Don’t Overlook the Importance of Pitch When It Comes to Roofing Repair

June 9, 2019 Off By Dante Filyaw

Often referred to as pitch, the slope of a roof is a key factor in any type of residential roof work. When you call a builder or roofing contractor looking for a cost estimate, one of the first questions they’re likely to ask will be about pitch. After all, pitch is the gauge professionals use to determine the steepness of a roof. It affects virtually every aspect of residential roofing jobs, from initial design and construction to drainage and styling to roofing repair and replacement.

In general, pitch refers to how much your roof rises vertically for every foot of horizontal extension. Thus, pitch is denoted by two numbers, with the vertical measurement going first. So what constitutes a steep roof? Well, that seems to depend on which industry professional you ask. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), for instance, deems steep-pitched roofs as any roof greater than 4 in 12, or 4/12 pitch. The way roofing contractors rate steep pitch, however, can vary widely. While some consider any pitch over 6/12 to be steep, others set the bar at 8/12 or even 10/12.

You can determine the pitch of your roof using a level and measuring tape. Simply find the location on your level 12 inches from the end and mark the spot. Then, holding the unmarked end of your level flat against the roof in an even position, measure the distance from the 12-inch mark straight down to the roof to ascertain the pitch. The same method will work on the bottom of a rafter if you can reach one on an overhang or in your attic space. In fact, using a rafter provides a more accurate measurement since you won’t have any shingles or roofing materials getting in your way.

Of course, the greater the pitch, the more difficult and costly your roofing work will be. Many residential roofing contractors won’t even accept jobs involving steep-pitched roofs because of the added safety hazards and OSHA regulations that come into play. If your roof is too sloped to stand on or access safely, you’ll need to hire a licensed contractor that has the specialized knowledge and equipment to protect against falls in accordance with the latest federal guidelines. Lack of fall protection is the leading safety violation in the roofing industry, and understanding the various guardrail, safety net, and fall arrest systems is crucial in preventing serious injuries to workers.

The pitch of your roof also plays a part in selecting the best materials for your home. Shingle roofing, for example, is not recommended for very low-pitched roofs where a lot of moisture can accumulate. A very steep-pitched roof, on the other hand, while not suitable for single-ply roofing products, may be the ideal application for asphalt roof shingles.

So never disregard the importance of learning about roof pitch. Before you have any type of residential roof restoration or repair work done, get to know the facts surrounding this key consideration. The good news is, while labor charges are bound to be higher on steep-pitched roofs, your roofing materials will last longer thanks to the increased slope of the design.