Tools to repair rubber membranes

How to Determine the Type of Flat Roof Membrane to make roof repairs

First Step:  Determine the Type of Flat Roof Membrane

There are basically three types of roof membranes used:

  1. EPDM Rubber Membrane – you can tell it by the look and feel of it. It is smooth and looks like the rubber of an inner tube of a tire. This is the most common roofing material used by most roofing contractors
  2. TPO Vinyl Membrane – this is normally white and has a plastic vinyl feel to it. This type of membrane is the least used by roofing contractors.
  3. Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Membrane – This type of rubber membrane comes only three feet wide, So if you see seams every three feet wide you know its some kind of a Modified Bitumen rubber. These membranes are either painted with a Silver paint or have Ceramic granules embedded on the surface.

In this video, I point out possible issues to look for on flashing against a chimney or brick wall.

To be able to make a Flat Roof Repair, the area that causes the leak must be identified. There are several videos on this page that will help you do just that.

This image helps you to find out what type of flat roof membrane you have: EPDM, TPO Vinyl and MB Torch Down rubber roofs

Second Step: Determine how old the roof is

An invoice or receipt will help or call the roofing contractor that did the installation. You can rough guestimate the age as well. Roof Membrane Life Expectancy in different Heat indexes measured in years70° F80° F90° F100° F0 yrs5 yrs10 yrs15 yrs20 yrs25 yrs30 yrs35 yrs40 yrsTorch 2 ply CoatedEPDM RubberTPO VinylTorch 1 ply No CoatTorch 1 Ply CoatedMeasured In Years

Temp70° F80° F90° F100° F
Torch 2 ply Coated45403835
EPDM Rubber12854
TPO Vinyl22151210
Torch 1 ply No Coat141198
Torch 1 Ply Coated35322827

Advice from Flat Roof Doctor:

If a particular roofing membrane has reached its expected life, then it becomes questionable to make extensive repairs on:

Life Expectancy of different Roofing Materials

  • Torch Down Rubber Membrane  –  Life expectancy changes drastically if it goes unprotected
  • EPDM Rubber and TPO Vinyl does not come with ultraviolet protection

Ultraviolet Rays cause roofs to fail. It depends on what part of the country and how much the roof was exposed to the sun, how long a roof will last.

Third Step: Determine where the area is that causes the problem to make the necessary repairs.

Each roofing system has its own issues that could cause leaks. Once you know what roofing system you have and how old it is, then you need to identify what is causing the leak. There are many objects that could be causing a leak.

A list of possible things:

  1. Flashing against siding, air conditioner or vent
  2. Underneath the half round pipes that covers a parapet wall
  3. Doors leading unto the flat roof –  the sill
  4. Drains that are not properly connected to the membrane
  5. Seams on the membrane – especially on EPDM and Torch Down Roofs
  6. Vent pipes from bathrooms
  7. Skylights cause a lot of leaks

Choose below your specific roof type where you will find videos, tool and material list and instructions on how to repair your roofHow to fix a Torch Down Rubber Membrane?How to fix an EPDM Rubber MembraneHow to fix a TPO Vinyl Membrane

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