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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Exterior Shades Are Designed for Skylights

VELUX and RENSON have introduced Topfix VMS, a motor-operated sunscreen with special mounting feet engineered for fixed and movable VELUX Modular Skylights.

VELUX and RENSON have introduced Topfix VMS, a motor-operated sunscreen with special mounting feet engineered for fixed and movable VELUX Modular Skylights.

VELUX and RENSON have introduced Topfix VMS, a motor-operated sunscreen with special mounting feet engineered for fixed and movable VELUX Modular Skylights. It employs ZipShade technology, providing fabric tension and wind resistance up to 75 mph. The proprietary design integrates screen fabrics to which zippers are affixed and move within a side channel and guide system for smooth extension/retraction, consistent fabric tension and resistance to the elements. Topfix VMS is available in a variety of colors and blackout-shade options. It can be integrated into a building-management system.

A Watertight Warranty Convinces HOA to Select Standing-seam Metal Roofing

When you know you can do a good job and you know you’re working with good products, you don’t mind being held accountable. On Top Roofing of Park City, Utah, recently completed a demanding roofing project and supplied the homeowners association with a watertight warranty.

With a strict spec from the consultant and a watertight warranty to back up the work, a standing-seam metal roofing system installed by On Top Roofing was selected for Cache Condos

With a strict spec from the consultant and a watertight warranty to back up the work, a standing-seam metal roofing system installed by On Top Roofing was selected for Cache Condos.

Homeowners associations, or HOAs, have been known to provide challenges to roofers, especially metal roofing installers. The only thing more daunting than an uneducated HOA board is an HOA board that was forced to learn about roofing. The HOA board at the Cache Condos in Park City knows roofing.

The original roof on the condos was a cedar shake that lasted more than 20 years, but a little more than five years ago, it was starting to fail. The board elected to go with a corrugated metal roof with a rusty look.

“In the five years they had that corrugated roof, they had more trouble with leaks than they did in 20 years with the shake roof,” says Jeremy Russell of On Top Roofing. “It was a bad install by a company no longer in business. So they hired a consultant—a consultant who insisted that all details be installed to specification. That’s what we do.”

First, the consultant and the board had to be re-sold on metal roofing for the Cache Condos. The rusty 7/8-inch corrugated metal roof installed just five years ago was installed with exposed fasteners, was rusting in flashing areas and leaking in the laps when snow built up on the roof. With a strict spec from the consultant and a watertight warranty from Drexel Metals to back up the work, a standing-seam metal roofing system installed by On Top Roofing was selected.

“One of the requirements was we had to inject the seams with butyl,” Russell says. “So we purchased a Hot Melt [Technologies] system. It was a huge investment, but we were happy to do it. It was something we’ve wanted to do and this project got us to take that step.

“We received plenty of support from Drexel, putting everything together to meet the requirements of the consultant,” he adds. “We worked out all the details to spec and added some of our own that were above spec.”

One requirement was to use no exposed fasteners. That meant employing stainless-steel material in many of the details: skylights, chimneys, roof to wall flashings. “We etched it, primed it and painted it with automotive paint to match,” Russell notes. “It took more time, but it will not leak.”

One requirement was to avoid exposed fasteners, which meant employing stainless-steel material in many of the details: skylights, chimneys, roof to wall flashings.

One requirement was to avoid exposed fasteners, which meant employing stainless-steel material in many of the details: skylights, chimneys, roof to wall flashings.

More than 33,500 square feet of 22-gauge Galvalume 1 3/4-inch snap-lock standing-seam panels—all formed onsite—were installed by Russell’s crew. The roofing panels, rollformed on one of On Top Roofing’s two New Tech Machinery rollformers, were PVDF-painted in Medium Bronze. The project took about eight months to complete and On Top Roofing wrapped up in November 2014.

“We issued the warranty in December 2014,” says Frank Oswald, warranty inspector for Drexel Metals. “I’d say Jeremy went above and beyond what a typical installer would have done on this project. I was at this site on three different occasions because this project was really under a microscope. Ultimately, we’re quite satisfied with the work and the install.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eneref Institute Launches Natural Interior Daylight Initiative

Eneref Institute, an advocate for sustainable development, announces the launch of its Natural Interior Daylight (NID) initiative to encourage greater use of sunlight as a primary light source in homes and buildings.

Expert advisors to the Natural Interior Daylight initiative include three of the nation’s most influential lighting designers: Nancy Clanton, Jim Benya and Chip Israel.

The initiative launched a virtual campus featuring a repository of advocacy reports demonstrating successful applications of natural interior daylight in homes and buildings. Eneref advocacy reports draw on the expertise of advisors as well as testimonial interviews with end-user customers to provide a uniquely authentic, real-world perspective on a variety of technologies and solutions.

