Our Beginner’s Guide to Maintaining Your Residential Flat Roof

Many homeowners believe that flat roofs, or low-slope, SBS membrane (Torch-On) roofs, are maintenance free. Unfortunately, this is not the case! All roofs require care and attention from time to time.

As your Edmonton flat roof experts, we have some tips for maintaining your residential flat roof below.

There are simple things that one can do to look after a flat roof installation and save a lot of money in the long run.

You can do some preventative maintenance yourself, but don’t hesitate to consult your local roofing contractor for the proper care of your modern roof.

It’s also very important to keep in mind that when climbing up on your own roof, always take extreme precautions, especially if climbing ladders is not in your field of expertise.

Use a ladder with absolutely no defects and always remember to tie it off. Homemade ladders should NEVER be used. It’s always a good idea to have someone home with you as well.

The first thing you need to look at on your residential tar and gravel roofing system are your drains.

  1. Are they plugged?
  2. Do the roof drains have screens?
  3. Are the drain screens clear of debris?

Simply take the screen off and clear the leaves, needles or moss and place in a garbage bag, and reinstall the screen. Some modern roofs don’t have a roof drain, but instead will have scuppers.

They work the same way and generally don’t have a screen. Scuppers drain through the outside parapets of your home or building. If your scupper does not have a screen contact your local flat roof/residential roofing supply store. The screen for a scupper actually looks like the end of your kitchen whisk you beat your eggs with. You could make a whisk into a screen by using wire cutters and cutting about 3.5 inches out the end of the whisk; should work up to a 2.75 inch drain.

If your residential roof has parapet walls, then you probably have a base flashing running along the cant strip detailed portion of your roof. You can easily lift some of these flashings up and look for pollen staining. Pollen staining will let you know how high the water levels are reaching. While you have the flashing lifted, you can also look for cracks in the membrane. If you see any defects or cracked membranes then consult a flat roof contractor that deals with residential homes.

Some flat roofing systems will have a straight drip edge where your roof will drain into a continuous eavestrough. At every joint where the flashing overlaps the next piece there can often be a tiny split or separation that many people try to fix themselves, however, we highly recommend calling a professional to help you with this.

Generally, these joints only need to be fixed once throughout the life of a membrane roof. You could attempt to fix this yourself, but this practice is not a good idea as it makes it more difficult to repair afterwards because unsuccessful cold process sealing complicates the repair and will drive up roofing technician costs. Cured cold liquid membranes are very difficult to scrape and remove!

Finally, your eavestrough gutters should be regularly cleaned out once or twice a year depending on how many trees are nearby.

The 9 Most Common Problems with Shingle Roofs

The condition of your roof is one of the most important aspects of home maintenance in Alberta. Your roof keeps you safe and comfortable in your home 24 hours 7 days a week.

That is why it is necessary to know what kind of shingle roof you have, its current condition, and how to take care of it.

Don’t wait until summer comes either. Just as the winter snow melts is the best time to assess your roof for any roofing problems. Our Edmonton roofing specialists are ready to provide you with excellent service and advice.

Our climate in Canada means we have to pay more attention to shingle roofs than in warmer countries. At Crest Roofing, we can help repair any kind of damage caused by high humidity, snow, rain, hail, or wind.

Let’s take a look at the 9 most common problems with shingle roofs:

1. Buckling Shingles

Buckling is the result of moisture getting under the shingle. If new shingles are laid without removing the old ones or when there is no proper ventilation, bucking will appear.

2. Damaged Flashing

Leaks are one of the first signs of damaged flashing that causes cracking or drying. You need to remove and replace the flashing and shingles around the damaged area as soon as possible.

An example of curling shingles.

An example of curling shingles.

3. Curling

There are many reasons that make your shingles curl. To understand the problem and get professional advice Edmonton roofing company Crest Roofing is ready to help.

4. Ceiling Spots

Ceiling spots tell that your roof leaks. Don’t ignore this as it can cause major damages and expenses.

5. Rotting

Rotting is a serious roofing problem caused by moisture absorption at the core of the shingle. A rotting roof can cause major leaks and is a sign that your roof’s integrity has been seriously compromised.

6. Missing Shingles

Missing shingles have to be replaced by a professional to ensure that the roof’s integrity remains intact and no leaking occurs. Our Edmonton shingle roof repairs company will examine your roof to ensure the integrity of the roof system.

