Standing Up to Mother Nature

When this home’s failing roof had to be replaced, it was restored with a composite shake product from DaVinci Roofscapes. Photo: Ron Berg Studio

Decisions. Decisions. When Sheri Stamper recently purchased a home in the Village of Loch Lloyd in Missouri, she faced numerous remodeling decisions — including the search for a new roof. The one she “inherited” on her home was made of concrete foam to replicate slate or concrete tiles, but the surface was cracking and the roof was leaking.

Fortunately for Stamper the decision on a replacement roof was an easy one. She went with a composite roofing product she knew and trusted: DaVinci Roofscapes.

“I installed this company’s composite roofing tiles on a previous home,” says Stamper. “I did research prior to selecting both roofs. The DaVinci product wins out for quality, performance and style.”

For her new home, Stamper was pleased to learn that the company now offers the Black Oak color in its Nature Crafted Collection. “I like this new color offering,” says Stamper. “It has a natural look along with good texture and dimension.

“My goal was not to install a wood shake look, but rather a natural look with colors from nature. The darker tone of the Black Oak roofing appears natural, with not such a harsh appearance.”

Out With the Old

The 1995 modern/contemporary style home Stamper purchased was in distinct need of a new roof, placing it high on her list of remodeling projects. “The roof was only about seven years old, but it was a poor-quality roof,” says Stamper. “Storms had damaged it and replacing it became a top priority for me.”

To help get the new composite roof she wanted, Stamper turned to M&M Roofing out of Olathe, Kansas. “This is the second DaVinci composite roof we’ve installed for Sheri over the years,” says Craig Meyer, operations manager with M&M Roofing. “She was very correct in her assessment of the existing roof … it was in bad shape and needed replacement.”

Photo: Ron Berg Studio

According to Meyer, the Village of Loch Lloyd wants homeowners to invest in higher-performance roofing materials. If residents need a new roof, M&M Roofing’s goal is to be there to offer assistance. “We help homeowners make the connection between the investment in a composite roof and years of peace-of-mind,” Meyer says. “A roof like this may initially be more expensive than other options, but then again, there are many benefits. This composite roof resists flame spread, impact, insects and algae growth. There is the potential for yearly discounts on homeowners insurance. Easy-care roofing that requires no yearly maintenance fees is a bonus. These benefits really add up for homeowners.”

When the M&M Roofing team arrived onsite, the job of removing the existing roofing material couldn’t have been easier. “That old roof literally peeled right off,” says Meyer. “There were no nails holding it in place. It came off piece by piece, using only our hands. This may explain why some of the pieces were coming off in high wind storms.”

The ability of the roof to stand up to extreme weather is essential. “Here in the Missouri/Kansas area, our roofs have to hold up to hail, wind and snowstorms,” Meyer notes. “The only products that we’ve seen truly stand up to those conditions are impact-resistant, top-quality composite roofing.”

Proving his point, Meyer relates that his company receives calls regularly from customers praising the composite roofing they’ve had previously installed by the M&M Roofing team.

“They tell us how a hailstorm destroyed roofs in their neighborhood — except for theirs,” he says. “That’s when we really feel good about making the recommendation of an impact-resistant DaVinci roof.”

Tackling the Job

After removing the old roof on the Stamper home, the M&M Roofing team got to work on installing the new composite shake roof. First came a radiant barrier roof decking, then drip edge was installed. An ice and water shield product was added next, followed by metal in the valleys.

“This home has tons of valleys so we added the ice and water shield for extra protection,” says Meyer. “It takes more time, but it’s essential for the design of this home to help protect it from our weather conditions.”

Finally, the DaVinci Single-Width Shake tiles were installed. Arriving in pre-mixed bundles saved the installation crew time on the jobsite.

Photo: Ron Berg Studio

“Any roofing project has its challenges,” says Meyer. “For this home it was keeping our crew tied off at all times. The home goes up four stories in the back and we wanted everyone to be as safe as possible while keeping the courses straight during installation. For us, our longstanding, top-quality crews and loyal customer base are the backbone of our business. That’s why we make every effort to treat each project individually with special attention to safety.”

Introduced to the marketplace in early 2018, the Nature Crafted Collection includes realistic, nature-inspired colors including Aged Cedar, Mossy Cedar and Black Oak. “This is one of the few products on the market that looks like natural wood, but without weight or performance issues,” says Stamper. “The impact resistance, fire rating and low maintenance aspects were all features that helped me once again decide to invest in a DaVinci roof.”

