Self-flashing Skylights on Commercial Warehouses Are Beginning to Leak

Today, many commercial roofers are dealing with a large-scale problem—reinstalling and replacing leaky self-flashing skylights on commercial warehouses. I have seen firsthand how improper installation of self-flashing skylights has become a headache for commercial property owners.

many of the skylights installed on commercial warehouse properties in the western Sunbelt states were installed improperly because they were installed first and foremost as fall protection for the open floor in the roof during construction by the builder and not by the roofer.

Many of the self-flashing skylights installed on commercial warehouse properties in the western Sunbelt states were installed improperly because they were installed first and foremost as fall protection for the open floor in the roof during construction by the builder and not by the roofer.

Around the late 1970s and early 1980s, intermodal freight became a huge part of global distribution. To handle the increase in freight projects, warehouse construction exploded. The Port of Oakland, for instance, invested heavily in intermodal container transfer capabilities in the ’80s. In fact, the aggressive growth of intermodal freight distribution continued into the early 2000s.

The cheapest and easiest way for skylights to be installed on these warehouses was to use self-flashing skylights. The metal curb or L bracket attached to the bottom of the skylight was, in theory, supposed to be set on top of the built-up roofing material and then stripped in, sandwiching the flange between he roofing layers. The result would be roofing material, then skylight, then more roofing material over the flashing on the skylight.

Unfortunately, many of the skylights installed on commercial warehouse properties in the western Sunbelt states were installed improperly because they were installed first and foremost as fall protection for the open floor in the roof during construction by the builder and not by the roofer. Our teams have seen thousands of these original self-flashing skylight installations where self-flashing flanges are set directly on the plywood roof deck, below all the roofing materials.

Most of the original roofers didn’t budget in the time and money it took to pull the skylight assembly apart from the roof deck and re-install it the proper way. Nor did they wash the oils off the new metal from the galvanizing process or use asphalt primer to prep the steel flanges of the assembly and ensure the roofing asphalt would stick properly. Over the years, as the metal of the skylight flanges expanded and contracted and the built-up roof did the same, but at a different rate, the roofing system eventually separated from the skylight, leaving a self-flashing skylight that’s now turned into what we jokingly refer to as a “self-leaking skylight”. This is part of the reason why everyone thinks skylights always leak.

The best way we’ve found to install leak-free skylights on a commercial warehouse roof, especially when re- placing the self-flashing skylights on an existing building, is to use a curb-mounted skylight. A curb-mounted skylight fits like a shoebox lid over a new curb the roofing contractor fabricates as part of the installation. This curbed design eliminates the metal flange and offers waterproofing redundancy in critical areas of the installation, so water can’t get into the building at the skylight opening. Because the new skylight is installed on a curb, it’s also much easier to address any future issues with the skylight or to replace it down the road if necessary. This especially comes in handy when owners lease to new tenants. New building occupancy regulations mean skylights may be required by municipalities to be changed out for smoke vents to comply with fire codes.

If you’re dealing with one or more self-flashing skylight leaks, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Check if there is condensation on the inside of the skylight; a lot of skylights have a trough where condensation runoff will leak into the building.
  • Be sure to check the juncture where the skylight and the roof meet (the skylight base flashing), which can sometimes include up to 5 inches of mastic at the base flashing.
  • If the skylight has a frameless acrylic cap without a metal frame around the outside, check the acrylic dome for stress cracks. It is possible to replace some acrylic domes on some skylights but often the cost of an acrylic dome is roughly the same as the cost of a new skylight, and if you’re already considering installing a new roof with a 15- to 20-year warranty, it doesn’t make much sense to leave the “self-leaking skylight” frame in place. Replacing the skylights during the reroofing project is much more cost-effective than re- turning to replace skylights later. In addition, skylight technology is far better now than it was 15 or 20 years ago (think about today’s impact-resistant polycarbonate and better UV and fall protection).

Above all else, don’t let self-flashing skylights give you and your roofing business a bad name. Instead, address the issue with your commercial clients and educate them about the best choices for their skylights and how they can stay current with the International Building Code and municipal codes. You’ll be helping them protect one of their biggest assets by ensuring their skylights stay leak-free.

