4 Common Causes of Inadequate Drainage on Low-Slope Roofs

Photo 1. Roof decks with poor slope, drains that are up slope and deck defection can result in excessive ponding. Images: Hutchinson Design Group Ltd.

The stone church in rural Portugal was constructed some 700 years ago. The roofs of the transepts are large stone slabs: 5 feet wide, 10 feet to 12 feet long, and 8 inches thick. How they even made it into place is amazing, but to those like us who think in terms of water, what is even more amazing is the carved-out drainage channels. Moving water off the roof was important to builders 700 years ago in Europe, just as it was to the builders of Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat. Along with many indigenous building methods, the movement of water off roofs and away from buildings is becoming a lost design element.

It is not uncommon to walk upon recently installed roofs and see ponding at gutters, roof drains and across the roof. There are many reasons for this degradation of roof system design, including ignorance. A lack of knowledge by designers, a “roofer or builder will figure it out” mentality, and poor installation procedures can all be to blame.

Ponding water provides visual evidence to the owner that something isn’t quite right, and in some instances, it can result in roof structure collapse. If breaches in the roof membrane exist, standing water can result in excess moisture intrusion. (See Photo 1.) Additionally, water on the roof promotes algae growth that can attack some materials. It also allows for ice to form in winter, creating life safety issues as well as external forces affecting the roof cover.

So, what can you do?

In this article we’ll look at four key conditions on the roof that I see as the most erroneously conceived and installed:

  1. The roof system’s transition to the gutters
  2. Two-way structurally sloped roof decks with roof drains above the low point
  3. Four-way structurally sloped roof decks with drains above the low point
  4. Roof drains on level roof decks with tapered insulation

Accumulated Debris at Gutters

As perhaps you know and will see within this article, there are many things that irk me; one is walking on a new roof and seeing a 3- to 4-foot wide swath of black accumulated dirt and airborne components in front of the gutter. This situation

Photo 2. Owners do not like seeing ponding in front of their gutters, especially when it’s egregious. Proper design and installation would have prevented this problem. Images: Hutchinson Design Group Ltd.

results from restricted water drainage, and it is especially noticeable on reflective roof covers. (See Photo 2.) This restriction of water drainage can be due to several possible factors, including roof edge wood blocking that is too high, insulation that is too low, and the accumulation of roofing material above the slope plane. The roof deck itself can also be set too low.

When designing roof edge gutters, there are key design elements to consider:

  • Wood blocking:In addition to being of appropriate width and anchorage, wood blocking should be sloped to drain, even with sloped roof decks with an elevation 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch below the anticipated roof insulation height. The greatest error I see with most architects is that they do not draw the detail to scale. Insulation is not of the correct thickness, the wood is too big or too small, or it is depicted as one giant block floating atop the wall with no mention of anchorage.
  • Insulation:Please read the ASTM standard for polyisocyanurate and you will learn that the ISO has an allowable dimensional change. Thus, if you specified two layers of 2.25-inch ISO to match three layers of two-by wood blocking, you might be in for a surprise. You might get to the field and see that your two layers of insulation are 3/8 of an inch below the top of the wood, and the manufacturer whom you’ve complained to will pull out the ASTM standard and say, “We are within tolerances.”
  • Material layering:When the roof membrane is taken over the wood (yes you should do this) and sealed to the wall substrate, and the gutter is set in mastic and then stripped in, the accumulated material thickness can exceed 3/8 of an inch. Not much, you say, but on a roof with a 1/4-inch-per-linear-foot slope, that can result in 18 inches of ponding right in front of the gutter. Ouch.

Design recommendations for achieving complete drainage at the roof edge with gutter include:

  • Communicate with the structural engineer.Coordinate with the structural engineer to determine the elevation of the wall (less wood blocking) with the structure and roof deck. If perimeter steel angles attached to the wall rise above the roof deck, discuss with the structural engineer turning the angle downward or changing the angle to one with a vertical leg that doesn’t rise above the roof deck. Angles that rise above the roof deck create a void when

    Photo 3. Even when using tapered insulation and on four-way sloped roof decks, it is advantageous to accentuate the slope into the drain. Here a 1/2-inch-per-foot tapered insulation sump matches up to the tapered insulation with the help if a 1/2-inch tapered edge strip. Images: Hutchinson Design Group Ltd.

    the first layer of insulation is set that is most often not sealed, resulting in a thermal short and a place where dew points can be reached and condensation can occur. If reinforcing paper facers are on the insulation, mold growth can result.

  • Properly detail the wood blocking. I prefer and recommend the use of two layers of wood blocking. First off, do not use treated wood; use untreated Douglas fir. The wood should be at a minimum 8 inches wide (preferably wider) so that the gutter flange can have nail locations back far enough to allow for 3-inch minimum overlap on the stripping-in ply.

Often it is best if the top of the wall is sealed prior to the installation of the wood to prevent air/moisture transport to the wood, and on precast, to prevent the migration of “damp” into the wood. The first layer of wood should be anchored to the structure (wall or framing). While not always required, I prefer to set anchors at 2 feet on center, staggered. This spacing prevents the warping of the wood. The second layer of wood should match the first in width. I suggest that this second layer of blocking be sloped, and placing a continuous shim along the roof side on the first layer will provide the proper slope. The shim width and thickness are dependent on the wood size, but for two-by-ten wood blocking, a shim of 1/2 inch by 1.5 inches will work well. The second layer of wood blocking should be set with joints offset from the lower layer and then screw fastened at 12 inches on center, staggered. Joints on both layers should be scarfed at 45degrees and screwed tight. On your detail, the height of the wood blocking at the interior side above the roof deck should be dimensioned. This will allow contractors to identify height concerns well before the installation of the insulation so adjustments can be made if necessary. I suggest that this distance be 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch below the top surface of the roof insulation or cover board atop the insulation. (See Figure 1.)

