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Removing Waterproofing from Green Roofs


Green roofs have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their many benefits, including energy efficiency, improved air quality, and stormwater management. However, over time, the waterproofing system on green roofs may deteriorate and need to be removed. In this article, we will explore the process and techniques for removing waterproofing from green roofs.

Why Remove Waterproofing from Green Roofs?

There are several reasons why the waterproofing system on a green roof may need to be removed:

  1. Damaged Waterproofing: Over time, the waterproofing membrane on a green roof can become damaged due to exposure to harsh weather conditions, UV rays, or foot traffic. Removing the damaged waterproofing is necessary for maintaining the integrity of the roof.

  2. Renovation or Repairs: If you are planning to renovate or repair your green roof, removing the existing waterproofing system may be necessary to ensure a successful project.

  3. Switching Waterproofing Systems: In some cases, you may want to switch to a different type of waterproofing system for your green roof. Removing the existing waterproofing is necessary before installing a new system.

Process for Removing Waterproofing from Green Roofs

Removing waterproofing from green roofs requires careful planning and execution to avoid any damage to the roof structure or plants. Here is a step-by-step process for removing the waterproofing system:

1. Assessment and Planning

Before starting the removal process, it is essential to assess the condition of the waterproofing system and develop a plan. This involves:

  • Identifying any areas of damage or deterioration.
  • Evaluating the type and thickness of the existing waterproofing membrane.
  • Determining the most suitable removal technique for the specific green roof.

2. Preparation

Prepare the green roof for the removal process by:

  • Removing any plants or vegetation that may interfere with the removal process.
  • Protecting delicate or valuable plants by temporarily relocating them to a safe area.
  • Covering the roof with a temporary waterproofing layer to prevent water infiltration during the removal process.

3. Removal Techniques

There are several techniques for removing waterproofing from green roofs, depending on the type of membrane and the overall roof condition. Some common techniques include:

  • Mechanical Removal: This involves using manual hand tools, such as scrapers and shovels, to physically remove the waterproofing membrane. Mechanical removal is suitable for smaller roofs or areas with limited access.

  • Thermal or Heat-Free Roofing: This technique utilizes low-heat or heat-free tools to soften the existing waterproofing membrane, making it easy to remove without causing damage to the roof structure. Heat-free options are often preferred as they minimize the risk of fire hazards.

  • Chemical Removal: Chemicals can be applied to soften or dissolve the waterproofing membrane, allowing for easier removal. However, this technique must be used with caution to ensure that the chemicals do not harm the environment or plants.

  • Hydroblasting: Hydroblasting involves using high-pressure water jets to remove the waterproofing membrane. This technique is effective for large or heavily damaged roofs but requires careful control to avoid damaging the roof or underlying structure.

The choice of removal technique depends on various factors, including the size of the roof, the type of waterproofing membrane, and the desired outcome.

4. Cleanup and Restoration

Once the waterproofing system has been removed, it is crucial to clean up the debris and restore the green roof. This involves:

  • Removing any remaining traces of the old waterproofing system.
  • Inspecting the roof surface for any damage and repairing or replacing as necessary.
  • Preparing the roof for the installation of a new waterproofing system if required.
  • Replanting vegetation and restoring the green roof’s functionality.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Can the waterproofing system on a green roof be repaired instead of removing it entirely?

A1: In some cases, minor damages to the waterproofing system can be repaired without removing the entire system. However, extensive or severe damage may require a complete removal and replacement of the waterproofing.

Q2: How long does the process of removing waterproofing from a green roof take?

A2: The duration of the removal process depends on various factors, including the size of the roof, the type of waterproofing system, and the chosen removal technique. A small roof with minimal damage may take a few days, while larger roofs or those with extensive damage may require weeks or longer.

Q3: Can I remove the waterproofing system on my green roof by myself?

A3: Removing the waterproofing system from a green roof requires specialized knowledge, tools, and equipment. It is recommended to hire professionals with experience in green roof waterproofing removal to ensure the process is carried out safely and effectively.


Removing waterproofing from green roofs is a necessary process to maintain the roof’s integrity, especially when the waterproofing system is damaged, requires renovation or repair, or needs to be replaced. Assessing the roof’s condition, planning the removal process, and choosing the appropriate technique are essential steps in ensuring a successful outcome. By following correct procedures and working with professionals, you can successfully remove the old waterproofing system, restore your green roof, and continue to enjoy the numerous benefits it provides.

Waterproofing Somerset West

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