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.

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).

Working With Homeowners Associations Means Taking on Big Challenges

Glenwood Townhomes in San Dimas, California, includes 185 residential units, a clubhouse, standalone garage and park restroom building. The re-roofing project encompassed 250,000 square feet of shingles. Photos: La Rocque Better Roofs

A quick glance at the numbers reveals that Glenwood Townhomes in San Dimas, California, is not your everyday residential re-roofing project. Featuring 185 units plus a clubhouse, standalone garage and park restroom building, and requiring the installation of 250,000 square feet of shingles, the project is expansive in scope, to say the least. But for nearly 40 years, La Rocque Better Roofs has enjoyed taking on challenging roofing projects, and the team put a plan in place to take on a very ambitious and complex assignment.

With literally hundreds of homeowners impacted by the re-roofing project, the Glenwood Townhomes Home Owner Association (HOA) board of directors through its property management company, Personal Touch Property Management Company, actively sought a roofing company that had been in business for 20-plus years and, most importantly, was experienced in working with HOAs. Doug McCaulley, owner of Personal Touch Property Management Company, has managed Glenwood HOA for several years and knew he needed a company that was large enough and had the proper labor force to handle the size of the project — and would also be around to honor its warranty.

La Rocque Better Roofs has served customers throughout Southern California since 1981, and approximately 80 percent its business is focused on HOAs. The company has developed a process for effectively managing the multiple parties and considerations involved in HOA remodeling projects. Beyond the HOA board, other parties commonly involved in re-roofing projects include property management companies, roofing consultants, and maintenance and service organizations. From a project management perspective, challenges involved in HOA remodeling projects include dealing with any structural or code-related discoveries that arise once the project begins and minimizing inconvenience to residents.

The HOA board selected the Owens Corning TruDefinition Duration shingle in Desert Tan. Members desired both the aesthetics and the benefits of solar reflectivity. Photos: La Rocque Better Roofs

Labor availability is a key consideration for HOA projects, as such projects require a sizeable labor pool to be available for an extended period. Rory Davis, vice president of HOA Sales at La Rocque Better Roofs, says a readily available roofing team was a key factor in the selection of La Rocque Better Roofs for the project. “We do not subcontract our workers and work with a team of 75-110 people, depending upon the time of year, so that the project stays on schedule,” says Davis.

While project management skills, logistical know-how and labor are all required for HOA projects, the most important element in a re-roofing project is satisfying the homeowners living in the community. All these considerations went into La Rocque Better Roofs’ approach to the re-roofing of Glenwood Townhomes.

A Customized Approach to Roof Removal

The design of the Glenwood Townhomes community presented some structural challenges. Detached garages adjacent to each building blocked access for workers during the removal process. La Rocque Better Roofs found a way to resolve this challenge, investing in customized, extra-wide, sturdy walk boards to bridge the distance between the homes and garages. The walk boards allowed roofers to remove roofing from the home and then walk the removed materials directly into the truck. “Walking the debris right to the truck was a big plus, because materials didn’t touch the ground and didn’t come into contact with mature shrubs and landscaping,” says Guy La Rocque, president and CEO. “It was reassuring to homeowners to know that nails and debris wouldn’t be dropped in their yards and exterior living areas.” The system also supported efficiency. La Rocque estimates the walk boards reduced tear-off time by four to five hours per building.

“Safety and efficiency on all of worksites are key factors in being a successful and sought-after company,” La Rocque states. “The rules and requirements are constantly changing with OSHA, and it’s our responsibility as the management team at La Rocque Better Roofs to make sure all our employees are always up to date with the latest information. Our weekly Tailgate Safety Meetings as well as our monthly safety and education meetings help us maintain a level of awareness. It’s one thing to be educated in OSHA’s safety requirements; it’s another thing to implement and monitor these safety procedures on our jobsites.”

Surprises are not uncommon when remodeling mature properties. During the re-roofing project, some fireplaces in the community were found to be unstable. La Rocque Better Roofs worked with city permitting officials and engineers to retrofit the fireplaces so that they remained safe and functional without requiring a complete tear-down and rebuilding of the fireplaces.

