Safety Tips and Best Practices for Roofing in Frosty Temperatures

Installing a roof in cold weather is nothing to sneeze at. While roofing contractors in the deep South may not have to worry about business slowing down in the winter, the majority of contractors must contend with cold temperatures, snow, ice and sleet. And even when these extreme weather conditions allow work to be done, they can still create many product and safety issues on the job. 

No matter how well you’ve honed your craft, roofing in cold weather is a challenge for any seasoned contractor. In addition to thinking about the safety of your workers, you must also consider the usability of supplies and equipment, which may be susceptible to the elements. 

For instance, in lower temperatures, certain types of asphalt shingles can become less flexible and equipment may freeze. Also, you should ask yourself: Can I keep my workers motivated and focused on the quality I expect? When roofers are uncomfortable or can’t work safely, they begin to worry about themselves more than the work they’re doing — and justifiably so. 

Before proceeding with your next cold-weather roofing job, consider the following precautions and recommendations. 

Product Considerations

The first rule of cold-weather roofing is to follow all manufacturers’ cold-weather installation guidelines. Different manufacturers specify different minimum temperatures for their products. If the temperature is below that minimum, you will need to take extra precautions to ensure the roof shingles are handled correctly and the product seals properly. 

For example, while asphalt shingles have been successfully used in cold climates for more than a century, they become less flexible at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. 

When asphalt shingles lose their pliability, they become prone to cracking and other problems, including failing to lie flat and not holding their shape, which can result in granule loss, humping and other damage. Lower temperatures will also keep the shingle sealant lines from achieving proper thermal activation. 

Because of the increased risk of shingle damage and the shingle not sealing correctly in cold temperatures, workers should keep the following things in mind:

  • Never throw or drop shingles. 
  • Give shingles time to warm up before installation if they have been stored in freezing temperatures. Cold shingles — especially fiberglass shingles — may crack on the back when nailed to the deck, which can cause roof leaks. Best practice: When installing shingles in low temperatures, nail them by hand to avoid the “blow through” that a high-powered nail gun can cause.

Remember that most sealants won’t thermally activate at temperatures below 40 degrees. Instead, seal strips must be hand sealed with an approved asphalt roofing cement or other manufacturer-approved adhesive. 

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) recommends that shingles be pressed into the asphalt cement so that the adhesive reaches almost to the shingle edges, but is not exposed. For laminated shingles, ARMA says at least three spots of sealant may be used. If not sealed properly, eaves and rakes can be extremely susceptible to wind blow-off. 

The association also suggests the use of open metal valleys in cold weather because installing closed and woven valleys require shingles to be bent, which could result in damage. 

To prevent ice dams — the frozen water that can build up at the eaves of a roof — be sure to install proper roof and attic ventilation in addition to a premium ice and water roof underlayment, which provides a second layer of protection in cold-weather conditions. Ice and water underlayment can be used along eaves, valleys, flashings, hips, ridges, dormers, rakes, skylights and chimneys. Properly ventilating a roof will help ensure maximum protection against ice dams.

Before installing roofing underlayment, be sure that the deck is completely dry so the moisture doesn’t cause wrinkling or buckling of the underlayment. This wrinkling can telegraph through the shingles, creating cosmetic and performance concerns. In addition, trapped moisture can contribute to shingle blistering. 

Overall, when roofing during cold-weather months, check the forecast and plan for potential delays. Better yet, try to work on bright, clear days, when the sun can bear some of the burden and help warm up the roof deck. 

Safety Concerns

Near-freezing temperatures not only create issues with supplies, they can also pose safety risks to workers.

To avoid frostbite, roofers should layer up in clothing such as ClimaWarm and Hyperwarm, which provide warmth, breathability and protection from wintery weather. Even with the proper attire, workers should beware of the signs and symptoms of frostbite, which include prickling skin, numbness and — worst of all — clumsiness caused by stiff joints and muscles. 

In addition to following the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) safety regulations for harnesses and fall-protection systems, roofers should always wear shoes with good traction — but especially in cold weather, when surfaces can become slippery. 

Also, encourage everyone to take regular warm-up breaks throughout the day, limit work schedules during extreme weather conditions and consider investing in on-site heating equipment, such as portable foot warmers.

To best prepare yourself and your crew for winter jobs:

  • Plan work around the shorter daylight hours, as well as weather conditions that may prevent roofers from safely being able to put in the necessary hours. 
  • Expect work performance to slow down due to dexterity issues and other natural body-responsive reactions caused by cold temperatures. 
  • Anticipate the extra time that will be required to clear snow from roofs and protect the surface from the elements while work is being performed. 
  • Remember that even a thin layer of snow can camouflage skylights, other materials and debris, which could pose a tripping or falling hazard. 
  • Because working in cold weather takes just as much, if not more, physical exertion as working in warm weather, roofers should be sure to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. 

