Water Drainage Strategies for Flat Roofs

The roof of a building, whether it be a residential or commercial property, is covered in snow and ice.

Water drainage from the roof is one of the biggest issues that flat-roof buildings can face.

Flat roofs need a drainage system for dirt, trash, and rain.

Since there are multiple choices, it’s essential to research and write down all the pros and cons before deciding.

If you’re not familiar with stagnant water and why it is super important to have a sustainable drainage system for your home, keep reading.

Wondering What Standing Water Is?

Standing (also known as stagnant) water is water that builds up and stagnates on the surface of a roof for longer than 48 hours.

It’s a common but, unfortunately, not a harmless issue.

To be more precise, it’s the most common reason for serious home or commercial property damage.

Often, it’s a product of poor roof design, poorly installed flat roof drains, lack of drainage, or rubber roofs with multiple layers and owners most often don’t know about is so when an issue occurs they usually don’t know why it happened.

Why Do You Need Drains for Flat Roofs in the First Place?

Unlike sloped roofs that naturally facilitate water runoff, flat roofs require drains to ensure water doesn’t build up and cause issues.

If you don’t have a drainage system, you could encounter issues such as;

  • Leaks or structural problems
  • Material buildup, including twigs and leaves
  • Damage to roof structures like chimneys
    And more.

All of these problems eventually result in damage that requires flat roof repair so it’s always our suggestion to think about a drainage system that would suit best for your building.


Gutters are definitely one possible solution.

To install gutters, the roof must slope towards them so water can easily flow into them. This is a cost-effective solution, as gutters prevent soil erosion and safeguard your home’s foundation.

The lifespan of gutters depends on the material used so the better the material, the longer it lasts. The downside is that gutters are fully open, therefore the possibility of clogging is high but not impossible.

With regular maintenance and cleaning, there won’t be any problems.


Another option for draining flat roofs in Chicago, IL is through scuppers.

Scuppers are openings located in the outer walls of buildings. They allow water to flow from the edges into downspouts installed directly beneath them. The purpose of downspouts is to keep moisture away from the walls. They are efficient solution and easy to maintain.

The downside is similar to gutters: you need to have regular maintenance. They can easily get clogged or freeze due to their exposure.

Inner Drains

As the name suggests, the roofer contractor installs inner drains within the roof or parapet wall. A parapet wall is siding around the edge of the roof.

Imagine these drains as the drains found in your sink, usually located in the middle of the rooftop. If you are not a fan of your pipes being exposed to everyone, this is a great aesthetic solution as it’s not visible.

These drains are positioned in central areas and connected to pipes underneath the roof. This way, drained water goes straight to the sewer.

Another great thing about them is they are incredibly well-insulated, which prolongs their lifespan. They are also found on commercial properties because they are the best solution for large roofs.

Roof Crickets

Another significant component for flat roof drains are crickets. In terms of commercial roofing, they are almost always made out of insulation.

A cricket, also known as a diverter or saddler, is a triangular structure whose purpose is to redirect water from certain areas where it can be trapped. Roofers usually place them around HVAC installations, drains, and near walls.

When correctly installed crickets are effective in protecting against stagnant water issues.

The downside of traditional roof crickets in terms of installation is that they can be time-consuming, require more specialized skills, and are more expensive than prefabricated crickets.

The downside of prefabricated cricket, on the other hand, is that they are pre-made and easy to install, but they may not fit your roof perfectly.

Be sure to consult with your roofer about your wishes, needs, and budget, and professional roofers such as Revived Exteriors will be happy to take this into account and create a custom-made solution just for you.

Whatever Your Decision, Drains Are Necessary for Your Roof’s Life

Every type of commercial roofing system has its own set of needs. Flat roofs are no exception.

Be sure to get your drainage system in place and protect the condition of your property’s roof for years to come. Quality materials, good strategy, and roof experts give you the right combo for your roof and building to thrive!

With Revived Exteriors, you can have it all! Call us, and let us do the work – we are your company for commercial roofing in Chicago.

© Copyright | Revived Exteriors | *DISCLAIMER: Revived Exteriors, Inc. is neither a broker nor a lender. Financing is provided by third-party lenders unaffiliated with Revived Exteriors, Inc., under terms and conditions arranged directly between the customer and such lender, all subject to credit requirements and satisfactory completion of finance documents. Any finance terms advertised are estimates only. Revived Exteriors, Inc. does not assist with, counsel or negotiate financing, other than providing customers an introduction to lenders interested in financing Revived Exteriors customers.