Communication and the “Contractor Bubble”

Among the many steps La Rocque Better Roofs employed to simplify the process, Guy La Rocque says communication with residents was especially valuable. “We scheduled after-hours meetings with the residents to keep them informed about the project, answer their questions and let them know what to expect,” he says. “Over the years, we’ve found the best thing you can do is get homeowners involved. You can never communicate enough, so we let residents know what time our crews would be on site, where the crews would be working and what we expected to accomplish. “

Crews from La Rocque Better Roofs made sure to protect the landscaping as the project progressed. The company has made working for HOAs its primary focus. Photos: La Rocque Better Roofs

From La Rocque’s perspective, too many contractors operate in a “contractor bubble,” losing sight of other opportunities to add value to both homeowners and the contractor’s business. Listening to homeowners helps open up opportunities that may exist for additional work. “When you get homeowners involved, you get a different perception of what needs to happen,” La Rocque says. “The majority of us are homeowners, but many times we forget the most important thing we want from a contractor is communication.” He adds that the construction industry has suffered from a perception that too often contractors show up and leave whenever they want, leaving the customers in the dark. No one likes to be surprised. Keeping the homeowner informed can go a long way toward achieving more satisfied customers and generating more referrals.

Davis says that communication has never been more important than today, in the era of social media. “Yelp has become the new Better Business Bureau,” he says. “Social media provides more opportunities than ever before for consumers to either pat us on the back or criticize us.”

 Changing it Up

The Glenwood Townhomes community was built in 1973, and the roof replacement provided an opportunity to introduce trending colors and technology improvements to residents’ roofs. The HOA board wanted to select a color that would lighten up the overall look of the community and also take advantage of solar reflectivity. The HOA selected the Owens Corning TruDefinition Duration shingle in Desert Tan.

Asked about the shingle manufacturer’s involvement in the project, Davis says manufacturers’ reps can make a big difference. “Availability is key, and a willingness to bring samples onsite or address any problems that come up is critical. You learn a lot by how a manufacturer deals with any problems that arise. We may go years without a problem, but when something happens, we want someone who will step up,” he says. He also likes the Owens Corning Sure Nail technology and says the strip that ensures optimal placement of each nail is a plus.

HOA projects are not for every contractor. But through planning, establishing strong relationships with engineers, permitting organizations and other partners, thoughtful approaches to on-site challenges and most importantly, listening to customers, HOAs present an opportunity for contractors to take on projects of size and style.

Iconic Structure at Utah State Gets New Roof Over Summer Breaks

The roof on Utah State University’s iconic Old Main structure was replaced over the course of three summers by the team at KBR Roofing. Photos: Davinci Roofscapes

There was no summer break for the team at KBR Roofing these past three years. As soon as school ended in May for students at Utah State University, the team got to work on re-roofing the iconic Old Main structure on campus.

Originally built in 1889, Old Main has served its community for more than 125 years. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, the imposing structure is home to the president of the university and a multitude of offices and classrooms.

“Every summer we tackled a different phase of the re-roofing project,” says Brent Wood, project manager at KBR Roofing. “This structure is so critical to the university that it made complete sense to invest in composite roofing. The old, curling gray wood shingles simply had to come off.”

Each summer, the crews from KBR Roofing focused on a different element of the project. “We encountered a few challenges along the way,” Wood notes. “First, since the structure was built so long ago, many of the walls were not square. Second, due to a fire on the north side in 1984, this section of the roof had to be re-sheeted. Third, we had to fabricate four new cupolas. And fourth, we had to custom create a pedestrian bridge 106 feet on top of the center to access the east tower.”

With all their challenges, Wood relates that the easiest part of the project was installing the DaVinci Roofscapes Fancy Shake tiles. “We used the regular shake on the roof surface and then the beaver tail and diamond tiles to accent different parts of the structure,” Wood says. “They were a dream to install.”

Passing Historical Review

Before installation began, representatives of Utah State University and Design West Architects sought permission to use the composite shake tiles on the Old Main project.

Originally built in 1889, Old Main is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. The building houses the president of the university and a multitude of offices and classrooms. Photos: Davinci Roofscapes

“USU has an on-campus architectural review committee that monitors and approves all changes to buildings, signage and landscaping,” says Quin E. Whitaker, PE MBA, structural engineer/project manager at Utah State University. “Our Facilities team was required to meet with the State Historical Department of Utah to gain approval of the Fancy Shake shingles. When we met with the state’s representative, he declined all proposed roofing samples, including one from DaVinci. We asked him to go look at the DaVinci tiles installed on our Geology building back in 2012. As soon as we got there, he immediately told us the composite tiles looked great and met his expectations.”

Getting approval was critical, notes Whitaker. “Old Main is our flagship building,” he says. “It houses the president of the university, her staff and many other administration officials and classrooms. We didn’t wish to skimp on the quality of this roofing product. Gaining approval on the DaVinci product was especially important since we anticipate that five historic buildings on the campus quad (including Old Main) will all have the same composite roofing tiles installed in the coming years. The DaVinci product has an authentic look, backed by a strong warranty, which we appreciate.”

