Today, as architects, designers, and builders are challenged to continuously increase the efficiency of building performance, it seems that every square inch of building’s space is scrutinized to insure that it can be used to its fullest potential.
What’s Up … On the Roof?
No longer considered a barren wasteland of forgotten space, rooftops are now being utilized more and more to provide a critical platform to support a growing number of key components that contribute to the entire building’s successful operation.
It’s not uncommon for a modern rooftop to now support the placement of any combination of solar panels, HVAC systems, wireless communication equipment such as RF antennae or satellite receivers, and most importantly the roof pipe supports. Which can be a lot of (additional) weight to shoulder – even for the strongest rooftop design!
Choosing the Right Support System
With that in mind, the support systems you put on your roof should be just as carefully selected as the materials you build the roof system with. Building owners should be prepared for a myriad of choices when it comes to selecting the right type of support system for all of the piping, over, under, and through the roof.
When in doubt, building principals should to refer to the guidelines provided in the ASCE 7 Standard for Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures.
As the support systems will usually be the only components that come in physical contact with both the roofing and the piping equipment, it is important to provide as much information as you can when you first reach out to suppliers and distributors. In short, you want to make sure that the pipe, support system, and roofing system will play nice together…for a long, long time. To help get the conversation started with your supplier, here are a few important questions to ask:
- What choice of support systems do I have when selecting roof pipe supports?
- Can I use the same type of support on different sizes and/or different types of piping?
- Do I need a support to attach to the roof?
- How will that affect the warranty of the roof system itself?
- How do I calculate how many supports I actually need?
The Next Step: Location, Location, Location
Once you have a basic understanding of the different types of roof pipe support systems available, the next step is to determine which options are best suited for your specific project. This next set of questions will help you narrow down your choices even further.
- Which roof support design is best for handling condensation drainage from AC units?
- Are there specific roof pipe supports designed for buildings in high-wind locations?
- Will the supports require any ongoing maintenance?
Details Matter. Make the Right Match.
As with the selection of all building materials, building owners should consult with a roof support design professional to confirm the support system is code compliant, sized appropriately, and compatible with the roofing system being used.
Never design supports on your own! Improper planning, selection and/or installation of a piping support system can cause serious, even catastrophic failure of the entire rooftop. So, take some time to do some research, educate yourself about the options available, and then partner with a design resource to engineer a code-compliant, durable, piping support system solution.