Archive for August, 2010

Historic Sawtooth Roof Expected to Leak

The 100 years old Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts in Winston-Salem, N.C., is probably going to leak whenever it rains even after extensive repairs recently made. The buildings age and certain distinctive structural properties listed as the main reasons. The historic building is constructed so that rainwater tends to pool in roof areas that have poor drainage. Water also seeps through the cracks of old windows with outdated seals.

The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County financed the repairs by raising $26 million. The extent of the leaks has dropped significantly after massive renovations to the roof, gutters and storm drains. A rubbery substance placed beneath the sawteeth slopes and helps channel rainwater to nearby drains. Before the repairs, rain water ran down interior walls and collected up to 6 inches in trash bins. Now officials say the rainwater puddle on the floor is much more manageable and can be cleaned up with a paper towel.

The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. If the council were to replace the sawtooth roof, it would destroy its historic character. This area of the Arts center started life about 100 years ago as Shamrock Mills, the first mill of Hanes Hosiery.

Composition Shingles

Many homeowners are likely to install composition shingles, also called asphalt shingles, themselves. These shingles come in a wide range of styles and colors and some are guaranteed up to thirty years. Up to 80% of the homeowners in this country have composition shingles because of the economy and options available. Asphalt shingles have excellent fire protection and are easy to repair; the downside is they are vulnerable to wind and ice damage.

There are two types of shingles available, organic (generally felt saturated with asphalt) and non-organic, (which is fiberglass). Commonly referred to as “3-tab” shingles, is still the favorite among the several kinds of asphalt roofing. The 1×3 foot strip has two short ½ inch cut outs at one foot intervals to give it three shingle tabs. The 3-tab is still widely used today, but also the no-tab, the irregular-butt shingles plus several types of double layer laminated shingles, all still keeping the same approximate 1×3 dimensions.

In recent years new manufactures methods, plus the double layering and use of larger heavier granules, have pushed shingle weights to 300 pounds or more per 100 square feet, giving them better ’blow off’ resistance. Prices range from the very inexpensive plain flat shingles to the more costly shingles with better quality, added features and longer durability. Since shingles are susceptible to algae growth, an anti algae coating will be more expensive but worth it.

Some shingles now are available with recycled content and many states have asphalt shingle recycling centers where they are turning old shingles into paving materials for our roads.

When installing the shingles, you will need roofing felt, metal drip edges, flashings for valleys and vents and 2 pounds of roofing nails per square (100 square feet). Nails should be long enough to penetrate the roof decking.

Covering an Old Roof

Re-roofing it is not particularly hard to do, but it is a monotonous job and sometimes an unpleasantly hot and sweaty job. Re-roofing your home can be very time consuming. There may be preliminary work involving roof board replacement, or new flashings or roof gutter replacements.

You should probably not consider re-roofing your house alone unless your home is a simple one story. Often it is beneficial to have someone to help get the shingles to the rooftop and do other assisting jobs.

If your roof has only one or two layers of roofing, and the roof sheathing boards are in good condition without evidence of moisture damage, you can probably roof right over the existing roof.

If the lower eaves areas have sustained moisture damage, it is a good idea to remove the old roofing in a strip about 2 to 4 feet wide along the roof eaves. Any damaged sheathing boards in this area can be replaced, a couple layers of a building felts cemented down, and shingle re-coursing that comes up the old shingles can be applied before proceeding with the re-roofing work.

Remove poor conditioned and damaged shingles and pull out any nails. Be sure to remove protruding shingles and patch over low spots first. The new roof will reveal all the bumps and valleys if not fairly smooth.

When covering an existing roof of composition shingles, try to match the shingle pattern that is already on the roof. Replace the old shingles with new shingles with the same thickness to achieve a smooth roof. Remember to use 1 ¼ inch nails. Complete the roof the same way as for a new roof, butting each course of new shingles up to an old course.

GE Eco Imagination Contest

GE is sponsoring a $200 million innovation experiment encouraging participants to submit their best ideas on how to build the next generation power grid. The most promising ideas will be backed by a team of venture capital firms.

