How To Avoid Roof Ponding

Blog | September 17th, 2020

There are few feelings that are more comfortable than sitting in your home during a huge rainstorm. Contrasting the warmth of the indoors with the miserable outdoors is a great way to make yourself extremely grateful for your home. Even better, is gathering with your family, maybe with a hot tea or cocoa, and making a family event out of storm watching. However, while you may be able to enjoy this experience, it’s important to remember your roof. 

During a big storm like this, it’s doing some of its hardest work. While your comfortable evening is going on inside, your roof is working to protect your home from the rain, and keep the water running down, off your roof, through the gutters, and down to the ground. If your roof isn’t managing this latter purpose, you can get roof ponding. What is roof ponding? What effects can it have on your home? How can you prevent roof ponding? Let’s have a look. 

What is Roof Ponding?

In basic terms, roof ponding is when water pools on your roof, rather than running off into the gutters. This means that, when it rains, ponds will form on your roof, wherever the drainage isn’t sufficient. Water always runs to the lowest point, which is ideally off your roof and away from ponding. 

However, poor drainage means that sometimes the lowest point on your roof, along the run-off water, remains on the roof. This is most common when dealing with flat roofs, and is the underlying process behind roof ponding. But what’s all the fuss about? How much of a concern can a little puddle be for your roofing surface? Realistically, roof ponding is one of the most damaging things for your roof, and should be prevented at any cost. 

Is Roof Ponding a Worry For Your Roof?

First off, it’s important to understand if roof ponding is a concern for your roof. As with any other defensive effort, preventing roof ponding involves finding the weakest link. For roof ponding, these weak spots are any flat portions of your roof with insufficient run-off. While this problem is much more prevalent in flatter roofs, never fully disregard it. Even if your home has a drastically peaking roof, this doesn’t preclude it from harboring weak spots.  

Luckily, while roof ponding is a devastating problem for your roof, it can be easily rooted out with proper maintenance. All you need to do is look for pooling after a big rain storm, and you’ve found your culprit. This is just one of dozens of reasons why it’s important to stay up to date with the status of your roof. If you check for ponding after each big rain storm, you’re well on the way to preventing your home from roof ponding damage. Still not convinced about the roof ponding concern? Let’s take a look at the extent of the damage that can be caused by roof ponding. 

What Damage Can Roof Ponding Do

While we may see roof ponding as just a small harmless pond, this excess water weight can put severe strain on your roof. The extent of roof ponding damage can include: 

  • Structural damage: Roofs are made of shingles and materials that need to withstand a lot of impact and environmental stress. To be effective, they need to be hard, and this usually means heavy as well. With water constantly ponding on your roof, this weight is exacerbated, and can damage your home structurally. Your roof is doing enough on its own, without supporting an extra load of water for long periods of time. Even worse, the ponding water can get into your roof, causing it to get damp and soggy, which increases the chances of structural damage even more.
  • Algae growth: No matter where you live, or what material your roof is made out of, standing water is a major problem. A roof pond is a prime location for algae growth, and algae has a range of negative effects on your roof. It can damage the protective layer of your roof by getting under it and causing cracks, similar to the way tree roots can grow through a sidewalk. Algae also blocks any existing drainage on your roof, which only makes the roof ponding worse. When choosing a new roofing shingle, look for those with add-ons like PABCO Roofing’s Algae Defender, to protect your roof against algae, in your fight against roof ponding.
  • Coating damage: When water ponds on your roof, it exposes your roof’s coating to prolonged moisture, which leads to it deteriorating. One of the main functions of your roof coating is to resist moisture, so allowing roof ponding to do damage like this is extremely counter-productive. Standing water affects the roof coating’s stability, breaking down under the sun’s UV rays, as they heat the ponding water on your roof.
  • Destroyed membrane: Ponding water will inevitably make its way into your roof’s membrane. Sun-heated water causes your roof to become susceptible to leaks, which will cause substantial damage to the membrane. Even in winter, ponding water can have horrible effects on your roof membrane. The rooftop’s aggregate surfacing erodes during the freeze and thaw actions of ponding water. As ice forms on your roof, temperature fluctuations cause it to move around, acting like a scrubbing brush on your roof’s membrane, and causing major damage.
  • Invasive plant roots: Just as with algae growth, other forms of vegetation and fungi can grow in water ponding on your roof. As these grow on the surface of a flat roof, roots can get into your roof surface. This can cause major structural issues, weakening your roof and home as a whole.
  • Leaks and roof collapse: As the above issues combine and compound with one another, the likelihood of greater damage grows exponentially. Roof ponding leads to weak points, through which moisture can gain entry inside your roof. From here, leaks can wreak havoc on your home and mental health. This can even lead to the nightmare scenario of a roof collapse. Roof ponding may seem insignificant, but it’s important to keep in mind this worst-case possibility and stay on top of ponding prevention.

How To Prevent Roof Ponding 

When it comes to fending off roof ponding, you need to take a wide-scope approach. This includes the following preventative measures, as part of your regular roof maintenance routine.

  • Fix any flat or low spots: The main culprits for roof ponding are low or flat spots on your roof. Preventing roof ponding requires removing extra water off of the roof, and flat/low spots don’t allow this to happen. One of the flaws of these spots is that water ponding can occur quite easily. This leads to a buildup of water that can cause damage to the membrane of the roof and eventually cause leakage. A professional roofing contractor will be able to help you get these spots taken care of.
  • Clean your gutters: Another reason that roof ponding occurs is that water can’t drain off your roof. To prevent a buildup of debris, always remove sticks, leaves, and any other debris off your roof, before it can accumulate in your gutters. This will allow rain and melting snow to flow away off your roof. While this debris may seem harmless, it can easily lead to roof ponding, and this in turn can lead to all of the devastating effects listed above. A small amount of preventative maintenance (cleaning your gutters) might cost time in the short-term but will save you a lot of time, money, and trouble in the long-term, by preventing the worst-case scenario.
  • Replace your roof membrane: The membrane of your roof is the protective layer that keeps your roof safe from things like moisture getting into your roof, attic, or other areas of your home. When moisture builds up, it can cause substantial damage to the membrane. Damage to your membrane can quickly spiral to worse problems, which is why it’s crucial to replace a damaged membrane immediately. If you’re not sure whether your roof membrane is damaged, you can always call a trusted roofing contractor and have them set you straight. 

Why a Roofing Contractor is a Must

If you’ve made it this far, you’re clearly committed to keeping your roof safe and sound. However, just because you care about your home and its safety, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the skills and understanding to do so. Maintaining your roof can be a dangerous project if you don’t know what you’re doing, which is why you should always hire a roofing contractor for major roofing work. 

Hiring a roofing contractor will remove the stress you feel about your roof, and help you take the necessary steps toward preventing roof ponding. Don’t know how to find and remove low or flat spots? A roofing contractor can help you out with that. Don’t know whether your roof membrane is damaged, or how to replace, or even what it is? A roofing contractor can help you out with that. Don’t have time to handle roof ponding on your own? No problem. A roofing contractor has your back. Making this smart call will save you money, time, and peace of mind in the long run, especially when it comes to roof ponding.  

Why Choose ACME Roofing

ACME Roofing is your partner when it comes to all roofing projects, including preventing roof ponding. We are always looking to save you stress and money, and our experienced team of roofing experts has the skills and know-how to do just that. If you’re worried about ponding on your roof, or want a free estimate for a new roof, contact the team at ACME Roofing today!

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