All About Rooftop Equipment Supports

If you’ve got air conditioning units, refrigeration equipment, generators or any other type of equipment on a roof top it needs to be raised and supported off of the roof surface using some sort of rooftop equipment supports.

When items sit directly on a roof there is always a risk of damage to the roof surface.  Damage can happen during installation, whenever maintenance is being performed and/or just from normal wear and tear over time. Additionally, raising the equipment off of the roof also prevents the piece of equipment from getting damaged if there is any ponding or standing water on the roof surface.  Space between the roof surface also allows for ease of equipment maintenance and will also make it easier for roof repairs or a reroof.

Determine if your application requires you to structurally attach the equipment support to the roof substrate OR if just setting a support (with proper roofing membrane protection) will suffice.  Most of the time this will be laid out in a building’s specifications and drawings from the design professional.  Always reference local building codes and also be sure to confer with the project design professional.

Structurally Attached Supports

There are a few different types of supports for equipment that needs to be structurally attached to the deck or joists. Many factors can affect which type should be used such as the type of equipment, the roof type, the thickness of the roofing material, etc.

  1. Equipment Rails – The equipment rails are most commonly made from galvanized steel, have a wood-nailer & are internally reinforced. They are available in a variety of heights, lengths and widths.  Insulation can also be added.
    • Straight Sided Rails – Generally these are used on single-ply, tapered insulation or lightweight fill roofing applications.piping rooftop equipment supports
    • Canted Rails – Most often these rails are used on uninsulated decks.
      Canted Equipment Rail
    • Raised, Canted Rails – These are commonly used on roofs with insulated roof decks.Raised Canted Equipment Rail
  1. Equipment Curbs – Similarly, equipment curbs are often made from galvanized steel and have wood-nailers.  They are also available in many heights, lengths and widths both with and without insulation. Additionally, the curbs have optional features such as liners, neoprene gaskets, temporary covers, extended base plates, built-in burglar bars & built in slopes.
  1. Aluminum AC Stands (Air Conditioning Condenser Stands) – These AC stands are built entirely out of aluminum, have all welded joint construction & have mounting plates with pre-drilled holes for attachment to the roof. Additionally, these stands have the Florida Building Code and Miami-Dade County approvals for attaching air conditioning condensing units to roofs. These air conditioning stands come in a variety of lengths, heights and widths.AC Stands are rooftop equipment supports
    Click here for engineered drawings and approvals

Non-Penetrating Rooftop Equipment Supports

Again, many things affect what type of non-penetrating support should be used. How much does your unit(s) weight? How high does the equipment need to be off of the roof? Is there a slope to the roof?

  1. Mechanical Unit Supports – These supports have heavy-duty corner and/or sides that are connected to bases which are designed specifically to protect the roof membrane. These supports often have adjustable threaded rods so the appropriate height can be selected and also to help level the units on slightly sloped roofs.
    mechanical LD equipment support
  2. Sleeper Supports – These supports are made to support smaller, lighter units. These are kind of like a smaller equipment rail that doesn’t attach to the roof deck. Some of these come in long 4’ lengths and can be cut to fit specific applications.rooftop sleeper supports
  3. Assemble to Fit – These supports consist of telescoping corner and edge supports. These can be combined in various configurations to fit a variety of equipment and can be assembled on the job.leg assembly for rooftop equipment supports

To summarize, when choosing rooftop equipment supports there are a variety of options. The first decision to be made is does the stand need to be structurally attached or can it sit on the roof? Again, it’s best to refer to any design professional’s specifications or drawings first. Also, as mentioned previously, always reference local building codes and consult with a design professional when choosing a support.

Once you’ve determined if you need to structurally attach the support or not, then think about your roof system, the weight of the unit, the size of the unit and any other factors that might affect the support choice.  After you’ve considered all of these things and informed yourself on the various support options, you should be able to make a selection.

If you’re not sure what you need, we’re always available to help you figure that out. Give us a call at 800-334-9815 or e-mail us at sales@protechemail.com.

Amy has been with Protech Products full time since 2002 and is currently the Vice President of Operations. Amy received a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Flagler College in 2001. Amy lives less than five minutes from our office with her husband, two children and 3 cats. In her free time she enjoys reading, organizing, going to theme parks & listening to music.

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