Flat roofs are especially vulnerable to the buildup of debris, as the lack of a slope causes leaves, twigs and trash to remain in place. Because of this, maintaining a flat roof is sometimes more difficult than maintaining sloped roofs. Madison roofing professionals recommend watching for these signs that a flat roof needs maintenance or repair.

Ponding, or water accumulating in pools, occurs when heavy rain or melting snow becomes trapped on the roof. Over time, continuous ponding can cause leaks and other damage to the structural integrity of the roof and home. Regular inspection of a flat roof can catch ponding before it causes roof failure. Spots where ponding occurs often feel spongy.

Splits or long cracks, which may also feel spongy, may appear around the visible parallel joints of insulation. They can be caused by cycles of freezing and thawing, stress to the surface of the roof or poor workmanship. These cracks can lead to leaks, damage to home insulation or mold in the attic or upper floors.

Blistering can be caused by a number of things and appears as raised, spongy areas on the roof. At sites where blistering is evident, trapped air has separated the roof’s felt layers. Alternately, ridges may form where moisture has condensed under the roofing felt. Ridges usually occur near insulation joints, and they may appear as long and narrow cracks.

These signs of flat roof damage can be prevented by some basic maintenance. Because flat roofs are safer to walk on than their sloped counterparts, homeowners can undertake these maintenance procedures themselves with some confidence. The most important maintenance task is sweeping away debris. In particular, keeping drains and scuppers clear of leaves and other trash will help prevent ponding. Overhanging branches should be trimmed so they don’t scrape the roof and cause damage.

If damage has already occurred, the roof may need professional attention. Patching kits are available in home improvement stores to repair worn spots or small punctures, but large cracks or splits will have to be repaired by a specialized roofing contractor. Before using a repair kit, make sure that it’s designed for use with the specific materials and structure of the roof in mind.

Roof maintenance is important for improving the value and aesthetics of the home. Because flat roofs are susceptible to ponding and the buildup of debris, they should be worked on more frequently than sloped roofs. Regular sweeping of debris can prevent many of the problems commonly associated with flat roofs, but professional help may be necessary to repair some types of damage.