In addition, Eneref Institute published a report in LD+A, the journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society, outlining the current market obstacles to daylighting.

Increased human wellness and productivity benefits in spaces prioritizing daylight have been confirmed by three evidence-based Heschong Mahone studies—findings echoed in Eneref Institute advocacy reports.

“Daylighting should be considered in any high-performance building,” says Nancy Clanton, president of Clanton & Associates, a provider of sustainable lighting design.

The use of interior daylight such as energy-efficient windows and skylights—in place of or in conjunction with traditional electric lighting—can significantly reduce a building’s energy load. Lighting represents almost 20 percent of global electricity consumption.

“Whenever we work with clients, our team always encourages daylighting because it makes sense for both energy efficiency and the overall well-being of occupants,” explains Deborah Burnett, U.S. lighting designer and wellness SME principal of Benya Burnett Consultancy.

“We’re delighted to participate in Eneref Institute’s independent initiative because it will benefit our entire daylighting industry,” says John Lawton, electrical engineer and global product skylight manager for VELUX, the world’s largest manufacturer of residential skylights.

“Rooftop prismatic skylights offer facility owners an excellent, low-cost opportunity to enhance the quality of the interior lighting when coupled with proper installation and maintenance,” explains John Godwin, vice president of CentiMark, a commercial roofing and flooring contractor.

“Sustainability is just good design,” according to Chip Israel, an internationally recognized lighting designer and president of the Lighting Design Alliance.

The benefits of natural interior daylight outweigh the investment; as sustainable practices grow more common, its use in homes and buildings will continue to increase, according to Seth Warren Rose, founding director of Eneref Institute.

“You don’t need a degree in illuminating engineering to know that a room with a view—one with windows that lets in natural light—is what people want. Inherently, we just know,” explains Rose.

For more information about the daylighting market, see the Eneref Institute report “Seven Market Obstacles of Natural Interior Daylight.”

Runners’ Haven Receives New Aluminum Roof

Coxe Cage is the home of the Yale men's and women's indoor track and field teams.

Coxe Cage is the home of the Yale men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams.

Coxe Cage at Yale University, New Haven, Conn., is the home of the Yale men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams. The building is said to have one of the largest skylights in the world at roughly 26,000 square feet. The reroofing project began July 2013 and was completed in late 2013. Approximately 25,981 square feet of Tite-Loc Plus, 16-inches on-center, 0.040 aluminum was installed on the building. The 75-foot panels feature the color Zinc.

Team

The building is said to have one of the largest skylights in the world at roughly 26,000 square feet.

The building is said to have one of the largest skylights in the world at roughly 26,000 square feet.


Roofing contractor: Silktown Roofing, Manchester, Conn.

Architect: Kiss + Cathcart Architects, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Roofing distributor: ABC Supply, Beloit, Wis.

General contractor: Giordano Construction, Brandford, Conn.

Aluminum supplier: Petersen Aluminum Corp.

Approximately 25,981 square feet of Tite-Loc Plus, 16-inches on-center, 0.040 aluminum was installed on the building.

Approximately 25,981 square feet of Tite-Loc Plus, 16-inches on-center, 0.040 aluminum was installed on the building.

Photos: Petersen Aluminum Corp.

ECHOTape Repair Tape Now Sold by The Home Depot via HomeDepot.com

Pressure-sensitive tape supplier, ECHOtape’s full repair line will be sold online by a home improvement retailer, The Home Depot via HomeDepot.com. Launched in 2014 at the beginning of the third quarter, the repair line provides contractors with an alternative to duct tapes, and is designed to deliver solutions for repairs, sealing and waterproofing.

“We are very excited to be working with such a trusted name in home improvement like The Home Depot,” says Risa Edelstein, director of marketing for ECHOtape. “We dedicate our business to providing the ultimate tape solutions for a variety of applications and now contractors, remodelers, retrofitters and builders across the nation can purchase our performance-based repair tapes.”

ECHOtape’s comprehensive repair line is geared towards building contractors. In total, seven tapes are available now on HomeDepot.com. The products include three types of repair tapes with different color options:

  • All Purpose Repair Tape: This tape leaves little residue in comparison to a duct tape and is thick and flexible. Ideal for stretching and wrapping, this tape can be used for temporary repairs as well as for rips, tears, gashes and holes. This tape is available in clear and white.
  • All Weather Repair Tape: This tape is made with a butyl-based adhesive, which makes it sticky enough for applications to concrete, stone, wood, glass, metal, plastic, cement, plywood, and damp fabrics, and is ideal for sealing holes and cracks. It is puncture- and tear-resistant, waterproof, and will not crack in temperatures as low as -30 F or fail in temperatures as high as 200 F if applied correctly. The tape is available in white, silver and black.
  • All Leak Repair Tape: Also made with butyl-based adhesive, it is considered an extreme adhesive tape with double the stickiness of the All Weather Repair Tape. It shares many of the same qualities, including being waterproof, but is also resistant to corrosion. Because of its high level of adhesive, it can be used for repairing leaks in roof joints, skylights, RVs, pools and ponds. This tape is available in black and white.

