We performed this PVC roof repair in Needham, Mass. in October 2011. This was a second time we repaired this 25+ years old Sarnafil PVC flat roof in the last two years. First time we fixed this roof was exactly two years ago, in October of ’09 – check out our first PVC Flat Roof Repair overview, which covers this roof in particular, and nuances of repairing old PVC flat roofs in general.
In Oct. 2009, we fixed this roof for the first time. A contractor was doing some fascia repair work the, and threw some tools onto the roof, creating a hole in the old PVC membrane. We repaired it using new IB PVC flat roofing material, by cleaning the old roof with warm water first (to remove dirt and small debris) and then rubbing it with acetone and rough brush, to clean the membrane thoroughly, so the new patch would weld nicely. Then we welded a PVC patch over the hole, which sealed this roof.
There has been a lot of discussion on our rubber roofing page (created a while ago), with many roofing contractors defending the EPDM rubber roof as “good and proven” system, that is widely installed. While I agree that it is widely installed, I contest the notion that it is good and proven, for many reasons, which I will outline below, with examples as proof. But first I will outline the basic premise on which I will base my statements.
Basic premise of this “Horrible Rubber Roofing” article:
Rubber roof (EPDM) is widely installed because of its relatively low cost. It is NOT as good as many roofing contractors say it is, and the reason why I call it “horrible” is a complex one, but there are two major parts of it. Read the rest of this entry »
This guide describes the procedures of complete flat roof demolition, done with the intent to either completely rebuild the framing of your flat roof, or to convert it to a steep slope roof. This may be done if your flat roof construction creates unsolvable roof leak problems, such as ponding water and other roof leaks, or if you want to convert your roof type to a sloped roof for aesthetic reasons – for example if you want to add skylights or a metal roof.
Removing a Flat Roof
Method is key in the removal of flat roofing, assuming you want to work as quickly and safely as possible. An old flat roof, damp can quickly become a problem; it permeates through the surface layers and causes the wooden joists that hold up the roof to rot. If this has happened, then chances are high that your entire roof will need to be removed. Depending on the size of the roof that you have to take down, it is quite likely that a lot of debris will be generated in the course of the demolition. You should prepare yourself for this prospect in advance and order a skip before you begin work to save on clean-up times later on.
We installed this flat roof near Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the summer of 2010. The roof installation consisted of four separate roof sections on different levels of this house, which at the time was undergoing major renovations inside and out, including total new insulation in walls and between roof rafters, new heating system with radiant floor heat, new energy efficient windows, and a new IB PVC flat roof (which we installed of course).
The old rubber roof was leaking and we had to remove it, including the wet roof insulation, and we installed a new 50-mil white IB Flat Roof, with 4 inches of tapered insulation (4 inches at the highest point and 1 inch at the lowest level). The tapered insulation system was utilized to eliminate ponding water on the two bigger sections of the roof. At the deepest point, there was as much as 2 inches of ponding water, and the puddle with at least 12 feet diameter. This ponding water caused both the roof leaks and the roof rafters settlement.
In July of 2010 we installed a new IB PVC flat roofing system with custom-made copper drip edge metal, on a new construction home in Newton, Massachusetts. This house is located around the corner from Newton Center.
In this job profile we will demonstrate all stages of this roof installation, and show the new Copper Drip edge, which IB roof systems has recently introduced and made available to its certified roofing contractors.
First, let’s go over the roof specs and details. The building on which the roof was installed is an new construction garage / guest house with two car bays on the first floor and guest rooms with a balcony / deck on the second floor. Because of heights limitations in Newton, MA, the top portion of the roof had to be flat, with a little slate roofing mansard around the roof perimeter, to resemble the slate roof on the main house. The home owner chose IB PVC Flat Roof, as the roofing material for their building project.
The roofing membrane we used, was an 80-mil white IB PVC roof, mechanically attached to a wooden substrate, over 3 inches of tapered ISO insulation. All seams were hot air welded using Liester welding equipment.