PHOTOS: Highland Commercial Roofing

Palram Creates Two Positions to Enhance Its LEAN Journey

Palram Americas, a manufacturer of polycarbonate and PVC sheets and products, started the LEAN journey two years ago. Ideas like continual improvement, delivering value and reducing waste were introduced to the employees and the LEAN culture began weaving through the processes of the company. As part of its LEAN journey, Palram developed a vision to align all departments to a common direction by using guiding principles aligned in six supporting pillars. These values are defined and measured across all departments as: a safety first culture, respect for people, delivering value to our customers, high-quality standards, continuous improvement and long-term profitability.

Palram has created two new positions in efforts to bring a sharper focus to its LEAN journey. The Continuous Improvement Manager role will be filled by Enrique Gonzalez. He will champion the Palram LEAN initiative and has already immersed himself in creating new processes and suggesting improvements. The Voice of Customer Manager position will be filled by Johana Gonzalez. Johana’s new role will be aligned with the “Delivering Value to our Customers” vision pillar. In this role, she will work across the organization to analyze customer metrics while making process improvement recommendations as Palram strives for continuous improvement of service levels.

Enrique Gonzalez has an Industrial Engineering degree with more than 27 years of various roles aligned with LEAN and continuous improvement in a manufacturing environment. Johana Gonzalez has been employed by Palram in various roles for more than 13 years. She is currently working towards a degree in Business Administration. Palram is proud to have both of them helping to guide the LEAN journey.

The BTI-Greensburg John Deere Dealership Installs Tornado-Resistant Daylighting Systems and Other Sustainable Materials

On the night of May 4, 2007, brothers Kelly and Mike Estes saw their BTI-Greensburg John Deere Dealership obliterated by an EF5 tornado nearly 2-miles wide (according to the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which rates the strength of tornados by the damage caused; view the scale on page 3). Astoundingly, 95 percent of their town—Greensburg, Kan.—was also destroyed that day. The tornado did much more than rip roofs off buildings and toss things around; it turned the entire community into what looked like kindling.

Rarely do communities get hit by an EF5 tornado, which can come about when air masses collide. Sometimes warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico rises above drier air from the Southwest deserts in the U.S. This can create unstable conditions resulting in thunderstorms and worse. A strong collision of air masses creates a strong storm. Additionally, wind patterns and the jet stream can magnify the storm, resulting in what people refer to as “the perfect storm”.

After being completely destroyed by an EF5 tornado, the BTI-Greensburg John Deere Dealership has been rebuilt in Greensburg, Kan., in a better, greener way.

After being completely destroyed by an EF5 tornado, the BTI-Greensburg John Deere Dealership has been rebuilt in Greensburg, Kan., in a better, greener way.

Despite the large-scale losses incurred by the entire town, 100 customers and friends of the Estes family showed up the morning of May 5 to help them salvage what remained of their business. Shortly after the tornado disaster, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius stated her wish that Greensburg become the “the greenest city in the state”.

As part of their commitment to their community, Kelly, Mike and their family decided to rebuild their business in a better, greener way. They wanted the new 28,000-square-foot prefabricated metal building to be the world’s greenest farm-machinery facility; attain a LEED Platinum rating from the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council; and use the least energy possible. One of the most important considerations was using building materials that could withstand future tornados.

DAYLIGHTING

To help achieve LEED Platinum and outlast any future high-velocity winds, they incorporated 12 Daylighting Systems in their retail area’s roof to showcase their merchandise; reduce lighting energy costs; and flood the area with natural light, a benefit for customers and employees.

The Daylighting Systems capture light through a dome on the roof and channel it down through a highly reflective tube. This tubing is more efficient than a traditional drywall skylight shaft, which can lose over half of the potential light. The tubing fits between rafters and installs with no structural modification. At the ceiling level, a diffuser that resembles a recessed light fixture spreads the light evenly throughout the room.