  • Make sure the insulation is higher than the wood blocking.We will not discuss insulation types, substrate boards (vapor barriers) and cover boards in this article; please see earlier articles on the topic. In designing the roof edge and discussing/coordinating with the structural engineer, the goal is to have the insulation system: substrate board, vapor retarder, cover board. The thickness should be 3/8 of an inch greater than the interior top corner of the wood blocking. One key item to remember is that spray-and-bead polyurethane adhesive adds 3/8 of an inch thickness per layer. Designing the insulation to be higher than the wood blocking is important, as it compensates for that allowable dimensional change mentioned above, as well as the thickness created by the layers of gutter flange and roofing. The goal is to create a condition in which water will flow over and into the gutter.

Two-Way Structurally Sloped Roof Decks

Often long, narrow roof areas are designed with a two-way structurally sloped roof deck designed to move water from the outer roof edge to a central point. Prudent designers would like the roof drains to be located at the low point of the structurally sloped roof deck. Typically, though, there is a steel beam at the low point, which prevents the installation of the roof drain at the low point. Consequently, the roof drains must be located on the plumbing drawings up slope from the low point. I have tried for years to explain to plumbing engineers that water doesn’t typically flow uphill, but to no avail, so we as the roof system designer have to fix it. How? By moving the low point.

How is this design goal accomplished?

Let’s start with our roof system design for the following example: a new construction project in Chicago (R-30 minimum) with a steel roof deck, two-way structural slope and the low point over a steel beam. The plans call for the drains to be installed 2 feet up slope, and thus they will be more than 1/2 inch above the low point.

The goal will be to move the structural low point to the drain line. With a structural slope, to meet the thermal value we are looking at two layers of 2.6-inch insulation. Run the first layer of 2.6-inch insulation throughout the roof. Then the fun begins: Draw a line down the center of the roof drains. From this centerline, come out 4 feet on each side with a 1/2-inch-per-foot tapered edge board (Q panel, for those who know). The next layer of 2.6-inch insulation abuts the taper. The tapered insulation at the drain line effectively moves the low point to the drains. (See Figure 2.)

Now that the water is being moved to a new low point, it then needs to be moved to the drains. This is accomplished by saddles. (See Figure 3.) Sounds simple enough, but 95 percent of the saddles I see are incorrect, and water ponds on them, over them and along them. This situation leaves, once again, a bad taste in the mouth of the owner, general contractor, construction manager, and architect — even though it’s the designer’s problem. So, I will now, for the first time, reveal my secret developed years ago: The taper of the saddles mustbe twicethe roof deck slope. If the deck slopes 1/4 inch per foot, the saddles must slope at 1/2 inch per foot. If the deck slopes at 3/8 inch per foot, as it often does, the saddle needs to be at 3/4 inch per foot. And, architects and designers, the slope of the saddle is to the valley line, not the drain. The width of the saddle is the key and determining the width of the saddle is my secret.

It’s a simple formula:

(Distance Between Drain)x 33% = X

2

Increase X to the next number divisible by 4

Example: If the drains are 60 feet apart, divide 60 by 2 to get 30 feet; multiply 30 feet by 33% = 9.9 feet. Increase 9.9 to the next number divisible by 4 to get the answer: 12 feet.

Thus, the saddles at the mid-point apex should extend out three full tapered insulation boards. It’s best if you dimension this width on the detail.

On large buildings, the saddle width and thickness can be quite high, so be sure to double-check the insulation height with the height of the roof edge. I could tell you about a roof where the insulation rose several inches above the perimeter height because someone didn’t draw the detail to scale, but that is a story for another time.

Roof Drains in Four-Way Slope Roof Decks

Structurally sloped roof decks can be beneficial in that they can create positive drainage flow. But with four-way structurally sloped roof decks, the drain is not necessarily at the low point of the roof. How far off the low point is dependent on the plumbing contractor. I have seen drains installed several feet upslope. The plumbing drawings should have a note to the fact that the roof drain sump pan should be installed as close to the low point as possible.

Even when the drain is installed very close to the low point, it is still high and will result in water ponding in front of the drain. Thus, the low point needs to be artificially moved to the drain.

This is accomplished with a drain sump. Best practices suggest that the roof insulation be installed in two layers. This will allow for the installation of the sump.

Using Chicago as an example, which calls for R-30 or 5.2-inches of insulation, the first layer of insulation 2.6 inches thick is installed across the roof deck, to the roof drain. It should be cut to the roof drain extension ring. Fill the void between the roof drain and the insulation with spray foam; trim to the insulation. Next the tapered insulation sump is installed. To match the next layer of insulation, we use 1/2-inch-per-foot tapered insulation. It starts at 1/2 inch and, with a 4-foot panel, rises to a thickness of 2.5 inches. Placed around the drain, the sump created is 8 feet by 8 feet. The next layer of insulation is 2.5 inches and abuts the backside of the tapered insulation.

The 1/2-inch-per-foot slope is used as it doubles the slope of the structurally sloped roof deck, which in this case has a slope of 1/4 inch per foot.

Level Roof Decks With Tapered Insulation

Whether re-roofing or new construction, getting the drainage correct on level roof decks is still a challenge for most designers. Perhaps they don’t realize decks are not level; they have camber, they deflect, they undulate, and the drains are often near columns so the drain pipe can run along it. When the drain is near a column where no deflection takes place, it can often be high.

