Common EPDM Rubber Roof Repairs

Annie Sisk
Written by Annie Sisk
Reviewed by Ami Feller
Updated August 2, 2022
EPDM rubber roof
Photo: ArieStudio / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • EPDM rubber roofs are strong and durable.

  • Prompt repairs help stop leaks and prolong the life of your roof.

  • Call a professional roofer with EPDM experience for significant repairs.

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A popular choice for homes with flat or low-sloped roofs—in northern climates especially— is ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM). This roofing material is made of recycled tires, sawdust, and slate, and is known for its durability in harsh winters. But that doesn’t mean EPDM is impervious to rips, leaks, and other kinds of damage. Here’s how to patch and repair your EPDM rubber roof so that it lasts for years to come. 

Start With Regular Roof Inspections

Every year or two, have an experienced professional climb up on your EPDM roof and do a thorough visual inspection. This is one of the best ways to keep your roof in good shape because you’ll be able to catch any emerging problems before they turn into significant damage. You may also want to book an inspection after a severe weather event or if any moderately-sized branches hit the roof. A pro will check for signs of shrinkage of the roofing membrane, punctures or rips, and damaged or improperly installed flashing. These tears are difficult to see without a trained eye, which is why a pro inspection is helpful.

Something to keep in mind—it’s pretty common for HVAC equipment to be placed on top of flat roofs that have EPDM. When workers are performing maintenance on the HVAC equipment, it's easy for them to damage the EPDM with tools.

Mend Rips and Tears Promptly

EPDM rubber roofs generally hold up to the elements well. But they can rip if large tree branches or other debris fall on them. 

You may be able to fix a minor rip yourself using a rubber sealant patching kit, which can cost as little as $25 according to HomeAdvisor. But even the smallest tear can let water in if it isn’t properly mended. And if the rip is more than a few inches in length or width, it’s advisable to hire a rubber roofing professional, who will repair it using a new piece of EPDM. They’ll make sure the patched area is sealed properly so it keeps out water and lasts as long as possible. 

Patch and Seal Seams to Stop Leaks

Damage from falling objects isn’t the only reason an EPDM rubber roof can spring a leak. Over time, the seams between sheets of EPDM can develop gaps, allowing water to infiltrate and threaten your roof’s integrity. Improperly installed or damaged flashing can also lead to leaks.

Patching a roof leak on your rubber roof can be a DIY job if you’re comfortable working with materials like lap sealant. You should not try to repair an EPDM roof with regular roof sealant or other aftermarket products. Using the correct materials will ensure that it properly adheres to the EPDM. But hiring a pro will ensure the work is done right, so you won’t have to deal with water damage later.

DIY or Hire a Pro?

worker installing rubber material on roof
Photo: PiyawatNandeenoparit / Adobe stock

If you’re not comfortable being up high and moving around your roof, it’s best to avoid attempting a DIY roof repair or inspection. Either way, all but the smallest repair tasks should be left to professional roofers who have specific experience with EPDM roofing materials.

If your EPDM roof has extensive damage, your pro may recommend replacing it. A new EPDM rubber roof costs approximately $500 per square foot, although supply chain problems and delivery delays can drive up the price.

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