Flat Roof Drainage and Leaks: It May Be Plumbing and NOT the Roof

General Roofing Systems Canada provides Flat Roof Repairs throughout Canada. Repairs are completed in the following cities: Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Banff, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, Winnipeg, Toronto and points between. British Columbia. Alberta. Saskatchewan. Manitoba. Ontario.

Below you will find a simple account of a service call inquiry. Oftentimes, there are multiple contracting parties involved in a roof repair. This includes plumbers, the roofers themselves, other construction services in the area, and obviously the stakeholders themselves.

In this case, a simple misunderstanding concerning the purpose of water testing culminated in repeated requests for service calls outside of the ongoing work we had been performing for the client. Finally, our client’s property manager provided us with the implements to deal with the problem. As suspected, it was the plumbing – not the roofing system itself – which was causing major leaks.

We have included a comprehensive explanation from our national project manager as well as a follow-up correspondence by a third-party plumbing contractor concerning this matter.

Water Source Needed to Test Drainage System

As you know, for about a year and a half, GRS has been requesting a water source at the building to be able to test your drains. On each occasion, we have been told that a water source is being to be made available. As well, our crews have been told that it is likely the water source has been covered up in construction, but that we may be able to use a neighbour’s water source until a proper solution could be found. Up until today, no water source has been offered.

The Reasons Drains Need to be Tested

a. The source of the leaks were previously at the drain system. We requested the drain assembly (the connection to a new drain and U-Flow, and the connection to the drain) be redone with a plumber – we would provide the roofing services and the plumber would provide the connection services. This was not done at that time. My understanding is that the plumber only cleared the drain system. So, we requested a water source so that we could test the drains/plumbing ourselves to eliminate them as the main issue, or conclude that they are the suspected cause of your leaks.

b. The plumbing system and assemblies are old. It is common for drainage during times of heavy rain (which is when your building is having issues) to back up and leak at the drain bowl assembly connection to the drain pipes. As the water rises and then meets the bowl assembly, if there is not a U-Flow expander and/or proper drain bowl, the water will then get between the pipe and the connection to the bowl. What occurs is the water that is backing up will then get into the roof assembly and begin to run along various areas and manifest themselves through the ceiling. At the time of your roof replacement, there was no work order for the plumbing and drainage to be modernized, and normally this is not an issue. This this does become one, it is typically solved with a quick water test and simple remediation work (such as bowl replacement, U-Flow backup expander installations, and/or repairs to the drain pipes).

Discussion with the Site Manager

Water testing only works when it is not raining and is intended to isolate the drainage system from the roof membrane that we replaced. This is the reason for the need of an external/outside water source. We test the drainage system with a hose, which allows us to isolate the drainage system on its own. If that test does not show that it is the drainage system, then we go on to retest the membrane. We also test various other penetrations, such as rooftop units and/or vents, pipe boots, etc. Finally, we move onto testing various other components of the building envelope, such as the connection of the roof to the wall and the flashing areas.

Your site manager also asked that an emergency be done (such as pumping water off the roof), to which I replied that we could, if requested, dispatch an emergency crew for that, but we would have to charge extra because we have requested on numerous occasions for the water test to be done to the drainage system, and that has not been done. The site manager did not seem to want the emergency service under those terms.

I should also note that on the other occasions that we did respond in this fashion, that we did not charge for the emergency service. We did this despite finding that it was a drainage problem by the plumbers at that time. Furthermore, I will also note that on each occasion we did recoat the roof and did not charge for that either.

The only reason we are now saying that we have no choice but to charge a service fee is because we have requested number times to have water access. Part of our servicing parameters included that should the water test not to be done, that we would charge a fee for the emergency service.

You also asked us about why water was pooling on the roof. I explained to the site manager that at the time of the roof replacement, an engineered sloped insulation package and rebuild of the building exterior (parapet wall construction, sheet metal, siding, etc.). We were only approved to go ahead with the roof membrane replacement only. He asked why that was so, and I said that it is an option and that not all (in fact, less than 50%) of the buildings we service have a sloped insulation package installed. I directed him to all the neighbouring buildings as examples of those that do not have such sloped systems.

Discussion with the Property Manager

I explained to the general property manager that we needed to test the various components of plumbing, membrane, units, vents, plumbing boots, and possibly the building envelope at the roof to wall connections. Finally, we have been promised an external water source to isolate the issue based on our tests.

