Reroofing a Ballasted Roofing System

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By Dymon Brady

We have recently completed a re-roof of a ballasted roof. This particular roof was an EPDM Ballasted System, meaning it was installed with EPDM and covered with rock layers. We replaced the EPDM with TPO membrane and replaced the roof, keeping the ballasted system for a minimal cost to the building owner.

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When installing a ballasted roof system, the membrane is loose-laid, meaning it is not traditionally fastened in place with membrane screws and plates. Instead, sheets of roofing membrane are laid over the roof and sealed only at the seams. It is successfully held in place by the weight of the rock ballast, typically about an inch and a half in diameter. These rocks are layered to create a weight of 10-25 lbs a square foot, securing the membrane below. This rock layer is additionally helpful in preventing the sun from beating down on the membrane below, as well as preventing punctures in the membrane, thereby lengthening the life of the roof.

When reroofing a ballasted roof, it is not a good idea to leave the membrane intact but rather it should either be relief cut, or completely removed (as described in the next paragraph.) This is because the original or bottom membrane will shrink and pull away from penetrations such as skylights, pipes and joints. Also, if the new or top layer of membrane did happen to develop a leak, the water could run between the two membranes for hundreds of feet before it finds a way through the original membrane below. This makes it nearly impossible to locate and resolve leaks.

Instead, we are faced with two options when reroofing a ballast system. First, we can make relief cuts in the original membrane in 10 X 10 ft grids. This way, if the membrane shrinks (which it inevitably will), it does not cause problems to the remaining roof. Also, if a mechanical repairman walks across the roof and causes a puncture penetration, we only have a small 10 ft radius to search for a leak source, as moisture will find their way through at the cuts.

However, if we make these cuts to the membrane below, we might as well throw the membrane away. The remaining membrane does nothing to strengthen the roof. PVC membrane will actually curl at the edges and become brittle, something we refer to as ‘potato chipping’. This can make the new membrane layer bumpy and uneven, inhibiting the proper flow of water.

Instead, Brady Roofing makes it a point to remove the original membrane and install new membrane over the top. This creates a clean, efficient new roof. By removing the original membrane, we eliminate the possibility of it bunching or causing uneven bumps on the roof.

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We do this using a technique called ‘wind rowing’. Instead of hauling all of the existing rock and gravel from the roof, which could cost thousands of dollars, we group the rocks into rows along the roof. We take about ten feet from each side and pile it in the middle to form a row. This exposed 10 ft increments of EPDM spaced 10 ft apart.

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We then removed the EPDM and put down a layer of TPO. In between these two rows of TPO, we still have an entirely built up rock level resting on an EPDM layer. We moved these rocks to lay on top of the TPO and exposed the EPDM. We removed this EPDM and lay down another strip of TPO. We had measured before we began the project, so we knew exactly where to lay down each row to make it perfectly straight and aligned as was necessary. All we needed to do at that point was to seal the TPO seams from the middle row to the outside rows, and lay the rock back on top of the new membrane.

This simple process creates 30 ft of membrane, quickly and effectively installed, without needing fasteners in the seams. We were also able to keep the underlying rigid insulation, which significantly reduces the price of the project. Fasteners are still required through the new membrane around the perimeter, at angle changes, and around roof penetrations such as ventilation pipes and HVAC curbs etc. These fasteners are vital to keep the membrane from bridging or pulling away at the edges and corners as the roof system ages.

The company we bid against was bidding much less, but they were not going to tear off the membrane or even relief cut it. They also were not going to do drip edge detail around the perimeter. We have found we are more thorough than many of our competitors. We take pride in being a better value because we do things the way they are supposed to be done. Brady Roofing is known for being a thorough, honest company with very experienced managers and installers. We are committed to providing the best quality roof possible. For a free roofing estimate, or if you may have any questions, contact us today and we will be glad to serve you.

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Installing a Tile Walking Deck

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By Dymon Brady

A failed tile deck or walkway is a common occurrence. Tile is very beautiful, but it is not always the best choice to waterproof the outside of your home or building. Up until now, I have not felt comfortable installing a tile roofing deck, knowing that most applications are simply not adequately waterproofed to keep the structure dry and protected from moisture related deterioration. However, Duradek has recently released a new waterproof tile and membrane combination that has successfully proven to be weather-proof while allowing the tile to adhere properly throughout our harsh Utah climate: Tiledek.

