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How Do Flat Roofs Drain? A Guide for Homeowners

Flat roofs are common on modern homes for aesthetic and practical reasons. Not only does a flat roof potentially increase usable interior space but they are less susceptible to damage from wind and hail. 

But many homeowners want to know, “How do flat roofs drain?” Since water doesn’t succumb to gravity and flow off the edge, as with a pitched roof, it’s reasonable to wonder where the water goes when it rains. Here, the experts in roof repair services in Oxford, AL explain why a flat roof doesn’t turn into a swimming pool when raindrops fall on it.

Flat Roofs Aren’t Really Flat 

Although it may appear that the flat roofs on homes and commercial buildings are perfectly flat, if that were the case, owners would constantly need help dealing with water damage. Without a way to remove water from the surface, it will pool and eventually cause problems that lead to leaks, rot, and even a roof collapse. 

That’s why flat roofs actually have a slight slant. This allows the water to flow toward the drainage system and away from the building. 

The Types of Flat Roof Drainage Systems 

The simple answer to “How do flat roofs drain?” is that there is a built-in drainage system, but it’s not quite that simple. Flat roof systems have several options to prevent water damage, and each has pros and cons. 

Interior Drains  

Interior drains, also called inner drains or central roof drains, direct water into a central drain in the middle of the roof. That runoff flows into pipes that run around the perimeter of the building, down the building walls, and then out away from the building. Because the pipes are inside the building walls, they’re less vulnerable to damage. 

However, if the pipes sustain damage or the drain clogs, the result can be catastrophic water damage to the building interior. 

Scuppers 

With scuppers, flat roofs drain water directly off the edge of the roof into downspouts. The downspouts keep water away from the building walls and as long as they are sufficiently sized, clogs are unlikely. 

Gutters 

Smaller, residential flat roofs can often use gutters for drainage. This cost-effective drainage system requires the roof to have a slight slant to direct the water into the channels. Keeping the gutters clean and free of debris is critical to preventing damaging backups. 

Siphonic Roof Drain 

Ideal for very large roofs in areas that receive a lot of rain very quickly, a siphonic roof drain uses a gravity-powered vacuum to draw water down into pipes via several small drains.

Maintain Your Roof with Help From the Local Experts 

Whether you have a home with a traditional roof that needs attention or have a modern home and want to know “How do flat roofs drain?” Superior Roofing & Home Care is ready to help. The licensed and insured contractors of this well-respected Oxford, AL company can install, repair, and maintain all types of roofs and roof drainage systems, ensuring they are sturdy and capable of handling any weather conditions. 

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