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Flat roof failures. These images show the various stages of a flat roof failure. Upper left: Figure 1 – a failed roof section. Upper right: Figure 2 – a cracked joist. Lower left: Figure 3 – new ponding on the roof edge. Lower right: Figure 4 – downspout drainage. (Photos: C. Roberts)

Flat roofs are utilized on many buildings throughout the country. They offer space on top for rooftop heating and air conditioning units and other mechanical equipment. Inside, they offer a superstructure to attach ductwork, electrical conduit, suspended piping systems and lighting systems.

The term flat roof is sort of a misnomer. The roof is typically pitched slightly to allow water to run off the side of a building using scuppers (channels through parapets that allow water to drain from a flat roof). Flat roofs are also designed to channel water to drains on the roof.

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