EPDM roofing systems, sometimes referred to as rubber roofs, are a very common choice for low sloped roofing installations for residential applications. They have an extended service life with a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years for most designs and applications. They are safer to install when compared to modified roof systems that require the use of an open flame torch or hot asphalt and are easier to maintain and repair should leaks or damage ever occur.
Making good, long-lasting repairs to an EPDM system depends on selecting the right repair materials and on correct preparation of the repair area. Using improper materials or methods to repair and maintain your EPDM roof system can lead to damages to the roof membrane, as well as a reduced life expectancy and premature failure of the roof system.
What Products Can’t Be Used On My Rubber Roof?
EPDM roofing membrane is a synthetic rubber membrane. EPDM, or rubber, is not compatible with asphalt-based products. This includes any type of roof cement flashing, as well as any type of asphalt-based roof coating containing aluminum roof coating. These types of products should not be used to maintain or repair an EPDM roof membrane system. The dangers of using asphalt projects on an EPDM system are very real. The contaminated membrane will need to be cut out and replaced, and if the extent of the contamination is widespread, the entire roof system may need to be replaced.
Preparing the Roof Surface
The next step in repairing your EPDM roof system is to properly prepare the roof surface to receive the patch. EPDM has carbon contained within the membrane, and as the membrane ages, the sheet begins to develop a carbon film that can be seen if you rub your hand across the sheet. If it is black EPDM, you will have carbon black on the surface of your hand. This carbon black film, as well as dirt and other oxidation, must be cleaned from the surface of the sheet to ensure that the patch will stick to the surface of the roof membrane.