How long a roof lasts largely depends on how well one maintains it. Although certain assessors offer 10 years as the average life cycle, the type of roof system in place will still play a major role when it comes to durability. In addition, old tar and gravel roofers agree that properly maintaining your roof will help to prevent any buildup of tar, paper, and gravel (BUR), allowing it to last for 20-30 years. BUR systems have been in place since the early 1900s.
The use of standard fiberglass polyester resin – similar to that used in boat repairs – tends to be less effective since the inflexibility of roofs prevents them from accommodating the contraction and expansion of buildings. A waterproofing membrane that is fit-for-purpose and has a flexible resin system will last much longer with just a few inspections here and there. Since such membranes do not need stone chippings for heat deflection, there is also no risk of stones clogging the drains. In addition, liquid applied membranes are known to be naturally resistant to lichen and moss.
A standard practice in flat roof maintenance involves getting rid of ponding water, usually within 48 hours. The best way for accomplishing this task is to add scuppers for a pond on one edge, roof drains or automatic siphons for ponds in the middle of the roof. Some of the best ways to create an automatic siphon is with an inverted ring-shaped sprinkler, a wet/dry vacuum, a garden hose, a digital timer, and a check valve installed in the vacuum. The timer will run for two to three times each day for 1-2 minutes to start the water in the hose. It will then turn off the vacuum, but the weight of water present in the hose will still continue to siphon and eventually open the check valve in the vacuum.
The most ideal time to deal with the issue of ponding water is during the design phase of a new roofing project because sufficient falls can be put in place to deal with standing water. The faster the water is removed from the roof, the less risk there is for a leak.
It is essential that a roof be inspected at least twice a year and after a major storm. Special attention should also be paid to the all flashings situated around rooftop penetrations. This is because the sharp bends in such places can open up. You can seal them with mesh, plastic cement, and a small mason’s trowel.