Ultimately, the best advice is to be prepared. Take a cold hard look at the weather forecast and plan accordingly, taking into consideration worker safety, product usability and equipment functionality. Being flexible and ready to adjust work as needed can keep winter business from freezing up altogether.

About the author: Paul Casseri is the product manager of the Roofing Shingles and Underlayment Division for Atlas Roofing Corporation. For more information, visit www.atlasroofing.com.

Capped Skylight Conversion Kit

Skyco Skylights offers the Capped Conversion Kit, which converts old capless skylights to a more trusted capped system. With the kit, commercial roofers receive a universal fitting Polycarbonate dome, a custom-sized aluminum cap, and Tek Screw with EPDM gaskets.

According to the company, using a cap around the perimeter of the polycarbonate dome creates a leak-free seal and eliminates cracking. The custom-fitted aluminum cap is fastened to the skylight frame with Tek-Screws instead of drilling through the plastic dome. Penetrating the dome with screws is a major cause for cracking. Many times, installers will over-torque the screw, immediately cause the dome to crack. Drilling through the Conversion Kit’s aluminum cap into a steal frames makes it easy to drill without cracking. 

Accroding to the manufacturer, the average install time for two installers is 1-2 minutes per kit. Watch the install video here.

For more information, visit www.skycoskylights.com.

Structural Acoustical Roof Decks Reduce Noise, Provide R-Values Up to 44

Tectum Structural Acoustical Roof Deck solutions from Armstrong Building Solutions provide predictable noise absorption, durability, and sustainability to meet building design needs. Composite roof deck options provide R-values up to 44. By providing noise absorption up to 0.80, the panels often eliminate the need for additional acoustical treatments, providing faster and easier installations than standard steel roof decks.  

According to the manufacturer, Tectum Roof Decks are an ideal noise reduction solution for large, high traffic, exposed structure spaces such as auditoriums, gymnasiums, arenas, pools, ice arenas and multi-use facilities. Tectum Roof Deck panels also help meet ANSI S12.60 Acoustical Performance Criteria for learning spaces such as gymnasiums.  

Tectum Roof Decks are composed of rapidly renewable and FSC-certified aspen wood fiber that is bonded with an inorganic hydraulic cement for maximum durability and performance. Tectum 1 (non-composite panels) meet the most stringent sustainability criteria, including EPD, HPD, and Declare, and contribute favorably to LEED v4, and the Living Building Challenge.

Tectum Roof Deck solutions in plank or tile configurations are available in a wide variety of system configurations to address a building’s design requirements in low-slope applications and are compatible with virtually all roofing materials, providing a thermal barrier for field-applied foam plastics.

Tectum Composite Roof Deck panels are typically used in sloped applications where acoustics, insulation, a nailable surface, and structural integrity are all important. An NRC up to 0.80 provides predictable acoustics, often eliminating the need for additional noise reducing materials.

LEARN MORE

Visit: www.armstrongbuildingsolutions.com

Call: (877) 276-7876

How ’Bout That, Sports Fans!

Late autumn can be the most beautiful time of the year. It is also a great time to be a sports fan. College and pro football are in full swing, the baseball season culminates in the World Series, and basketball and hockey get underway. There are a lot of great sporting events to get lost in during the fall, which is a good thing, because it’s also election season, and there is nothing more depressing than campaign commercials.

But sports can be more than just a distraction from a brutal TV news cycle. Growing up, I thought of sports as a parallel educational track that taught me just as much as — if not more than — my formal schooling. Whether you are paying attention or not, you absorb a lot of life lessons on the athletic field.

You learn that hard work pays off. You learn the value of teamwork. You learn that you can do your absolute best and still lose. You learn that crazy, unexpected things happen. You learn that people get hurt. You learn that authority figures can be wrong — that coaches, umpires and referees make mistakes. You learn what nepotism is. You learn that last year’s bitter rival can be this year’s teammate — and not such a bad person, after all. You learn that every once in a while, David really does beat Goliath.

There’s a reason people use a lot of sports metaphors. It’s especially common in the business world, where the relationship between individual achievement and group success plays out every minute of every day.

I remember once consoling a co-worker who was passed up for a promotion she thought she deserved, which went instead to the boss’s son. I didn’t tell her that this was a lesson I learned at age 10, when I realized the coach’s son was going to start at second base, and I had to find another position. At age 13, I learned that the rule about missing football practice meant missing that week’s game somehow did not apply to our star running back. At age 36, I learned that the last-place men’s league softball team can beat the undefeated first-place team in the first round of the playoffs. I also learned that cheap champagne can give you a wicked hangover.