“We are committed to making our products widely available to contractors in the U.S.,” says Edelstein. “This is an important step in increasing convenience for purchasers, and we look forward to continuing to expand our reach and product availability.”

Projects: Hospitality & Entertainment

The Lobby, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail, Colo.

The Lobby, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail, Colo.

The Lobby, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail, Colo.

Team

Design Architect: Zehren & Associates, Avon, Colo.
Engineer: Monroe & Newell Engineers Inc., Denver
Owner: Vail Valley Foundation, Vail

Roof Materials

The Vail Valley Foundation envisioned an iconic entrance for the amphitheater that not only would accommodate guests, protect against the elements and provide facilities, but also would recognize and celebrate the Ford family and mirror the amphitheater’s atmosphere.

Under the Vail Valley Foundation, Zehren’s team of architects chose approximately 5,500 square feet of PTFE fiberglass membrane canopies to make the vision for The Lobby a reality. PTFE, or polytetrafluoroethylene, is a Teflon-coated woven fiberglass membrane that is durable and weather resistant. The PTFE fiber coating is chemically inert, capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and immune to UV radiation.

Designer, fabricator and installer of PTFE fiberglass membrane: Birdair

Building Report

The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater is a remarkable outdoor venue nestled along a hillside with a stunning view of the Rocky Mountains. The Lobby, which is adjacent to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens and Ford Park, serves not only as an impressive entrance to the amphitheater, but also as a shelter from inclement weather, a social gathering point prior to entering the amphitheater, and a place for ticket and bag check. The Lobby allows for a smooth transition into the venue.

Within the Lobby resides a mini-stage that can accommodate pre-show performances, along with a new stand for concessions and restrooms. Around the perimeter of the space rests informal boulder seating, and alpine landscapes border the surrounding walls. Overall, the aesthetics of the space mirror the pristine landscape and enjoyable outdoor atmosphere.

The Lobby also holds a Ford family tribute: a series of symbolic sculptures and interpretive elements intended to pay homage to President and Mrs. Ford and their family. This tribute is a new landmark in Vail celebrating the family’s commitment to their adopted hometown and the positive changes that they made to the community.

PHOTO: BIRDAIR

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Polycarbonate Sheet Diffuses and Distributes Light in Skylight Applications

Bayer MaterialScience LLC</a> has launched Makrolon SK polycarbonate sheet

Bayer MaterialScience LLC has launched Makrolon SK polycarbonate sheet.

Bayer MaterialScience LLC has launched Makrolon SK polycarbonate sheet, the first in a series of Daylighting Solutions materials. Makrolon SK polycarbonate prismatic textured sheet is optimized to diffuse and distribute light while maintaining a high level of light transmission, making it ideal for daylighting applications. In skylight applications, the material can be draped or thermoformed and has a higher impact resistance than acrylic or glass.

Two color options are available: clear or white. A grade incorporating a UV-enhanced cap layer is available as Makrolon SK1 polycarbonate sheet.

Makrolon SK polycarbonate sheet provides commercial skylight and daylighting system manufacturers with a high-impact-strength glazing material that allows for reductions in lighting costs due to its balance of light transmission and diffusion.

Applications such as commercial skylights, canopies, overhangs, awnings and covered pedestrian walkways can all benefit from the combination of outstanding properties offered by this single material solution.

AAMA Releases Guideline for Installing Pre-assembled Unit Skylights

The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) has published AAMA 1607, “Voluntary Installation Guidelines for Unit Skylights.” This document provides a guideline for installing pre-assembled unit skylights onto a roof.

“The AAMA 1607 document is the first and only comprehensive unit skylight installation guideline ever produced,” says Bob Sampson (RCS Consulting), chair of the AAMA 1607 Update Task Group. “This outlines the best practices for a full range of roofing systems and product designs. It provides the architect, general contractor and roofing contractor with the best information to ensure a well detailed and executed installation. This can have a great effect on impacting the successful application of skylights on many projects in the future.”

The intent of this standard is to educate by providing clear illustrations and concise commentary on the principles involved to facilitate effective installation practice, when the unit manufacturer has not provided such detail in their instructions. Proper preparations and roof safety also are addressed within the standard.

AAMA 1607, along with other AAMA documents, may be purchased from AAMA’s Publication store.