The dome is made from high-quality acrylic resin that is specifically formulated for increased impact strength, chemical- and weather-resistance, and high clarity (a polycarbonate inner dome is used for high-velocity hurricane zones). Domes are engineered to deflect midday heat and maximize low-angle light capture. The tubing is made from puncture-proof aluminum sheet coated with the highly reflective material for maximum light transfer. The units (independently tested by Architectural Testing in Fresno, Calif.) comply with various building codes including the 2009 International Building Code and 2010 Florida Building Code, including high-velocity hurricane zones.

“When our power went out one time for four hours, we were able to keep the shop open and operating due to daylight strategies, which includes the Daylighting Systems,” notes Mike Estes. “We didn’t anticipate this benefit but we’re really happy to have this bonus.”
PHOTO: SOLATUBE INTERNATIONAL INC.

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UV-resistant Polycarbonate Panels Are Designed to Match Metal Sheet Profiles

UNITREX 2.67- by 7/8-inch and 4.2- by 1-1/16-inch polycarbonate panels are impact-resistant and provide long-term protection against denting, cracking and peeling.

UNITREX 2.67- by 7/8-inch and 4.2- by 1-1/16-inch polycarbonate panels are impact-resistant and provide long-term protection against denting, cracking and peeling.

UNITREX 2.67- by 7/8-inch and 4.2- by 1-1/16-inch polycarbonate panels are impact-resistant and provide long-term protection against denting, cracking and peeling. UNITREX polycarbonate panels are UV-resistant, offering an advantage compared to other siding and roofing panels. UNITREX polycarbonate panels have a non-combustible flame spread rating of 6; less than other non-metallic panels.

UNITREX polycarbonate panels offer:

  • Long-term weatherability.
  • Virtually unbreakable strength.
  • Lightweight for easy installation.
  • Operating temperature range: -40 F to 212 F.
  • Optical clarity.
  • Impact resistance.

UNITREX 2.67- and 4.2-inch polycarbonate panels are clear as glass and more resistant to breakage. In addition, 2.67- and 4.2-inch panels offer more impact resistance compared to acrylic panels. The panels are half the weight of glass and thus easy to handle and install, durable, energy-efficient and easy to fabricate.

2.67- by 7/8-inch panels are available in clear and green translucent. 4.2- by 1-1/16-inch panels are available in clear, green translucent and opaque white. The panels are designed to match the profiles of metal sheets in the steel building industry.

Palram Americas Opens New Logistics Center in Pennsylvania

Palram Americas, a manufacturer of polycarbonate and PVC sheets, has announced the completion of an 80,000-square-foot logistics center positioned directly next door to its Americas headquarters in Weisenberg Township, Kutztown, Pa.

“We did run into some issues due to the harsh winter of 2013, resulting in a delayed opening,” states John Seiffert, vice president of Business Development for Palram Americas. “However, now that the building is operational, we are confident this dedicated logistics center will greatly increase our delivery capabilities and result in greater customer satisfaction.”

The building is a $5 million dollar construction project with two phases. Phase one consisted of this logistics center and includes an additional 80,000 square feet of outside storage space. An additional 80,000-square-foot building will be constructed during phase two and will be built in the near future. The general contractor for the project was Serfass Construction of Allentown, Pa.

This new logistics center is just the latest building block of growth for the company. Palram opened its polycarbonate plant in Kutztown in 2000 and, over the ensuing years, built two large additions to this original plant. In 2007, Palram constructed an entire PVC manufacturing facility at the site. The logistics center, completed in November 2014, is now fully operational.

Palram Americas Announces New Website

Palram Americas, a manufacturer of polycarbonate and PVC product lines, is pleased to announce a new website design. This new design, which is more closely aligned with the global corporate website, includes many new features. Users will experience new advanced product search tools, more streamlined product information, and may also delve deeper into technical information, including a new installation video for Palram’s corrugated DIY products.

“Palram is a diverse company with products in many different markets, creating a challenge to fully serve each of those markets within a single website,” stated Stan Schultz, Director of Marketing at Palram Americas. “This new design ensures a more user-friendly experience for all of our customers across all markets. Furthermore, our new development platform will allow us to more easily add new features and web-based tools in the future.”