EPDM flat roof job - functional?

New first time home owner here, learning lessons the hard way and looking for some help. Apologies in advance for the novel - figure more details are better. I have more pics but need to black out my personal info before I post them, but one is posted below…

I hired someone I probably shouldn’t have to replace an old warn out asphalt roll roof with EPDM on a flat roof addition to my house. There was a bad ponding problem on the old roof and water was coming in behind the walls of my bedroom. The person I hired charged $3500 to do 7 squares. I knew that I was getting a really good price and so did not expect perfection, but I did expect long-term functionality and a generally correct installation based on our conversations.

After the install, I observed a lot of wrinkles, many going through the seams, and asked him if he could tell me more about it and if it was ok. He got really angry and defensive and told me I should pay for a roofing inspection which would show his work is 100% perfect. So I called his bluff and did that, and the inspection revealed a lot more things. They think I should replace it immediately. I got a second opinion, and they said the roof is fine and won’t leak. Both are major reputable companies in my area.

My overall question: Can I expect to get 5-10 years out of this installation as is? (see more details below)

My specific questions:

  1. The ponding is even worse than before. It is a large area, water about 3 inches deep. But, at least for now, no water coming in. However, after the two rains we’ve had since it was installed, I did eventually go up and sweep the excess water into the gutters. Per our agreement he was supposed to replace the plywood underneath which was surely degraded, but he did not and insists that it was in good condition. Is this ponding, especially without the plywood being replaced, going to be an issue? Especially in the winter when it will be ice?

  2. Are wrinkles just a cosmetic issue? What about wrinkles over the seams? People say the seams will fail earlier than they are supposed to because of the wrinkles - but is that like next month, next year, in a few years?

  3. He used 045 instead of 060 EPDM… I hear that’s a problem too.

  4. The company that recommended complete replacement insists that the contractor did not use the right kind of adhesive on the seams, only EPDM primer. I have read elsewhere that EPDM primer is sufficient on the seams.

  5. Am I being fair? In addition to the roof job, I asked him to apply a silane siloxane water repellent to my chimney, he also said he thought the flashing should be replaced and quoted $800 to do both. Instead of the repellent I asked for, he put Thompsons WaterSeal for masonry on the chimney, which I refuse to pay for since I gave him a link to the specific product at Home Depot. So, the total price for all the work came to $4300. When I asked for all the details about what products he used and raised some questions, he was extremely aggressive and called me and yelled for about 20 minutes, insisting his work is perfect and that I am making things up. He initially refused to fix any of the mistakes and berated me over text message for days. As of yesterday he has come around and says he will fix things. Prior to that offer, I only paid him $2500; $500 for the chimney flashing, which is fine, and $100/hour for 20 hours of labor, because everyone deserves to be paid for work. I am trying to figure out if this thing will last and if so for how long; if I can expect to get 10 years out of it as is, I think I should pay him the full amount (less a few hundred for the wrong sealant on the chimney), if he comes back and tapes the seam he missed and replaces the plywood in that area. I am just feeling bad about not paying someone who gave me a good price and like I should have known some corners would be cut. I was originally just going to get my leak patched (again), but his price for the whole roof seemed worth it to avoid fixing leaks every year, even if it would not be a picture perfect install. On the other hand he did not say he would do it for this price but would do a shitty job; I never pushed him to lower his price.

Thanks for any feedback.

Do you have a written contract? Was the old roof torn off? Inspections should be done by a manufacturers rep, roofers can offer opinions only.

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I’ll preface this with stating I am NOT a flat roof expert however have seen many installed and your concerns and questions seem warranted and reasonable in my opinion.

The buckling would worry me as some of the buckles are quite dramatic and could cause concern. All roofing membranes expand and contract to some degree and in doing so are subjected to the stresses leading to fatigue. Though it’s improbable a whole folded ridge would split, it’s also not outside the realm of possibility. More than likely though, the failure will be the development of small crack in the membrane or the premature failure of a seam along one of the folds. I also surmise the membrane is cool and in it’s contracted state and should be “tighter”. I can only imagine how bad the buckling will be when the membrane is hot.

In this instance, I would call the manufacturer rep and have them do an inspection of their product’s installation as it is they who will ultimately be taken to task in the event of a product failure. If they say it is fine, ask whether they will provide a letter stating so or whether you can purchase warranty from them as this will bind them to their conclusion.

If the contactor was belligerent, it likely means they are being “wrong and strong”. State you need a few days to mull this over and take immediate action to arrange for impartial 3rd party examination of the completed work. Once you have your facts sorted, and assuming those support your concerns, present those to the contractor and see how they respond.

Last thing you want to hear though is that a good price does not always equal a good deal. Of course, I’d never say that as you seem to have learned this the hard way. :wink:

Good luck.

I’ve seen worse. O45 isn’t a bad product. I’ve had them on open, boat houses for over 25yrs with no issues. I prefer 060 EPDM, fire rated over 045, but I’m not gonna hash on it. Might be all that your area has available to cut, otherwise, you’re buying a full roll. I’m not saying its a good job. I think it looks like a novice. They should have done something to taper the system. You advised them of the ponding.

I can’t see what the perimeter is. I see the picture framing of eave metal, I think. I know some roofers do a tape primer and seam tape at the gravel guard or eave metal. I wrap mine over the edge, put the metal on top and then clean, tape primer and covertape it, using 6". I finish it with a tube of sealant along every leadedge of covertape and seamtape.

