Archive for January, 2011

Ice Dams Still Causing Problems For Minnesota Homeowners

January 27, 2011

Ice Dam Removal | Steam Removal of Ice Dams

Ice damming is a big problem here in Minnesota this year. Record snowfall amounts in December, preceded and interspersed by bouts of sleety precipitation, produced the perfect storm for ice dams to flourish.

“There’s a lot of leaks out there,” say Minnesota roofing contractors, who have been taking calls for help. After a series of wimpy winters, this one and last year’s have prompted ice dams to return with a vengeance. As a result, Minnesota homes are being affected much earlier than usual this year.

Ice dams form when snow accumulates on a roof that’s too warm, then melts and drains down to refreeze at the colder overhangs of eaves. The water that collects behind the frozen dams may seep through the roof and down into a structure. Poorly insulated and inadequately vented attics are the biggest contributors to ice buildups, which can be mitigated by clearing snow from roofs.

Long-handled roof rakes can be employed to pull off the first few feet of snow behind eaves, but locally they’ve become a scarcity. Menards ran out over the weekend, and Home Depot’s supply was depleted for the third time this winter.

Complete removal of roof snow is best, and is best if the work is done by a contractor using a steam unit to clear heavy snow and ice buildups. This method melts the ice dam in a manner that will not damage your roof.

Ice shield membranes, routinely installed along roof edges before new shingles are installed, make a big preventative difference when it comes to water issues produced by ice dam formations.

Prior to five or six years ago building codes called for membranes to extend three feet up from an exterior wall. Under the new code, 6-foot rows of membranes are now standard, and some homeowners request even more. Some people have wanted a membrane on the entire roof.

Contractors say that an ounce-of-prevention is worth-a-pound-of-cure. Thousands of homeowners in the community who had new roofs installed following severe summer storms may have been lulled into a false sense of security. Ice shield membranes guard against water penetration but can’t prevent ice dams that, if left untended, can extend upward beyond the shields.

According to the University of Minnesota Extension Service, problems occur when a series of conditions coincide:

A roof’s upper surface must average above 32 degrees for sustained periods while the lower surfaces average below freezing temperatures. The dams form in the areas that are below freezing, and water collects behind them in areas that are not.

In addition to removing roof snow, ice dam prevention involves controlling heat loss from the house to the attic. This can be achieved by enhancing ceiling insulation that keeps heat out of the attic, thereby preventing the roof from heating up, and by keeping roof vents free of snow.

And as a related precaution, snow should be cleared away from outside gas meters to guard against blockage of regulator vents that could cause gas leaks inside the home.

If you are one of the many Minnesota homeowners with roof damage from ice dams, contact a Minnesota roofing contractor today!

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Winter Buildup Still Causing Headaches For Minnesota Homeowners

January 25, 2011

Minnesota Homeowners Still Solving Ice Dam Problems

Ice dams — or ice buildup on roof eaves — are all too obvious and all too familiar to Minnesota homeowners. The shelf of ice along the eave and the icicles are clearly visible, as are the dislodged roof shingles, sagging gutters, damaged insulation, and water stains on interior ceilings and walls that are the result of ice dams. What isn’t clearly visible is what causes ice dams.

Although sometimes thought of as a problem with roofing or attic ventilation, ice dams are actually caused by the presence of warm air in the attic, combined with snow on the roof and the right weather conditions. Ice dams occur when heat leaks into the attic and melts the underside of the snow on the roof. The melted snow then flows down the roof surface until it reaches a cold spot (such as the eaves or soffit) where it forms a frozen dam, behind which more snowmelt and ice pile up.

The ice build-up can back up under the shingles, damaging them and allowing water to leak ICE DAM to the ceilings and walls below.

The source of ice dams: attic air leaks

Warm air leaking from the house into the attic is the primary cause of ice dams. Anywhere there is a penetration into the attic space (around wires, plumbing vents, light fixtures, chimneys, and knee walls) there is the potential for air leaks. Even homes that are only a few years old may not be properly sealed. To avoid these types of problems and eliminate most ice dams, attic air leaks must be sealed with caulking or expanding spray foam.

Solutions

  • Sealing attic air leaks saves energy and is key to preventing ice dams.
  • An energy audit with an infrared scan can pinpoint trouble spots.
  • If damage has occurred and ice must be removed, hiring professionals that use steamers is strongly recommended.

