Most commercial and industrial buildings feature a low-pitched roof. A low-pitched roof is typically a very practical choice, as these roofing systems allow businesses to maximize square footage and install important equipment on top of them. Still, while these roofs are quite practical, one tricky hurdle to consider when installing a low-pitched roof is how to deal with water shed. How can a roof with such a low pitch ensure that water properly sheds? There are actually a few ways low-pitched roofs can handle water, and our experts at Absolute Roofing are here to tell you everything you need to know about water drainage on low-pitched roofs.
Why drainage is especially important for a low-pitched roof
Most residential roofs feature a relatively steep pitch, meaning water will drain away due to gravity alone. For low-pitched roofs, this isn’t always reliable. In fact, low-pitched roofs are sometimes referred to as “flat,” while no roof is truly without any slope, the pitch of these roofs can still cause headaches with drainage if they’re poorly designed. Having a low-pitched roof without an effective drainage system can lead to numerous issues, including:
- Pooling of water (or “ponding”), creating structural damage or leaks
- Damage to roofing materials due to pooling water
- Extraneous stress from accumulated snow and ice in the winter
All of this means water drainage is a chief concern for anyone looking to install a low-pitched roof.
Common low-pitched roof drainage systems
Luckily, there are several tried-and-true solutions to combat accumulating water on low-pitched roofs. Let’s take a look at a few common roof drainage systems.
While you may not have heard of them before, scuppers are a fairly common way to remove unwanted water, and they’ve even been used on sailing ships. Scuppers refer to large, square openings along the edge of a roof that propel water away from the side of the building. The main advantage of these is that they’re very easy (and inexpensive) to install. They can also be improved by adding a downspout to drain water more precisely. While scuppers can sometimes become clogged, larger scuppers can be installed to mostly avoid this problem.
Most commonly seen on higher-slope roofs, gutters can also be put to good use on a low-pitched roof. Typically, gutters result in more controlled water drainage than scuppers, which is their main advantage. A properly installed system of gutters can direct all rainwater to a specific area, thus avoiding issues such as water pouring onto sidewalks or damaging your foundation. However, gutters typically require more maintenance, as they must be regularly cleared of debris to avoid clogging.
The most high-tech solution for addressing water on low-pitched or flat roofs is a complete interior drainage system. These drains are much like what you’d see in a shower, bathroom, or commercial kitchen, collecting water and whisking it away. Internal pipe systems drain water, keeping foundations and walls protected from damage or erosion that might otherwise result from less precise drainage systems. While these systems are typically more effective than simpler drainage options like gutters and scuppers, interior drains also tend to be the most expensive. In addition, any damage that occurs to the system will be much more difficult to address.
Warning signs of a poorly functioning drainage system
There are several signs and symptoms that indicate your low-pitched roof’s drainage system may not be working properly. The clearest sign of this is ponding water. If you notice water pooling or lingering on your roof well after a rainstorm has past, it’s important to get your roof’s drainage system evaluated immediately. Of course, if your ceiling already has water spots or areas where water drips down, this is a major red flag as well. Finally, if you notice accumulating debris on your low-pitched roof, remove it or hire a professional to clear it away. Debris such as branches, pebbles, dirt, and leaves can clog any drainage system you have installed, eventually leading to major problems.
Absolute Commercial Roofing: Low-Pitched Roof Experts
If you have noticed leaks, water damage to your ceiling, or large amounts of accumulating ice and snow on your low-pitched roof, it’s a good idea to contact a professional sooner rather than later. Problems with drainage can spell disaster for low-pitched roofs, leading to complications such as structural damage, mildew, and decay. Our experts at Absolute Commercial Roofing specialize in making sure low-pitched roofs are in optimal shape. We offer free commercial roof inspections, meaning our professionals are standing by to diagnose any drainage problems you may be experiencing. Contact us today to get started!