Roof Collapse in North Olmsted

Recent severe weather may be the cause

Joe Grady

9/8/20233 min read

The roof of the Pinball Shoppe on Butternut Ridge Road in North Olmsted collapsed on Wednesday, August 23 during heavy rain and flooding across Northeast Ohio. Apparently, the weight of the water that accumulated on the flat roof caused it to collapse before the water could drain sufficiently. Minimal damage to neighboring properties occurred and no injuries were reported. Flash flooding was widespread throughout the region on August 23-24.

roof of building collapsed during heavy rain
roof of building collapsed during heavy rain

Flat roofs, characterized by their minimal slope or pitch, have gained popularity in both residential and commercial construction. While they offer several benefits, they also come with a set of drawbacks that must be carefully considered when choosing the appropriate roofing design for a building.

Benefits of Flat Roofs include:

Cost-Effective Construction: One of the primary advantages of flat roofs is their cost-effectiveness in terms of construction. The simplicity of the design, coupled with the reduced amount of materials required, often leads to lower installation and labor costs compared to pitched roofs. Additionally, the ease of access during construction can expedite the building process.

map shows location of collapsed roof
map shows location of collapsed roof

Usable Space: Flat roofs provide a flat and level surface that can be used for various purposes. In urban areas with limited space, such roofs can be transformed into functional spaces like rooftop gardens, recreational areas, or even additional living spaces. This maximizes the use of available land, potentially increasing the property's value.

Energy Efficiency: The horizontal surface of a flat roof allows for easy installation of solar panels, reflective coatings, and green roofing systems. Solar panels can harness renewable energy, reducing the building's reliance on traditional energy sources. Reflective coatings minimize heat absorption, leading to lower cooling costs during hot seasons.

Drawbacks of Flat Roofs include:

Drainage Issues: One of the most significant drawbacks of flat roofs is their limited ability to drain water effectively. Unlike pitched roofs, where water naturally flows down and away, flat roofs require sophisticated drainage systems to prevent water pooling, leaks, and structural damage. Without proper maintenance, these issues can escalate, causing costly repairs.

Maintenance Challenges: Flat roofs demand regular maintenance due to their susceptibility to water-related problems. Debris, leaves, and dirt can accumulate, clogging drains and causing water to pond. The accumulation of water, along with exposure to UV rays and temperature fluctuations, can accelerate roof deterioration, necessitating consistent inspection and upkeep.

Durability Concerns: The constant exposure to environmental elements like rain, snow, and UV radiation can reduce the lifespan of flat roofs. The lack of pitch prevents water from quickly running off, potentially leading to leaks, moisture infiltration, and eventual degradation of roofing materials. High-quality materials and proper installation are crucial to mitigate this concern.

Limited Insulation Space: Unlike pitched roofs, flat roofs offer limited space for insulation. Adequate insulation is essential for maintaining energy efficiency and regulating indoor temperatures. Insufficient insulation in flat roofs can lead to increased energy consumption, uncomfortable indoor environments, and higher utility bills.

Weight Limitations: Flat roofs may have weight limitations that restrict the installation of certain features, such as heavy rooftop gardens or large HVAC units. Structural considerations are crucial when planning such installations, as exceeding weight limits could compromise the integrity of the building.

Flat roofs offer benefits and drawbacks that should be evaluated and compared. Cost-effective construction, potential for usable space and energy efficiency may make flat roofs an attractive choice for some applications. However, challenges related to drainage, durability and weight limitations highlight the importance of using high-quality materials, performing regular roof maintenance and periodically evaluating the integrity of the structure.