The Basics of Your Roof’s Drainage System

roof drainage

The system that routes runoff from your roof and away from your home falls in a category that can be described as unglamorous yet completely essential for the long term preservation of the roof as well as the structure that sits beneath it. Here are some of basics of these systems.

1) They are made up of two primary components – The two primary components of a drainage system are the gutters and the downspouts. The gutters are installed to run parallel to the roof’s lower edge around its perimeter to catch runoff. The gutters then guide the collected water to the downspouts, which channel water down to the ground. On flat roofs the downspouts will be attached directly to drains that are located at low points around the roof.

2) The strategic location of where drainage will be directed by the downspouts is essential in the optimization of the system – Water that runs to the ground through the downspouts must be drained to areas that will direct the flow away from the structure to prevent potential flooding. In most cases this is a fairly straightforward proposition, but the plans for drainage systems for homes built on undulating terrain must consider how and where water will flow once it leaves the downspout to avoid the potential of running back toward the structure.

3) Drainage systems are built with a variety of materials – Gutters and downspouts are constructed from numerous materials including steel, aluminum, cooper, stainless steel, vinyl, and even wood. The most popular materials are galvanized steel and aluminum, both of which are relatively inexpensive versus some of the other materials. Galvanized steel is the stronger of the two materials and can better withstand ladders leaning against it and handle more weight. Its biggest disadvantage versus aluminum is that will rust over time. At the high end of the price range, wood and copper are used primarily in the restoration of historic buildings with stainless steel drainage systems commonly found on structures with modern designs.

4) After installation, one of the most important things to do is to keep the system clear of debris – One way to keep leaves and other debris out of the gutters and downspouts is to buy a system equipped with gutter guards, which are mesh strips that sit on top of the gutters. The mesh allows water into the gutters but channels leaves, twigs and other types of debris off of the roof. For systems without gutter guards, regular maintenance is recommended to keep gutters and downspouts clear.

Your roof’s drainage system may not be a topic that comes up at cocktail parties, but it is an essential component of your roof. Considering the protection that the gutters and downspout will provide to the roof, the structure, and the grounds adjacent to your home, this unglamorous system will be worth every cent you spend on it.