There are 3 categories to submit your ideas to or to vote on your favorite:

1. Create – Renewable energy. Integrating and managing renewable energy sources for our growing demands of a reliable supply of affordable energy.

2. Connect – Grid efficiency. Different grid technologies that help lower delivery losses and those that anticipate and monitor demand.

3. Use – Eco homes/Eco buildings. Energy consumption is growing so quickly that it is creating an imbalance between supply and demand.

Global energy consumption forecast to be tripled by 2050. GE is looking for technologies that help power companies and their customers share information and manage their energy use better. Changing how and when we use energy. What technologies, processes or business models can help consumers use energy more
wisely and improve our energy balance.

With anticipated higher energy costs and shorter supply, even if you don’t enter this contest, it is still an excellent idea to invest your time and resources into finding creative ways to save on energy and make your home or business more eco friendly.

Get more information at

Volunteer Roofers

If you have been looking for a way to enrich your community, volunteering is a great way to make a difference. Not only will you be improving the lives of others, but you will benefit from meeting new people and possibly learning new skills.

If you are a hands on type of person and aren’t afraid of hard work, you may be interested in volunteering your services re-roofing and repairing roofs for families in need. There is no shortage of opportunities in your neighborhood or in other countries if you find that more appealing.

Some of the well known organizations such as Untied We Serve, United Nations Volunteers, and Habitat for Humanity have volunteer programs. But you might also try asking around your local churches, schools, community centers, and senior centers for families in need.

You can form your own “do it yourself” group of volunteers. When you find a family in need of roof repairs, post a sign on the bulletin boards and free web advertising in your community asking for volunteers. Call the roofing companies in your area and ask if they would be willing to donate materials, offer to contact the local media and publicize their generosity.

Not all volunteers need to be on the roof, some can provide transportation, make sure there is plenty of water to keep the volunteers hydrated, prepare lunches, make phone calls and keep the project organized and on track.

Often times home repairs take a back burner to food and basic living costs in these tough economic times. By helping our neighbors, ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things.

Recycled Roof Shingles Paving the Way

Several states are recycling roofing shingles to help pave the roads. Using asphalt mixed with recycled roofing shingles cuts the waste in landfills and saves paving contractors’ money. 27,000 pounds of carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions are avoided on a typical paving project by using 5% shingles in place of virgin asphalt binder.

Asphalt shingles constitute nearly 2/3 of the roofing markets. A roof replacement can generate 2-5 pounds per square foot of waste. 240,000 tons of asphalt shingles are sent to Colorado landfills each year and 276,000 tons of roofing shingles are dumped into Missouri landfills each year. EPA estimates 7-10 million tons of shingle tear off waste and installation scrap and with more than 60 manufacturing plants across US generating another 750,000 to 1 million tons of manufacturing shingle scrap waste per year.

With the “Roofs to Roads Colorado program” Denver based contractor Brannan Sand and Gravel and Erie based contractor Asphalt Specialties, are using recycled shingles to replace part of the need for new materials for paving roads. Boulder County plans to use shingles to pave part of Cherryvale Road later this summer and several other projects for 2011.

Currently, almost all recycled asphalt shingles are used in paving. 16 states currently have shingle recycling operations and/or state DOT specs allowing recycled shingles, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, NH, NJ, OH, PA, WA. Check with your local roofers or the EPA for a list of recycling facilities.

Contractor Rescues Cats on Rooftop

In a home near Seattle Washington, 2 cats were stuck on a neighbors steeply graded roof for 3 days, afraid to come down. People with ladders and water hoses were unsuccessful at retrieving the frightened cats.

Unable to find a local company specializing in animal rescue from steep roofs, the kitty’s owners called Norm Hoglund of Jorve Roofing. Mr. Hoglund set up a ladder to the highest part of the roof and within 5 minutes had retrieved both of the cats.

Onlookers were amazed at the ease of which he descended the ladder with one arm while holding a cat with the other. When the cat owners asked how much they owed him, Mr. Hoglund said there will be no charge, and that Jorve Roofing was glad to help.

