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Caring for your Flat Roof

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Richard in Illinois has a question about roofing. What can we do for you today?

    RICHARD: Yes, ma’am. I’ve got a home that we just moved into in April and the previous owner had called – it’s a flat roof …
    TOM: OK.
    RICHARD: … and there are only about five of these flat roofs in town. The previous owner called it a rubber membrane roof.
    TOM: OK.
    RICHARD: And it’s got some kind of a coating over the top of it. It sorta-kinda looks like the stuff that you would reseal a driveway with. And before I would just get something like that and put – you know, like a tar driveway – before I did something like that, I wanted to kind of find out about it but none of the home improvement stores around here could really tell me anything about it. So …
    TOM: Well, because it’s more of a commercial product than a residential product. Do you have a leak with it right now or are you just trying to make sure you understand how to take care of it, Rich?
    RICHARD: I have no leak right now. Everything is wonderful in it.
    TOM: That’s a good thing.
    RICHARD: I just want to find out beforehand because he said you should do it every year.
    TOM: Well, maybe; maybe not. Now, if it’s a built-up roof – a built-up tar and gravel roof, it’s made up of multiple layers of tar and tar paper with a surface that’s usually gravel; that’s like your standard type of flat-roof installation – you know with that, you really don’t have to seal it every year unless it develops a leak. If it’s a membrane roof – like a rubber membrane – then you almost have to do no maintenance to it, again, unless it develops a leak; which is very, very unusual. So I can’t figure out what exactly the guy is doing every year. If it doesn’t have any kind of a gravel surface, sometimes the flat roofs are painted with something called fibrous aluminum which puts a reflective coating on there and helps reflect some of the UV from the sun and that makes it last a little bit longer. But I would not panic over this unless I’m having a leak.
    Is this a roof that you can kind of get up on and take a look at?
    RICHARD: Oh, very easily. Yes.
    TOM: OK.
    RICHARD: The roof itself, color-wise, is black.
    TOM: It’s black, yeah.
    RICHARD: Yeah.
    TOM: So there’s no cover. And does it look like a rubber membrane?
    RICHARD: You can see these squares; these 4×8 squares (inaudible at 0:28:29.6).
    TOM: (overlapping voices) OK. Well, you know it sounds like a good roof. I don’t think there’s anything you need to do to it. I don’t know what the guy was selling you every year in terms of maintenance but the flat roof is not leaking; I would just leave well enough alone.
    RICHARD: If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
    TOM and LESLIE: Exactly. (Tom chuckles)
    RICHARD: (chuckles) OK, thank you very much.
    TOM: Alright, Rich. Enjoy it. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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