With the job now complete, Meyer agrees with the homeowner. “It’s great when we can work with a repeat customer like Sheri who was so impressed with her first composite roof that she wants another one for a new home,” says Meyer. “We were really pleased that she was excited about the new Black Oak color for the composite shake shingles. The house looks spectacular with those tiles and you can easily see that they give the home a clean, natural appearance on the exterior that will last for decades to come.”

Water Is Construction’s Worst Enemy

I have a water phobia. When I was very young I fell into a pool and nearly drowned. Consequently, I never learned to swim out of sheer fear. Despite my attempts to avoid it, water continues to haunt me. (See an article I wrote about my Chicago condo’s construction defects for some background.) It’s ironic I now live along the nation’s southernmost glacial lake. I love the view from our home, but the lake’s recreational opportunities are lost on me.

To further substantiate my negative feelings toward water, 2015 was an especially wet year for the Midwest. In mid-December, my Iowa town received 5 inches of rain in a day and a half. Our basement—where my office is located—flooded (for the second time since August). My husband bought the house (which he planned to make his lifelong bachelor pad) knowing the basement might leak during heavy-rain events. He never planned to have anything down there. Then I came along.

As this issue was coming together—around the same time our basement was soaked—I read a line in “Tech Point” that really resonated with me: “… water is construction’s worst enemy, so when it goes where it shouldn’t, it’s causing damage—seen or unseen.” I shared that line, which was written by Armand T. Christopher Jr., AIA, with my husband. The next week we hired a basement waterproofing contractor to solve our ongoing water problems.

Christopher’s story likely will resonate with you, as well. He and his team had recently installed a PVC roof system on a high-profile government building in central New Jersey. Six months after the install, a three-day nor’easter exposed numerous leaks in the building, which the client thought were coming from the new roof. The ensuing “detective work” Christopher’s team completed was tedious but uncovered the cause of the leaks and made Christopher and his colleagues heroes.

Christopher points out a nice feature of the roof’s thermoplastic cap sheet is areas where water had pooled within the roof system were dried and resealed with heat-welded target patches. Thomas W. Hutchinson, AIA, FRCI, RRC, CSI, RRP, builds upon this idea in his “From the Hutchinson Files” article. Hutchinson notes today’s “new age” roofs may not require removing all system components during reroofing. Instead, it may be in the customer’s best interest to consider restoration; roof-cover removal, enhanced with additional insulation; using the existing roof membrane as a vapor retarder; or membrane removal before installation of a new roof cover.

My husband and I seem to have found the best solution to our basement water problems. Although we’re not looking forward to the construction ahead, we are excited about all the things we can do with a dry basement. Right now, we’re envisioning a mini spa in which we can relax after a stressful workday—another welcome upgrade my husband never imagined for his “bachelor pad”.

Locating the Source of Water Intrusion Can Be Tricky

The building in question features one whole face that is an aluminum-framed glass curtainwall. The curtainwall extends up above the roof lines, slopes up (from the vertical) forming a peaked skylight, which then slopes back toward the roofs that were holding water.

The building in question features one whole face that is an aluminum-framed glass curtainwall. The curtainwall extends up above the roof lines, slopes up (from the vertical) forming a peaked skylight, which then slopes back toward the roofs that were holding water.

As architects/roof consultants, there is nothing we hate more than to get a call from a client who says, “My new roof is leaking.” Yet, that is exactly what happened to us not long ago. My firm had put a new thermoplastic PVC roof system on a high-profile government building in central New Jersey. The owner was my long-time client, and I ran the project, so I was intimately familiar with it and utterly shocked to get this call about six months after the project was completed. We had just experienced a three-day nor’easter that began on Thursday night and ran straight through to Monday morning when the client arrived at the building to find numerous leaking areas.

I responded by immediately going to the building. I was accompanied by the roofing system manufacturer. As the client led us around the building, water was dripping through suspended ceilings all over, which gave us the sinking (almost apocalyptic) feeling you hope to never know. However, when we went up to examine the roof, much to our surprise, there was no blow off; no seams torn; in fact, no apparent defects at all. Our thermoplastic cap sheet looked perfect on the surface.

On the upper roof, aluminum-framed sawtoothed skylights were dripping water when the team first arrived. This gave the only clue to where the “smoking gun” may lie.

On the upper roof, aluminum-framed sawtoothed skylights were dripping water when the team first arrived. This gave the only clue to where the “smoking gun” may lie.

