What Is a Roof Scupper Anyway?
What Is A Roof Scupper?

What Is a Roof Scupper Anyway?

Do you have the proper drainage system on your commercial roof? There are a number of water drainage systems that successfully remove water from a flat or sloped commercial roof, including roof scuppers. Explore this system, its advantages and disadvantages and find out where you can turn for quality repair and installation services in the Southeast.

What Is a Roof Scupper?


This drainage system looks like an opening in the parapet or wall of your flat commercial roof. Some scuppers have a simple spout that pours water down the side of your building, while others are connected to downspouts that send the water directly to the ground level.

Roof scuppers can be channel type or through wall type. Channel-type scuppers are three sided or are a simple rectangular hole cut in the wall. Some types can be round or a unique, decorative shape using custom sheet metal fabrication. These holes allow any water to drain straight down the sides of your building to prevent standing water and leakage.

Through-wall designs are usually a copper or galvanized steel box. This integrated system is typically flashed into your roof and has a sealed faceplate on the exterior face of your wall.

Unlike roof drains, this system shouldn’t run water inside your building. Roof scuppers should pour water directly off the side or into a downspout running outside of your exterior walls. This hands-off design, if constructed properly, requires little or no maintenance and effectively removes even the extreme levels of rainfall from your roof.

When Are Scuppers Used?

These integrated systems are used for two purposes: primary drainage and overflow. If you have roof scuppers on your commercial building, determine which purpose they are serving before exploring maintenance or alternative installation services.

Primary drainage is designed to remove the majority of water from your rooftop. These scuppers are subject to code requirements which vary state-to-state. Generally, they must be at least four inches tall and have a width at least equal to the circumference of an appropriate roof drain. Any smaller and your roof may not adequately drain.

Overflow drainage scuppers are typically holes with no downspout or other intricate designs. This is because these scuppers are specifically designed to remove water when there is a blockage in the primary system. Overflow drains can be used with roof drains or with primary drainage roof scuppers.

Don’t be surprised to see a combination of scuppers and roof drains on your roof. Take some time to inspect your flat roof to see if you have any areas of pooled water. Scuppers are a great renovation project, since you don’t need to run any additional piping inside your commercial building.

What Are the Advantages of Roof Scuppers?

If you’re looking to install a new system on your flat roof, scuppers can be one of the most affordable systems. Properly sized scuppers won’t clog with small sticks, leaves and other debris. Because they don’t drain water inside your building, there is little risk of leaking pipes causing interior water damage.

Scuppers are still compatible with downspouts, so you don’t have to worry about pooling around your foundation. Easily channel water to the most convenient drainage area with this system without constantly cleaning and maintaining your roof drains.

What Are the Disadvantages of Roof Scuppers?

While wide scuppers rarely clog, smaller scuppers and downspouts are prone to clogs. Buildup in a downspout won’t immediately cause water to enter your building, but it can cause pooling on your flat roof. Over time, this can lead to mold, mildew and leaking issues.

Some scuppers don’t have a downspout or aren’t sealed to the top of the downspout. If this is the case with your building, there can still be some water draining directly down the side of your building. This can cause foundation issues and flooding in the basement level of your commercial building.

Are There Alternative Drainage Devices?

Scuppers aren’t the only commercial drainage system for a flat roof. Roof drains are another popular way to remove excess water and prevent pooling on your roof. A roof drain uses a drain pipe that runs inside your commercial building before leaving it again. The pipe can end in a storm sewer or directly onto the ground.

Roof drains typically have a grate on the top. This prevents clogs in the drain line, but can cause a buildup of debris on your flat roof. In the rare event of a clog in the line, roof drain lines can cause water to leak directly into your building, often inside your interior walls.

Where Can I Receive Roofing Services in the Southeast?
Whether you’re looking for a new drainage solution or need emergency maintenance services, turn to Benton Roofing for all your roofing needs. Request a quote to see why businesses throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Arkansas choose our trusted team for their commercial roofing projects.