The seams on a roof can be a hotspot for water penetration. There are many different types of seams and each one is prone to costly damage from constant exposure to many weather conditions. When membrane products are exposed to abrupt temperature changes, they can expand, contract, and erode, causing seams to separate and water to enter. When EPDM rubber or thermoplastic materials are used on a roof, all interconnected edges must be properly fused together to withstand everyday challenges, increasing its weatherproofing capabilities.
Membrane roofs have a different sealing method that is contingent upon the products used. EPDM rubber is fused by overlapping the first section onto the second, approximately six inches from the outer edge for accurate adhesion between the two pieces. A stiff-bristled push broom can be used to properly position the material and be sure that it adheres to the decking.
Thermoplastic membrane is fused by overlapping seams and welding them together using hot air or solvent. Modified-bitumen is fused by mopping hot asphalt or cold adhesive onto the material or using the latest method of application – heat welding. All of these sealing practices are done to improve the weatherproofing capabilities as well as the strength, flexibility, elasticity, and service life of the product.
For all membrane type of roofing, seams are the most vulnerable for breakage and water entry. This can be due to: the way the material is handled; incompatibility; poor workmanship; and installation defects. Regardless of the product used, if the contractor fails to fuse lapped seams accurately, reliability is reduced and leaking could happen.
Another problem commonly observed with membrane roofing is premature flashing failure. Leaks often occur at the flashing where the membrane is terminated or interrupted. If seams are not overlapped, bonded, fully adhered, or welded, failure could occur which could result in significant leakage.
Improper installation is yet another problem and includes overheating, insufficient heat application, incompatibility, and applying mopping asphalt that is too cold. Any of this can lead to voids, blisters, breakage, and material slippage. Quality workmanship is a big factor in making a system watertight and strong; poor workmanship and improper installation can lead to costly problems and a reduced product service life.
Financial and business continuity are two good reasons not to disregard roofing integrity. After installation, a visual inspection should be done regularly to be sure all seams have remained intact. An inspection is necessary to detect any workmanship deficiencies that could turn into a major problem if not promptly addressed.
Membrane roofing is inexpensive, easy to install, durable, energy-efficient, lightweight, UV resistant, and long-lasting. The potential for failures can be prevented by doing one very critical step in the installation process – proper seam sealing which can be provided by a good, dependable contractor who can will not let a roof fall apart at its seams!