Roof Features Explained

November 26, 2019

Your roofing contractor performed a roof survey and now you’ve got a roof plan in hand. They say that knowledge is power, but what if you don’t know what you’re looking at? D. C. Taylor Co. can help. Let’s review the nine most common roof elements and why they’re there.

Pipe Supports

There are two options for supporting process piping on the roof: prefabricated pipe supports or wood blocks. The latter is a less costly option, but with exposure to weather and sun, wooden pipe supports will deteriorate over time. Your roofing contractor can encapsulate the wood in membrane, but anticipate a hefty labor charge for this work. Prefabricated supports come in a variety of sizes for all kinds of piping: copper, electrical conduit, steel, or PVC.

Grease Guards

Not only are chemicals, grease, oil, acid, and fats on the roof at industrial facilities and food-processing plants damaging to the roofing system, but they can also make the surface slippery for rooftop workers. The solution is a grease guard. It can be installed to filter and collect grease and oils from rooftop exhaust systems. Filters should be changed or cleaned regularly.

Walkway Pad

Walkway pad helps protect the roof system from punctures made by trades that come to service equipment on the roof. Installed in a direct path to and around the equipment, it not only serves as a safety reminder of the designated work area, but also increases the durability of single-ply membrane systems. Elevated steel walkways function similarly, but also provide guardrail for enhanced safety.


Curbs are support structures for HVAC units, skylights, and other mechanical equipment. These raised platforms are flashed with roofing membrane to provide a waterproof seal and prevent weather or moisture infiltration into the building.

Snow Guards

Snow guards are a type of snow retention system that prevents large sheets of snow or ice from falling off a pitched roof all at once. There are multiple types and designs. They can be surface-mounted and fastened into the structure on a metal deck with insulation or on a single-ply, EPDM, or built-up roof system.


Some roofs use scuppers. Part of the perimeter drainage system, scuppers allow water to drain from the sides of the roof through a raised edge. Overflow scuppers are set two inches above the roof line to prevent the roof from filling up like a bathtub if roof drains are blocked. Properly located and sized scuppers can prevent roof collapse, which occurs when the weight of trapped water exceeds the structural capacity of the roof.


Crickets are insulation formed or cut into diamond- or inverted v-shaped ridges that direct water to (and prevent ponding between) drains. They’re often placed in front of large curbs and at parapet walls to divert water to a drain or through-wall scupper. They are mostly used on low-slope roofs, but a steep slope can also use crickets to change the direction of drainage.

Drain Baskets

Drain baskets prevent large vegetation and debris from getting into drainage pipes. At a cost of less than $100 each, replacing drain baskets costs a fraction of what a plumber will charge to snake the drain if it’s backed up. Drain baskets come in a variety of shapes and materials (from cast iron to plastic) and are usually set on the drain and then twisted to lock into the clamping ring; however, some are mechanically attached. All drains should have some sort of strainer.

Roof Anchor

Roof anchors are an active fall protection strategy that requires PPE and engagement from the user. Single point anchors are secured to a roof’s substructure and/or roof deck or counterweighted. Eyelets on top serve as easily accessible personal fall arrest tie-off points. Workers wearing a body harness and fall restraint lanyard connect to anchorage points capable of supporting 5,000 pounds. They can then work within a 6- to 10-foot radius of the anchor.

Create A Roof Maintenance Plan

If you don’t have a roof plan in place for your commercial or industrial building, contact D. C. Taylor Co. today. We have offices in Iowa, Illinois, California, and Arizona with representatives serving a majority of the US. We do much more than developing maintenance plans. See a full list of our services to see how we can help keep your roof safe and protected.

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