So, as fall turns to winter, root for your favorite team and savor every victory. Remember, as someone once said, life is the ultimate team sport. Now, dust yourself off and get back in there.

California’s Alternative-Energy Paradigm Could Mean Opportunities for Roofing Contractors

Photos: PetersenDean Roofing & Solar

The importance of solar energy to provide renewable energy options and protect the health of our environment is a national movement that got a big boost in California recently. The state government adopted new policies to establish a more progressive foundation for the use of solar power in residential buildings as part and parcel of its pioneering “net-zero” mission.

While California is at the leading edge of solar energy production, other states such as Colorado, New Jersey and Virginia are not far behind. So, whether roofing companies are working in California or somewhere else in the country — especially the so-called “sunshine states” — it would be smart for them to better understand the state-of-the-art technologies as well as nuts-and-bolts mechanics of high-performance solar energy systems.

Solar Energy Systems on Every New Home

Of most interest to roofers in California is a far-reaching energy policy adopted earlier this year by the California Energy Commission requiring that solar photovoltaic (PV) electric systems be installed on virtually every new residential dwelling built in the state starting in 2020. “California is about to take a quantum leap in energy standards,” stated Robert Raymer, technical director for the California Building Industry Association. “No other state in the nation mandates solar, and we are about to take that leap.”

For California’s roofing industry, this pro-solar policy could open the door for significant new business opportunities as home builders prepare for the 2020 implementation.

California’s 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards requires that all residential structures install solar energy systems beginning in 2020. Photos: PetersenDean Roofing & Solar

California has been a leading proponent of solar power for the past decade with its goal of reaching net-zero energy usage by 2045. Committed to the long-term use of solar power, the California Energy Commission took a major step toward achieving that goal, and beyond, by adopting a policy in May of this year that will make solar energy systems standard on virtually every new home built in California starting in 2020.

California’s net-zero mission dates to 2007 when the Energy Commission adopted the goal aimed at making homebuilding so efficient “newly constructed buildings can be net zero energy by 2020 for residences and by 2030 for commercial buildings.” Under this policy, solar energy was considered one component of building more energy efficient homes — but was not required.

Now, the new solar mandate, officially called the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, requires that all houses, condos and apartment buildings up to three stories which secure building permits after January 1, 2020, install solar energy systems. The new CEC policy focuses on four key areas: smart residential photovoltaic systems; updated thermal envelope standards (preventing heat transfer from the interior to exterior and vice versa); residential and nonresidential ventilation requirements; and nonresidential lighting requirements. The standards also encourage demand-responsive technologies such as heat pump water heaters, improvements to a building’s thermal envelope to enhance comfort and energy savings by inclusion of high-performance insulation and windows.

“Under these new standards, buildings will perform better than ever, and at the same time they contribute to a reliable grid,” explains CEC Commissioner Andrew McAllister, who is the commission’s lead on energy efficiency. “The buildings that Californians buy and live in will operate very efficiently while generating their own clean energy. They will cost less to operate, have healthy indoor air and provide a platform for ‘smart’ technologies that will propel the state even further down the road to a low emissions future.”

A grid-connected residential energy storage system that synergistically combines solar and energy storage can greatly reduce a homeowner’s operational reliance on the local electric utility. Photos: PetersenDean Roofing & Solar

With the new standards in place, more advanced solar products and roofing systems will become the norm as consumers expect optimum performance and maximum savings from their solar investments. Based on a 30-year mortgage, the Energy Commission estimates that although the new standards could add about $40 to a residential homeowner’s average monthly payment, they will save consumers $80 on monthly heating, cooling and lighting bills.

“With this adoption, the California Energy Commission has struck a fair balance between reducing greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously limiting increased construction costs,” explains California Building Industry Association CEO and President Dan Dunmoyer. “This set of cost-effective standards ensures homebuyers will recoup their money over the life of the dwelling.”

SB 700 Boosts Storage Battery Use

California’s most recent pro-solar policy, SB 700, was signed into law by California Gov. Jerry Brown in September and promises to give use of solar energy another big boost in the state. The new measure extends California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) for an additional five years, from the current January 1, 2021 expiration date until January 1, 2026. SGIP provides substantial rebates to homeowners through the state Public Utilities Commission for the installation of energy storage systems that save solar power for use during off hours such as evenings and cloudy days, or during utility blackouts.

This extension should also add to the demand for new and retrofit solar systems — a boost that could benefit roofing companies which also install solar panels.