I like to first ensure the proper drain assembly has been selected and designed by the plumbing engineer: the roof drain, reversible collar, threaded extension ring, clamping ring, cast iron dome. (For more detail, see “Roof Drain Installation Tips” on page XX of this issue.) The sump pan should be selected and designed by the plumbing engineer and provided by the roof drain manufacturer — not by the metal deck supplier. (That the industry cannot get this correct is one on my pet peeves.) Do not raise drains off the deck with threaded rods. (See my article “Concise Details and Coordination Between Trades Will Lead to a Quality Long-Term Solution for Roof Drains,” RoofingMay/June 2016). If designing in a vapor retarder, it needs to extend to the roof drain flange and be clamped by the reversible collar. The first layer of insulation should be cut to fit and extend under and to the extension ring. Any voids should be sealed with spray foam.

To compensate for all the potential deck irregularities, I like to accentuate the slope into the roof drain by increasing the taper. More often than not, this means designing a 1/2-inch-per-foot slope sump into the drain. With a 4-foot board, this results in an 8-foot-by-8-foot sump. (See Figure 4 and Photo 3.) After detailing this sump, the main roof four-way tapered insulation can be designed and the heights at the perimeter calculated and noted on the plans. Just a reminder that the code-required thermal value needs to be attained four feet from the drain. So, for Chicago we detail to achieve R-30 at the backside of the tapered sump.

Final Thoughts

A new roof installation that results in ponding water at the drainage point is an unfortunate occurrence. Owners can be upset: “What is that?” “I didn’t pay to have water retained at the drains!” “Who is coming up and cleaning all this stuff off my roof?” Ponding water can be a standard of care issue for designers and result in damages. Learning to properly design rooftop drainage is not difficult, but it requires some thinking and some rooftop experience. Getting up on the roof during installations will help you visualize the needs to achieve proper drainage.

Making sure the roof system drains properly requires discussions with the structural engineers for new construction. I also find it helpful to have the plumbing contractor at pre-con meetings to review the interrelationship of the roofing and drains.

Getting water off the roof as quickly as possible has been a key priority for centuries — no matter the roof cover material. If the builders using stone can achieve complete and full drainage, then I challenge you to achieve it with the materials we use today.

Preassembled Heating Cable Protects Roofs, Gutters

The FrostGuard heating cable protects roofs and gutters against ice dams and icicle build up.

The FrostGuard heating cable protects roofs and gutters against ice dams and icicle build up.

Pentair has launched a contractor-grade preassembled heating cable from Raychem. FrostGuard is a system which protects roofs and gutters against ice dams and icicle build up and reduces the risks of freezing and bursting within pipes.

Ideal for small roofs, porches and overhangs as well as metal and plastic pipes, FrostGuard brings several advancements. The cables can be overlapped without causing hotspots or burnouts, offering performance and is available in eight pre-terminated lengths that may plug in to a 120V outlet, allowing installations to be tailored to meet specific requirements. Available as a plug-n-play system, FrostGuard works to prevent structural damage and an unsafe environment that can occur as a result of snow accumulation. In addition, FrostGuard can be hardwired (240V) and includes self-regulating technology to ensure heat is only emitted when and where needed, reducing energy consumption and costs.

Project Profiles: Historic Preservation

CATHEDRAL OF ST. PAUL, BIRMINGHAM, ALA.

Team

ROOFING CONTRACTOR: Midland Engineering Co., South
Bend, Ind.
ARCHITECT: ArchitectureWorks LLP, Birmingham
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Hoar Construction LLC, Birmingham,
MASONRY CONTRACTOR: Ziolkowski Construction Inc., South Bend

The cathedral’s intricate slate tile patterns incorporated three slate colors and square and deep bevel cut tiles.

The cathedral’s intricate slate tile patterns incorporated three slate colors and square and deep bevel cut tiles.

Roof Materials

The Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham required the cathedral’s new roof system be a historically accurate reproduction of the original in materials, design and craftsmanship. The cathedral’s intricate slate tile patterns incorporated three slate colors and square and deep bevel cut tiles. Six large slate crosses and multiple accent patterns, barely visible on the faded original roof, required exacting measurements prior to tear-off and a high level of precision to recreate and maintain over such a large field and on octagonal steeples.

Because of metal thinning brought on by their advanced age, every copper architectural and functional feature in the existing roof system had to be carefully removed and shipped to Midland Engineering’s South Bend facility to be historically replicated in its metal shop. This included seven ornate crosses (up to 17-feet tall), finials, turret caps and more. There were more than four dozen components, for which no original prints existed, as well as over 500 feet each of custom copper cornices and radius gutters with matching straps. More than 20,000 square feet of 16- and 20-ounce copper was utilized for fabrication of architectural elements and flashing.

Midland Engineering was asked to make improvements to the original roof system to improve attic ventilation while maintaining the Gothic Revival period look. To accomplish this, the crew integrated bronze screen (invisible from the ground) into the original copper cornice and eave design to provide improved cold air intake while new louvered copper dormers replaced the original painted roof ventilator.

An updated lightning protection system was incorporated into the new roof design, hidden within many of the new copper crosses and other architectural elements. The system was fabricated in Midland Engineering’s shop to maintain the Gothic Revival look.

The metal shop also clad 10 previously painted windows and mullions in copper, effectively eliminating frequent and costly maintenance. These windows, reachable only by crane at considerable expense, formerly required painting and other maintenance every five to seven years.

