Many commercial buildings have their heating-ventilating-air conditioning (HVAC) equipment mounted on the roof. This is an attractive option in many respects, especially if the roof is flat. There’s usually plenty of unused space up there, so it saves what might be scarce square footage in the basement or at ground level. It places the equipment out of reach of vandals and tampering. And it’s often a good way to get equipment noise away from areas of business activity where it might be unwelcome.
There are also potential problems with roof-mounted HVAC, but they can be overcome through attention to the following issues.
Is access to the roof easy? Will HVAC installers be able to bring the unit up to the roof via stairs or an elevator? If not, they’ve had to use a crane (or a helicopter!), which will add to the cost of installation.
You don’t want maintenance personnel carrying tools up and down ladders, so access must also be convenient for regular servicing. If you need to add stair access, you’ll have to make modifications to the roof itself, so consult with a roofing company before you make commitments.
HVAC systems are heavy. Have an engineer confirm that your roof structure is capable of supporting it, and have them engineer a solution to increase the strength of the structure if necessary. Aside from the safety issue, you’ll probably need to do this to obtain a building permit for the installation.
What is the roofing material? Can the equipment be placed on it without damaging it? When the installers drive screws to install mounting hardware, how will they seal the holes to keep out the elements?
According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, balance is a concern for all HVAC units. All units vibrate to some extent, so they must be solidly anchored to the roof. Installers must understand the nature of the roof structure in order to install proper anchors in the right locations. Done poorly, vibration from an HVAC unit can cause fasteners to loosen and pull out from their positions, causing damage to the roofing material and structure and allowing rain to penetrate.
Most HVAC technicians are skilled and knowledgeable about their craft, but they are not roofing experts, according to Ask A Roofer. When you have an HVAC company inspect the roof for a potential installation, have a roofer attend to consult with them. Most HVAC companies will welcome the professional input, helping them ensure that the installation won’t cause problems for the building owner. The roofer should also consult during the installation itself, and may work alongside the HVAC installers to take care of issues as they arise.
If you’re considering installing, repairing or replacing commercial roof-mounted HVAC in the Jacksonville area, contact Quality Discount Roofing at 904-396-5000. Our experts will evaluate your roof for suitability, maker installation recommendations, and work with your mechanical systems installer to make sure your HVAC system and your roof work together to keep your building secure and comfortable.
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Related topic: Roof