Understanding this potential, PetersenDean Roofing & Solar is at the forefront of storage battery technology as a key component of our solar energy systems. To this end, we have partnered with SolarEdge, a global leader in PV inverters, power optimizers, and module-level monitoring services, and LG Chem, the world’s largest lithium-ion battery manufacturer. With this partnership in place, our company has made a major leap towards utilizing state-of-the-art storage battery technology as part of the solar packages we offer to our builder customers and home owners.

High-performance storage systems such as lithium ion batteries also dramatically increase the homeowner’s independence from utilities and the associated challenges related to stability and rate increases with lower energy costs. A grid-connected residential energy storage system that synergistically combines solar and energy storage can greatly reduce a homeowner’s operational reliance on the local electric utility. Simply put, modern batteries make it possible for homeowners to use stored solar energy not only during the night and possible blackouts, but during peak demand times when utility rates are at their highest, thus keeping their monthly utility bills lower.

On a macro level, storage battery technology offers electric utilities the opportunity to create a smarter power grid that, among other benefits, can give the utility better control over managing peak demand and thus reduce the need for new, extremely costly generation plants to cover that demand. Considering all the changes required by utilities and regulatory agencies as these entities respond to the new energy age, this transformational storage technology provides energy producers more creative ways to connect with home builders and home owners, giving them greater control over their efforts to save money and help our environment by using more renewable energy.

This also creates huge potential. The market research firm IHS Markit states that energy storage is considered critical to enabling power delivery systems that are heavily reliant on renewable energy, and batteries will play an important role in this transition. According to Grid-Connected Energy Storage Market Tracker by IHS Markit, 130 gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery energy storage will likely be installed worldwide between 2018 and 2025.

Need For Education

Continuing education is critical. As alternative-energy policies such as those adopted by California become more prevalent in states across the country, builders and their planners/architects must be in tune with the changing demands and requirements of structural design and implementation that optimize the performance of solar as well as other non-polluting energy producing systems.

“There is a lack of awareness and technical expertise with respect to creating cost-effective net zero energy communities,” explains Judi G. Schweitzer MRED, AMDP, CALGreen CAC, founder and owner of Orange County, California-basedSchweitzer & Associates. An energy consultant for the state as well as major residential developers, Schweitzer states emphatically that one of the top priorities to achieving optimum performance is education.

Whatever aspect of solar energy production in which a roofing company or other vendor may be involved, ongoing education is key to knowledge and success. To assist roofing companies with education and information, the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA)hosts as part of its website The Rooftop Solar Resource (www.rooftopsolarresource.com). This site serves as a comprehensive resource for homeowners, business owners, building managers and consumers looking for information regarding solar rooftops, as well as a resource for contractors, suppliers, architects, designers and consultants seeking more information regarding the technical aspects of rooftop solar installations.

Nevertheless, while much has been written and says about solar energy and its benefits, education about system design and proper installation is at best, lagging. For example, we are still amazed as we do our on-the-ground assessments how many residential solar panel systems are improperly designed and installed, such as not orienting solar panels for maximum exposure to the sun.

Along with orientation, Schweitzer points out that the size of a solar PV system will depend on such factors as the location of a home and its relative climate zone. Obviously, solar panels will perform better on homes located in sunbelt states, but even in these regions, design and installation are critical to performance. One other point that falls under education: Something as basic as the correct color of a roof can improve the performance of a solar energy system. Combining a PV system with a so-called cool roof — usually white or light colored — can boost the performance of a solar system by as much as 10 percent. When it comes to the wise production of energy, every percentage point counts.

About the Author: Gary Liardon is president of the Consumer Group Nationwide at PetersenDean Roofing & Solar, a full-service roofing and solar company based in Fremont, California that employs 3,000 workers and operates in 11 states. For more information, visit www.petersendean.com.

Water-Repellent Sloping Material Promotes Positive Drainage

Polyglass U.S.A. Inc. launches Polyslope, a water-repellent, fiber reinforced, cementitious compound is designed to address standing water, promote positive drainage, and divert water off the roof.

According to the manufacturer, theproduct can be used to create positive drainage on roofs that have low spots and divert standing water. Polyslope is a blend of special binders, fiber, admixtures, selected aggregate, and powder polymers formulated to produce high bond strength and easy finishing. The product is mixed with 1.2 gallons to 1.3 gallons of water per 50-pound pail. Polyslope is ready to use after adding water and mixing. It is easy to screed and paintable after 48 hours.

“We are proud to bring this product to market and enable contractors to quickly resolve roof challenges,” said Ariel Lender, director of product management and codes and compliance. “Our mission is to deliver quality and innovative solutions to the roofing industry that are sustainable and help prolong the life of the roof.”

LEARN MORE

Visit: https://polyglass.us
Call: (800) 222-9782

Expert Tips For Shingling A Cone-Shaped Roof

Cone-shaped roofs are one of those projects that contractors either love to do or avoid like the plague.