This product is so beautiful once installed, that it is easy to forget it is actually a roofing product. Duradek has been waterproofing roofing decks for over 30 years using PVC membranes. The Tiledek roof assembly is comprised of a 1/2″ thick cementitious board called Durock, which is adhered to the plywood and fastened with screws. Tiledek membrane is then fully adhered to the Durock Cement Board and terminated properly at all perimeters. All seams in this membrane are heat welded together to prevent moisture penetration during summer rains or winter freeze – thaw cycles.

The membrane is unique because it has a fleece effacer on the upper surface of the sheet that allows the thinset used in tile installations to properly adhere. The PVC membrane fleece effacer adheres to a thinset mortar, which then securely holds the tile and grout in place. This process has proven so successful that certain assemblies of Tiledek have been deemed heavy enough for commercial use.

Compared to other manufacturers, there is a reason I recommend Tiledek. For example, most tile walking decks use modified bitumen roofing as a waterproofing material. For areas with extreme temperatures, like we experience in Utah, this material has a tendency to soften, which then causes the tile attached to it to crack. Because Tiledek uses PVC membrane, this problem is avoided. Also, Tiledek is heat-welded together, causing seams to be more secure than membrane seams that are chemically adhered.

When installing any walking deck on your roof or home, it is important to treat the task as a roofing project and not as a tile project. It is best to hire a certified roofing contractor that specializes in roof deck and balcony waterproofing. If your tile deck is installed by tile setters, they may miss crucial waterproofing steps that could actually cause your tile to be more likely to crack, as well as causing water damage to your home or building.

Brady Roofing is specially certified to install Duradek products on homes and commercial buildings. We specialize in waterproofing vulnerable areas to protect your roof from leaks. We also have the experience necessary to make any walking deck look and feel beautiful. Contact us today for a free estimate.

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Snow Retention Systems: Do You Need One?

By Dymon Brady

When considering whether to install a snow retention system on your roof, you may first want to consider what type of roof you have. Will your roof allow snow to slide? In places with heavy snows, like areas in Utah, it is common for snow to slide from certain types of roof systems causing heavy ice and snow build up to sit in gutters, which causes damage over time. If you have a metal, tile, slate or Membrane roof with a pitch of 1/12 or greater, snow may slide off and cause this problem. Gutters will either hold the heavy snow, or they will fall, creating costly repairs.

More often than not, when a customer wants a metal roof, they are excited about the idea of snow sliding off. But after the first few snow storms, these customers see the down side to snow sliding off and piling up on the ground. There are four main downsides to this occurrence:

1. The first is safety. People commonly under estimate the weight of a couple cubic yards of snow. And if it is mixed with ice at the eaves as is usually the case, it can cause serious injury and even death if it lands on someone.

2. The second is if snow that is fluffy while on the roof, falls ten feet and lands on the ground, it packs in and becomes very hard and dense. It takes a steel shovel and even a pick in some cases to get it moved off a drive or walk way.

3. The obstacle that snow sliding off a metal roof can cause is damage to common roof penetrations and gutter systems. Plumbing and Heating ventilation pipes can bend over from the sliding snow. The weight of snow will drop gutter systems.

4. The fourth is the thunderous sound it makes when it lands, and damaged landscape and railings that go with it. I had a customer tell me she thought her house was collapsing as the 300 lb block of snow fell from the roof onto her deck. This happened at night so you can imagine the adrenaline she woke up with! We have a cabin that we let the snow slide off of and it damaged a log railing system, requiring a roof peppered with snow retention clips just to keep the snow from landing on the railings.

To prevent this, you can simply put snow retention clips on your pitched roof above the gutter and throughout the problem area to keep snow on the roof and to keep it from sliding. For example, you may want more retention clips in areas above a patio, walk way, or driveway to prevent large amounts of snow from falling and damaging the property or even worse, causing serious injury to pedestrians below. It can be safer for your roof, your gutters, and the area around your home if your snow is allowed to thaw instead of evacuate your roof by avalanche. There are 3 main types of snow retention systems for metal and tile roofs:

Snow Fences
Snow Brackets
Snow Clamps

All three choices are effective at keeping snow on your roof. However, snow fences are probably the best choice for a metal panel roof. For a standing seam metal roof, snow clamps are usually the recommended choice. For tile or slate roofing systems, you may want to choose snow brackets as a retention system.