Plumbing Contractor’s Follow-up with the Property Manager

August 21, 2015:

I was sent out to have a look at water leaking in the building. I found that the roof was full of water and it is what was pouring into the suites. The one drain was working, but very slowly. I called in the drain cleaners and went through it with them.

The snake was getting caught up on something, so I had them use the camera and we found there is something stuck in the piping. We traced it to the piping in the ceiling of a first floor room. We will need to return when the water is all gone and open the ceiling, remove the piping, and then get the cause of the blocking out. As it stands, the system is draining as much as it can with whatever is causing the blockage.

Also, the building has some piping up to the roof drains. These are not ran well and are back-graded for parts of the system. I have left it disconnected for the drain that has the problem.

CONTACT US:
General Roofing Systems Canada (GRS)
24 Hour Emergency Roof Repair: Call +1.877.497.3528 toll-free.

info@grscanadainc.com.

Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Banff, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, Winnipeg, Toronto and points between. British Columbia. Alberta. Saskatchewan. Manitoba. Ontario.

Hiring a Roofing Contractor for Roof Snow and Ice Removal

General Roofing Systems Canada provides snow and ice removal throughout Canada. Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Banff, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, Winnipeg, Toronto and points between. British Columbia. Alberta. Saskatchewan. Manitoba. Ontario.

While we are on a ten minute sandwich break with our 24/7 operations across Western Canada, we thought it best to write a quick article on hiring a roofing contractor. Our phone lines are backed up at times – we have never experienced not being able to attend to the volume of calls before, and out waiting list can be frustrating for some (please accept our sincere apologies for this), so we have put a list together as a guide to help you during the hiring procedure for an available contractor.

Some things to consider when hiring someone to remove the snow or ice from your roof

  1. Ask for a copy of their insurance. Be sure you see it first hand. We carry a $5,000,000 liability for a reason. If the person you hire falls off your roof and is injured or is killed and they do not have the proper insurance, you will be held responsible. Most homeowners do not know how important this is. VERY IMPORTANT.
  2. Workers’ Compensation Board. Ask for a copy of their WCB. Ask for a WCB clearance that is recent, as this shows they are up to date their their premiums and active.
  3. City business licence. Self-explanatory… be sure that you see it first hand.
  4. Experience. Easy to check. Look at their website and client base or ask them for some of their clients you can contact. Call references if they do not have a detailed website that shows experience.

You must get someone on your roof with experience

We only put experienced roofers on our work-sites to remove snow and ice or do repairs. Of course, we also staff helpers, but a certified or very experienced roofer is important. Here’s why: only a roofer knows that if you step in a valley that it shingles, and subsequently when thaw comes the system will leak terribly. A roofer knows you cannot step on the shingle cap. An inexperienced worker on your roof will cause damage – guaranteed. These damages will not show up until thawing comes around, and then your roof will leak. Cost wise, a leak is much worse than snow removal.

When calling us for roof snow removal, ice dams, and roof repairs…

Our phone lines are busy – we really, really apologize. Many of the calls we are getting are commercial and industrial roof collapses or major roof leaks into homes and businesses. It can be tough to keep up.

However, we can help you in expediting the process. Here is how it works:

  1. We are a 24/7 roofing company. Although you can call us, email works better.
  2. We have moved our roof workers into the Edmonton area from all over Western Canada, so we have a lot of staff assisting in the effort. It may not appear organized on the surface, but there are people available.
  3. When you call (877.497.3528) or email (info@grscanadainc.com) our offices, we will take your information and put you on the list of people that need their roof to be serviced.
  4. Our office takes all the inquiries and consolidates the orders, then organizes logistics. We arrange scheduling according to address, severity, etc.
  5. If you put your name on the list and you find someone else to service you prior to our return call, then simply notify us and we will take you off the list. Be sure your contractor has insurance.
  6. You can elect to be put on our 24/7 standby service. As availability opens up, we will call you back when your site can be fit in-between other calls.
  7. The best way to get on the service list is by using email or by using our online form on our website. This automatically puts you in to the scheduling system. Click to Request Roof Quotation.
  8. Keep in mind that even if we estimate our availability as five days, it may be the case that another client cancels or reschedules.
  9. While you are waiting for a callback, you can read through our various articles at the main GRS roofing website as well as our main roofing blog and local blogs. After you have read pertinent field reports and have done a homeowner roof assessment, give us a call and perhaps we will be able to solve some of the leak issues right over the phone.

If you are calling about an industrial or commercial roof snow load or roof repair concern and think you may have a dangerous situation developing, call our 877 line and be sure to send an email along with it as well. All emails are instantly seen by our roofing managers in the field.

