Get The Latest Blogs Straight To Your Inbox

How Roof Equipment Supports Improve Structural Integrity: A Comprehensive Analysis

Posted by Art Valentz on January 10, 2024

Roof equipment supports are the unsung heroes of commercial and industrial buildings. They silently uphold the structural integrity and performance of rooftop installations. In the world of architecture and construction, their significance cannot be overstated.

According to a startling statistic from the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), a staggering 60% of roofing problems stem directly from poor equipment support and faulty installations. This reveals the critical role that well-designed roof equipment supports play in maintaining the robustness and longevity of the entire roofing system.

In this article, we explore the science and mechanics behind roof equipment supports. We will also explain how roof equipment supports can help improve your building’s infrastructure and safeguard rooftop assets in one go.

What Are Roof Equipment Supports?

Roof equipment supports, also known as rooftop pipe supports or equipment stands, are specialized structures designed to elevate and secure various equipment and pipes on commercial and industrial rooftops.

These supports play a primary role in ensuring that rooftop installations remain stable, efficient, and long-lasting. These include HVAC units, air handlers, exhaust fans, solar panels, cable trays, ducting systems, and more.

The main function of roof equipment supports is to bear the weight of the installed equipment and distribute these loads evenly to prevent undue stress on the roof structure. By raising the equipment off the roof surface, these supports enable:

  • Proper airflow,
  • Minimize heat transfer,
  • Protect the roof membrane from damage caused by constant contact with the equipment,
  • Improve equipment life, and
  • Help you achieve better safety and compliance.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for roof equipment support. The design and specifications can vary based on the specific equipment being supported and the unique characteristics of the roofing system. From adjustable legs to custom brackets, these supports are engineered to accommodate various elevations, pipe sizes, and equipment types, ensuring a precise fit for each rooftop installation.

Well-designed roof equipment supports not only enhance the structural integrity of the building but also contribute to overall energy efficiency. They also lead to maintenance ease over the long run, providing better value for money.

Causes of Damage to Roof Equipment & the Importance of Adequate Support

Without proper installation, roof equipment supports can lead to significant damage and costly repercussions for both the rooftop equipment and the overall building structure. Understanding the common causes of equipment damage on roofs highlights the crucial role that adequate support plays in preventing such issues. Here are some key factors to consider:

  1. Vibration & Movement: Rooftop equipment, such as air handlers and exhaust fans, are often subjected to vibrations and movement during operation. Without proper support, this dynamic motion can cause equipment to shift or displace, leading to misalignment, increased wear and tear, and potential malfunction.
  2. Thermal Expansion & Contraction: Temperature fluctuations on rooftops cause materials to expand and contract. Without appropriate supports, pipes, and equipment may experience excessive stress due to these movements, resulting in leaks, cracks, and compromised structural integrity.
  3. Wind & Seismic Forces: Rooftop installations are exposed to various external forces, including strong winds and seismic events. In the absence of robust support systems, equipment may be vulnerable to wind uplift, tilting, or shifting during earthquakes, jeopardizing the safety of the entire building.
  4. Uneven Weight Distribution: Heavy equipment placed on rooftops can exert significant weight on specific areas, leading to uneven load distribution. Inadequate support may result in localized stress points on the roof, causing damage and accelerating the deterioration of the roofing material.
  5. Roof Membrane Punctures: Direct contact between rooftop equipment and the roof membrane can puncture or damage the roofing material over time. Adequate supports lift the equipment off the roof surface, mitigating the risk of such damage and preserving the roof's waterproofing properties.
  6. Corrosion & Moisture Damage: In environments with high humidity or exposure to corrosive elements, unprotected equipment may experience accelerated rusting and deterioration. Proper support solutions, such as galvanized steel components, can resist corrosion and ensure the longevity of the support system. This is particularly the case for HVAC equipment on rooftops.

The right roof equipment supports addressing these potential issues by providing stability, load distribution, and protection against environmental factors.

Types of Roof Equipment Supports

Roof equipment supports come in various designs and configurations to accommodate different types of rooftop equipment. Each support type is carefully engineered to provide stability, load distribution, and structural integrity while ensuring ease of installation and maintenance.

Here are some common types of roof equipment supports:

  1. Standardized Equipment Supports: Standardized equipment supports are versatile solutions suitable for a wide range of rooftop equipment, including air conditioning (AC) units, ventilation units, and other mechanical systems. These supports are designed with a universal fit, making them easy to install and ideal for various equipment configurations. They provide a cost-effective option without compromising on performance and safety.
  2. Adjustable Equipment Supports: Adjustable equipment supports are designed to accommodate varying rooftop elevations and slopes. These supports come with adjustable legs or threaded rods that allow precise height adjustments, ensuring that the equipment is level and securely positioned on the rooftop. The adjustability feature enhances installation flexibility, especially on roofs with irregular surfaces.
  3. Customized Equipment Supports: In some cases, rooftop equipment requires customized support solutions to meet specific project requirements. Customized equipment supports are tailored to the unique dimensions and weight distribution of the equipment, ensuring an optimal fit and maximizing load-bearing capacity. These supports are typically engineered for heavy or specialized equipment applications, such as large industrial HVAC systems or complex mechanical units.
  4. Solar Panel Support Systems: Solar panel support systems are a specialized type of roof equipment support designed to securely hold solar panels in place. These supports are adjustable and configurable to optimize the panel's tilt angle for maximum solar exposure and energy generation. The solar panel supports to protect the roofing membrane and help maintain the integrity of the entire rooftop system.
  5. Cable Tray Support Systems: Cable tray support systems provide effective and organized routing for electrical cables on the rooftop. These supports are available in various sizes and configurations to accommodate different cable tray types. They are designed to ensure proper clearance and prevent cable damage while supporting the weight of the cables.
  6. Duct Support Systems: Duct support systems are engineered to elevate and secure ductwork on rooftops. These supports are available in different styles to accommodate rectangular, spiral, round, and oval ducting of various sizes. Duct support systems consider thermal expansion and contraction, allowing for duct movement without damaging the roof or the ductwork itself.

Selecting the appropriate type of roof equipment support is crucial for maintaining the longevity and performance of rooftop equipment.

PHP Systems/Designs For Reliable, Long-Lasting Roof Supports

When it comes to ensuring the structural integrity and longevity of your rooftop equipment, PHP Systems/Designs is a name you can trust. With years of expertise and a commitment to innovation, PHP Systems/Designs offers a wide range of reliable roof equipment supports designed to meet diverse project requirements.

Our support systems are engineered with a deep understanding of physics principles and industry best practices. Furthermore, our team of experts carefully analyzes the specific needs of each rooftop installation to recommend the most suitable support solution.

With PHP Systems/Designs’ innovative and high-performance support systems, you can rest assured that your rooftop equipment is in safe hands. Call us today to learn more about your project or request pricing!


Topics: Rooftop Equipment

Need design assistance? We can help!