What we did find, however, was large amounts of water trapped between this cap sheet and the 90-mil bituminous base sheet underneath. This was creating large water-filled blisters on the roof that looked like an old waterbed as you walked up to and around them. No matter how hard we looked we just couldn’t find defects in the membrane surface or at any of the flashing connections or terminations that could be causing this. There was, however, a likely suspect looming adjacent to and above our roofs. The building experiencing the roof leaks has one whole face that is an aluminum-framed glass curtainwall. It extends up above the roof lines, slopes up (from the vertical) forming a peaked skylight, which then slopes back toward these roofs that were holding water. On the upper roof, sawtoothed skylights of the same construction were dripping water when we first arrived. This gave the only clue to where the “smoking gun” may lie.

METHODOLOGY

Water was dripping from the saw- toothed skylights into a planter in the 4-story atrium. The client said that was typical with all hard rains. Armed with this clue, and no other apparent explanation for such a large amount of water intrusion, the owner engaged us to find out what indeed was the root cause of this problem.

On the upper roof, aluminum-framed sawtoothed skylights were dripping water when the team first arrived. This gave the only clue to where the “smoking gun” may lie.

On the upper roof, aluminum-framed sawtoothed skylights were dripping water when the team first arrived. This gave the only clue to where the “smoking gun” may lie.

In a couple days, the dripping subsided and most of the water blisters had dissipated or at least were reduced and stabilized. In the interim, I assembled a team consisting of a roofing restoration contractor (this is not a rip and tear production contractor but one especially geared to finding problems and making associated repairs), skylight restoration contractor and testing agency capable of building spray racks onsite to deliver water wherever it’s needed. With this team, I embarked on a systematic investigation that would make any “detective” proud.

First, we plugged the roof drains and let water pool on the roof until the en- tire surface was wet. Meanwhile, “spot-ters” inside the building were looking for any sign of water intrusion using lights above the dropped ceilings. When this showed nothing, we began constructing spray racks and running water for set intervals on every adjacent surface rising above and surrounding the lowest roof in question. We first sprayed the exposed base flashings, then rose up to the counterflashing, then further up the wall, then to the sill of the windows above, etc. Then we would move laterally to a new position and start again.

The team first sprayed the exposed base flashings with water, then rose up to the counterflashing, then further up the wall, then to the sill of the windows above, etc. Testing moved laterally to a new position before starting again.

The team first sprayed the exposed base flashings with water, then rose up to the counterflashing, then further up the wall, then to the sill of the windows above, etc. Testing moved laterally to a new position before starting again.

This proved painstakingly tedious, but we knew that making the building leak was not enough; we had to move slowly and systematically to be able to isolate the location to determine what exactly was leaking and why. It is important when applying water this way to start low and only after a set period move upward, so when water does evidence itself as a leak, you know from what elevation it came.

After an entire day of spraying the rising walls surrounding the first (low) roof area, we could not replicate a leak. Somewhat frustrated—and rapidly burning the testing budget—we began the second day focusing on the adjacent peaked skylight, which is more than 75- feet long.

The team first sprayed the exposed base flashings with water, then rose up to the counterflashing, then further up the wall, then to the sill of the windows above, etc. Testing moved laterally to a new position before starting again.

The team first sprayed the exposed base flashings with water, then rose up to the counterflashing, then further up the wall, then to the sill of the windows above, etc. Testing moved laterally to a new position before starting again.

Again, we started low, where our base flashing tied into the knee-wall at the base of the skylight, below the aluminum-framed sill. Still no leaks. Late in the day, when we were finally up to the glass level, we sprayed water from the ridge and let it run right down the glass onto our roof below. Finally, we found some leaking occurring at a skylight flashing to wall connection. OK, that was reasonable to anticipate and easy to correct.

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Stop Leaks Around Vent Pipes

The Perma-Boot is a gasket-less, high-performance pipe boot system designed to permanently repair the most common type of roof leak—the leak around the vent pipes that penetrate the roof.

The Perma-Boot is a gasket-less, high-performance pipe boot system designed to permanently repair the most common type of roof leak—the leak around the vent pipes that penetrate the roof.

The Perma-Boot is a gasket-less, high-performance pipe boot system designed to permanently repair the most common type of roof leak—the leak around the vent pipes that penetrate the roof. Perma-Boot slides over an existing boot, preventing future leaks. Installation takes a few minutes; no tools are required. The product is designed for all standard roof pitches: 3:12 to 12:12. It is made of durable TPO and guaranteed for the life of the shingles.