The first thing to fail with age on EPDM roofs are the field seams (where the rolls of EPDM are glued/taped together during roofing), the factory seams (where pieces of EPDM have been glued together to produce rolls in the factory) and flashings (extra EPDM wrapping around projections from the roof such as roof top units, pipes and drains). Depending on the craftsmanship used to install the roof, the amount of moisture, and structural stability, the seams and flashings may fail anywhere between 15-25 years. To prevent failures the seams can be covered (stripped in) with EPDM tape and the flashings can be re-done. We have seen seams treated with more sealant to extend their life but while that costs less it also lasts a shorter period of time.
The roof should be inspected for any holes or cuts and patched with EPDM. The perimeter edges should be inspected and repaired if any of the EPDM has pulled away from the metal securing the EPDM to the roof (drip edge, termination bar or coping). Make sure all the metal is secure and if not, re-secure or replace it. Clean up any spills of grease or oil. Do not use asphalt based products as they are chemically incompatible with EPDM (no asphalt roofing cement!). For ballasted roofs it is very labor intensive to check the membrane for cuts and slices because all the rock has to be shifted, the membrane cleaned, inspected and the rock shifted back – for this reason it seldom happens.
Remove all debris from the roof. Limit traffic to maintenance people only and check for damage after any contractors have been on the roof. Roofs are not generally designed to handle lots of traffic – in addition to people dropping sharp things, the insulation where people consistently step can be crushed. Check for ponding (see special ponding section on other page).