Around the roof perimeter, we installed IB’s new Copper Drip edge metal with PVC coated flange, which allows us to seamlessly integrate copper with an IB roof. The PVC cover tape is welded to both the roofing membrane and a drip edge metal, leaving exposed copper to give this roof a beautiful look of a classic slate roof with copper flashing.
On the second floor, we installed the same 80 mil roof with differently shaped copper metal, over a walk-out balcony deck, and additionally flashing the roof and the door opening, with IB’s pre-manufactured roof flashing accessories. After the roofing membrane was installed, a floating roof deck was installed on top. Read the rest of this entry »
Update – Oct 26, 2011: Exactly 2 years after the initial Sarnafil PVC Roof repair (read details below) I went back to that roof. This time there were 17 new holes in the roof. I repaired it once again with IB PVC flat roofing material. Check out the full review of this latest PVC roof repair in Needham MA, as well a overview of a DuraLast PVC roof that we repaired on a 22-story apartment complex in Cambridge MA.
Update 2: a Trocal roof repair also reviewed below – section of that roof has completely shattered over past winter, and we had replaced it with IB PVC Flat Roof in the spring of 2011.
Check out the video of this new PVC Roof repair:
Original PVC Roof repair article
PVC roofing is one of the longest lasting flat roof membrane systems, and most PVC roofs installed, will last in excess of 25-30 years. PVC roofing utilizes Hot-Air welding of the seams, which allows the roof to remain watertight for many years, as there is no adhesive to fail ( as is the case with EPDM rubber roofing ). Still, even PVC roofs can leak. Sometimes because of poor installation, and sometimes because of physical damage to the roofing membrane. You may have heard about the Trocal PVC roof failures, which was the only major case of PVC roof failures (below we will explain how Trocal roofs failed).
In this article we will discuss and demonstrate the PVC roof leaks and repair procedure, based on two recent repairs we have done. First, please note that even if your PVC roof leaks – you should not be too worried – PVC roofs are rather easy to repair, and you will rarely need to replace your entire roof.
What makes PVC roofing so “awesome”?
Awesome is a strong word to describe a roofing material, and yet that is what I think of PVC roofing. Although PVC is not the most durable (strong) flat roof, with hot air welded seams, you can install PVC on almost any roof, even if there is ponding water. Another great feature of PVC roofing (IB flat roof in this case, as PVC roofs from other manufacturers may not perform the same as IB roofs), is the fact that even after 30 years on the roof, the material is still flexible, and you can easily weld new material (such as a patch, or a flashing) to it. Also I should mention that most PVC membranes are compatible with each other, though if you use PVC materials from different manufacturers, or unapproved installer, you will probably void your warranty. At the same time, most TPO roofing membranes (which are similar to PVC roofs) will loose elasticity, and ability to be welded in as little as five years after installation.
As promised – a quick look into why Trocal PVC roofs failed on a massive scale, forcing the company to be sold to another large roofing materials manufacturer.
Trocal PVC roofing was one of the first commercially available PVC roofs in the US, and they worked great at first. But they had one major drawback – they were unreinforced (today, most PVC membranes are reinforced with polyester scrim sitting between the top and bottom ply of the membrane). When the ambient temperatures were below freezing, a Trocal roof could crack or shatter if you simply stepped on it, especially if it was really cold. Later, all PVC manufacturers switched to reinforced membrane, and some would add special chemicals to increase the elasticity of the membrane. Today, unreinforced PVC membrane is used only for flashing accessories such as inside / outside corners, pipe flashing, etc.
The repair of Trocal PVC Roof:
This Trocal roof sustained damage from a falling tree branch in December of 2009, and cracked along the edge. Although the roof was over 20 years old, it was still fully weldable and we were able to repair it with new IB PVC roofing membrane in Jan. 2010. We removed the damaged section of the roof, cleaned the surface with MEK solution, installed new PVC coated IB Drip Edge metal, and welded 50-mil white IB roofing membrane. The repair was performed in a 25 degrees outside temperature, so we had to take special care not to damage the rest of the original roof. Read the rest of this entry »
Recently, the MRCA (Midwest Roofing Contractors Association) issued a warning bulletin regarding TPO roof failures caused by the sun’s UV rays. You can read more about it on our original TPO Roofing page, as well as my commentary on this bulletin.
