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5 Types of Equipment You Should NEVER Put on Your Roof

Posted by Marion McKnight on July 22, 2015

equipment rooftop supportsInferior rooftop supports can dump even the most expensive, top-of-the-line equipment right onto your roof, but the opposite isn’t necessarily true. There are certain kinds of equipment that don’t belong on your roof no matter how good your rooftop supports are. Here’s a quick list of equipment that shouldn’t be on your roof and an explanation of why each is a bad idea:

1. Top-Heavy Equipment

Just as a top-heavy ship would be in danger of capsizing in overly strong winds, even the best rooftop supports can’t keep a top-heavy piece of equipment from blowing off your roof – or at least toppling over – in similar conditions. If you’re in a part of the country that’s prone to tornadoes, hurricanes, or other windstorms, think very carefully about the height and weight distribution of any equipment you put on your roof. If you’re not sure, consult with an engineer. 

2. High-Maintenance Equipment

Some types of equipment need constant TLC in order to operate properly. That’s not the kind of equipment you want on a rooftop for two reasons. First, rooftop work is inherently dangerous, so it’s smart to limit the number of times your crew is required to access rooftop equipment. In addition, all of those routine maintenance trips to the roof just add to the wear and tear to your rooftop surface. Even if you have walkways in place, it’s a good idea to keep foot traffic to a minimum. 

3. High-Vibration Equipment 

Vibration might not seem like a big deal, but think about what that vibration does to your roof. Vibration is contagious. When a piece of equipment moves, the support it’s on moves, and when the support moves, that vibration is transferred to the roof itself – both the membrane and the roof structure. Even the best supports can’t completely eliminate the consequences of constant vibration. 

4. Equipment Vulnerable to Outside Conditions

Some equipment just isn’t meant to be outside constantly exposed to the elements. That includes equipment containing materials that will break down in outside conditions, like plastics, rubberized coatings, foam coatings, insulation, and untreated steel. In a nutshell, if it isn’t designed to be outside, it has no business being on your roof. Otherwise, you could wind up with both damaged equipment and a damaged roof. The equipment’s manufacturer will be able to provide information on the conditions under which the equipment is meant to be used.

5. Excessively Heavy Equipment

Even the best rooftop supports can’t compensate for an inadequate roofing structure. Before you put any equipment on your roof, get written verification of the weight ratings from the roofer’s engineers. Failing to do so could result in both structural damage and critical personal injuries. And, by installing rooftop equipment that exceeds the roof’s weight bearing rating, you would almost certainly void your warranty. 

As important as your rooftop supports are, they’re only part of the picture. Your roof isn’t the place for equipment that is top-heavy, maintenance-intensive, high-vibration, or heavier than your roof is designed to carry. Rooftops are a great place to install and store many types of equipment, but they’re not right for everything. Make sure any equipment you put on your roof is the right equipment in the right place.

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Topics: Installation Tips, Roofing Management

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