Going the Extra Mile

With the green light received, KBR Roofing started the Old Main roofing project in May of 2015. At the same time, the roof specialists from the university’s carpentry shop created new cupola bases.

“Bryan Bingham and Mike McBride at our university were intimately involved in the project,” says Whitaker. “I’ve never seen the level of craftsmanship that they were able to achieve for the cupola bases. Everyone involved in this project gave 110 percent.”

A cupola on the backside of the structure features beaver tail tiles. Photos: Davinci Roofscapes. Photos: Davinci Roofscapes

Going the extra mile involved quite a few special considerations for KBR Roofing on this project. The team manufactured a 15-foot pedestrian bridge to allow access from the roof to one of the towers. Located more than 100 feet in the air, the new bridge complements the building’s structure and meets code requirements.

On the north side of the building, workers crafted new metal sheeting on four finials. At the south tower, the stone finials were in need of renovation. The roofers contracted with Abstract Masonry to revitalize the stone, mortar joints and other surrounding brick features. They also contracted with Rocky Mountain Snow Guards for snow fences and snow guards that were installed around the entire structure. Drift II – two-pipe snow fences were put in place at the eaves over pedestrian and vehicular areas as a barrier to snow movement with RG 16 snow guards applied in a pattern above to hold the snow slab in place.

“Three of Old Main’s four towers now have a new DaVinci roof on them covered with the company’s attractive diamond shingles,” says Whitaker. “KBR Roofing was amazing. They also had to radius the railing for the two large rotundas. This company, in my estimation, is top notch and the only company that could have pulled off this project.”

TEAM

Architect: Design West Architects, Logan, Utah, www.designwestarchitects.com
Roofing Contractor: KBR Roofing, Ogden, Utah, www.kbrroofing.com

MATERIALS

Composite Shingles: Fancy Shake composite cedar tiles, DaVinci Roofscapes, www.davinciroofscapes.com
Snow Guards: Drift II and RG 16, Rocky Mountain Snow Guards, www.rockymountainsnowguards.com

Fire Protection Safeguards Are a Key Focus of New Cold Storage Facility

Two years after a fire destroyed its old complex, Dick Cold Storage decided to build a new facility in Columbus, Ohio. Designed by Tippmann Innovation, the building offers the most up-to-date technology, as well as additional fire protection safeguards. Photo: Ryan Leasure

When the executive leadership at Dick Cold Storage decided to build a brand-new facility, the company made certain that the new structure would have increased fire protection — especially with its roofing system.

Dick Cold Storage opened a new facility in June, less than two years after a fire completely destroyed its previous facility in Columbus, Ohio. The new building, designed by Tippmann Innovation, offers the best equipment and most up-to-date technology for cold storage facilities. There are also additional fire protection safeguards, such as fire access doors, horns and strobes, additional pull stations at doors, linear heat detection in freezers and automatic smoke vents.

The roof of the building includes 18 BILCO automatic smoke vents that allow firefighters to bring a fire under control. The vents allow for the escape of smoke, heat, and gasses in a burning building. The Dick Cold Storage building where the 2016 fire occurred was not equipped with automatic smoke vent protection.

“Two of the biggest challenges we face in fighting any fire are heat and smoke,’’ says Steve Martin, Battalion Chief for the Columbus Fire Department. “The heat of the fire radiates on everything surrounding it, causing the flames to spread and causing rapid degradation of structural elements.”

A Ferocious Blaze

More than 400 firefighters battled the fire at Dick Cold Storage, which broke out at approximately 9 p.m. on a Friday. No one was hurt in the fire, but residents in the neighborhood evacuated the area for fear they would be exposed to chemicals used to refrigerate food in the warehouse. The cause of the fire was not determined.

“At that time, you just feel completely lost,’’ Don Dick, the company President, says about his thoughts as he watched the blaze roar through the building where his family had done business for nearly a century. “You have no idea what will happen to your business.”

The building is topped with a single-ply roofing system featuring 45-mil and 60-mil TPO. Photo: Ryan Leasure

Because the building lacked smoke vents, firefighters were stymied. Martin said the smoke impeded visibility, made it difficult to assess damage to the structure and find the origin of the fire. Even with tanks of fresh air on their backs, the brave Columbus firefighters could do little more than watch the blaze burn itself out. The fire was contained within 18 hours but had not been completely extinguished for days.

