How to Repair a Rubber Roof

Before repairing a rubber roof, you need to know what type of rubber roof you are going to fix

The Flashing is most likely to cause leaks

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

The area that causes the leak must be identified. There are several videos on this page that will help you just do that.

Step 1:  Determine the type of flat roof you have.

  1. EPDM Rubber Membrane – This is the most common rubber membrane found on flat roofs. 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.
  2. TPO Vinyl Membrane – Stands for Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) single-ply roofing membrane. TPO is a white plastic or PVC type of roofing membrane
  3. Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Membrane – This type of rubber membrane comes only in three feet wide rolls. When you see seams every three feet, then it is most likely a Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof.

There are basically three types of rubber membranes found on flat roofs:

EPDM Rubber      TPO Vinyl Roof       Torch Down Rubber Roof

Three different roofing materials are shown EPDM Rubber, TPO Vinyl, Torch Down rubber
Three different roofing materials are shown

Step 2: Identify how old the roof is

An invoice or receipt will help or call the roofing contractor that did the installation. You can rough guesstimate the age as well.

Temp70° F80° F90° F100° F
Torch 2 Ply Coated45403835yrs
EPDM Rubber12854yrs
TPO Vinyl22151210yrs
Torch 1 ply No Coat141198yrs
Torch 1 Ply Coated35322827yrs

Advice from Flat Roof Doctor

If the following conditions are met, then it becomes questionable to make extensive repairs on:

Life Expectancy of different Roof Membranes

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

Ultraviolet Rays cause roofs to fail. Depending on which part of the country and how much the roof was exposed to the sun, how long Roof Membranes will last. Roof Membrane Life Expectancy in different Heat indexes measured in years.

Step 3: Identify where the area is that causes the problem to make the necessary Rubber Membrane Repairs

Each Roofing System has there own issues that could cause leaks. Once you know what Roofing System you have and how old it is, then proceed to the section that applies.

I explain ways how to repair a Torch Down Rubber roof

Watch this video to see how to make repairs on a Torch Down Rubber roof

To make repairs on a Modified Bitumen Torch Down Rubber Roof you can use two different methods.

The one method is using Karnak 81 Trowel Grade Modified Bitumen Adhesives. Karnak 81 is a Tar that is compatible with Modified Bitumen Rubber Membranes. Karnak 81 is a perfect product to use when some small cracks and holes need to be sealed.

The other method is with a propane torch. It is only is necessary to use a propane torch when the roof has large sections that need repairing. You will purchase rolls of Modified Bitumen Membrane and cut the patches to size and use a propane torch to weld them to the existing membrane.

Watch this video to see how to use a propane torch. This is just a short video to get an idea how to use the torch when making a repair on a torch down roof.

This is one of my helpers that I was just having fun with. I wanted him to try out a torch and patch a roof with it
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