Gutters on Flat Roofs – Important Drainage Systems

Gutters on a flat roof and commercial roof
The problem with any gutter system, it needs maintenance. Gutters on commercial roofs or any flat roof will get full of debris. This has to be cleaned all the time. Pittsburgh, Stamford, White Plains

Gutters are as important as drains on a flat roof, but they are overlooked when it comes to design and maintenance. Gutters play a very important role in removing water and debris from a roof. They can also be the culprit for causing damages and leaks if not properly maintained. Pittsburgh, Stamford, White Plains, Greenwich.

For any Commercial building it is important to have a proper maintenance schedule for gutters. Many times the grounds are well manicured around the building but look like a war zone on top of the roof with the gutter system.

Why Gutters are important?

Gutter frozen and can not drain
When a gutter freezes up then the problem of water backing up on the roof is real.
The same goes for when it is full of leaves or debris

Gutters are designed to remove water off a roof very quickly during a rainstorm, minimizing the risk of a roof leak because of water backing up. A proper designed gutter will also help remove ice water during cold days minimizing the weight on the roof.

One drawback of a gutter is, they accumulate debris and leaves that reduces their effectiveness. When a gutter is filled with dirt it also causes ice dams that traps water on a roof and adding additional stress to the structure. These ice dams have caused millions of dollars of damages every winter.

When gutters are not well designed or maintained, the chance of damages due to leaks into the building is very good and can run into the thousands of dollars.

All roof drainage systems, whether it be an interior drain, scupper or gutter , should be free from debris all the time. Just a little debris can clog up a drain or gutter in a few seconds and cause a lot of damage. It is a know fact, that commercial roofs have collapsed during heavy rains. It was not the heavy rain that made the roof collapse, but the accumulation of tons of water that could not drain off due to a clogged drain or gutter.

Inspection and Maintenance of Gutters

  • It is very important that the entire roof is clean from all debris. It is not good enough to clean the gutters only. Any leaves or debris on the roof must be removed.
  • Inspect the gutters integrity. Any joint, seams or downspouts must be well sealed and attached.
  • Check gutter brackets. These anchors are fastened to the roof with screws. Many times the installer would just screw through the rubber membrane without sealing it properly. Make sure the brackets are still straight and properly attached to the gutter. This is very important because when one bracket fails, then the rest of the brackets have to bear the extra load. This could cause the gutter to tear away from the roof.
  • It is very important to remove loose metal screws and objects. These metal objects can cause the gutter to corrode prematurely and make a hole.
  • Make sure the gutter is properly angled. Standing water allows debris to collect in the low area and thus slowing down the draining.
  • Keep tree branches trimmed away. In heavy winds or storms the branches could rub or hit the gutter bending it out of proportion. Bent gutters don’t perform well.
  • Check the gutter system after severe weather. Make sure that the brackets held up and that no objects got blown onto the roof and into the gutters.
  • Make sure leader pipes funnel water away from the foundation of the building.

Follow these preventive maintenance procedures to avoid issues later. A well maintained drainage system will prolong the life of the roof and also reduce the cost of potential roof repairs.

What is a good Gutter System?

Ice behind gutter causing leaks Pittsburgh Stamford
Ice has formed behind the gutter. This is a sign that water will start getting in the house. Pittsburgh Stamford White Plains

The critical component of a roofing system and yet the most neglected. For a commercial style building, there are not many choices.

Because commercial buildings have a larger roof surface than a residential ones, special gutters must be installed.

The most popular gutter system is the Englert box Gutter. It has a large trough and can handle high volumes of water from large roof surfaces. They come in 24-gauge Steel or .032 Aluminum. This is a heavy duty system that can take a lot of weather abuse.

These gutters are normally designed specifically for to the local rainfall calculation. This includes the downspouts and size of the leader pipes.

The best solution is to get someone that specializes in commercial gutters to design and fabricate your gutter according to the rainfall and size of the building.

A good gutter system is one that can handle an abnormal amount of water in a storm and causes the least amount of maintenance over the years.

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