A prominent architectural feature on Queen Anne- and Norman-style homes, cone-shaped roofs are also found on Armenian and Georgian churches and medieval towers and castles. Their sloping and curved geometric surfaces can be difficult and labor intensive to shingle, especially for roofers who are accustomed to working only with straight lines.

Whereas a simple pitched roof typically has two or more sides and a hip roof has at least four sides, a conical or turret-style roof can appear to have an infinite number of sides. Some cone-shaped roofs have three to eight flat sides that create more of a geometric shape, such as a pyramid.

So, the challenge is: How do you install flat shingles on this intricate, rounded surface?

The underlayment should be applied vertically, perpendicular to the eave, as shown in this figure from the ARMA Technical Bulletin titled “How to Shingle a Cone Roof.” (Copyright Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association, reprinted with permission.)

Getting Started

Thanks to their flexibility, modern asphalt shingles can be installed on roofs of any shape.

To begin shingling a cone roof, you need to know three measurements: the length of the rafter, the diameter of the cone and the widest piece of shingle you’ll be using.

To determine the distance around the base of the cone, multiply its diameter by 3.14. For example, if the diameter is 20 feet, the perimeter would equal 62.8 feet. With a 12-inch-wide shingle, you would need 63 shingles in each row around the cone.

Precise calculations are necessary because shingle pieces will need to change shape and become narrower as you move from the base of the cone up to its peak.

Cutting the shingles is a task you can do ahead of time, by creating a template, or when you get to a particular part of the installation.

Safety Concerns

Because cone-shaped roofs are usually steep and high off the ground, consider hammering footholds into the roof for stable support while you work. Better yet, use scaffolding, which not only provides a platform for leaning a ladder onto the roof, it also serves as an easily accessible shelf for your roofing materials and tools.

On a flat-sided cone roof, use the standard hip and ridge installation method. (Copyright Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association, reprinted with permission.)

Underlayment and Ventilation

With preparations complete and safety equipment in place, you’re ready for the fun part: installation.

First, start by applying a good quality underlayment to the deck per the manufacturer’s instructions.

The underlayment should be applied vertically, perpendicular to the eave, following the flow pattern from the cone’s peak to its base. This process will help to prevent the material from wrinkling or buckling. You should end up with an overlap near the peak, which can be trimmed during underlayment application and before installing shingles.

Continue to overlap the underlayment vertically as you progress up the cone and use asphalt plastic cement to cement the lap edge. Alternatively, you can use a peel-and-stick underlayment. A self-adhering underlayment protects the eaves and flashing from wind-driven rain and covers any possible gaps between abutting shingles.

Next, check the ventilation. If the cone is open to the attic area, it should be part of the ventilation system. To accommodate static ventilation in the main portion of the attic, increase the requirement for the net-free area by the same square footage as the cone-shaped room. If the area is open to the living space, a ceiling fan can help force moisture and heat from the cone-shaped room to the main living area for dispersal. Using a room dehumidifier may also be helpful.

When working with a completely circular cone, use an off-peak, roll-type ridge vent at the peak for positive ventilation. The formula for cone-shaped rooms is consistent with any other residential area:

  • Equal intake and exhaust vents: 300 square feet of attic area = 1 square foot of net-free vent area
  • Exhaust vents only: 150 square feet of attic area = 1 square foot of net-free vent area

In cases with no ventilation, make the homeowner aware of potential issues with accelerated wear and how it can affect the product’s warranty. For more specific requirements, contact the shingle manufacturer.

Shingling Flat-Sided vs. Rounded Cones

After installing underlayment and addressing ventilation, you can start applying shingles.

When shingling a rounded cone roof, divide the roof into three distinct zones. (Copyright Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association, reprinted with permission.)

If you’re working with a flat-sided cone roof, you can use the standard hip and ridge installation method. Snap vertical chalk lines from the cone tip to the eave center on each of the flat sides. Then apply shingles to the flat areas, cutting at the hips or joints. Use a standard hip and ridge shingle to complete the hip joints.

To ensure a continuous roofing line, snap horizontal chalk lines around the cone so that shingles will line up on adjacent sides.

Shingles on steep-sided cone roofs — those greater than 21/12 slope — may need to be hand sealed with asphalt plastic cement. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for steep-slope application.

When shingling a rounded cone roof, you won’t have a horizontal line to follow because of the curvature. If you try to create a line, butting the sides of the shingles together, the shingles will gradually curve downward and won’t correctly align when you encircle the cone.

To make installation easier, divide the roof into three distinct zones. Start applying shingles to zone one, at the bottom of the cone, and then work your way up to zones two and three.