“Buildings that do not lend themselves to ventilation, such as cold storage buildings, are especially dangerous to firefighters. If there is no known life-safety issue, firefighters will retreat to a defensive position and fight the fire from outside the building instead of going inside,’’ Martin notes.

The fire at Dick Cold Storage would not have been prevented with smoke vents, but the devastating property loss could have been minimized. Firefighters may have been able to aggressively attack the blaze, but because of the lack of visibility and uncertainty of the structural damage within the building envelope, Martin and his crew had no other alternative other than to wait for the fire to die.

A Better Approach

Dick Cold Storage executives made sure to include smoke vents in its new building. Manufactured by The BILCO Company, the custom-made vents measure 7 feet by 18 feet and include a quad leaf design. Tippman worked with Spohn Associates to procure the vents. The size of a building, among other factors, determines the number and size of vents required for a building. The vented space must comply with fire codes.

The roof of the building is equipped with 18 BILCO automatic smoke vents that allow smoke, heat, and gasses to escape from a burning building. Photo: Ryan Leasure

Tippmann worked with Spohn Associates, The BILCO Company’s Indiana based sales representative, to determine the number of vents used for the new building.The vents include a Thermolatch II positive hold/release mechanism designed to ensure reliable operation when a fire occurs. It also automatically releases vent covers upon the melting of a 165°F (74°C) fusible link. Gas spring operators are designed to open the covers against snow and wind loads and include integral dampers to ensure that the covers open at a controlled rate of speed.

“Vents will allow for the removal of heat and smoke will potentially slow the spread of fire,’’ Martin says. “They will also permit firefighters to see and enter the building, to possibly extinguish the fire early, preventing the entire building from becoming a loss.”

Roofing Solutions for Cold Storage Buildings

Like the rest of the materials used in building a cold storage facility, architects need to choose roofing components carefully. The thermal properties and unique usage of cold storage buildings require extra attention to detail in choosing the construction materials.

One of the most critical is constructing vapor-tight and energy efficient roof systems. Tippmann used a single-ply roofing system with 45-mil and 60-mil TPO, which serve as excellent vapor barriers. Single-ply systems also minimize air leaks. Those leaks can lead to thermal loss and excess moisture.

Tippman also paid extra attention to the vapor barriers, which are used to prevent moisture from damaging the fabric of the building. It’s also incumbent on roofing contractors to choose the proper insulation to maximize energy efficiency.

When fire engulfed the facility, firefighters could do little more than watch the blaze burn itself out. The fire was contained within 18 hours was not completely extinguished for days. Photo: Walker Evans, Columbus Underground

Improperly installed or inefficient roofing materials could lead to disastrous consequences for cold storage buildings. Vapor leaks and excess moisture could create bacterial growth. Other side effects could include structural damage from ice buildup on walls and slabs, higher utility costs, safety issues for workers and equipment that may require more maintenance or not reach its expected lifespan.

Tippman Innovation served as the architect, general contractor and roofing contractor for the project. “Tippmann Innovation’s experience and reputation in cold storage building is well-known and respected,’’ Don Dick notes. “After touring one of Tippman’s newly-completed projects, we were very impressed with the company’s commitment to quality, design, and technology. We’re confident that our new facility will be at the cutting edge of cold storage innovation.”

State-of-the-Art Facility

The new facility for Dick Cold Storage incorporates the latest in cold storage technology. The ceilings are 50-feet clear, creating six million cubic square feet of storage space. There are 15,000 pallet positions and seven multi-temperature storage rooms.

Cold storage facilities are used for keeping food products and other perishables for distribution to supermarkets and other retail outlets that sell to consumers. Dick Cold Storage’s Columbus location serves customers in a 550-mile radius, covering a geographic area that reaches Wisconsin, Alabama and New York and a population of more than 138 million people.

The new facility includes LED lighting, frozen, cooler and dry storage, and the most energy-efficient refrigeration equipment. “We want to be able to move product extremely fast,’’ Don Dick says. “We’re very conscientious of food safety and storing product, so we try to do everything the right way.”

Dick Cold Storage made a huge financial investment in its new facility, and Tippmann Innovation paid tremendous attention to all of the construction materials, especially the roofing. With a new building that can better withstand the potential of a catastrophic total product and facility loss that can be caused by fire, the business heads into its second century with new goals and new vitality.

“When you have time to think, you realize you just gotta get up and running and get back to what you are doing,’’ Don Dick says. “You have to be as efficient as you can. We thought it was dead, but you can’t think that way. You have to think what we are going to do from this day forward.”