Although they achieve the same function, the very design of a flat roof is different from that of a pitched roof. There are instances in which a residential building may have a flat roof, but flat roofs are generally assumed to be for commercial or industrial buildings. Likewise, people tend to understand what maintenance their house's pitched roof requires but aren't sure about what the flat roof of a commercial building needs. Although flat roofs are typically quite sound and do the job they were intended for, there are a number of reasons why a flat roof might leak.

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