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.
Update 2: a Trocal roof repair also reviewed below – a section of that roof has completely shattered over the past winter, and we had replaced it with an 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.
Trocal PVC Roof Repair – West Hartford, CT – Winter, 2010
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. 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.
Repair of a 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 a 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 a 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.
Trocal PVC roof repair video:
As you can see in the video, the section of the roof we had to repair sustained serious damage, when the tree branch fell on the roof, and yet, because the material was still pliable, we easily welded a new IB membrane to it, extending the service life of this roof at a rather low cost, compared to flat roof price to installing a new IB roof over the entire house.
Sarnafil PVC Roof repair – Needham, MA – Fall 2009
The repair of this PVC roof took place in November of 2009. That day, we actually went out to work on 3 roof repair service calls – two of them for a rubber roof repair, and the last one to fix a leak in a 20 years old Sarnafil PVC roof. The original roof was installed by a roofing contractor for a friend, and then the new owner of the house called us to fix the leak, which we had to find first.
The roof leak turned out to be caused by physical damage to the roof – apparently the carpenters who were replacing rotten fascia boards, dropped sharp tools onto the roof, and left, without telling the homeowner about the damage. We had to sweep all the leaves off the roof to find the damage.
The first thing I did was to confirm that the roof was in fact PVC material, and test how the new IB roof will weld to the 20 years old membrane. I performed the test weld on the sloped section of the roof, to avoid potential leaks if the weld was unsuccessful.
The test weld went well, and it was now time to do the actual repair. I should note that the 20 years old membrane lost most of its flexibility over time and was very “hard”. Also, the surface of the roof collected a lot of dirt, and required extensive cleaning with acetone (acetone does not affect or damage PVC membrane, like most oil based cleaners do, and is safe to use on a PVC roof).
After the prep work was done, it was time to weld the patch over the damaged area. I had to set the welder temperature higher than normal to get a better weld between the 20 year old material and the new patch. One thing I noticed when welding the patch, was a massive amount of tiny blisters popping up on the old roof. Still the two materials welded together just fine and after a probe test of the seam, the repair was complete.
It took about two hours to complete this repair, including finding the source of the leak, cleaning the roof surface and installing the patch. Because this repair was the last one of the day, it was already dark, when I finished installing the patch.
Sarnafil roof repair video – more images of the roof repair process:
Conclusion – PVC is the best material when it comes to longevity and ease of repairing roof leaks
As you can see from the two examples above, PVC roofs last a very long time, and even if you have a leak, the membrane can be easily fixed, using a new patch, at a rather fair price, extending the service life of your roof. Most PVC roofs can be fixed, unless there are some serious installation or material defects. Unlike rubber roofing materials, there is no glue involved in the repair process, and the patch will stay on as long as your roof lasts.
If your flat roof leaks, be it a PVC or a Rubber roof, and you are located in Massachusetts, Connecticut or Rhode Island, we can repair it, or install a new IB PVC roof – fill out the roof estimate form and get a free price quote.
You can also use our interactive roofing calculator to estimate Flat Roof replacement cost, as well as Metal Roofing installation prices.