What NOT to do:

  • Installing heating cables will shorten the life of your roof and cost you money to operate.
  • Removing ice with shovels, chippers, chemicals, or heat can damage shingles, gutters, and other building components—and can be very dangerous.
  • Adding roof vents—including powered vents—will not eliminate ice dams, and oft en makes the problems worse.
  • Additional insulation—especially on the top plate of exterior walls—can reduce heat transfer to the roof deck, but insulation alone is insufficient. Typical attic insulation will not stop air leaks or prevent ice dams.

If you are one of the many Minnesota homeowners with roof damage from ice dams, contact a Minnesota roofing contractor today!

This Year In Minnesota Has Turned Out To Be The Mother Of All Ice Dam Winters

January 20, 2011

Minnesota property owners and homeowners have never seen ice dams as severe as we’ve had this year. The result has led to a surge of insurance claims for rotting ceilings and walls, collapsing roofs other problems.

For Minnesota property owners this has shaped up as a really bad catastrophe year. We keep hearing the same thing over and over from property managers and homeowners: “I’ve lived here a long time and I’ve always had ice dams, but they’ve never been this bad and they’ve never caused roof leaks until this year”, referring to surging ice dam claims on top of damage from 104 tornadoes in the summer. The worst year for ice dams was in 2001, when insurance companies paid out $50 million in losses. This year has been as bad or worse.  It turned from the garden variety of ice dam winters to the mother of all ice dam winters.

Until this year, ice dam problems were more evident in older houses in first-tier suburbs. This year, even newer suburban houses have problems because the snow is deep and blocking roof vents where warmer air usually would escape.

If your building has experienced  ice damming, contact a reliable roofing contractor to repair the roof damage as soon as possible. They will work with your insurance company and can assist you in filing your claim.

Winter Can Be Your Roof’s Worst Enemy

January 20, 2011

Commercial Roofing Takes a Beating

Winter has two faces: A snowy wonderland or a serious threat to rooftops.  Blizzards, freeze-thaw cycles and frigid temperatures place extraordinary stresses on commercial roofing systems. While most are designed to withstand harsh wintry conditions, roof failures can occur when these systems are pushed beyond their limits.  Heavy snow is a major concern.  Clogged drains and leaks are others.  Snow loads of just two to four feet can be hazardous, depending on the building deck.  For a concrete deck, two or three feet of snow usually are not a problem.  But for roofs constructed of economical light gauge steel, often used in strip malls and warehouses for instance, collapse is a genuine danger.  Snow loads of a few feet could be hazardous and snow removal may be indicated.

When snow removal is necessary, using the wrong shovel on a single ply roof can be a big mistake.  Many roofs are ruined that way.  For this reason, a roofing professional should be considered a valuable partner in proper snow removal, potentially saving a building owner the cost of repair resulting from shovel damage failures.

The best safeguard against winter calamities is routine roof inspections just before and just after winter.  Minor problems with drains, flashings, copings and so forth can be repaired before winter.  Spring is the time for identifying major defects such as split membranes caused by wintry weather.  Major roof repairs or reroofing should be scheduled for the summer and fixed well before winter arrives.

A building’s drainage is also at risk during wintry weather.  Snow and ice can obstruct drains and build up during freeze-thaw cycles.  This ice can get under flashings, copings, drains and joints and wreak havoc on all types of roofing systems.  A roofing professional has the experience and knowledge to identify and correct problems before they become catastrophic.

Most buildings are designed to withstand the worst case scenarios of wintry weather, but if a design flaw becomes apparent, extraordinary measures may be required in the winter.

For example, heating tape may need to be installed around drains to alleviate ponding and ice buildup.  Because of the energy costs to melt ice and snow, heat tape is not an ideal solution but may be the only way to avert a disaster if the building is prone to this problem.  Each type of roofing system presents its own strengths and weaknesses. A roofing professional can determine when a roof is no longer reliable or can assist the owner or property manager in obtaining the routine maintenance required for the roof to survive another winter.  Building owners often replace their roofs as soon as the warranty expires even though it could provide several more years of reliable service life.  An experienced roofer can assess the condition of the roof and may recommend maintenance to keep the roof viable for an additional number of years.  They know how to cooperate with manufacturers to obtain accurate technical information about the reliability and performance of roofing products and their suitability for a particular application.