For TPO roofs, even with a low slope of 1/12, it is recommended to install a snow retention system in areas with moderate to heavy snowfall. If the snow is allowed to flow with the slope of the roof, it could build up in one area, causing damage to your roof and drainage system. However, snow clips and fences are not usually as effective because TPO membrane is a flat roof system. This means that, without proper precautions, the moisture could sit around the fasteners that hold the snow fences on and cause leaks. The best course of action in this situation is to install clad metal on the TPO roof to hold the snow. Brady Roofing is able to fabricate this metal in shop, as well as install and seal it properly on your TPO roof.

My advice when designing building a roof system is simply this: Check with building code requirements in your area to find out the snow load, have the roof design reviewed by a residential structural engineer, then keep the snow on the roof using the proper method. Shingled roofs generally don’t have an issue with snow sliding. If you are looking at a smooth surface roof system, and you have a visible slope, you will want to consult with a roofing contractor to see the best method for keeping the snow on the roof.

For more information on snow retention systems, or for a free estimate, contact us today.

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Cool Roofing Materials

By Dymon Brady

If you are in the market for a cool roof to save yourself money in energy bills and do your part in helping the environment, there are many options out there for you. Here are just a few  of the many products that are likely to grant you the best energy savings possible, while offering the greatest protection for your home or building.

Flat Roofs
If you own a flat roof, you are provided with convenient energy saving resources. Flat roofing membranes, unlike tar and gravel roofs, are reflective and are designed to save you energy and money. A flat roof membrane’s high reflectivity will help to reduce the amount of energy required to cool a building and keep it cool throughout the hottest points of the year. This decreased amount of energy consumption causes a lower amount of pollution to be generated back into the atmosphere and directly contributes to a cooler and cleaner environment, all while you save a little money. Just two roofing membranes that are energy efficient include:

TPO
EPDM

Mulehide-TPOTPO is an extremely reflective roofing membrane. Versico’s TPO membranes carry the Energy Star rating, and succeeded in exceeding the guidelines to meet that rating. TPO is solar reflective and has a thermal emittance level of .8 to .9, depending on the color. Versico’s TPO is also listed as a CRRC (Cool Roof Rating Council) certified product. This TPO is also 100% recyclable, as well as made from safe materials that do not harm the environment. If you are looking for a roof that will naturally cut down your energy bill, and also succeed in helping the environment, TPO is for you.

 

 

EPDM

EPDM is a truly sustainable product. It is diverse enough to fit the needs of virtually all of the different climates and building structures. For example, if a membrane is not thick enough in a cold climate zone, it will almost immediately result in higher energy output and costs for the property owner. However, EPDM is able to work with different climates to create an energy efficient roof for you an any location. Though EPDM lacks the reflectivity of TPO, it makes up for it in thermal performance. In fact, a recent study performed by the Department of Energy and the EPDM Roofing Association showed that ballast and paver systems (such as EPDM roofing) can save as much energy as a reflective or “cool” roofs, especially in colder climates.

 

 

Pitched Roofs
Even pitched roofs are following the global trend of installing energy efficient building products. Since most pitched roofs are residential, they have the potential to save your family from spending money on unnecessary energy bills, while still helping your house look good. They also qualify for a tax credit of up to $1500. Two examples of these cool shingles are:

Owens Corning Duration Cool Series
CertainTeed’s Landmark Solaris

Frosted OakOwens Corning has introduced the Duration Cool Series shingle in hopes of reducing attic temperatures, and thus reducing energy costs and usage. They are designed with a greater reflectance than traditional shingles that helps to minimize the amount of heat leaking from your roof into your home.  What I really like about these shingles is that they are designed to look like traditional shingle colors, instead of an obvious grey or green.  These qualify for a energy tax credit and will save you additional money throughout each year.

 

 

Certainteed Landmark SolarisCertainteed Roofing has also come out with a ‘cool’ shingle: Landmark Solaris. This shingle contains advanced color granules that reflect the sun. This succeeds in reducing the overall roof temperature by up to 20% in the summer, saving you money and energy. Landmark Solaris is rated by the Cool Roof Rating Council, qualifies for credits and points in LEED, NAHB, and other green programs, and meets the ENERGY STAR standards for solar reflectance and thermal emission. However, perhaps the best feature of this shingle is it’s beauty. It doesn’t look like a cool shingle, but rather it is a beautiful architectural shingle that would look great on any home.

Learn more about our products, or for a free estimate, contact Brady Roofing.

