or a combination of two or more of these. Even with the best of all these factors, some of the problems are inevitable as the roof ages. In this brief post, we focus on some of the common roofing problems, with the ultimate aim to help owners stem them at an early stage, before they manifest into larger problems that necessitate sizable expenses.

Leakage and Moisture

Roof Leakages

When a new roof starts leaking unexpectedly, you can’t help but feel cheated by the roofing contractor. Although poor workmanship is the most common reason for roof leakages, there are many other possible reasons.

Built-up Roofs

Built-up roofs (BUR) may experience leaks due to flashing details that are not fastened properly during installation.

Hot Bituminous Roofs

Hot bituminous and torch-applied modified bitumen roofs may experience leaks due to lack of proper moisture barrier underneath the coping cap on parapet walls. In addition, poor installation of flashing and roof backwater lap are other possible causes of leaks in torch-applied modified bitumen roofs.

Moisture Problems

Cold-applied Modified Bitumens

Moisture infiltration in the roofing system is another problem often seen in cold-applied modified bitumens, which is usually caused due to improper storage of materials, poor lamination, and persistent water leaks.

Single-ply Membrane Roofs

Moisture problem manifests when single-ply membrane roofs are installed with poor seams. Ideally, the seams in roofs must be either glued or heat-welded, to avoid leaks and moisture.


Roof shrinkage, also referred to as contraction, tenting, or bridging, is described as the irreversible dimensional shortening of the roof membrane. This dimensional change in the roof induces an extra force on roof seams and flashing details resulting in rupturing, as the force become more tensile.

Ballasted Roofs

The most common roofing problems, especially in ballasted membrane roofs, are flaking flashings and deteriorations such as surface cracking of uncured membranes, surface crazing, commonly used as penetration flashing.

EPDM Roofs

EPDM roofs are not vulnerable to roof shrinkages, provided they are installed according to their shrinkage limit. If an EPDM roofing system is incapable of withstanding shrinkage forces, it may develop leaks soon after the flashing detail is pulled apart. There are two ways in which stress gets introduced into the EPDM roof membrane; (1) insufficient sheet relaxation before attachment, and (2) sheet expansion before attachment. Therefore, to avoid potential shrinkages, pay special attention during installation.

Water Ponding

Ponding usually occurs in the flat section of the roof system, which not only causes leaks but also drastically reduces performance and life expectancy of the roofing membrane.

Flat Roofs

Water ponding is a common phenomenon in flat roof system. Inadequate or obstructed roof drainage, compressed and saturated roof insulation, improper structuring, and design of the flat roof, are some of the factors that may lead to ponding of the roof.

During the designing of a flat roof, tapered insulation should be added to the slope. If proactive measures are not taken while designing the roof, it may facilitate the ponding phenomenon.

BUR Roofs

UV rays directed at ponding water have adverse effects on BUR and asphalt-based modified bituminous roofs. In addition, improper mopping can produce voids in BUR roof membrane, subsequently resulting in water ponding.

The Bottom Line

In addition to the aforementioned problems, property owners must keep an eye open for numerous other roofing issues, such as blistering, tenting, and billowing. To prevent these potential roof problems, it is important to have the roof inspected properly, and have a comprehensive roof maintenance program in place. If the damage is already done, waste no time in hiring a reliable roofing remodeling contractor. Should you have any questions or wish to learn more about roof maintenance or installation, feel free to connect with one of our experts for a no-obligation free consultation.

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