While you are nailing, have another crew member help hold the shingles down around the curve so they are flush against the surface.

Side overlap of shingles is more noticeable in the upper portions of each cone. Trim shingles at an angle to make the joint parallel to water flow. (Copyright Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association, reprinted with permission.)

Because the cone shape tapers from the base to the peak, succeeding courses require less material.

The degree of horizontal offset and varied shingle cutouts will create a random appearance. When using standard three-tab shingles, trim each shingle for proper vertical alignment. A simpler alternative would be to use a randomly applied shingle that doesn’t need to be vertically aligned.

Shingling a cone-shaped roof may be challenging, but with the proper knowledge and execution, you can restore this architectural focal point to its full glory.

For more information from Atlas Roofing, including technical bulletins, installation instructions and product data sheets, visit atlasroofing.com.

The Power of Vacations

My dad keeps telling me that kids today don’t work very hard. By kids he means me — and I’m 57. It seems every time I turn around, though, I see an article that offers the opposite conclusion: Americans work too hard. They work longer hours and take less vacation time than their counterparts in other countries. By some accounts, the majority of American workers don’t even use all of the time off they are entitled to take. The sad part is, most workers do so because they want to be more productive. But working too long and too hard makes us less productive, not more. Vacation time is not only beneficial for personal health and well-being. Vacations also increase productivity.

Human bodies and brains have their limitations. We need some downtime to stay healthy and focused. It’s also during periods of rest and relaxation that some of the greatest discoveries have been made.

Whether it’s Newton resting by an apple tree or Watson and Crick taking a break by the seaside, it seems every scientific breakthrough I read about in high school came about when someone was goofing off. The notion of an epiphany — a flash of insight that solves a troubling problem — often seems to coincide with a break from work.

The “eureka” moment is said to derive its name from the story of the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes, who came up with a method of solving a tricky problem after he slid into a nice hot bath. The story goes that he was trying to figure out how to measure the volume of irregularly shaped objects. Stumped, he took a break at the local bath house, where he suddenly realized that he could make the determination by the amount of water an object displaced. He then ran through the streets screaming “eureka,” which apparently means either “I found it!” or “I forgot my clothes!”

As I worked on this issue of the magazine, which focuses on education projects, I thought of the long summer breaks we had as students, which I now know are frenzied periods of construction for the roofing industry. I also spent a week in northern Michigan, where I hiked some beautiful trails with my wife, Patti, and Josie the Wonder Dog.

I can’t claim that I had any great insights into the nature of physics or science — or even better ways to produce Roofing magazine — but I did manage to locate some dog-friendly craft breweries and take in some glorious views of lake Michigan. Here’s hoping it makes me more productive.

Three Shingle Installation Mistakes That Cause Major Problems

By following installation guidelines, contractors can produce a more professional-looking roof that will be far less likely to experience problems a year, two years, or even 10 years down the road.

A roof that isn’t installed precisely the way it was intended can be both unattractive and incapable of standing up to extreme weather conditions. On a laminate shingle roof, overlooking seemingly small details, such as shingle alignment and nailing, can lead to serious problems. Here are some of the most common details that, when improperly executed, can have negative consequences later in the installation or after completion of the roof:

  1. No Starter Shingles/Improper Alignment of Shingles at Eave and Rake

CORRECT: This photo shows the starter shingle being installed correctly. Proper alignment is crucial when installing the starter shingles. Photos: Atlas Roofing

The starter shingle’s two purposes are water protection and wind protection at the eave and rake. A starter shingle is used to seal with the field shingle at the first course along the eave and rake. This helps prevent wind and water from getting beneath the shingle in this critical location. The underlayment is a secondary water barrier if any moisture gets beneath the shingles.

Starter shingles are installed so they overhang the edge of the eaves slightly to allow for water runoff. Then a course of shingles is installed on top of the starter shingles, forming a front line of defense for blow-offs and water damage.

INCORRECT: When starter shingles are not installed, water channels can form where the shingles align across the first course. Photos: Atlas Roofing

When roofers don’t use starter shingles and install the first course of shingles directly onto the eave or rake, water channels can form where the shingles align across the first course. Moisture can then come into direct contact with the roof deck. Shingles farther up the roof are protected by the courses beneath them, which catch and divert any water that happens to drip between the edges. The first course of shingles needs the same defense from the elements.

Tip: Proper alignment is important when installing both the starter shingles and the first course of shingles. If the starter shingles are not secured correctly at the eave or rake, and the first course of shingles is not nailed down evenly across the top of the starter shingles, the roof may be at risk for wind and/or water damage.

Manufacturer’s guidelines for the proper overhang spacing at the drip edge or rake should be followed precisely. If the starter shingle overhangs the eave too much, a gust of strong wind may lift the shingles and cause a blow-off.