7. Blistering

“Bubbling” is the problem that causes blistering and occurs just under the surface of the coloured granules. Shingles that have open blisters, where the asphalt becomes visible, are at greater risk of premature failure. Shingle blistering retains moisture in wet weather.

8. Missing Granules

Granules are the tiny ceramic-coated rock specks that cover the surface of asphalt or Fibreglass shingles. It is normal for granules to be loose, and for some of them to come off during installation or during the life of the shingle. However, if a noticeable number of granules are missing, exposing the shingle surface, they will need to be replaced.

9. Algae

Algae is a very common problem caused by airborne particles. It effects the colour of your roof, but may not be the reason for serious damage.

Take care of your shingle roof with Crest Roofing where we do inspections and preventative maintenance so you can enjoy your stay at home every day!


Flat Roof Major Leak Repair

Crest Roofing & Co’s Chris Fraser presents a residential flat roof major leak repair successfully done by Chris’ crew in Edmonton, Alberta.

Drain Replacement in Progress

Crest Roofing & Co’s Chris Fraser presents a drain replacement in progress from a roof in Edmonton, Alberta.


Which is the best membrane to install for my flat roof?

At Crest Roofing, we often get asked which roofing membrane is the best system to install.

Many years ago we used to give the customer only two choices: Tar and Gravel (T&G) or SBS (commonly known as Torch-On).

Over time new products have emerged to share the market. Today we can add PVC, TPO, EPDM, hot rubber type flood coats and spray foam type systems.

I am a firm believer that manufactures of certain roof systems should show proof that their product/products will in fact last the said 20 or 25 years they state. I don’t believe in weather room simulators.

Our Canadian weather is probably one of the harshest climates one will come across. We have extreme cold winters (-25 to -40) mixed with Chinooks that can go as high as (+10) all in 24 hours. This is very hard on membranes of any kind.

Snow melting, turning to ice, and continually repeating the cycle is hard on your membrane as well. Ice is always pushing and prying. Summers can get as hot as plus 37° degrees Celsius, and very dry!

I am a Tar and Gravel/SBS guy from way back. Some of these T&G roofs can last up to 35 or 40 years with a good installation and preventative maintenance. To say all T&G roofs will last this long is a far stretch. I am just stating what I have come across in my 30+ years of experience.

SBS was introduced to the Edmonton Roofing Companies in the mid 1970’s through pool construction. A manufacturer called Soprema was making this product in a place called Strasbourg, France, and soon opened up a plant in Quebec, Canada.

I was trained to install this product around 1983. This product took a while to catch on, but by the mid 1990s it became very popular. Roofing inspectors loved this new roofing system, and soon convinced school boards, government, and commercial property owners that this was the way of the future.

So, tar and gravel took a backseat. Other manufacturers followed this trend; IKO has been making a very good equivalent product with equal warranty. The end result is both manufacturers back and support their products to very strict architectural standards.

Today, both SBS and Tar and Gravel for Edmonton roofing seem to be holding up well to the Canadian climates. The proof is in the pudding. T&G is a little tougher to find leaks and repair. One has to be a very experienced and a qualified roofing installer to be successful at T&G repairs.

SBS on the other hand, makes it easy to see the deficiencies as it is not covered in gravel. Simply spot the ridge, bridging, blister or hole, cut out the affected spot, prime with an asphalt-based primer and re-torch one or two plies of same product.

Other new products that have come out in the last 20 years stating that their product is better are up for a little criticism. As an experienced Edmonton roofing contractor, and most would agree, I feel that the jury is still out on some of these other products.

Each membrane has its purpose in the Edmonton roofing industry.

Big open warehouses with little equipment on the roof are more suited for an EPDM system.

Sun decks with living space underneath, a good quality PVC or SBS will do. Sarnafil Canada installed their system on the old Maple Leaf Gardens, the Blue Jay’s Skydome, and the Saddle Dome in Calgary. They make specialized deck membranes as well.

One product our company uses for EPDM is Firestone, a company that’s been around a very long time. TPO is a single ply membrane; it is a combination of rubber and PVC. I won’t throw this membrane under the bus, as I feel manufacturers have put a lot of effort into making this product competitive. Inspectors and architects have been pushing this product as well, so a good qualified installer should be able to make this product perform!

As roofing experts in Edmonton, we generally look at every roof to see what product will suit you best. So Google away and consult with a reputable roofing company or an accredited roofing inspector for more information.

Don’t forget to ask roofing companies for proper credentials, like liability insurance (open flame, if SBS or T&G) and WCB.