At the same time, major roofing distributors are shamelessly pushing TPO into the market and onto the roofing contractors without much regard for home and building owners. Bear in mind that because of low prices and “same cool roof” and “welded seams” qualities as PVC roofing has, TPO roofing is now the fastest growing commercial roofing product.
Here is a good example – pictures below will show you “manufacturer’s” stand showing a TPO roof designed for residential roofing contractors.
Why residential roofing contractors? Well, the way I was told, these are the roofers who can’t afford to spend $12,000 on hot-air welding equipment, so the roof manufacturer created a system so these guys too could jump on the TPO band-wagon.
(The TPO stand above, is displaying outside corner flashing, inside corner flashing, pipe boot, and drip-edge details. When I asked about the caulking along the seams, i was told it’s not caulking. It’s seam tape )
Here comes the best part! This TPO roof system is put together with … no, not hot air. Seams are primed and a seam tape is used to seal overlaps! But, it gets better – since there is no uncured flashing material in the TPO world, and these “shingle-bangers” don’t have Liesters (hot air welders) nor do they want to buy them, since the cheapest one – a hand welder – is $450 before tax. So, this manufacturer uses white EPDM uncured flashing for all detail work such as inside / outside corners, posts, curbs (skylights, chimneys, roof hatches, HVAC equipment, etc.). EPDM rubber on TPO – really? Read the rest of this entry »
The term “green” has become very popular during the last decade and consequently overused, misused and abused. Anything and everything can be called “green” today. To make money and to attract environmentally-conscious customers, people will call themselves and their products “green”, even when it is just a blatant lie to confuse uneducated consumers. Being a roofing contractor, I will concentrate on roofing products and services. For example, many asphalt shingles manufacturers now offer “cool” and “green” shingle products – to me it’s just a shameless tactic to sell the same NOT-GREEN crap that is painted A different color (usually some shade of white). Excuse me, but asphalts shingles are not green, period! TheY are made with asphalt, can’t be recycled and end up in landfills in 10-15 years.
Since the term green is very vague and can be interpreted in many ways, I’ll offer my vision of “green” – a green roofing contractor to be exact, which describes the way I think and try to operate our roofing business. I want to mention that when I say “green roofing contractor”, it has nothing to do with with a roofing contractor installing green roofs or roof-top gardens. To me a contractor installing roof-top vegetation is a highly-specialized landscaping company, but not a roofing contractor (unless they also install the actual flat roofing membrane to waterproof the building).
In my mind a green roofing contractor is a company that works hard to help protect environment and reduce its energy consumption and green-house gas production or carbon footprint. Sure, almost any company will have a carbon-footprint as it’s nearly impossible to be carbon-neutral, but there are many ways to achieve a much lower carbon footprint. Read the rest of this entry »
Replacing an old rubber roof with IB PVC roofing membrane in Lowell, MA.
In the beginning of Dec. 09 we installed a new IB PVC roof in Lowell, MA. This roof replaced an old EPDM rubber roof which was installed by a hack roofing contractor about two years ago, and was failing miserably, due to two factors: poor roofing system design on the part of EPDM roofing, and horrible installation by the roofing contractor. I suspect that this contractor had almost zero knowledge about flat roofing and rubber installation. Before I go into the IB roof installation, I want to talk a bit about the two factors mentioned above that contributed to the roof failure.
The roof actually consisted of two roof sections not connected to each other. One smaller roof in the front of this historic home was about 100 sq. ft. in total, but its shape made using a rubber roof not feasible due to limitations / flaws of rubber roof system design. Another roof section was just over 300 sq. ft. and covered an enclosed porch in the rear of the house. This section had a low slope to it (about 2 in 12 pitch) and a hip roof design. The failure of both front and rear roof sections was the result of bad installation by the roofing contractor and EPDM rubber roof shrinkage, as well as seam adhesive failure.
