Over the last few years, the use of single-ply roofing has become much more common in residential homes because it has many advantages to offer such as lower cost, less maintenance, and even fewer odors when installed. If it is poorly designed, improperly installed, or lacks proper care, it could prematurely fail. So it would be very helpful to understand common sources of problems associated with single-ply roofing to have them addressed at an earlier stage before becoming a major problem.
- Material Issues – There are a growing number of buildings using this roofing material. Though the single-layer membrane works well, multi-ply systems have much better resistance to mechanical damage caused by punctures, chemicals and traffic. The material is more susceptible to installation issues than other systems; selecting a more durable membrane to withstand surrounding conditions could lessen or eliminate any problems.
- Flashing – The shrinkage of Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) rubber sheets can cause the material to pull up from the roof or flashing surface and cause bridging. With the force of the wind, it can actually lift up and present an even more catastrophic failure as it unseals from the flashing. There are several causes of EPDM shrinkage, including: thermal movement; loss of processing oil; residual tensile stress; or insufficient relaxation of single-ply before installation. In order to avoid such bridging problems, mechanical fastening such as termination bars should be used in the installation process. These bars can help resist more of these shrinking forces adhesive alone.
- Water Vapor Issues – There is a danger in using vapor-permeable material for roofs as this can increase moisture levels on both sides of the installation. Water vapor in the air flows through the system and upon reaching colder temperatures, condenses into water which is harmful to the system. This can be prevented by properly installing a vapor retardant to avoid condensation within the system assembly. Most single-ply material only uses a urethane adhesive or is mechanically fastened, neither of which completely addresses the problem. Faced with this situation, it would be helpful to ask a roofer to thoroughly analyze the project for the appropriate vapor retardant specifications.
- Adhesive Issues – Another cause of failure is to use the wrong adhesive or use the adhesive improperly. There are actually two types of adhesive used with this kind of material, foam and liquid. Foam adhesive can be applied using rollers, brushes or spray and adheres to insulation and covers the boards; the liquid type is used for attaching membrane to the system insulation and other substrates such as concrete, metal, etc. There are a number of reasons why adhesive fails, the most common being: application during temperatures not recommended by the manufacturer; mixing it improperly; excessive amounts; or insufficient drying time.
To avoid such single-ply problems and any repairs that could then occur, it is helpful to learn about single ply roofing problems and hire the most reliable contractors with expertise in the installation of this particular material. Then problems with this unique component for a roof can be completely avoided!
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