All things considered, what might be an emergency in a residential context, for instance, could be as simple as plugged roof vents. Nevertheless, our lines are open and waiting to help answer any questions you have.

Contact Us:
General Roofing Systems Canada (GRS)

24 Hour Emergency Roof Repair: Call +1.877.497.3528 toll-free. info@grscanadainc.com.

British Columbia | Alberta | Saskatchewan | Manitoba | Ontario

Emergency Roof Snow & Ice Removal in Alberta

General Roofing Systems Canada provides snow and ice removal services throughout Canada. Flat Roof Repair; Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Banff, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, Winnipeg, Toronto and points between. British Columbia. Alberta. Saskatchewan. Manitoba. Ontario.

Our Alberta roofing crews returning to our offices last night and early in the morning had many interesting reports with regard to snow and ice removal.

One report was not exactly heartening; fortunately, nobody was hurt.

One of our office staffers took a call mid-afternoon from an industrial facility just outside of Edmonton. The client was requesting emergency snow removal from an industrial corrugated metal roof system (low slope/flat).

While on the call, our operator could hear people in the background beginning to cause a stir. There were a few screams and a lot of noise. The distraught caller informed us that a portion of their roof had just collapsed.

Even more concerning was when our service manager arrived on-site. There were staff in the area of the building he reported to when they heard “snaps” and “cracks” coming from the roof. They left that room to inform their management what they were hearing while our office was on the phone with them [management] in the meantime. It was just as they left that area that the whole roof collapsed. ‘Just goes to show that a structural failure can occur without any warning and at any time.

It was a very emotional day. No one was hurt physically, but there were tears to be sure. Clearing snow, clearing ice… trying to help folks on the phone and in person when their homes are leaking very badly or their business roof is collapsing. Even more emotional in the life of the roofer is knowing that there are many more calls that we are not able to respond to when we get stretched thin during “tsunami” seasons.

Our crews continued to roll in through the night and the last of them arrived at about 4:30 am. We will start rolling out crews again sometime around 5:30 am and see how today goes. We are certainly hoping for everyone’s safety and the best for the business and homeowners that we will be dealing with. Serious leaks are expected to start coming in if we cannot remove the snow sooner than later for our current work-sites.

When questioning the crews arriving back at the office, we asked them what could be said or what could be taken and learned from the last 24 hours to assist folks affected by the snow and ice on roofs. This was their response:

  1. If you think your roof may have too much snow load, be sure to get it removed immediately or at least get a structural expert to inspect the roof for load capacity.
  2. If you hear anything at all that does not sound right, leave the building. Today was a real eyeopener for some.
  3. Take some preventative measures. Read up on roof ventilation and ice damming; fix the problems that cause ice buildup before it leads to structural failures. Remove the snow from your roof as soon as possible, and remove ice on the sides of buildings which are immediately hazardous to pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Apparently, the Edmonton Journal had also caught wind of our latest crew experiences with ice and snow removal. (Update 7-24-2015: The link has since been removed from their website)

Below you will find some pictures from today’s crew reports. One shows over 40 in. of snow on a flat roof, obviously challenging load capacity. Another shows a roof collapse from the inside of the building (imagine how much snow was on the collapsed portion before that happened). Another photo shows a piece of ice on the exterior of a condominium building. Signs of leakage in the eave section of the low slope metal roof for this building will become evident when the melting begins.

40 inches on a flat roof
40 inches on a flat roof
Industrial site requiring removal
Industrial site requiring removal
Interior view of a collapsed roof
Interior view of a collapsed roof
Second collapsed view
Second collapsed view
Jan 17, 2011 Roof Ice, Edmonton AB 5
Ice damming on low sloped metal roof
Jan 17, 2011 Roof Ice, Edmonton AB 1
Metal roof reaching load capacity
Jan 17, 2011 Roof Ice, Edmonton AB 2 (1)
Ice damming along gutter system
Jan 17, 2011 Roof Ice, Edmonton AB 2
More ice damming
Jan 17, 2011 Roof Ice, Edmonton AB 3
Packed snow and ice dam growth
Jan 17, 2011 Roof Ice, Edmonton AB 4
Second view of the same

 

Contact Us:
General Roofing Systems Canada (GRS)

24 Hour Emergency Roof Repair: Call +1.877.497.3528 toll-free. info@grscanadainc.com.

British Columbia | Alberta | Saskatchewan | Manitoba | Ontario