Rubber roof failure due to EPDM flaws and limitations and faulty installation by a roofing contractor:
When EPDM rubber roofing membrane is installed on a roof connected to a wall of a building, the membrane must be laid down with a flap going up the wall – in essence, the wall flashing and the roof covering must be done with one piece of material to eliminate leaks in the the roof to wall connection. Therefore, the field sheet of roofing membrane is only held down by glue (which happens to break down after 5-7 years). While in some cases this work out fine, very often the rubber shrinks and pulls away from the wall-to-roof connection point. This results in either the detachment of wall flashing, membrane pulling away from the corner of roof to wall connection, or in some rare cases, when the wall flashing is securely attached to the wall, the shrinking rubber roof may pull the wall with it – for example it can pull a brick parapet wall. Read the rest of this entry »
As you may know, we specialize in the installation of IB roofs – premium grade PVC flat roofing membranes, with fusion hot-air welded seams, which ensure permanent lap bond, and as a result, leaks-free performance. At the same time, if you have a rubber roof, which is in fairly decent shape, but has developed some leaks due to lap sealant (epdm rubber glue) failure, we can repair your rubber roof fairly inexpensively, as compared to installing a new IB roof, and extend the service life of your rubber roof. Learn more about our rubber roof repair services in MA, CT and RI. We want you to know that although we repair rubber roofs, we will not install it, because for us it is an inferior roofing material with too many limitations and possibilities to develop roof leaks.
Here we will explain you how these repairs work and what you can expect, as well as show a few roof repairs in Massachusetts which we have done recently. We also recommend that your read our Rubber Roofing guide, which explains the shortcomings of rubber roofs, and explains why we advise home owners to stay away from EPDM rubber roofing systems due to product limitations and an overwhelming number of dishonest roofing contractors eager to install rubber roofs, without the proper knowledge of this system. Instead we recommend installing IB Flat Roof – a PVC single ply flat roofing system with hot-air welded seams, which will not break down as rubber roof seams tend to do after 5-7 years.
We also want to let the flat rubber roof owners know that any rubber roof repair or installation must be performed in temperatures above 40 degrees F, as the primer / adhesives will otherwise freeze or be too cold to properly dry/tack, and provide proper adhesion. Unless your roof repair is more of an emergency, we recommend postponing it until the warmer temperature sets in. If your roof repair is an emergency, special measures can be taken to keep the adhesive warm and on a sunny day the black rubber will be warmer than outside temperature, so repair can be done even on a colder day. We strongly advise you against installing a new rubber roof in general, and in the winter especially. Read more info on pros and cons of winter roofing, and keep in mind that IB flat roofs can be installed in any temperature, because they are not glued, but hot air welded. Read the rest of this entry »
Learn why TPO roofs fail prematurely, and discover the secrets that TPO roofing manufacturers don't want you to find out - PVC & TPO roofing
Find out why homeowners should avoid putting Rubber Roofing materials on their roofs, why you want to be cautious when dealing with residential roofing contractors who "install rubber" - Rubber Roofing
If you have a flat roof, chances a that you've been dealing with roof leaks for a while and no matter what you tried, the roofing membrane under your roof deck is leaking. Discover the flat roof deck solution that we offer - Roof Decks
Discover the new flat roof deck waterproofing material that eliminates the need to use Pressure Treated wood deck over the roofing membrane - IB DeckShield Roof Deck membrane is a slip resistant PVC roof, with beautiful design, long-lasting water-tightness, and lower bottom-line price!
Flat Roof Installation guide shows how we install our flat roofing systems, describing step-by-step procedures with actual installation videos.
Cool Flat Roof - IB PVC flat roofs and Metal Roofing installation in Massachusetts Tel: 617-444-9020 - 19 Englewood Ave., Brookline, MA 02445 - Massachusetts Construction Licenses: MA HIC# 159364. MA CSL# 094373. Some roof installation work may be undertaken by our independent partners, who are also licensed and certified to install IB Roof Systems, and Metal Roofs in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
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