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Prevent TPO Leaks Caused by Heating and Cooling Technicians

By Dymon Brady

Q) What precautions do Heating and Cooling technicians need to take when working on a roof?

A) When we have completed a TPO membrane roof, we inspect it for voids in the seams and for punctures. We usually don’t find anything during these inspections (called probing) but it is a helpful assurance against a leak.

Often we get a call from a building owner four months to several years after the roof has been completed and they report a sudden leak in the roof. This is usually due to a puncture from someone on the roof. It does take a lot of pressure to make a hole in a roof, unless one is dealing with sharp tools or edges of panels from an HVAC unit or swamp cooler. Technician awareness when working on roof top units is simple and helps prevent leaks.

Small TPO Puncture

One example of a leak in a TPO membrane roof caused from a rooftop A/C unit installation occurred about two years ago. We installed a nice white, energy efficient TPO membrane roof on a condominium complex in Saint George in 2004. In 2008 I got a call from the management company reporting a leak in one of the units. Amid my suspicion, I took a trip down to investigate the problem. When I got there, I saw that a new A/C unit had been installed over this condo unit. I took some membrane cleaner and started wiping the membrane clean. It didn’t take long to find several holes in the membrane caused by fragments of hot solder from the installation process.

TPO Puncture

The best precaution against this is for the HVAC technician to place a 3’ x 3’ piece of OSB or plywood down under the welding area. This will prevent any extremely hot fragments of solder from coming in contact with the membrane.

Fortunately, the repair was simple. I just heat welded a new peice of TPO over the area and their problems were solved.

Quick TPO Repair

That is one beautiful characteristic about this product. It does not lose it’s weld ability like PVC and EP Sheets do. I was just on an extremely large food processing plant roof yesterday that was done about 15 years ago in an EP Sheet. A general contractor just put two new exhaust units on the roof. As we tried to weld new membrane flashing around these units, we found it had lost its weld ability. We have found a solution that I won’t go into now, but the fact is it couldn’t be welded in a quick time frame like a TPO membrane could.

It made me all the more comfortable installing roofs for our customers!

TPO Punctures

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What Is TPO?

Large Commercial TPO Roof

By Dymon Brady
By Amie Olsen

Q) What is TPO?

A) TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin) is a single ply membrane which is used on Commercial and Residential buildings. Because the membrane is thin, ranging from 45 to 80 Mil’s thick, it is light in weight yet durable and remains flexible to accommodate the expansion and contraction typically endured in Utah’s climates. More technically speaking, TPO is a trade name that refers to polymer, polyethylene, polypropylene, BCPP, rubber, and a reinforcement filler. This roof system is taking over the construction industry because it remains flexible (like EPDM) yet has heat weldable seams (like PVC) and is usually white, which saves significantly on energy costs.

When TPO was new to the roofing industry, it underwent the typical developmental challenges (quite similar to PVC membrane’s issues). But the reputation of Versico is head and shoulders above the rest as it has consistently provided a high quality roofing solution. Most TPO manufacturers have figured out a long lasting formula for their TPO’s, but Versico continues to lead the way.

In February of 2010, an article was published by the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) informing consumers of the likelihood of accelerated aging in certain conditions where the UV rays concentrate on the membrane due to reflective surfaces that are adjacent to the roof surface. Examples of these surfaces would be large mirror windows next to a roof surface, or reflective flashing on a wall above the roof. Accelerated deterioration from focused UV Rays is not necessarily unique to TPO, but because TPO is becoming so widely used today, the article focused on the TPO roofing membrane needing to be upgraded in situations such as these. Once again Versico has led the way in this solution.

Every Versico Membrane is enhanced with Octaguard XT Weathering Package in its sheet. This enhances the product to give more life to the sheet. In fact the Versico TPO membrane can withstand over 60 days at a constant 275 deg F without showing signs of material failure. Most others don’t withstand this lab test without showing deterioration.

Aside from the material quality, there is still one major consideration: Any roofing system is only as good as the roofing technicians who install it! It doesn’t matter how good the material is, if the installers aren’t experienced, the quality level of the entire roof system will suffer. Seek out a company who has been installing TPO membrane for at least 5 years. Brady Roofing has been installing TPO full time for 12 years on Commercial buildings as well as Residential homes. We are factory trained and certified. Please check us out with the BBB of Utah.  If you are interested, request a free estimate today.

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