About 6,500 square feet of lead-coated copper, which patinas to a limestone color, was utilized to cap all limestone exposed to weather, reducing ongoing maintenance of limestone joints.

Extensive termite damage to structural framing required repair prior to installation of the new roofing system. Upon removal of the original slate roof and completion of the structural repairs, the new roof was dried-in and installation of the new slate roof began. The historically accurate replacements of the original copper architectural features were installed according to schedule.

SLATE SUPPLIER: North Country Slate
COPPER SUPPLIER: Hussey Copper

Roof Report

The Cathedral of St. Paul is the centerpiece of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Birmingham. Completed in 1893 at a cost of $90,000, the cathedral is widely considered to be a handsome example of the American Neo-Gothic variant of the Gothic Revival style. The cathedral measures 96-feet wide by 140-feet long and encompasses more than 60,000 square feet. It features twin octagonal steeples, rising 183-feet high.

Work schedules on this project were a challenge. The contract required parishioner and clergy access to the church must be maintained 24 hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the eight-month duration of the project. Further, because of the noise inherent in roof construction, work schedules had to be planned around regular church services and events and rescheduled several times a month for funerals and other unscheduled events.

“We could not have been more pleased with the work accomplished by the team from Midland Engineering,” says Very Rev. Kevin M. Bazzel, V.G., J.C.L., rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul. “It is a marvel to us to be able to see the church in its original glory, and all of this thanks to Midland!”

The National Roofing Contractors Association, Rosemont, Ill., awarded Midland Engineering the prestigious Gold Circle Award in 2016. Midland was recognized in the Outstanding Workmanship—Steep-slope Category.

Photo: Rob Culpepper

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Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress Announces Additional Funding for Roofing Research

The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress announces the addition of four members during 2016’s third quarter, adding $300,000 in funding for progressive roofing research that contributes to the ongoing advancement of the industry.

The Alliance’s newest members are:
Academy Roofing, Aurora, Colo., is one of Colorado’s premier roofing contractors providing commercial and residential roof system replacement and repair in addition to solar roofing, gutter installation and cleaning, new insulation and walkable deck systems. Academy Roofing joined the Alliance at the Governor level.

Bennett and Brosseau Roofing, Romeoville Ill., specializes in in low-slope, steep-slope, metal and green roof system design, construction and maintenance. As one of Chicago’s premier, full-service roofing contractors, Bennett and Brosseau Roofing has a commitment to sustainability and green building practices. Bennett and Brosseau Roofing joined the Alliance at the Governor level.

FiberTite Roofing Systems/Seaman Corp., Wooster, Ohio, manufactures an extensive line of membranes, systems and accessories. FiberTite Roofing Systems/Seaman joined the Alliance at the Regent level.

Georgia-Pacific Gypsum LLC, Atlanta, one of North America’s leading manufacturers of gypsum products and marketers of building products. GP Gypsum joined the Alliance at the Regent Level.

Through the generosity of its members, The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress commits to the following:
Education and training — Develop programs and projects addressing current and future workplace issues ensuring a qualified and trained workforce for the roofing industry.

Technology — Engage collaborative industry segments to embrace innovation and use technology.

Sustainability — Advocate environmentally sustainable design.

Philanthropy — Enrich the well-being of the roofing community through scholarships, charitable gifts and endowments.

Alliance membership is reserved for those who commit their pledged amount during a three- to five-year period. All members are entitled to participate in the task forces established to guide the Alliance’s agenda, to attend the semiannual meeting of the full Alliance, and other Alliance activities scheduled throughout the year.

Metal Roof and Walls Help Home Reach Lofty Design Goals

When Ilhan Eser and his wife Kamer decided to build their new home in Woodland, Calif., they had some ambitious criteria in mind. They wanted the home to not only be energy efficient, but to produce enough energy to be self-sustaining. They also desired a home with great aesthetics that fit in with the beautiful countryside and minimized impact on the environment.

Ilhan and Kamer Eser decided to design and build their own home on 80 acres of land in the California countryside. Their goal was to have a LEED-certifiable house powered by solar energy and protected by a highly insulated metal wall and roof system.

Ilhan and Kamer Eser decided to design and build their own home on 80 acres of land in the California countryside. Their goal was to have a LEED-certifiable house powered by solar energy and protected by a highly insulated metal wall and roof system.


As the CEO of Morin, a Kingspan Group company, Eser had another key design goal: to showcase his company’s metal roof and wall systems. “We wanted to do something that was good for the environment and the country,” Eser recalls. “So we said, let’s do a LEED-certifiable, net-zero house that will be a house of the future, if you will, using our company’s products. Our company is all about being environmental and being green and being sustainable, so that was the starting point.”

The result is a home that provides more than enough energy to meet its own needs with solar panels. It also captures graywater (gently used household wastewater) to use for irrigation and features a cutting-edge geothermal heating and cooling system that does not burn fossil fuels. All the household systems can be operated with a smartphone. “I believe in the future every house will be built like this, with your energy on top of your roof, basically,” Eser notes.

The metal roofing and wall systems are made of durable, highly recyclable materials and provide a high level of insulation to help keep energy costs down. The roof design features stunning angles, including an inverted “butterfly” roof over the great room to bring in the maximum amount of natural light.

As he began the project, Eser soon realized that he was breaking new ground in more ways than one. He found most residential architects and general contractors were unfamiliar with metal framing, roofs and walls, so he decided to tackle the design himself. He also served as his own general contractor, tapping into his 30 years of experience in commercial and industrial applications.