GAF-Elk Shingles Now Pass Two Toughest ASTM Wind Tests For Superior Protection

January 10, 2011

GAF-Elk Shingles Now Pass Two Toughest ASTM Wind Test

GAF Materials Corporation, North America’s largest roofing manufacturer, today confirms that every shingle it manufactures now passes the two toughest wind tests in the roofing industry: ASTM D3161 Class F 110 mph and ASTM D7158 Class H 150 mph. Roofing contractors in the U.S. can now install any GAF-Elk shingle in any area without concern about whether they comply with national or local wind speed requirements. To its knowledge, GAF may be the only shingle manufacturer that can make this claim.

In order to pass these arduous ASTM tests, the shingles were first subjected to 110 mph winds using ASTM’s testing protocol. Not only did the GAF-Elk shingles pass, but they exceeded the test requirements by enduring the test conditions for a full two hours, showing no damage. They were then tested using the 150 mph wind test protocol, and passed again, thanks to GAF-Elk’s DuraGrip® adhesive’s tight seal.

In case some contractors think that wind may not be a major concern outside of obvious coastal areas, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (who develop wind guidelines for construction in the U.S.), the lowest wind speed that home designers should plan for is 85 miles per hour. In fact, for about 110 million people in the United States from Maine to Texas, codes require 110 mph or greater ASTM classifications. Further, high winds are not just a concern for coastal regions, as local geography can cause high winds at peaks, mountain passes, or large water bodies.

The threat is real. According to The Institute for Business and Home Safety, more than 60% of all homes in the U.S. are vulnerable to damage from high winds generated by storms and heavy rains. Blown-off shingles can leave a home vulnerable to water damage, mildew, and mold and damaged roofs are expensive to repair. As part of its continuing effort to provide the highest quality shingles to homeowners, GAF-Elk submitted to ASTM’s severe testing regimen and successfully proved the quality and reliability of its shingles for use in any market in the U.S.

Because of GAF-Elk’s stringent standards, only the top 3% of all roofing contractors have qualified as Master Elite contractors! Choosing a GAF-Elk Master Elite contractor is your assurance that you’ll be dealing with a quality, reputable, and dependable professional contractor — not some “fly-by-nighter.”

Source: http://www.gaf.com

Commercial and Industrial Flat Roof Systems

January 4, 2011

Commercial Flat Roof Systems

It is important that customers are educated on their roofing needs as the investment in commercial flat roofing systems are significant. Here is some information from the National Roofing Contractors Association on the most common flat roofing systems for industrial & commercial buildings to help you make your decision.

Built Up Roofing System

Built Up Roofing – BUR

These roof systems are sometimes referred to as “tar and gravel roofs” (although we don’t use actually use tar as it’s a carcinogenic) and asphalt BUR is the most common type of flat roof at this time.

BUR systems generally are composed of alternating layers of bitumen and reinforcing fabrics that create a finished membrane.  The number of plies in a cross section is the number of plies on a roof: The term “four plies” denotes a four ply roof membrane construction.  Sometimes, a base sheet, used as the bottom most ply, is mechanically fastened.  Built up roofs generally are considered to be fully adhered if applied directly to roof decks or insulation.  The reinforcing fabrics also are called roofing felts or ply sheets.

The bitumen typically used in BUR roof systems is asphalt, coal tar or cold-applied adhesive.  The asphalt or coal tar is heated in a kettle or tanker and then applied by mop or mechanical spreader.  Asphalt is a petroleum product refined from crude oil; coal tar is derived from the distillation of coal.  Cold-applied adhesives typically are solvent-based asphalts that don’t have to be heated in a kettle or tanker.

The materials used for built up roof systems include aggregate (such as gravel, slag or mineral granules), glass-fibre or mineral surfaced cap sheets, hot asphalt mopped over the entire surface, aluminum coatings or elastomeric coatings.  Asphalt BUR is the most common type of flat roof at this time. It is made up of multiple layers of reinforcing plies and asphalt forming a redundancy of water proofing layers.  The reflectivity of built up roofs depend on the surfacing material used.  Gravel is the most common and they are referred to as asphalt and gravel roofs. Asphalt degradation, however, is a growing concern. UV-rays oxidize the surface of the asphalt and produces a chalk-like residue.  As plasticizers leach out of the asphalt, asphalt built up roofs become brittle.  Cracking and alligatoring follows, allowing water to penetrate the system causing blisters, cracks and leaks.  Regular maintenance is required to ensure that a BUR roofing system achieves its life expectancy.