Arbor Day Foundation Getting Green Roof

Arbor Day Foundations is adding a new mission to their “plant, nurture and celebrate trees.” A 7,369 square foot green roof is being installed at the Foundations building in Lincoln Nebraska. The roof will be a testing ground to determine what types of prairie plant can thrive on urban rooftops.

University of Nebraska professor Richard Sutton has dedicated a 400 square foot test plot to find out which species of prairie plants do well in this environment. Together with Scott Enterprises Inc., and Sinclair Hille Architects in Omaha, they came up with a design that would be lightweight since the existing roof could not support a lot of soil. The roof will be planted with sedum and other low growing shrubs and grasses to minimize weight. Sedum is similar to a succulent and is an ideal plant because it lies on the surface, does well in drought conditions and can withstand intense temperatures.

Generally, green roofs cost somewhere between 35-50% more than just replacing a commercial roof. Financial support has come from some of the over 1 million Arbor Day Foundation members also from the WRK Family Foundation in Lincoln. The benefit of the green roof is additional roof life, reducing rainwater runoff, and is estimated to cut the foundations heating costs by 20-25% annually.

Planting will begin in September and is estimated to take a year or two for the roof to be green. Once the roof is installed, you can call the foundation and make an appointment to see the green roof.

Roofing Company Saves Dog Shelter from Closing

When it comes to business, kindness is often forgotten and replaced with profits. In this case, Felt Tight Roofing decided to help the leaking roof of the dog shelter called Wulfren Destitute Pets in Wolverhampton, for free. The manager of the local roofing company felt compelled to help out after he rescued two dogs that would have benefited from being at a dog shelter, and said, “It was obvious Molly and Milly could have had a nicer life if they were in a place like this than where I found them”.

The center for dogs’ chairwoman Jean Gibbons applied in newspapers to ask for donations and supplies, and were completely wowed when the roofing company rang up and said they would replace the roof for free. The center received £480 worth of donations which is being used to go towards materials. The center also has a mobile dog grooming business which helps contribute to the daily running of the center.

The roofing boss, Julian Hadland offered to collect all of the donated supplies using their transport. If it hadn’t been for finding his two dogs on the street in poor condition, this generous offering might not have tugged at the heart strings. Thankfully for the Wulfren Destitute Pets center, Julian and his team came through and are helping restore the damaged roof.

Jean Gibbons also stated, “It never ceases to amaze me the level of generosity and kindness of some people. It’s amazing!”

The center has been running for 30 years and has never put a healthy dog down, but with no roof on the building, the 19 dogs which are homed there would have had nowhere to live.

The work began on July 30th and with the quick donations and the speediness of the roofing company, the dogs and cats which are housed at the center have a water tight roof again.

Combine Both an Eco-Roof with a Solar Panel Roof

Chemistry and biology professors, Carl Wamser and Todd Rosenstial from Portland State’s Science Campus have been testing the combination of both solar panels and eco-roofing to see if they can double the impact. On top of the roof of the campus are herbs such as thyme and sage as well as solar panels.

What better way to combine these two eco-friendly roofing movements than on top of the enormous building. Green roofs (roofs with plants, grass and flowers on them) affect the water runoff from storms. Instead of directing it back into the rivers and streams, it is held and evaporates when the temperature rises. This helps cool down the urban environment and puts oxygen back into the atmosphere. It can also be a place of habitat for birds and small animals.

Solar panels being used on rooftops generate power from sunlight. By having both of these energy saving systems on the roof you are effectively doubling your eco-friendliness.

The professors were given a $300,000 grant to start the testing of the solar panel and green roof combination. As solar panels generate more power in cooler temperatures, the roof temperature is kept cooler due to the water retained by the roof garden. The cooler environment has increased the efficiency of the solar panels and the return on investment will be higher.

The data that is being found or projected to be found over the next 36 months could directly affect the eco-friendly roof choices for those homes, businesses and community buildings who have either solar panels or green roofs (and vice versa). The professors will continue to monitor results, checking just how much impact the green roof has on maintaining or reducing the roof temperature, how it affects the urban temperature and how they can continue to run the solar panels at maximum efficiency.

Are individual solar panel roofs and green roofs a thing of the past? Should they be combined to have a greater effect? At the moment, it looks that way.