How Does A Commercial Roofing Contractor Repair A Ballasted EPDM Roof?
Repairing a ballasted EPDM roof presents some special challenges for commercial roofing contractors. Ballasted roofs are free-floating — they're not attached to the structure of the building underneath using adhesives or fasteners. Instead, the EPDM membrane panels, which are made of synthetic rubber, and the insulation underneath are held in place by the weight of an immense amount of stone ballast laid on top of them.
Ballasted roofs have a number of advantages, as the ballast protects the EPDM membrane from being damaged by ultraviolet light and helps keep the building cool by reflecting sunlight. However, the fact that it's impossible to see the condition of the EPDM membranes underneath the ballast makes repairs more difficult. If you have a leaking EPDM roof, you'll need the services of a professional experienced in EPDM commercial roofing repairs.
To learn how a commercial roofing contractor repairs leaks in a ballasted EPDM roof, read on.
They'll Perform a Full Roof Inspection
Repairs start with a thorough inspection of the EPDM membrane. This needs to be done for the entire roof. It's common for commercial roofing contractors to use infrared to find leaks in single-ply membrane roofs because the water will show up on the infrared camera. Unfortunately, this is impossible with a ballasted roof, since the ballast stone is too dense for infrared to work reliably. As a result, the entire roof needs to be inspected.
In order to inspect the membrane on a ballasted roof, the roofing contractor works in sections. The ballast stone is moved aside on one section of the roof in order to expose the EPDM membrane underneath. If the EPDM is intact, the ballast will be replaced and the contractor will move on to the next section.
Ballast stone is heavy, and working section-by-section and replacing the ballast stone as the contractor inspects the roof prevents too much ballast stone from being stacked up in any one location. This prevents too much weight from accumulating in any one place, which could damage the structure of the building.
They'll Repair the EPDM Membranes as They are Found
If any punctures or broken seams are found in the exposed EPDM membrane, it will be repaired before the relevant section of the ballast stone is replaced. Even though working by sections is a lengthy process, this makes it possible to check the condition of the entire roof safely and repair any damage that is found.
Punctures in the Membrane
The most common form of damage in ballasted EPDM roofs is punctured membrane. EPDM is waterproof and resists the weather well, but it's fairly thin and cannot stand up to punctures. Thankfully, punctures in an EPDM membrane are easy for a roofing contractor to repair.
In order to repair a puncture in an EPDM membrane, the roofing contractor will cut out a section around the puncture and apply a fresh EPDM patch to the hole, attaching it to the rest of the roofing membrane with an adhesive. Once the adhesive has cured, the roofing contractor will caulk the edges of the patch with lap sealant to prevent any water from leaking into the gap between the patch and the rest of the roof. After the lap sealant has cured, the ballast stone can be replaced.
The other form of damage commonly found in EPDM roofs is seam failures. These are rare in ballasted EPDM roofs, as seam failures are most often caused when adjacent EPDM panels break away from each other after undergoing thermal expansion and contraction. The ballast stone on a ballasted roof keeps the EPDM panels cool during the day, so there's less thermal expansion and contraction in a ballasted roof. However, if any seam failures are present, then the affected EPDM panels will need to be removed. They'll then be replaced with new EPDM panels, which are attached to the existing roof using an adhesive.
If you have a leaking ballasted EPDM roof, call a commercial roofing repair service in your area and have it inspected — even if the process of repairing it will take longer, it's still important to fix any leaks that occur in order to prevent water damage in your building.