SBS (APP) Roofing System

Single-Ply Membranes

Single-ply membranes are factory-manufactured sheet membranes. They generally are categorized as either thermoset (EDPM) or thermoplastic (TPO or PVC). Thermoplastic materials can be repeatedly softened when heated and hardened when cooled. Thermoset materials solidify, or “set,” irreversibly after heating. Single ply membranes commonly are referred to by their chemical acronyms, such as ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM).

Single-ply sheet membranes are produced using one of three manufacturing processes: calendering, extruding or spread coating. The membranes may contain reinforcement layers. Common reinforcements for single ply membranes include polyester fabrics or scrims, glass fibre, or a felt or fleece backing.

A finished sheet’s thickness typically is referred to as mil thickness. Common mil thickness for these sheet membranes range from 30 mils to 60 mils. Single-ply membranes can be installed fully adhered, mechanically attached or held down with ballast. Most single-ply roof systems do not receive surfacing. In many instances, a combination of attachment methods are used to secure a roof system.

For instance, an insulation may be mechanically attached to the substrate with the roof membrane fully adhered to the insulation.

EPDM Roofing System

EPDM A Single-Ply Membrane

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EDPM) roofing is an efficient rubber roof style used on low-slope roofing surfaces. It is a synthetic rubber most commonly used in single-ply roofing because it is readily available and relatively simple to apply. It is also called Single Ply Membrane and it is one of the common types of low-slope roofing. It’s been in use on roofs in the Canada since the 1960’s. When properly applied, it has a life cycle of 15 to 25 years. It is great for preventing leaks and is often installed for roofs that have problems with weathering, failing joints, and inflexibility. It is relatively inexpensive as well as simple to install as compared to BUR. Compared to conventional built-up roofs, it is also much cleaner and doesn’t emit the odors and fumes that are often associated with built up roofing systems. (Although Conestoga Roofing uses an “odourless kettle” when it comes to applying BUR.) Vulcanized EPDM is the most common type of EPDM roofing system. Non-vulcanized EPDM is typically used for flashing purposes.

There are three methods of applying EPDM:

  1. Fully adhered EPDM uses water-based or solvent-based adhesives to adhere the EPDM rubber to the substrate.
  2. Mechanically fastened EPDM is attached to the substrate by manufacturer-approved mechanical methodology.
  3. Loose-laid membranes are secured only at the perimeters and any penetrations. A ballast of round river rock or concrete pavers is used to hold the materials in place. The river rock is usually installed at a rate of 1000 – 1200 pounds per square (100 square feet of roofing surface) and the pavers typically weigh 20-pounds per square foot. Structural integrity is of paramount importance with a loose-laid roof system. The seams are sealed using either an adhesive or a splicing tape.

EPDM Benefits:

Highly dependable, economically beneficial, high durability, and high efficiency makes EPDM an attractive option to any building owner looking to a commercial, industrial and institutional roofing contractor for a new roof or an upgrade to the existing roofing system. Additionally, an EPDM roof will often come with long warranty, low maintenance requirements, low installation labor costs, and generally garner rather easy code approvals. For regions subject to potentially catastrophic weather experiences, such as hurricanes – EPDM roofs have very high resistance, making them quite practical for those who live in those areas.

Advantages of EPDM

EPDM roofs are highly resistant to weathering, ozone, and surface damage. It is flexible in cold weather and still has high fire and heat resistance. You can’t go wrong choosing EPDM for low-slope roofs and flat roofs that need to be waterproof and durable against the harsh Minnesota weather.

TPO Roof System

TPO & PVC

Another example of a Single-Ply Membrane is the thermoplastic TPO or PVC roofing system. These membranes can be repeatedly softened by heating or hardened when cooled. Because of the materials’ chemical nature, thermoplastic membranes typically are seamed by heat welding with hot air or solvent welding.
The most common thermoplastic roof membranes are PVC and TPO. The following provides general descriptions of these two systems .

Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO)
TPO membranes are produced by calendering with lamination, extrusion with lamination, or extrusion-coating techniques. TPO sheets are a blend of polypropylene and ethylene propylene polymers and usually are reinforced with polyester. TPO sheets contain colorant, flame retardants, UV absorbers and other proprietary substances to achieve desired physical properties.