“I decided to look at it as if it were a light commercial building, and then I started finding people,” he says. “It was an interesting experience. I designed the house myself—although my wife had the overriding power, as always. She had to approve whatever I did, and when we had an argument, you probably can imagine who won.”

The Project Takes Wing

When it came time to discuss installing the roof and wall systems, Eser called Rua and Son Mechanical Inc., headquartered in Lincoln, Calif. According to President Louie Rua, the company focuses on metal roofing and wall panels—and that’s all they’ve done for the last 25 years. “We are very specialized in what we do,” Rua says. “We’re certified installers for most if not all of the metal roofing systems out there, and we also do our own custom fabrication. It’s become a niche market, so we travel around quite a bit.”

The roof of the Eser residence features unconventional angles, including a large section over the great room with an inverted butterfly design that required an internal gutter system.

The roof of the Eser residence features unconventional angles, including a large section over the great room with an inverted butterfly design that required an internal gutter system.

The company has made a name for itself by excelling on high-end, intricate and cutting-edge metal projects that transcend typical warehouse applications. “We’ve found that when we go outside the box and take on the real difficult projects, the ones that are a little bit intimidating for other companies, that’s where we excel,” Rua says. “We’ve been doing it so long, and our team has a wealth of experience. When the trickier jobs come around, we are well equipped to handle them.”

This project was right up the company’s alley. “Ilhan was pretty adamant he wanted us to do it,” Rua recalls. “This was his personal house, so it was quite a compliment. I took on the challenge, and we took it very seriously. We worked through what it would cost, how long it would take, all the dynamics. His design team did all the preliminary design and then our team got in there and played with it a little bit and made a few tweaks. We put a lot of thought into those details.”

Rua admits the high-profile nature of the client and the complexity of the project were daunting. “Any job when you first jump into it and see it’s outside the box can be intimidating,” Rua says. “But then as you get familiar with it and start breaking it down and working through it, it gets easier. One of my lead superintendents, Fernando Huizar, was knee-deep in it, and he and Ilhan really hit it off, which is important. The relationship with our clients is our first priority, and on every job we strive to meet and exceed their expectations. It couldn’t have gone any smoother.”

Rua and Son Mechanical installed the double-layered roof and wall systems, which consisted of insulated metal panels (IMPs) and aluminum finish systems. The 7,500 square feet of exterior walls are made up of 4-inch-thick IMPs, topped with concealed-fastener panels. The mechanically seamed roof incorporates 8,000 square feet of 6-inch IMPs. The custom finish is Kameleon Dusty Rose, which changes color from green to yellow to silver to bronze to brown, depending on the amount of sunlight hit-ting it and angle from which it is viewed.

PHOTOS: CHIP ALLEN ARCHITECTURAL IMAGES

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KISS: Keep It Simple, Silly

Editor Christina Koch married Bart Thoreson on Aug. 29 along the lake behind their Iowa home.

Editor Christina Koch married Bart Thoreson on Aug. 29 along the lake behind their Iowa home.

My new husband Bart is the one who shared the “work smart, not hard” mantra I related in my November/December 2014 “Raise the Roof” column, page 8. He’s constantly recommending ways to complete tasks that I have to admit are simpler than my own attempts. It’s not always easy for me to accept his suggestions because I’ve being doing things just fine on my own for a long time.

I can’t help but see the parallels to the construction industry—an industry that many say is slow to change. However, I think we can all agree that if a new way of doing things helps us work smarter, it’s worth a try. In “Business Sense”, Todd A. Jones and Katie Dunn discuss project delivery methods. Jones, an attorney with experience in construction law and litigation, points out that fewer contracts and more coordination with design-build lead to more efficient projects. Jones also thinks that as the construction industry continues to embrace design-build,we’ll see less litigation—a win-win for everyone.

Surely, as you’ve become more experienced in your position, you’ve developed “tricks of the trade” that help you complete tasks more efficiently. In “Tech Point”, John Jensen, president of Jensen Roofing Inc., Newcastle, Wash., and the training program manager for the Edmonds, Wash.-based Tile Roofing Institute, shares a couple “tricks” that will ease tile roofing layout. What are your “tricks of the trade”? Please share them with me!

Her Roofing family was in attendance (shown here at the rehearsal dinner). From left to right: John Riester, vice president of business development; Barrett Hahn, publisher, who served as the wedding photographer; and Becky Riester, who was a bridesmaid.

Koch’s Roofing family was in attendance (shown here at the rehearsal dinner). From left to right: John Riester, vice president of business development; Barrett Hahn, publisher, who served as the wedding photographer; and Becky Riester, who was a bridesmaid.

As winter approaches, it’s a good time to remind your customers how they can avoid emergency calls to your roofing company. In “On My Mind”, Connie Menard with Greenawalt Roofing Co., Landisville, Pa., shares seven tips your customers can complete to ensure their buildings are well protected this winter. Step No. 6 is “Clean your gutters”, something my husband does for our home and that of our elderly neighbor on a regular basis. Our neighbor says I’m lucky to have such a considerate husband. Bart says he’s just trying to avoid potential problems from arising. I’m pretty sure they’re both right.

Share This List with Customers to Help Them Prepare Their Roofs for Winter

We at Greenawalt Roofing Co. understand how busy the winter months can be. We also know that with a backload of work from the fall combined with cold or extreme weather conditions and shorter days, even the simplest jobs can take twice as long. Unfortunately, customers do not always know this and expect their issue to be fixed as soon as possible.

Greenawalt Roofing Co., Landisville, Pa., recommends installing Air Vent Inc.’s ShingleVent II, which, when combined with intake vents, provides an efficient and effective ventilation system to avoid ice dams.

