Drainage Solutions for Flat Roofs

Where do we see flat roofs?

Flat Roof

Flat roofs are now common in commercial and home architecture. A flat roof can be used in the design of a building for aesthetics but it can also protect against certain factors that may lead to roof damage. Flat roofs can also provide additional space when lots are small and homeowners would like a space to relax outside (i.e. a rooftop patio or garden). The problem with flat roofing is making sure that there is no chance for standing water on any part of the roof. A slight slant to a flat roof helps in this scenario, but a built-in drainage system is very important to prevent serious damage and leaks on a flat roof.

Why is drainage on a flat roof important?

Because most flat roofs are, well, just that, flat; they don’t have a slope to them. This can cause issues when debris and weather come into play. Standing water on your flat roof can cause leaks and damage to your roof, affecting the structure of your home or building. Any roof that still has water on it after 48 hours is defined as a ponding roof. A dry roof may indicate signs of ponding if you see dirty circles on the roof or growth of algae or vegetation in certain areas. Ponding may result from poor architectural design, sagging structure, inadequate drainage, or blocked drainage systems. This standing water may freeze in the winter, and this extra weight of water and/or ice on your roof can put a lot of stress on your roof that is typically unaccounted for in the architectural design. Areas to be especially concerned about include skylights, vents, and chimneys on the roof where water can easily pool around and leak into.

What can be done to ensure proper drainage?

Interior Drains - Interior Drains are installed under your roof to ensure troublesome areas are taken care of from pooling of water. This protects your home or building from water damage that may have occurred from standing water. These interior drains are a system of pipes that are protected from the elements of Mother Nature so maintenance and repairs are typically low. Although there are many positives to this type of drainage system, this is generally the most costly solution to ensuring your roof is draining properly. While these interior drains are great for draining water, they also have the chance to get backed up with debris and require routine checks to ensure they are clear.

Gutters - Gutters are found on nearly every building and home. The general idea of gutters is the same on a flat roof as it is for any other pitched roof: the gutters catch water as it reaches the end of the roof and directs it down a downspout away from the home, protection the foundation of your home or building. This helps protect your siding, windows, and foundation. On a flat roof, gutters are only required on the side of your home or building at the lowest end of the roof (if your home has a slight slope to it). Like any roof, gutters get clogged and require routine cleaning, especially in the spring and fall. Gutters may not address standing water issues that are present in other areas of your roof.

Scuppers - Scuppers are outlets in the side of a building that allow for water to leave the roof through a metal edge. This is unlike interior drains that are run on the inside of a building. Scuppers may be attached to a downspout along the exterior of a building. While this is the easiest solution to maintain, scuppers can be prone to freezing and may not address all areas of your roof. Scuppers can be ineffective when it comes to spring time snow melt and heavy rainfalls. A flat roof with no pitch won’t find many advantages to installing scuppers unless the roof has a minimal pitch directing water toward the scupper. If you have a ponding roof, as described above, scuppers are not going to be of much assistance to your water problem.

Contact American Roofing for Assistance - If you are experiencing issues with your roof and would like a professional to come out to take a look, please give us a call to do a free roof inspection! Whether it’s an easy DIY fix, or a gutter replacement/repair needs to be made, we will be happy to help! To set up your free roof inspection, call your reliable Wisconsin roofing contractors at (262) 662-5311 or message us via our online form.