6 Hazards To Not Maintaining Your Flat Roof

6 Hazards To Not Maintaining Your Flat Roof

Almost nothing thrives through neglect. Sure, the Umbrella Plant seems to like to be ignored, but your home’s roof requires attention. Let’s look at some of the hazards of not maintaining your flat roof on your home in the Grand Rapids area. 


Most residential roofs fall into the category of “steep-slope” roofs, meaning they have a pitch, or angle, greater than 2-in-12, or 2 inches of rise for every foot of run. Some residential roofs, though, are part of the “low-slope” category. Their pitch is less than 2-in-12.

Sometimes these so-called “flat” roofs are as gentle as ¼-in-12, meaning they rise only a quarter inch for every foot of run. 

No roof—residential or commercial—is ever truly flat. The simple reason? Water. Water falls onto your Grand Rapids home’s roof and must go somewhere

Water follows gravity to the lowest point. The roof over your front porch, your sunroom, an addition to the house, or your garage may appear to be flat when it is really a low-slope roof


Low-slope roofs are great for many purposes:

  • Provide plenty of clear space beneath
  • Do not block views
  • Can serve as balconies, decks, and patios when built to local building codes

However, they are not ideal for shedding water.

Low-slope or flat roofs require conscientious maintenance to prevent leaks through the gently pitched surface. Vulnerable areas are at seams, walking areas, along perimeters, and around piercings. If your children insist on climbing out onto the porch roof, for example, they can scrape and tear the surface of the roof and create leaks. 

Roof leaks on low-slope or flat roofs are notoriously difficult to diagnose. The leak source could be far away from the evidence of the leak inside your home. 

Safety First

No roof—steep-slope or low-slope—is a safe place for any amateur. Nobody in your home should climb onto a roof. Any work on detecting and fixing roof leaks should be performed by your local residential roofer. 

You, as a homeowner, have two assets: 

  1. Yourself
  2. Your home

Your roofer has many more qualifying assets

  1. Tools
  2. Experience
  3. Safety equipment
  4. Training
  5. Safe procedures
  6. Proper supplies

Leave the roof repair and maintenance work to trained professionals. Unless your low-slope roof is reinforced, fitted with handrails, and easily accessed through code-compliant doors, do not let family members climb on it. 

Six Hazards

Low-slope roofs can suffer in at least six ways from neglect:

  1. Ponding—Ponding is defined as water remaining on a low-slope roof longer than 48 hours after precipitation; it compresses the insulation beneath the low-slope roofing material and causes an ever-widening area of your roof to deteriorate
  2. Damaged Property—Not only can the exterior of your Grand Rapids-area home become damaged from a neglected low-slope or flat roof, but so can your interior, from roof leaks, sagging joists, insect invasion, and other ills
  3. Injuries—Family members, especially children, can get injured when the “flat” roof is neglected; rotten decking, open seams, clogged scuppers, and other problems are all safety hazards
  4. Mold—Mold can grow within the roof deck (the narrow thickness between the roof exterior and your home’s interior), spreading within a few days of spores clinging to moist, porous surfaces caused by roof leaks
  5. Replacement Costs—A neglected “flat” roof will need to be replaced sooner rather than later; you can lose as much as half the life of the roof through neglect, and any problems can spread beyond the roof area into the joists and drywall
  6. Loss of Warranty—Even a small porch roof can be protected by a manufacturer’s warranty, but that same warranty will be voided if neglect causes the damage

What Constitutes Neglect?

Every residential roof of any pitch should be inspected and maintained annually. In areas experiencing rough weather, twice-yearly visits from your skilled, local residential roofer can preserve your roof and keep your house safe. 

If you “defer” roof maintenance, you may save a few dollars one year and then have to put out huge amounts of cash the following year. Why? A failing roof, a damaged roof, or a neglected roof cannot heal itself. 

A small area of damage on a low-slope or flat roof can spread rapidly. One open seam can lead to water infiltration, rot, mold, mildew, and leaks.

On the other hand, a one-day inspection and repair session with your local roofer can help your low-slope or flat roof last for decades. 

Contact us today at Moore & Sons Roofing to learn more about our complete range of roofing services, from steep-slope to low-slope residential roofs. We have the experience and craftsmanship to handle new roof installations, restorations, re-roofs, and roof repairs for your Grand Rapids-area home. 

Scroll to Top