How to Repair EPDM Roofing

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Despite having a life expectancy of 50 years, EPDM roofing systems aren’t totally indestructible (unfortunately). Although they are robust and durable, the flexible material does mean that they can sometimes tear, even when they have been professionally installed. However, the good news is that Firestone RubberCover is actually fairly easy to repair, should any damage occur.

Use the Right Equipment

When repairing your rubber roof, it’s essential that you have the correct tools to hand. Without them, high-quality and long-lasting repairs are hard to guarantee. Using improper equipment could result in further damages to the roof membrane, which could reduce its overall lifespan.

EPDM is a synthetic rubber membrane, meaning that it’s not compatible with asphalt-based products. This can be anything from roof cement flashing to asphalt-based roof coating containing aluminium roof coating. These kinds of products should be avoided when repairing EPDM membrane as it could result in dangerous consequences.

Prepare the Surface

Before you can begin the repair work, you must ensure that the roof’s surface has been properly prepared. As the membrane ages, you may notice a carbon film begin to develop on the sheet. When it comes to the EPDM you’re repairing, this film, as well as built-up dirt and oxidation, will need to be removed. This will ensure that the repair patch will stick to the surface of the membrane.

Clean the Area

When any grime has been removed from the roof’s surface, you’ll need to clean the area that needs to be repaired. To do this, it’s best that you use a cleaner that will not leave a residue on the membrane once it has dried. Simply wash the area, ensuring to clean beyond where the patch will be applied. By cleaning it properly, the patch should successfully adhere to the membrane. Remember to wipe down the surface (with an old rag cloth will do) to remove traces of moisture.

Measure the Patch

Prior to applying any primer, you’ll need to know how much of the repair patch you need to seal the damage. Lay the patch material over the area and mark an outline that will extend at least 2 inches beyond that of what you need (this should be in all directions). Remember to make sure all sharp corners are left smooth.

Apply the Primer

A thin coat of primer should be applied to the area with precision. Use a paint roller and go past all edges where the patch will be applied. This will make sure that all leading edges of the EPDM patch will adhere to the roof membrane.

Install the Repair Patch

How you apply the patch to the membrane will depend on the one you’ve bought. Repair materials are often sold as standard kits that require separate adhesive or as pressure-sensitive materials that have the adhesive pre-applied to the underside of the membrane.

Pressure Sensitive

When using a pressure-sensitive roof repair material, you’ll first need to remove the paper or film backing from the patch. You can then apply the patch firmly down to the roof’s surface. Using a steel roller during the installation process will press any trapped air out from under the patch. Apply a bead of EPDM lap sealant around the leading edge of the patch to provide additional protection.

Non-Pressure Sensitive

If you’re using material that doesn’t have a pressure-sensitive backing, use a single-ply EPDM adhesive to adhere the patch to the roof surface. Please make sure that the adhesive you’re using has been specifically designed for sealing EPDM to EPDM before you apply it.

Apply the adhesive to the underside of the membrane patch and to the damaged area’s surface. Wait until the glue has flashed off – so it’s no longer tacky when you touch it – and carefully place the patch material to the membrane. Using a steel roller, go over the entire patch to remove trapped air and ensure that it has adhered properly. Apply a bead of EPDM lap sealant around the leading edge of the patch to provide additional protection.

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