What about Pitch Pockets on a Flat Roof?

This video shows how a pitch pocket could cause a leak in a flat roof.

What is a Pitch Pocket?

Pitch Pockets are open bottom containers installed on flat roofs to allow conduit pipes, electrical wires air conditioner cooling lines to be pulled through a roof. Once these elements are snaked through the container, then tar is used to fill the container to seal around all the wires and pipes.

Pitch Pocket Maintenance

It is important to check older Pitch Pockets once a year and top them off with fresh tar. The tar that is used in Pitch Pockets will shrink and crack. This leads to a hollow Pitch Pocket that can collect water and leak.

A Pitch Pocket with cooling pipes and wires piercing through

An overlooked cause of roof leaks are Pitch Pockets

Notice in the image above how the pipe insulation has broken off. The seal around the pipe is now compromised and causing leaks.

Pitch Pockets can have different types of filling. More modern ones have a silicone fill instead of tar.

Pitch Pocket on an EPDM Rubber Roof - Potential cause for leaks
Pitch Pocket on an EPDM Rubber Roof – Potential cause for leaks. These Pitch Pockets should be checked and maintained annually.
A Pitch-Pocket is a bottomless container that is placed on a flat roof where air conditioner pipelines and wires are fed through. After the wires and pipes are fed through, the container is filled with liquid “tar” or roof cement to seal around the wires and pipes.

Five Tips on maintaining Pitch Pockets

  • Check whether the roof is flashed properly
  • Make sure that old cut pipelines are properly capped off
  • Check the pitch-pocket and see if it is full to the brim with tar. Many times this tar will dry and shrink and cause a low spot in the container. When it rains, this low spot will collect water, and water will eventually leak through where the wires and pipelines are.
  • Check the foam insulation that covers the pipelines. This foam deteriorates and causes openings where water can leak through the Pitch-Pocket.
  • As a precautionary step, fill pitch pockets yearly.
  • Flat Roof Repairs can easily relate to a Pitch-Pocket that has wires and pipes going through it, and all you need to do is make sure the insulation foam around the pipes is not the cause of the leak.
Pitch Pocket needs topped off with tar
This Pitch Pocket has a Bathroom vent pipe coming through it. Notice it is low on tar

Very often a roof leak can be fixed by simply topping off the pitch pockets on a roof. This is a very common problem on commercial flat roofs.

Pitch Pocket has foam insulation around pipe preventing a good seal
Notice the foam insulation around the pipes preventing a proper seal.
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