How Rooftop HVAC Systems Can Affect Your Roof

Kathleen Maxwell

Industrial steel air conditioning and ventilation systems

Commercial rooftop HVAC units have many advantages and are a common choice for many building owners. Choosing a rooftop HVAC unit can help keep the machinery safe and makes it more versatile for changes later, but rooftop HVAC units can have a big effect on the roof structure itself. 

When considering commercial rooftop HVAC prices, facility managers should factor in the additional maintenance a roof will need to support one. 

Ways Rooftop HVAC Units Impact Roofs

  • Condensation: HVACS are heavy duty machines, and when they run they can cause condensation and sometimes steam. Moisture is the biggest enemy to a solid roof structure. Over time moisture can erode the roof’s membrane or cause leaks. Ponding on a roof can also cause mold. 

Moisture should vaporize while still inside of an HVAC unit, but sometimes malfunctions can lead to leaking. Many roofs with HVACs have special areas to trap and retain moisture, but it’s also important to regularly inspect roofs with HVAC equipment to ensure that there aren’t any pooling or build up in condensation. 

  • Roof strain: Not every roof can support a heavy HVAC unit. Roofs need to be specially designed to ensure the structure is strong enough to support HVACs. Typically, HVAC units are planned out and installed while a roof is under construction in order to accommodate the added weight. Some building owners may want to add more HVAC units after the roof is already done. It’s absolutely essential that a roofer be consulted during this process to help design the area where the new units will be placed.
  • Wind lift: HVAC units are heavy, but that doesn’t mean they are immovable. Strong winds and storms can shift or lift units out of place, damaging the roof and creating a dangerous situation for people inside and outside the building. Workers who install HVACs know how to properly secure their systems, but they may not know what impact that will have on the roof underneath it. 

Roofers need to be consulted about the fasteners used for HVAC systems to ensure they don’t pull on the roof and damage the structure underneath it. Even slight movements in heavy HVAC equipment can cause major damage over time. Making sure all curbs, flashings, and sealants have been properly installed is the only way to guarantee your roof is protected. 

  • Negligent technicians: Having a rooftop HVAC unit means inviting technicians onto your roof for maintenance and repairs. These HVAC technicians will not be specialized in roof care and may cause damage without realizing it. Keeping up with regular inspections can help identify damage that negligent technicians may have overlooked. 

At Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, we have worked for decades with different HVAC technicians and systems to ensure that both the roof and the equipment can function properly. Contact us today to learn more about what Maxwell can do for your rooftop HVAC unit.


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