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How to Determine the Pitch of Your Roof

You don’t have to be a roofing contractor to know the pitch of your roof.  This information is not just helpful, but sometimes necessary, to know when you’re designing an addition, adding in features like skylights, or if you’re doing roof repairs.

The pitch of your roof is the steepness—or the angle—of the roof.  The pitch is ultimately determined by the vertical rise by the horizontal run—or a better way to put it, the pitch is usually measured by the number of inches it rises for every 12-inches of depth.  For example, if your roof rises 7 inches for every 12 inches of depth towards its peak, then you’d have a 7:12 pitch.

determining the pitch of your roof

Why is the Pitch Important?

The pitch of your roof is a key feature in roof design, and why is roof design important?  A well-designed roof is one that will not just be compatible for your home’s style but will also combat the weather.

For roofs, it matters where your home is geographically located.  The purpose of a roof is more than simply shelter, but it serves as an important feature for your home’s overall protection.  Water damage can occur if a roof’s integrity is compromised with broken or missing shingles, deterioration from age, or if a roof hasn’t been designed to combat the surrounding region’s weather.

Areas subject to heavy rainfall will at least require a steep enough pitch to channel the water directly into the gutter system.  Water runoff that isn’t channeled away from the home can lead to serious foundational problems, mold and mildew, and damage to the roof system.

Homes located in regions that see heavy snowfall should also have steeper roofs.  Ice dams are common with heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures and the phenomenon can cause damage to the roof with the added weight of snow and ice.  A roof with a pitch that isn’t designed to slide snow off thanks to its steepness can experience more ice dams than one that does have a steeper pitch.  Ice dams can cause damage to the shingles and the underlayment layers of the roof if the issue isn’t addressed.

The roof’s pitch is essential in redirecting water and there could be serious issues if the water (or snow and ice) isn’t draining away from the home properly.  Depending on the materials used for a roof, a well-designed roof is meant to last two decades—or even longer.  The pitch is essential in assisting with the roof’s longevity.

How to Measure the Pitch

All you’ll need to measure the pitch of your roof is a level, a tape measure, and a pencil for marking.  You won’t have to climb onto the roof to measure its pitch.  You can measure it safely and easily from inside your attic.

measuring the pitch of your roof

Measure 12 inches from one end of the level.  Make a mark.  In your attic, head to the bottom of a roof rafter.  Place your level against the bottom of this roof rafter and hold it level.  Then, measure vertically from your original 12-inch mark straight up, along the bottom of the rafter.

The pitch of your roof is the number of inches your roof rises within your 12-inch marking.

If the attic is inaccessible, you can also measure the pitch from the roof’s surface.  Make sure you follow all of the proper safety protocols before climbing your roof.

First, measure 12 inches on a level and make a mark.  Place one end of the level against the roof.  Hold the end of the tape measure against the roof, extending it so it’s perpendicular to your level.  Move the tape measure along the roof and stop when it meets the level at the 12-inch marker.  This vertical distance is your roof’s pitch.

Types of Roof Pitches

There are two types of roof pitches: low and high.  While each roof pitch has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, the right roof pitch ultimately depends on where you’re located and the features that will benefit your home the most.

Low Pitch Roof

Roofs with low pitches aren’t steep.  Because a low pitched roof doesn’t have a high peak, it requires fewer materials for its construction.  Fewer materials, of course, means a cheaper roof.  However, the downside of a low pitch roof is that it doesn’t as effectively drain water runoff and tends to catch debris like fallen limbs.  Southern homes tend to favor low pitch roofs to combat the heat as this type of roof translates to a cooler interior.  Low pitch roofs are also easier to walk on, a feature that may be beneficial for some homeowners.

High Pitch Roof

The antithesis of a low pitch roof, a high pitch roof does cost more as it requires more materials to create a higher peak.  Part of the expense is that a higher pitch roof leaves room for an attic, which can be costly to heat and cool.  However, a high pitch roof drains water runoff much more effectively, which can contribute to the roofing system’s extended lifespan.  A higher pitch also means that these roofs aren’t as easy to walk on, so if repairs are needed, you may need to reach out to a professional roofing company for assistance.

 At Feldco, we provide a breakthrough design and triple layer protection to keep your roof healthy for what mother nature decides to throw at it.  For a roof replacement, our installers are factory trained, experienced and professional to get the job done right. Speak to a product specialist and get a free quote today.

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