If the architecture of your home is mid-century modern, then chances are you have a flat or low slope roof. Low slope roofs are often shingled with asphalt, while flat roofs will feature a bitumen or membrane roofing system. Although flat roofs are attractive on these home styles, they do come with their own challenges, so it's important to know when a roof replacement is necessary.
1. Poor Drainage
A major issue is poor drainage, which affects flat roofs more severely than low slope roofs. A flat roof should still slope minutely towards at least one edge, where gutters or drains are installed to route water off the roof. If the roof surface is damaged and sinking, or if the drains are clogged, then water will pool on the roof. Eventually, this leads to leaks and the need for replacement.
2. Seam Failure
Flat roofs may have seams between membrane edges that need sealed, while low slope roofs have flashing to seal seams around chimneys and in any roof valleys. If the seams fail, then water will begin leaking into the attic. This can lead to rot of the supporting structures as well. Prompt replacement prevents further damage, although it may be necessary to replace any rotted roof decking boards.
3. Shingle or Membrane Damage
Shingles and membranes aren't meant to last forever, and if your home is a true mid-century modern, it has likely had a couple of new roofs put on since it was constructed 50 to 70 years ago. Shingles on low slope roofs need to be replaced if they are cracked, missing, or curling up. A flat roof membrane is at the end of its life if the surface develops holes or punctures, or if the seams begin to crack or peel apart.
4. Skylight Leaks
Light was an important part of mid-century design, so many of these homes have skylights to let in more light. Water leaks are common around these skylights, particularly on low slope roofs because draining water collects along the top edge of the skylight. If there is moisture or mold around your skylight, then the roof needs repaired or replaced. You must also have the light resealed and water diverters installed to prevent future leaks.
Discoloration can occur due to UV damage, mold and mildew, bird dropping damage, or material breakdown. If you begin to notice discolored areas, then you need to have the roof inspected at a minimum. Sometimes the damage is cosmetic and thorough cleaning is all that is necessary, but in other cases, it could indicate that the material is wearing out and a leak is imminent.
Contact a roofing installation service if you notice any of these issues on your roofing.