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.

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

  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.

"Locating the leak is harder than fixing it"

    1. Find the object or place where the roof is leaking
      • Get reference points inside the building or take measurements from two walls to get an approximate idea where the leak is on the roof
      • Check the flashing, skylights, door-pans, vent pipes for possible clues that could cause the leak
    2. Tools and Materials needed
      • Disposable Brush
      • Rags
      • Scissors
      • Steel brush
      • Scraper
      • Turbo Poly Seal or Super Silicone Seal from
    3. Prepare the Surface:
      • Use the wire brush and brush away any loose paint, debris
      • Wipe the surface clean from any dust
      • Remove any old caulking with a scraper
      • Remove old Tar
    4. Start the repair:
      • Open the can of Turbo Poly Seal or Super Silicone Seal.
      • Stir the contents well
      • Apply a thick coat of sealant over the leaky area covering at least 2 inches on each side of the leak
      • Measure and cut a piece of Polyester Fleece that will be big enough to cover the leak area
      • Apply the fleece over the sealant and dab it into the sealant with the brush
      • Apply a final coat of Sealant over the fleece ensuring that the entire Polyester cloth is covered
    5. Curing Time:
      • Make sure there is at least 1 hour time after fixing the leak and before it rains
      • It takes about 24 hours to cure at 65° F
      • If there is any  sealant left in the container, make sure to seal it very tightly

Pitch Pockets that are located next to Airconditioner units are common to cause leaks.

If your commercial roof is leaking, inspect the following:

  1. Locate the "Pitch Pocket" - this is where all the electrical wires and conduit pipes come through the roof
  2. Make sure the "Tar" is filled to the brim. If the tar is forming a pocket where water can accumulate, it will cause a leak
  3. Make sure the foam insulation around the condenser pip;e is intact. If the foam insulation is corroded or broken, when it rains, water will leak in between the foam and the pipe into the building
  4. Make sure that the Tar seals tightly around the condenser pipe and wires
  5. Check the transition from the Pitch Pocket to the rubber roof - the flashing may need repair

No matter what causes a leak, if you have Turbo Poly Seal or Super Silicone Seal, you can repair any leak

How to repair a leak:

  1. After locating the leaky area, prepare the surface by cleaning it removing loose paint and debris
  2. Wipe the area clean with a rag
  3. Apply one coat of sealant covering two inches on each side of the leak area
  4. Install a precut Polyester Fleece over the sealant embedding it
  5. Apply  a final coat of Sealant over the Polyester Fleece
  6. Make sure to close the container securely so no air can get in

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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5.0 rating
May 30, 2020

Very informative and friendly we appreciate thank you.

Margarita salinas

very cool

5.0 rating
May 28, 2020

very friendly and good product.


Drain leaking

5.0 rating
May 28, 2020

That information is very helpful for me because we have a leak in my flat roof.
Thank you very much

Adelaida Solis

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