Greenawalt Roofing Co., recommends installing Air Vent Inc.’s ShingleVent II, which, when combined with intake vents, provides an efficient and effective ventilation system to avoid ice dams. PHOTO: AIR VENT INC.

Help your customers by educating them about how to prevent and recognize potential problems before cold weather arrives. You can communicate with them directly, mail them a flyer or make a personal connection by email. Let them know how they can do a simple and safe roof inspection, or schedule an appointment for your team to do a professional and more thorough one. Finding trouble areas before they turn into full-fledged problems will not only save your customers money in the long run, which they will appreciate, but it can also help them avoid an emergency during the winter months.

Here are a few things you can tell your customers to do to be proactive for the upcoming winter months:

1. Do a quick inspection of the overall roof condition. Depending on the pitch of your roof, you may be able to see these things from the ground or by using binoculars. If you find some issues or cannot safely view the majority of your roof, we recommend you call us or a licensed roofing company for a thorough inspection to see what can be done before the harsh winter arrives.

Look for any damage that may have been done since the last time you took a look, and keep an eye out for some of the following warning signs:

  • Damaged shingles
  • Missing shingles
  • Loss of granulation
  • Decayed shingles
  • Wind damage
  • Broken or cracked shingles

2. Check wall or step flashing. Flashing are the metal coverings over the joints or seams where your roof intersects with other exterior home systems. Flashing prevents water from reaching the underlayment and from penetrating the exterior envelope and affecting your home’s ceilings and walls. If your flashing is unsealed, degraded, missing or damaged, then water will find a way underneath the metal strips. Although generally not a catastrophic system failure, it often shows up only after it is too late to prevent, so it is important to make sure these are intact for the winter.

3. Take a look at your skylights. This is another place where you should make sure the flashing is intact. Piled up snow and icy rains can put a lot of pressure on skylights and the flashing around their seals.

4. Review your chimney and other vent-pipe flashing. These can also become quick channels for water to enter the home. Accumulated snow slows water drainage off the roof, providing extra time for water to enter the home through even the smallest hole or crack, so it is important that these flashing are intact prior to the start of winter.

5. Inspect your attic. Your attic is a safe way to look for roofing issues, assuming there is a safe and easily accessible entrance into your attic space. Be sure to look for any water damage, dark spots, sagging wood and even daylight coming through the roof decking.

6. Clean your gutters! Gutters clear of debris do a great job of diverting water away from your house and protecting your home and foundation from the effects of water pooling. Although it is important year round to keep your gutters cleaned, it is especially important during the winter months. Because autumn has just ended, you probably have more leaves in the gutters than any other time of the year.

Try to keep your gutters clean throughout the winter, as well. They can easily become clogged. If your gutters are clogged, water (melted snow) begins to freeze and expand, which can cause severe damage to the fascia, causing the entire system to fail. The water also could start to freeze underneath the shingles, creating an ice dam.

7. Watch for ice dams. Winter’s most common roofing issues are ice dams. Ice dams form when snow sits on the roof and goes through a melt and freeze sequence. As the snow melts and flows down the roof and reaches the freezing surface below, it refreezes, causing the ice dam to form, which can damage shingles and underlayment. Seeking a release, the water backed up behind the ice dam seeps into cracks in the home’s exterior, leading to structural damage and mold growth.

Unfortunately, ice dams are a result of several factors and often require a licensed professional to remedy the problem. Inadequate insulation, poor ventilation and a combination of cold temperatures and sunny days lead to ice dams. You can prevent ice dams by ensuring your roof is adequately ventilated.

Helping your regular customers understand the steps they can take to avoid winter emergencies will give them peace of mind going into the colder months and, hopefully, allow you to focus on cold-weather emergencies. Plus, you may find them even more willing to send work your way when things calm down because of the trust you have built with them.

A Standing-seam Roof Protects a Bank and Its Offices for the Long Term

Located on a high-traffic, signature intersection in Taylorville, Ill., Palmer Bank sought a timeless design that would visually represent its strength and stability to the community of just more than 11,000 people.

Design for the project was provided by The Redmond Co., Waukesha, Wis. The design team blended extensive detailing and profiling of the metal roof with a masonry façade to create an attractive prairie-style look.

Design for the project was provided by The Redmond Co., Waukesha, Wis. The design team blended extensive detailing and profiling of the metal roof with a masonry façade to create an attractive prairie-style look.

Design for the project was provided by The Redmond Co., Waukesha, Wis. The design team blended extensive detailing and profiling of the metal roof with a masonry façade to create an attractive prairie-style look.

“We clearly wanted to take advantage of the great location with a strong, timeless design,” says Andy Young, The Redmond Co.’s director of project development and construction manager on the project. “We presented two options to the bank regarding the roof … It was pretty unanimous that everyone liked the standing-seam profile look. We also liked the life-cycle cost of the roof since the bank plans to be the owner of this building for the long term.”

Installation of the standing-seam roof was completed by E.L. Pruitt Co., Springfield, Ill.

Installation of the standing-seam roof was completed by E.L. Pruitt Co., Springfield, Ill.

Installation of the standing-seam roof was completed by E.L. Pruitt Co., Springfield, Ill. The crew, which consisted of six tied-off workers, installed fascia, gutters, downspouts and soffit. Flashing components were custom-fabricated in E.L. Pruitt’s shop.

The metal is coated with ENERGY STAR-approved colors and is vented for optimal airflow, which greatly in-creases the roof’s longevity and energy efficiency. The metal was installed over roof-deck protection and a self-adhered underlayment.

