How To Tell If An EPDM Roof Is Wet

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

How to tell if an EPDM roof is wet.

EPDM (Ethylene Polypropylene Diene Monomer) is a synthetic rubber roofing surface, produced by Firestone, and if installed properly will last 15 - 20 years depending on the amount of direct sunshine it gets.

Key words:  installed properly.

Like any product, if a roofing surface is not installed well or according to manufacturer instructions, it will experience problems, sometimes early on.

Known problems associated with improper installation, or age, with EPDM can include ponding (puddles) which develop because there is not a proper slope, improperly prepared under surface onto which the synthetic rubber is glued, bubbles, tears, poor flashing, and edges which do not adhere properly.

This corner was popped up on this recently replaced front porch roof. 

It looks to have been like that for some time.

Obviously water can get underneath.

We have had a lot of rain lately, and it rained hard the night before this inspection.

In addition to this popped-up corner, there was evidence that ponding happens each time it rains.  Wrinkles could also be seen, and felt, on the surface.

The pond (puddle) had evaporated by the time of the inspection, but its location was evident.  It was clearly evident!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting until after the sun had set and the roof surface was cooled in the shade, any residual moisture remaining under the surface of the roof will stay warmer for a longer period of time.  It virtually shines through to the camera.

Looking at the digital image taken by the thermal camera on the left, the area where water sits over the surface during every rain storm is quite apparent.  The wrinkles at the edge and into the material are also evident.

Comparing the thermal image of that same location one can see the warmer spots, as indicated by the yellow and white areas, which has the same shape as the ponding areas on the left.  That roof subsurface is wet!

Wetness leads to damage, and under an EPDM surface that damage cannot be seen. 

When does it become manifest?  After the damage has progressed enough that the roof sinks in, or collapses completely the subsequent repair is dramatically more expensive. 

To catch it now, in the earlier stages, is much more cost effective!

My recommendation:  thermal cameras, and thermal imaging, can reveal unseen problems during many inspections.  Sometimes multiple problems!  They can show problems with insulation, electrical connections, mechanical systems, moisture intrusion into the house, air intrusion and evaporative cooling.  This home inspector has taken thermal images of all those things and revealed those problems to buyers before the purchase.  That is information!  The home inspector's job is to observe and report.  A thermal image, when interpreted correctly, can provide definitive information, and demonstrate issues in ways that cannot be demonstrated any other way.

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Re-Blogged 1 time:

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  1. Sally K. & David L. Hanson 08/20/2018 07:13 AM
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Rainmaker
1,843,565
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Stephen - I had two skylights damaged along with my roof during a tornado a year ago.  The skylights were leaking.  The insurance company fought me on it, and I asked that the adjuster come back.  He said there was no way I could prove to him they were leaking.  I busted out Mighty Mo.  He took a picture of the thermal camera showing the wet areas and approved the replacement.  He said that was the first time a thermal camera was used to prove anything to him!

Jul 30, 2018 11:53 AM #15
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Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

               

                     Thank you, Jay. 

Aug 04, 2018 05:52 PM #16
Rainmaker
1,843,565
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

And thank you, Kathy!  I bet it gets more reads and comments there then it did on my site (it got 53 reads with 8 comments on mine)!

Which isn't a bad thing - it's good information!

Aug 05, 2018 03:39 AM #17
Rainmaker
1,427,423
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

As you have proven in your posts, thermal imaging is an amazing tool!

Aug 05, 2018 05:41 AM #18
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Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Another great post explaining why we need to use the tools available for inspections. I've had buyers choose a less expensive choice, but we try to let them know how thermal imaging can identify problems. 

Aug 05, 2018 08:15 AM #19
Rainmaker
1,843,565
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

It's the sharpest arrow in my quiver, Kat!

Debb - I have identified dozens of thousands of $ of damage over the years with thermal imaging, that nobody would have known about otherwise.

Aug 05, 2018 10:00 AM #20
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Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

That thermal camera of yours is the ultimate crap detector...so to speak.

Aug 05, 2018 10:11 AM #21
Rainmaker
1,843,565
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Yo, Chris Ann - this is what a toilet leak into the basement ceiling below looks like with Mighty Mo.

Crap detector...

P.s.  "It" was dripping from the light on the lower left.

Aug 05, 2018 10:35 AM #22
Rainmaker
490,607
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Hey Jay, I have been absent in the Rain. Trying to be a better Rain-ier :) 

Great blog, keep it up.

Aug 05, 2018 10:49 AM #23
Rainmaker
1,898,425
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good afternoon Jay - I would certainly want that type of inspection with a thermal camera.  Having a well qualified roofer is very important.

Aug 05, 2018 11:34 AM #24
Rainmaker
1,843,565
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Don't you have a mountain there named Rainier, Don?  Seems to me you're already there!

Grant - having both is very helpful!  In the case of this post, a good roofer is essential.

Aug 05, 2018 12:14 PM #25
Rainmaker
2,107,128
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

OK, I hadn't even heard of these roofs. As usual, your info is fantastic and I'm sure will be very helpful to many! So glad Kathy shared this post!

Aug 05, 2018 01:36 PM #26
Rainmaker
1,843,565
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Sharon - EPDM was invented in the 70s and another form of it has been used on commercial buildings, like the big box stores, regularly.  The black EPDM in this post is residential grade.  More people have read and commented on the post since it was shared then when I  first posted it!

Aug 05, 2018 02:42 PM #27
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Well, I sure learned alot about EDPM roofing, Jay. I didn't even know what is was!! Can't say I have run across it, though, but you never know.

Jeff

Aug 05, 2018 05:16 PM #28
Rainmaker
1,843,565
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Jeff - in the east EPDM a common roof surface for flat and nearly flat surfaces.  That and TPO (Thermal Plastic Olefin), which is white and much thicker and made by many different manufacturers.  While I've seen TPO on residential construction, it is more common on commercial buildings. 

Many years ago I went to Firestone for a week-long CEU class on all their roofing products, including EPDM.  It was most informative!

Aug 05, 2018 11:10 PM #29
Rainmaker
1,766,199
Lottie Kendall
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Helping make your real estate dreams a reality

Jay, I'm glad I caught this on Kathy Streib's weekly Ah-Ha Moments. I hadn't heard of this type of roofing, but now am in the know. Thanks!

Aug 06, 2018 06:32 PM #30
Rainmaker
977,460
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Ponding is something we look for in flat roofs in Arizona.  This sounds like the same elastomaric coating used in flat roofs.  GREAT POST!  It's smart to use a home inspector who understands this type of roof like you Jay.  Good for you! 

Aug 06, 2018 09:12 PM #31
Rainmaker
1,843,565
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Me too, Lottie.  More people saw and read my post because it was there then when I posted it!  People typically don't read home inspector posts, and we have a lot of information I think.

Jan - EPDM has been out since the 70s, produced by Firestone.  Elastomerics are a different material, and only last about 7 years.  Usually they are painted on.  Ponding is truly an enemy, however!

Aug 07, 2018 03:43 AM #32
Rainmaker
3,238,584
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

Rough roofs can come in all kinds of flavors...rubber, asphalt...and Mighty Moe and Jay Markanich are just the team to get them a "healthy inspection."

Aug 07, 2018 04:37 AM #33
Rainmaker
1,843,565
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thanks, S&D, they do. And I can give them a check up.

But do they come in purple?  Hmmmmm?

Aug 07, 2018 05:05 AM #34
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Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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