  • Sheet widths range from 6 feet to 12 feet wide
  • Sheets are typically 40 mils to 100 mils thick
  • Seams are sealed by heat welded with hot air
  • TPO membranes Commonly are white or black
TPO roofing

PVC sheets are produced by calendering, spread coating or extruding, and typically are reinforced with polyester or glass-fibre mats or scrim. PVC sheets contain plasticizers and stabilizers, as well as other additives to impart flexibility and achieve other desired physical properties. Some membranes are available with nonwoven fleece backing adhered to the underside of a sheet.

  • Sheet widths range from 6 feet to 12 feet wide.
  • Sheets are typically 45 mils to 90 mils thick.
  • Seams are sealed by heat or chemical welding.
  • PVC membranes are produced in numerous colors, though gray and white are the most common.

Modified Bitumen

Polymer-modified roof membranes are composed of reinforcing fabrics that serve as carriers for the hot polymer-modified bitumen as it is manufactured into a roll material. MB roof system membranes are composed of multiple layers, much like BUR membranes. MB roof systems typically are installed as a two-ply system and almost always are fully adhered.

There are two types of MB roofing membranes:

  • SBS polymer-modified bitumen membranes commonly are installed in hot moppings of asphalt (similar to BUR systems) or cold adhesive. Some SBS modified membranes are self adhering; that is, they contain an adhesive backing.
  • APP polymer-modified bitumen membranes typically are heat-welded or torch-applied.

Generally, APP modifiers impart a “plasticized” quality to asphalt, and SBS modifiers impart a “rubberized” quality to asphalt. MB membranes and EPDM a thermoset membrane, often are confused by consumers because of colloquialisms used by roofing contractors. MB and EPDM membranes are sometimes called “rubber roofs.”

Modified Bitumen

Surfacings for MB membranes include aggregate surfacing, mineral surfacing, metal foil-laminate surfacing and smooth liquid-applied surfacing.

Look for a roofing contractor that specializes in different types of roofing, and can help you to decide which will work best for your building – residential or commercial.

If you are planning to install a flat roof for your building, the best thing that you can do is to contact a professional roofing service that has extensive experience working with commercial roofing systems.

Prevent and Repair Water Damage From Ice Dams

January 2, 2011

Ice Dams and Water Damage

Ice dams can be a very destructive situation for a home in areas of the country with heavy or frequent snowfall and moderate temperature swings. Ice dams do not often occur where daytime temperatures remain below freezing for long periods of time. Snow is allowed to melt or evaporate gradually and ice dams are not formed. Knowing what to do before and after severe winter weather can help lessen the damage from ice dams or prevent them from occurring in the first place.

Ice Dam

Water damage to your home is one of the most costly repairs you can encounter. Whether it be from a roof leak or plumbing leak, materials in your home that get wet from leaks, like sheet rock, wood and carpet, can not only result in expensive repairs but pose a serious health threat from mold and mildew. If leaks are detected early enough you can prevent any resultant mold and mildew. Time is of the essence here though. For mold to develop to damaging levels on sheet rock it will need to remain wet longer than 24-48 hours and on wood if it stays wet longer than 2 weeks. So once the water source is removed the opportunity for mold to develop is inhibited.

The winters are a time when water intrusion into your home has an added opportunity to occur when it snows and the temperatures remain at or below freezing for a minimum of 2-3 days. Snow buildup on your roofs can form what are called “ice dams” and leak water into your attic. If enough moisture penetrates through your roofing materials and gets absorbed in the insulation or sheet rock, you won’t notice it until the damage has reached a level that could require a professional mold remediation team to remove it.

Ice Dam on Roof

Ice dams form when snow settles on a section of your pitched roof and the temperature above the packed snow is warmer than the snow below it, as this illustration shows. The higher, warmer temperature melts the snow and as it runs over the colder adjacent lower section of roof it freezes before it gets to the edge to fall off. This ice buildup sits against the snow and a void is then created between the two elements, underneath, where water forms. As this water sits there it can permeate roofing materials that have porous imperfections in them that may have occurred undetected during the building process or have developed over time as the elements have impacted your roof.

If you are one of the many Minnesota homeowners with roof damage from ice dams, contact a Minnesota roofing contractor today!