The metal is coated with ENERGY STAR-approved colors and is vented for optimal airflow, which greatly in-creases the roof’s longevity and energy efficiency.

The metal is coated with ENERGY STAR-approved colors and is vented for optimal airflow, which greatly in-creases the roof’s longevity and energy efficiency.

According to Dallas Stephenson, E. L. Pruitt’s project manager, the roofing job took about six weeks to complete. He explains: “The most difficult part was doing all the seam layout because the product requires a progressive install, which means you can’t really start in the middle of the roof and work both directions. You have to start in a corner and work out of a corner and then work into a corner and then work back out of the corner.”

The metal was installed over roof-deck protection and a self-adhered underlayment.

The metal was installed over roof-deck protection and a self-adhered underlayment.

Stephenson notes symmetrically lining up seams on the bank’s dormers and then across the roof was challenging. “Once we got all that figured out—took all the measurements on the job site and confirmed them—it went fairly smoothly,” he says.

“We knew the many hips and valleys would be somewhat of an installation challenge, but the installer did a terrific job,” Young notes.

Stephenson is quick to return the compliment: “Scott Brooks, site superintendent, and Andy Young from The Redmond Co. did an excellent job of picking a good team to build Palmer Bank. Everything just worked out great!”

PHOTOS: Petersen Aluminum Corp.

Team

Roofing installer: E.L. Pruitt Co., Springfield, Ill.
Designer: The Redmond Co., Waukesha, Wis.

Roof Materials

Approximately 9,000 square feet of 24-gauge, 16-inch Snap-Clad panels and 2,200 square feet of PAC-850 Soffit Panels were utilized to meet the design objectives. The Snap-Clad panels were finished in Charcoal and the 0.032 PAC-850 Panels were finished in Slate Gray.
Panels’ manufacturer: Petersen Aluminum Corp.
Roof deck protection manufacturer: Deck-Armor from GAF
Underlayment manufacturer: Grace Ice and Water Shield

Built-in Gutters Should Be Carefully Inspected, Restored and Maintained

Sheet-metal gutter linings, whether made of copper, lead or both, are relatively involved and require the services of a highly skilled artisan craftsman.

Sheet-metal gutter linings, whether made of copper, lead or both, are relatively involved and require the services of a highly skilled artisan craftsman.

Built-in gutters may be the most complicated system in the building envelope, yet they are also the most elusive when you start searching for information about them. Sometimes called Yankee gutters, box gutters or even Philadelphia gutters, it’s no wonder they remain a mystery to many. Built-in gutter systems are actually built into the cornice structure and drain through internal or external leaders. They are not readily visible from the ground, further lending to the mystery of their design and function. Because they are integrated into the structure, built-in gutter linings that fail will cause extensive damage to the cornice and sometimes also the interior of the structure.

In “Traditional Rainwater Conductor Systems of the 18th and 19th Centuries,” Karen Dodge of the U.S. National Park Service, Washington, D.C., states built-in gutters were first adopted in North America during the 18th century in high-style Georgian and Federal-style buildings, usually institutional or commercial, where refined architectural qualities were desired. Although built-in gutters are highly functional, they also serve an aesthetic purpose. As structures were erected in the classical order with elaborate cornices and entablature, it became necessary to collect and channel rainwater without detracting from the architectural character of the building. Built-in gutters served this function well, hidden from sight and shedding water to the exterior.

Built-in gutters, today, are typically constructed in the same manner as they have been since the 18th century. They are wooden boxes with bottoms sloped toward the outlets where water is drained to leaders, or conductor pipes, that channel the water away from the building. The first gutters in this style were actually troughs or box gutters, carved out of wood and rubbed with linseed oil or painted to protect the wood. Corners and seams were bonded with lead wedges. Needless to say, maintenance was critical to their success or failure. Later, the advent of sheet lead allowed for broader gutters, as linings covered the wooden troughs. By the end of the century, copper became available in the U.S. and a popular choice for gutter linings because of its durability and the functional nature of the material in a sheet-metal application.

INSPECTION AND MAINTENANCE

The most common sign of water penetration is peeling paint and decay in the wood soffit under the gutter. Other signs are dark stains and mildew or deterioration of masonry. Water infiltration may be visible in attic spaces or areas beneath the gutters where plaster and other interior finishes evidence water damage. The sooner a leak or area vulnerable to failure is addressed, the smaller the scope and cost of repairs. Cleaning out leaves and debris from gutters as often as necessary is essential for durability and proper performance.

Careful inspection by a competent roofer is critical to the longevity and success of the system. He or she will look for defects, such as localized damage caused by fallen limbs or other debris, cracks from expansion and contraction at joints or folds, or pinholes from corrosion. Roofing tar and other bituminous compounds should never be used to patch, repair or coat gutter linings. It makes the condition of the gutter indeterminable, corrodes metal linings, will crack and fail quickly, and cannot be removed without destroying the lining. Ice damming is not uncommon in the winter but should not be removed with sharp tools for obvious reasons.

When tin or terne-coated steel gutter linings fail, water intrusion will occur and cause wood rot. Eventually, architectural details will be lost and replacement will be necessary.

When tin or terne-coated steel gutter linings fail, water intrusion will occur and cause wood rot. Eventually, architectural details will be lost and replacement will be necessary.

RESTORATION

Restoration of long-neglected built-in gutter systems that leak and have caused decay in the cornice and roof structure is often complicated and can be costly. But once the work is completed, a regularly maintained, well-detailed system can last 60 to 100 years or more, depending on the life of the metal lining. A preservation architect or consultant should inspect the building, propose treatment options, develop working drawings and specifications, and supervise bidding and construction. Temporary protection and permanent repairs should be performed by a roofer experienced in this specialty on historic buildings.