  1. Improper Nailing

The obvious purpose of proper nailing is to ensure that shingles stay in place and don’t cause leaks. Local building

INCORRECT: Nail heads should be flush with the top of the shingle. All three of the nails in this photo are incorrectly installed. The nail on the left is over-driven, the middle nail is at the wrong angle, and the one on the right is under-driven. Photos: Atlas Roofing

codes and manufacturers’ instructions give roofing contractors the directions they need to fasten the shingles properly to the roof deck. Guidelines specify the number of nails per shingle and where the nails should be placed.

In laminate shingles, the nailing zone is referred to as the “common bond” area of the shingle. The “common bond” area includes the double-layer portion of the shingle down to the exposure and constitutes the proper nailing area as identified in laminate shingle installation instructions. The “common bond” nailing area must be targeted correctly in order to obtain the proper wind performance as advertised by the shingle manufacturer. Properly

INCORRECT: The nailing area must be targeted correctly in order to obtain the proper wind performance. In this photo, nails are improperly placed both above and below the common bond area. Photos: Atlas Roofing

placed nails go through two layers of shingles – penetrating through the previous shingle course underneath – attaching them securely to the roof deck. Nails placed outside the common bond area can void the roof’s warranty and prevent asphalt shingles from performing as intended during extreme weather.

Tip: Pneumatic nail guns are popular among many roofers. The pressure on the gun should be set correctly before use. Nail heads should be flush with the top of the shingle. If the pressure is set too high, the gun will overdrive the shingle, causing it to sink into the mat. Too low, and nails will be under-driven, meaning they will stick out above the top of the shingle. Incorrect pressure can also cause nails to be driven in diagonally.

Wind and wind-driven rain can lift improperly nailed shingles and cause water damage to the roof and possibly blow-offs. Using either too many or not enough nails can weaken the shingle’s performance, which can also result in blow-offs.

Finally, roofers who prefer hammers should be skilled enough to drive nails consistently into shingles at the right angle, not over- or under-drive them.

  1. Improper Shingle Alignment

Roof shingles are intended to be precisely aligned, both vertically and horizontally. Roofers lay out each course of

INCORRECT: Proper alignment of the shingles is crucial. In this photo, the top shingle has been placed too high. Photos: Atlas Roofing

shingles in a staggered, stepped pattern (think of a brick wall). The shingle edges of one course must be offset from the shingles below. Edges lined up with each other would allow water to seep through to the roof deck.

INCORRECT: The shingle at the top of this photo has been placed too low. Photos: Atlas Roofing

Installing shingles too high or too low compared to the previous course can affect the exposure, which in turn would affect the aesthetics, wind performance and seal strength of the roof. An improperly aligned shingle course would be very noticeable and have a wavy appearance that is unattractive and amateurish.

Tip: Manufacturer’s instructions for proper shingle alignment are printed on the shingle wrapper.

Eliminating Problems Pays Big Dividends

Roofers who are careful to avoid these mistakes can avoid unintended problems after installation. Using a starter shingle at the eaves and rakes can ensure that the installation is off to a good start. Paying attention to proper nailing and nail placement within the common bond area on all courses all the way up to the ridge can optimize the roof’s performance against wind and rain. Finally, carefully aligning each course of shingles both vertically and horizontally will give the finished roof a professional appearance and help to improve the homeowner’s curb appeal.

Replacing a Roof Drain on a Structurally Sloped Steel Roof Deck

Figure 1. Roof drain detail. Photos: Hutchinson Design Group Ltd.

What is the number one goal of any building owner when it comes to the roof? They don’t want water pouring through their ceilings damaging the interior of the building. How do you keep water out of the building? By keeping the water on the exterior of the building and directing it to the roof drains or other drain locations, such as scupper or gutters. The roof drain is, on a basic level, one of the simplest details on the roof, and yet it is flashed incorrectly time and time again. This paper will walk you through the process of replacing a roof drain on a structurally sloped steel roof deck and installing the new roof system and flashing.

Photo 1. The sump pan and drain body have been installed. Photos: Hutchinson Design Group Ltd.

First off, we are going to assume that the current drainpipe is adequate to handle the existing water volume and drain its portion of the roof, and that the drain pipe is in good condition. Our new roof system will meet the current R-30 requirements for continuous insulation above the roof deck in a roof near Chicago. So, our roof system will be composed of a mechanically fastened substrate board on the steel roof deck, a self-adhering vapor retarder, two layers of 2.6-inch insulation mechanically fastened, a 1/2-inch modified gypsum cover board set in bead foam adhesive, and fully adhered EPDM membrane. (See Figure 1.) We will also assume that the roofing contractor is acting as the general contractor for our scenario.

