I have a 3 ply mop down flat roof (3 layers of glass felt, mopped down with asphalt and pea gravel layed on top). The roof has a leak that is getting worst quickly. The roof is at least 20 years old. Should I replace the entire roof, or attempt to repair it, or maybe even consider pitching the roof? I understand that pitching the roof will involve much construction but if I pay for a replacement roof that has to be replaced in 12-15 years, I'm thinking that pitching the roof should at least be considered. The flat roof is about 360 sq feet.
Rhonda J. ~ Los Angeles, California
Hi Rhonda, I would say that if your flat roof is 20 years old, there is a good chance that leaks are going to start appearing on a regular basis. I believe if it was my roof, I would go ahead and replace it now rather than take a chance on continuing to spend money on patches.
Now, for the question on whether or not to go with another flat roof or to install a new pitched roof. I will qualify my recommendation with the statement that I am not a big fan of a flat roof on a house. We don't have many in my part of the country, but I know that they were very popular during a period of time around Los Angeles, California, and also in parts of Florida. Where I live most of the homes have a pitched roof, so that is what I am used to seeing. Other than the architectural look, the thing I like about a pitched roof is that things such as water and snow don't remain up there for long. I realize that snow isn't of great concern in Los Angeles, and perhaps rain isn't a great issue either.
360 square feet is not a large area, perhaps the thing to do would be to get some estimates as to the costs for pitching your roof, and do a cost comparison with simply installing another flat roof. Pitching an area that small might cost less than you think. Another consideration would be how a pitched roof would look with the architectural style of your home. If your home looks similar to the homes in California with flat roofs that I have seen pictures of, I would think a pitched roof with some heavy architectural shingles such as 40 or 50 year would look very nice.
One last consideration to think about before you take any action. Some neighborhoods have height restrictions for houses. You might want to double check to make sure a steep pitched roof doesn't put you in violation of a restriction.