“We encourage restoration of historic built-in gutter systems,” says Michael Devonshire, a building conservator and principal at Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, New York. “The use of modern building materials as an adjunct to traditional materials boosts longevity.” Devonshire states the typical steps involved with a built-in gutter restoration involve:

  • Removing the gutter lining and 2 feet of the roof covering above the curbing of the gutter.
  • Repairs to rotted or otherwise deteriorated frame work. Where rafter ends or lookouts are rotted, install sisters (new rafter ends adjacent to old ones) or scarf in new wood and sisters.
  • Replacing the old wooden gutter bottom with a sustainable wood material, such as cedar or kilndried- after-treatment (KDAT) plywood. KDAT is treated for resistance to decay, minimal expansion and contraction, and increased longevity.
  • Installing the gutter lining: an elastomeric ice-and-water shield on the bottom (not always required); building felt; a slip-sheet of rosin paper; and copper on top (16 or 20 ounce, depending on the dimensions of the gutter).
  • Installing the roof covering on the roof deck above the gutter. This includes 2 feet of elastomeric ice-and-water shield (or copper flashing) beneath.
  • Repairing or replacing cornice mouldings, brackets and other architectural woodwork.

PHOTOS: WARD HAMILTON

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A Bermuda-style Roof Composed of Aluminum Includes Intricate Hips, Ridges, Vents and Gutters

Sometimes the most interesting roofing jobs don’t start out as planned. That was the case for Iain Fergusson, owner of Highland Roofing Co., Wilmington, N.C., when he bid on an asphalt shingle reroof for an 11,000-square-foot ranch-style home located along a coastal creek in Wilmington.

Initially bid as an asphalt-shingle reroof, this 11,000-square-foot ranch-style home located along a coastal creek in Wilmington, N.C., features an aluminum Bermuda-style roof. PHOTO: Chris Fisher

Initially bid as an asphalt-shingle reroof, this 11,000-square-foot ranch-style home located along a coastal creek in Wilmington, N.C., features an aluminum Bermuda-style roof. PHOTO: Chris Fisher

After he submitted his bid, the architect, Michael Kersting of Michael Ross Kersting Architecture, Wilmington, asked for an option for standing-seam metal roofing, which is the specialty with which Fergusson established Highland Roofing in October 2005. Although Fergusson was confident about his crew’s ability to install an exceptional metal roof, he became a little nervous when the next request came from the architect.

“We were asked to price out an option for Bermuda-style metal roofing,” he recalls. “Of course I knew what a Bermuda roof was but I had no experience with it; you don’t get much opportunity to do that here.” However, Fergusson put the price together and won the job.

On the island of Bermuda, roofs are constructed of rectangular slabs of local limestone that are mortared together in a stepped pattern over a hip roof frame. The distinctive beauty of these roofs has begun to enter the U.S. though traditional stick-frame housing doesn’t lend itself to heavy limestone. The Wilmington residence consists of a wood-framed roof and brick veneer walls that would not support the weight of limestone, so Kersting opted for metal—specifically aluminum, ensuring the roof would be fully warranted in the coastal environment.

Once the team began moving forward with the Bermuda-style roof, a final set of plans made Fergusson even more anxious. “The plans had all kinds of details that came out of left field—built-in gutters and EPDM sections of the roof,” he says. “The big curve was that the architect wanted to make a feature out of the hips and ridges, because traditional Bermuda-style roofing is wrapped seamlessly around the hips and looks really neat and clean. Kersting knew that it wouldn’t be possible with sheet metal; it would have to be cut and mitered on the corners, so he had the idea of putting raised 2 by 4s on all the hips and ridges and having us wrap that.”

These details are what make this home’s roof impressive and where most of the work came in for Fergusson, who acted as project manager, and his team, which consisted of Roofing Superintendent Richard Hill, Sheetmetal Fabricator Michael Mai and a four-man install crew led by Foreman Marvin Mungia. After considering different panel sizes to ensure oil canning would be avoided, Kersting and Fergusson settled on 0.032 aluminum in 12-inch panels, and Fergusson’s crew was ready to put its skills to the test.

The architect wanted to make a feature out of the hips and ridges; traditional Bermuda-style roofing is wrapped seamlessly around the hips.

The architect wanted to make a feature out of the hips and ridges; traditional Bermuda-style roofing is wrapped seamlessly around the hips.

PROFILES IN COMMUNICATION

Although Fergusson established Highland Roofing in 2005 with a focus only on residential metal roofing, he expanded into all types of steep-slope products within the first couple years. In 2009, Fergusson began moving into the commercial roofing market; today, 70 percent of his revenues are commercial. In the residential sector he has a good mix of reroofing and custom new construction. It’s the custom side that Fergusson takes most pleasure in. “I really enjoy custom residential so much because it’s challenging and so different and it’s generally the most aesthetically appealing project we get to do,” he says.

Because of the firm’s focus on custom work, Fergusson’s crew already was proficient in good communication with each other. But the complexities of the Wilmington job would put Fergusson in direct communication with Kersting, which is unusual. “A lot of times the architect is insulated from the roofing contractor by the GC on the job,” Fergusson explains. “Communicating directly with the architect was a good thing. We could explain which of his ideas would and wouldn’t work.” In addition, Fergusson brought roofing samples to Kersting’s office where they were tweaked before 1-square mockups were tested onsite to see how the installation would be completed along the hip.

Photos: Chris Fisher, unless otherwise noted

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