How To Maintain And Repair Your Home's Flat Tar Roof

11 November 2016
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Taking care of your home's flat roof is essential to keeping your home and roof dry and free of moisture problems. Here are instructions to help you maintain and repair a tar-coated flat roof.

Clean Your Roof

When you have a flat tar roof on your home, it is a good idea to inspect it regularly for any cleaning and repairs that need to be completed. If you have trees around your home, they can drop leaves and other debris onto the roof, which can collect and clog up the scuppers and drains. When these become clogged, water on your roof won't have anywhere to drain through, so it will puddle on your roof and potentially leak through the roof and into your home.

Plan to sweep any debris from your roof each fall after all the leaves from nearby trees have fallen off. Wear soft rubber-soled sneakers while you complete the work so you don't damage your flat roof.

It is also a good idea to make sure any trees surrounding your home don't grow over the top of your roof, as they can scratch, gouge, and cause damage to the roof's layers, allowing water to leak through the roofing. Trim any tree branches that overhang your roof to prevent this from occurring.

Repair Damage

After you have swept clean the roof of all loose debris, it is a good chance to check the flashing around any vents and flues protruding from your roof. Make sure they show no signs of damage or lifting from the roof, as this can allow moisture to seep down into your roof. Make sure the caulking is still in place and in good condition. If the caulking is cracking, peel it from the flashing with the edge of a screw driver or razor and replace it with new caulking.

It is also recommended to inspect your flat roof for blisters, which occur when air has become trapped under the felt layer in your roofing materials. To repair a blister, use a razor to cut a slit down the center of the blister. Check inside the blister for any moisture, and if you find water inside the blister use a rag to mop it up and allow it to completely air dry. Once it is dry, apply a layer of roofing cement inside the full interior of the blister. Press down the blister onto the roofing cement to close off the opening, and secure the slit opening with some evenly spaced galvanized roofing nails. Next, apply a thick layer of roofing cement onto the nails and the slit to seal it from the top.

To repair a crack in your tar roof, spread a layer of roofing cement over the crack, then cover that fully with a piece of roofing fabric. Spread another thick layer of roofing cement over the fabric to seal in the repair.

Re-coat Your Roof

In a tar-covered flat roof, your roof is made up of a layer of roofing felt coated with asphalt or coal tar. The sun's UV rays and the weather are constantly wearing at your roof, so it is recommended to re-coat your roof in a new layer of tar or asphalt every two to four years. Make sure you complete the project on a dry day with temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees F. Sweep your roof clean of all debris before you apply the new layer of tar or asphalt.

Select a asphalt or tar roof coating product that contains fibers of asbestos, which will create a more durable layer on your roof. Don't worry about inhalation danger of the asbestos, because the fibers are encapsulated inside the tar or asphalt, so it is not a health danger. 

Before you begin spreading your roof coating, stir the product to combine any settlement. Use a brush to spread the tar or asphalt over the surface of your roof, beginning at the furthest end of your roof. Make sure you work toward your ladder so you don't need to walk across wet tar or asphalt when you are finished coating. Follow the instructions on the product's bucket for the thickness you should be applying the product.

Use these as a guide to take care of your flat tar roof. For more help, contact a roofing company like Fischer Roofing - Flat Roof Pros.