Cant strip wrinkling would concern me. Not sure how far up the wall the rubber goes and is it fastened.

Seam tape, if done correctly, should be a water tight product. Remember, EPDM is designed to line ponds.

The field wrinkles, will not go away. If I knew what was the substrate was that the job was put on, it would make more sense. I never, never go over a tear off of any product without putting a new, clean surface down. It can be OSB, ISO board, fanfold, pretty much anything to cover the old surface.

I would suggest getting some caulk, sealant and caulking a bead on all your lead edges. Do not trowel it. Take your time. It will be extra protection and prevent raveling. It resembles a job that someone didn’t know how to install, to eliminate bubbles. Hopefully they used Water based bonding adhesive and not the yellow glue. I’ve seen some horrible jobs because they used the vertical glue on Horizontal surfaces. 045 is tougher to put down without working some bubbles and wrinkles out. I use a big roller to finish the seams and to roll the fully adhered surface. I don’t understand the seams, every 10-12ft. I would have tried to do one piece so I didn’t have as many seams.

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The wrinkles are from mating the surfaces before the adhesive has flashed off. They adhered the membrane from eave to wall, causing problems with getting it to lay flat. If the old roof wasn’t removed and the solvent based adhesive was used on and asphalt, the odds of it holding are questionable. You need vapor vents installed so the roof doesn’t rot out. The roofer had little or no experience with EPDM, and I’d question all detail work. If you can’t lay the field, how in the hell can you manage detail work?

What a mess. What was this EPDM glued down to? We have had to fix some other crew’s messes like this before and have had some success flattening wrinkles like that with a hot air gun. Not a Liester hot air welder, just a common paint peeling heat gun. If he used garden variety yellow glue there’s a chance some of those less severe wrinkles will stick down when heated. The 45 mil rubber is fine for this application but it definitely contributed to the amateur not being able to lay the rubber down nicely. 60 is easier to work with. Assuming he did the seams and the detail work correctly you will definitely get 10 yrs out of this roof. However, you could have gotten 30 or 40 yrs if it were done right.

Thanks everyone for your feedback! I have had a couple local roofing companies out to look at it, and every one directly contradicts the last about what (if anything) needs to be done :sweat_smile:

To clarify, I’m not terribly worried about wrinkles generally but I am worried about how they will affect the seams, and standing water on top of taped seams. I have had a couple people look at it and say that overall it should be fine for at least a few years. However I am inclined to disagree that a large pool of standing water, on top of a seam, above rotten wood and a likely broken rafter, is fine to just leave… especially when it becomes ice in the winter.

Plus, a couple new pieces of information have surfaced. Wrong drip edge installed, and installed directly over the old metal drip edge! And, I can see that old layers of roofing material are hanging under the drip edge, so it looks he probably did not fully tear everything off, but the whole set up he has going there at the edge is confusing. In any case, it is not securely sealed at the edges and if the gutters fill up or there is ice, it will 100% get under the roof covering and cause leaks and damage.

After the last rain, I also found lots of yellow streaks and a lot of the primer over the tape appears to have just washed off (and resulted in big sticky clumps in my gutters). The last roofer who came over to inspect and give an estimate on repairs thought that the yellow streaks were excess glue washing out. But he also still insists that the covering is fine as is and other than the metal drip edge, does not have to be re-done. I am failing to understand how it could be that glue could get out but water could not get in…

Here are more pictures that may interest folks: Roof pics - Google Drive

Anyway, I can’t really see investing in repairs, rather than replacement, of this system. Now the only thing is figuring out who to hire, given all the conflicting opinions (and of course everyone of them claims to have tons of experience with flat roofs and has great reviews from people who bought shingle roofs)

No written contract other than text messages, mostly in Spanish. At the time I was patching a leak on old worn out roll roofing that also had a ponding problem. He offered a good price to do the whole roof, enough of a good price in comparison to what the patch was going to cost, that it seemed worth it to run with it. I was juggling too many things and not really thinking “roof replacement,” and admit did not do my due diligence here. Hindsight is everything.

Still, we were pretty clear on what was to be done, including tearing off old roof and replacing rotten wood. He claimed to have torn off the old roof, and I saw that they did do at least some tear off, but it looks to me like they didn’t remove all layers (see update below). I figured it wouldn’t be pretty but I didn’t think it would be like throwing money in the air.

Seriously? No contract just text messages “mostly in Spanish “. What could possibly go wrong there?

Acknowledged my mistakes repeatedly in this thread, no need to rub it in more. Lots of the old English speaking legacy businesses here don’t seem much better re: communication and putting things in writing though. Might have something to do with no license or registration requirements for roofing contractors in my state.

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Ok but a lot of your wording triggers what most of us have come to recognize as a predictable situation. You didn’t expect perfection, but any time you spend your hard earned dollars you should expect that. Doing good quality work should always be expected no matter what. Materials can sometimes be compromised on but never labor standards.

Apparently, I’ve been doing it wrong for years. I write down material specs, system/process specs, unknown costs I.E. time - material rates. I follow manufacturers specs and get written authorization by a tech rep to change any of their details or materials. Should have been saying “No hablo espanol, senor”


Dang. The thousands of dollars and time I spend on Attorneys looking over my contracts every year to comply with State law. The cost of triplicate contracts, warranty information on what’s covered and what is not, is all just wasted.
That mule-hide, firestone and carlisle training at my job site, was a waste of time.
Now I’m angry.