D iverting water away from the structure is one of the most significant tasks a homeowner has to take care of. And the roof drainage arrangement is the unsung hero that keeps the roof free of water and rubble. As you will soon understand, it plays a pivotal part in reducing groundwater collection around the foundation, thus keeping your home in tip-top shape for years to come. Even if you live in a wet and rainy area, the system is intended to handle heavy loads of water, expelling them and protecting you and your home.
To better appreciate the role of roof drainage, you first have to learn more about it. In the following, I want to go over the role it plays and what makes it so important, as well as discuss how it works and what types of drainage systems you can encounter. Without further ado, let’s move on to our topic of interest.
The role of the roof is to shield the house’s structure, the things below, and the people within. It is the block between your home and weather constituents like rain, snow, and the sun. The outflow system is an essential piece of the puzzle since it leads the water from the roof, preventing damage while reducing groundwater collection. To make things simpler and really emphasize the importance of a proper roof drainage system, let’s review in detail its benefits:
The roof is waterproof on the outside, so if you’re a bit confused as to how the drain system prevents it from damage, it’s understandable why. So, even if the roof is waterproof, leaks can still occur.
Whether you skipped on roof maintenance for a bit too long, installed it wrong, or there has been some sort of damage inflicted on it, if water were sitting on the roof instead of being drained, it would infiltrate the house and wreak havoc. Coats of paint would be damaged and start scraping off the walls, electric circuits in the walls would be affected, and even your floors might get ruined.
You should also consider that if water sits on the roof too long, it will inevitably damage the exterior. Some potential mishaps include swelling wooden trusses and rusting metals that would ultimately lead to costly roof repairs and replacements.
Without appropriate roof drainage, debris and water would not be deflected away from the house. This would spell disastrous news for the integrity of your home since groundwater would accumulate near the foundation. If too much water is in the soil, the foundation can move, resulting in damage.
Groundwater accumulation also affects the basement, encouraging mold and mildew growth since dampness levels will skyrocket. Considering how mold affects the house’s structural integrity, not to mention its devastating health effects, a good roof outflow system that keeps the water away from the foundation and basement is a must.
You don’t want to make your home a breeding ground for mold and mildew, so even if you have downpipes and gutters, you still have to keep an eye on basement moisture levels. The hygrometer function on many indoor outdoor thermometers comes in handy for monitoring RH and air temperature conditions in the basements, the essential stats you have to keep your eye on to ensure mold growth isn’t imminent. I recommend a tool that works for indoor and outdoor use since these thermometer and hygrometer units can generally handle the demanding operating conditions typical for basements.
Tip: Beware that the ventilation systems in your home can spread the microscopic fungi throughout the whole house. If you spot mold growth in the basement, get rid of mold ASAP and avoid turning on the ventilation until the problem is solved. Otherwise, you will spread the issue in living spaces too.
When insulation gets wet, it becomes less effective. Whether it’s the insulation in your roof or the one in the walls, if the drainage system doesn’t do its job well and there’s a leak, it will ruin the insulation. Needless to say, the repercussions in this scenario are dire for two reasons:
Electricity and water shouldn’t be used in the same sentence. Period. It goes without saying why. If the electrical wiring in your home makes contact with water, it will get damaged by mildew or corrosion with time. This is the inevitable outcome. Obviously, this creates a danger zone in your home.
Seeing how electrical accidents are no joking matter because these could easily be fatal, you must ensure no leakage ever affects the house’s electrical wiring. Electrocution isn’t the only thing you should fear either. Maybe you’re lucky, and no one touches the unprotected wiring. However, there is still the issue of your home catching on fire. The corroded wiring can cause sparks and burn the wires, leading to the aforementioned disaster scenario.
Regardless of the type, the purpose is the same. And that is getting rid of excess water from rain to impede leaking or water damage to the house’s siding and bricks. The drainage system is generally installed at the roof’s lowest point since that is where water accumulates the most.
There are four different kinds of roof outflow systems that you will encounter. Not all work for all types of roofs, however, so beware of this aspect. Some are intended for pitch roofs, while others are recommended for flat roofs. Here’s the list of roof drain types you have to pick from and their characteristics:
These work for the typical pitch roofs. Due to the angle of the roof, gravity works its magic, and the water just drifts off and into the gutters that then carry it to an underground outflow system. It’s as easy as that. This roof drain system is inexpensive and offers enough shelter for doors and windows so water won’t pour over them. Another pro of traditional gutters is that it keeps water from gathering around the foundation. The only drawback is that gutters need regular cleanup. Furthermore, there is the risk of water freezing inside the gutters during cold months, which could cause damage.
Tip: Go for a coated gutter system to keep twigs, leaves, and other rubble from clogging into the system. This covered setup also provides protection when temperatures drop below zero, diminishing the chances of the water freezing.
It’s a viable solution for flat roofs. It consists of one or multiple drains in a moderately lower roof area and links to an inland pipe that directs the collected water to an underground outflow system. Don’t worry about junk going down the pipe because these drains feature protective blocks that keep the gunk out. The biggest asset of inward discharge is that you can’t see anything outside the building. Design-wise, this is a step up from those unpleasant gutters and downspouts that stick out like a soar. Just as important is that this setup decreases the chances of pipes freezing because they won’t be exposed as they are in the previous type of roof-draining system we discussed.
Tip: Interior drain systems are more delicate, so it’s advised that you routinely remove debris from the sieves and replace them when necessary, as well as check for clogs. If clogging does occur, call in a professional for help.
Another prevalent choice is for flat roofs (fenced types), terraces, and parapets. Small holes are cut in the flanks of the roof. The section around the hole is then covered with metal or rubber to protect it from water damage when it drains through. As they exit the hole, scuppers link to a downspout which conducts the water in an underground discharge system. These are the simplest to preserve, requiring that you clean out any debris in the downspouts or scuppers that might cause clogging with time.
Tip: Many people aren’t fans of downspouts because of their unsightliness. If you want to use a roof drainage system that consists of scuppers but don’t want to ruin curb appeal with downspouts, install scuppers that bulge from the structure a bit more. With this setup, you have to make a gravel drainage zone on the ground where the water will fall.
Works for both flat and pitched roofs. Unlike conventional drainage systems, siphonic types require fewer drainpipes and roof outlets. It uses the whole elevation of the construction to grant the needed energy to create the decisive siphonic action that stands at the basis of how it works. When heavy rainfall start, the outlet lets the water run inside while blocking air from entering the pipework. As the air intake is diminished, the water makes a siphoning effect that maximizes water suctions into the outlet.
Tip: According to this study, raising the length of the downpipe also increases the flow rate through outlets if the water is deep enough in the gutter to uphold pipe-full flow conditions in the downpipe. On the other hand, increasing the diameter of the outlet doesn’t affect flow rates. So, if you want to make your siphonic drain system even more efficient, you should go for an increased length for the downpipe.
Since you made it to this point in the article, you are already aware of the dangers that a proper roof drainage system keeps at bay. It’s an essential component to invest in for the structure and safety of your home, after all. Make sure you install the right type for your roof setup and perform regular maintenance on it. As long as you do this, you won’t have to fear that mold might grow in your home, the insulation you spent so much money on might become futile, or the actual structure of the house might be affected.
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