Now that we have our parameters out of the way, what’s first? I have never met a building owner that likes construction debris inside of their conference room or classroom, so the interior needs to be protected prior to the removal of the existing roof drain. This can be as simple as some Visqueen, but the interior protection needs to be installed prior to the removal of the existing roof drain. The one question that seems to come up is, who is installing this protection? The owner? The plumber? The roofing contractor? I like to put this on the plumber. He knows when he is removing the drain and installing the new one.

Once the interior protection is installed, we need to coordinate the removal of the existing roof system and installation of the vapor retarder with the removal of the existing roof drain, as well as the installation of the new metal sump pan, drain body and lead and oakum joint to the existing drain pipe. (See Photo 1.) This all needs to be done on the same day so that the roof can drain properly and that the vapor retarder can be terminated onto the roof drain flange. This part is critical, as with experience this designer has learned that the vapor retarder can be used as the seal between the extension ring and the roof drain flange and that the O-ring can be eliminated. The sump needs to be fastened to the roof deck around the perimeter at 8 inches on center and be centered on the drainpipe. The drain body then needs to be set over the drainpipe and lead and oakum installed between the drain body and drain pipe.

Installing the New Roof

So, now we have the roof drain body and the vapor retarder installed. Now comes the new roof system. To meet our R-30 requirements, we are going to need a base layer of 2.6-inch polyisocyanurate insulation and 4-foot-wide, 1/2-inch-per-foot tapered insulation sump around the roof drain. This sump will get us to the R-30 requirements of 4 feet from the roof drain as required by the current codes. If my math is correct, that will leave 3.1 inches of insulation at the roof drain. We will need a reversible collar and threaded extension ring to accommodate this height. When setting the reversible collar onto the drain bowl, set it in water cut-off mastic. If the drain ever becomes clogged, this will help to keep water from seeping under the reversible collar and into the roof system. Next the threaded extension ring is installed. First, install some water cut-off mastic onto the treads prior to engagement with the reversible collar. Once again, this will help to prevent water from entering the roof system if the drain becomes clogged and backs up.

Photo 2. The extension ring has been set lower than the cover board (yellow) and water cut off mastic has been installed on the extension ring flange. Photos: Hutchinson Design Group Ltd.

One of the main questions that I receive from the roofing and plumbing contractors is, “How high should I set the extension ring?” Well, it varies per roof system, but for our scenario it needs to be set flush with the top of the tapered insulation. We set it here because we have our cover board that has yet to be installed, and when the clamping ring is installed it will be lower than the cover board. Now back to the insulation; the 2.6-inch insulation should be installed as close to the extension ring as possible, chamfered as required to fit under the flange. Next the tapered insulation sump is installed. This should be installed as close as possible to the extension ring flange and chamfered as required to fit beneath the flange. All voids between the extension ring and the insulation should be filled with spray polyurethane foam insulation.

Once we have our insulation installed, next comes the cover board. The number one thing with the cover board and roof drain is having the cover board cut perpendicularly to the roof drain flange. (See Photo 2.) Do notchamfer the cover board. Chamfering the cover board may ease the transition of the membrane onto the extension ring flange, but it creates an unsuitable substrate surface for the bonding adhesive. And in my experience, water seems to end up ponding around the roof drain and not dropping into the roof drain. This will also allow the roof’s drain clamping ring to sit flat and below the roof surface of the roof.

Photo 3. The membrane has been correctly cut in a cloverleaf pattern. Photos: Hutchinson Design Group Ltd.

Now that our cover board is installed, we have the membrane and its transition into the roof drain. Water cut-off mastic is to be installed on the extension ring flange. How much you ask? One tube. Load that flange up. Make two thick beads with it. I have never heard a contractor say, “Man, using all of that water cut-off mastic on the job really set me back.” It’s a small item, but it is worth it.

After the membrane has been installed and the clamping ring is set, it’s time to cut a hole in the membrane to allow the water to get to the drain and off the roof. How big should the hole be? As small as possible is what some contractors might say. I ask a question to you now: what is the goal of the roof drain? If you answered to get the water off the roof as quickly as possible, you would be correct. Then why would the contractor want to cut a small hole in the roof membrane that would restrict the flow of water into the roof drain piping and off of the roof? I am dumbfounded as well. When we detail the roof drain, we call for the membrane to be cut back to within a 1/2 inch of the extension ring in a cloverleaf pattern around the clamping ring bolts. (See Photo 3.) This way there is no confusion on how far back the membrane is to be cut. Set the drain dome and the roof drain detail is complete.

So, there you have it. Now the roof can drain properly with a brand-new roof drain with no problem (fingers crossed).