It’s hard to believe that over time a nail can back out of a position it was once hammered into without any form of assistance from man. That’s what we found today while doing a hidden gutter repair in North Vancouver. This nail reversed itself over an inch and punctured the EPDM membrane used to waterproof the built in gutter. So how does it happen? I figure it involves thermal cycling and structure settlement. IF there are any Engineers out there that can educate me more…. please do. Until then I know I fixed the leak by sealing up this issue.
Today’s work took us into Vancouver Roofing Company territory. Actually it should be a scaffolding company territory because we were working off a swing stage on the side of a building 9 floors up. WCB would have been proud of us. It was still roofing work we were performing even though we weren’t technically on a roof. More suitably described, in this case, as waterproofing because we were fixing leaks in a membrane gutter. Now we do a lot of rubber gutter repairs. But most EPDM gutters are not as inaccessible as this one was. Like I said… never boring.
Today’s topic takes us into North Delta. A rubber roof leaking around a concrete cinder block wall. We noted the field membrane had wrinkled near the base of the wall. Further exploration proved the membrane had shrunk and pulled away from it’s glued position on the vertical surface. It was then complicated more by further sagging resulting in a clear void in the vertical coverage and it’s integrity. We had to re-pin the membrane back up onto the vertical surface. We strategized. Metal was cut, membrane repositioned and flashing pinned again, with the help of a hammer drill. Sometimes leaks are this easy, for us at least, and other times they can be more challenging. We’re confident we got this one though.
Today’s blog comes from Vancouver. This so common. The membrane wasn’t installed properly and has now separated from the flange of the copper drain. Water must be pouring through the soffit because I doubt much of it goes down the drain. The fix is not complicated though. We cut the membrane away to expose the drain flange and then install a new and proper membrane patch to tie the flange into the old gutter membrane. I bet put down about 300 patches a year in gutters. It’s that common. It’s always a systemic issue too. No point in just fixing one when the other ones have the same problem. The key in doing the patches is doing them properly. I’m amazed there are so many “roofers” who don’t even know how to put a proper patch down! I learned that in my first year apprenticeship. Trust Crucial Roof Services with your hidden membrane gutter repairs.
Worked on more hidden gutter repairs today out in Coquitlam. It’s easily got to be 95% of the EPDM rubber gutters out there in the Lower Mainland area that are not done according to today’s accepted standards. The unfortunate aspect of this is that rarely does a home owner recognize this until it is usually too late and some damage has already occurred. I’m talking about rotted fascia boards or damaged soffits. When a roof leak happens over occupied living space, we normally find out by seeing a water stain on the ceiling or by wetness on the floor. Because the leaks occurring in gutters do not happen over living space and is out of every day view, they can understandably be missed. If you have hidden membrane gutters on your house I recommend you go out and look at your soffits and fascia boards during the next two day rain and see if any water is dripping through the soffit or off the backside of the fascia. It may save you money!
Membrane gutter repairs. You never know how it’s going to go. Will the cleaning be easy or require serious elbow grease? How long will the patches need to cure before we can install them? Does all the flashing need to be removed? Today’s hidden gutter membrane job in Burnaby was no different than any other rubber gutter job except that the original installers dog-ear folded all corners. I’ve never seen that strategy used before! On a house that was under spec’d for gutter drains this installation method caused serious water damming. It wasn’t a totally bad idea as it reduced the amount of seams in the EPDM that would require patches…EXCEPT they nailed these folds down afterwards and left the nails exposed. It’s leaked like a sieve since Day 1. I’m amazed but never surprised by some of the moronic things I see on roofs. I wish I had $10 for every time I thought “How could someone consider that a good detail?”. I’d be able to buy my kids a new pair of shoes every month! It’s that bad out there. So the challenge today was to try and figure out how to remove the EPDM rubber membrane build up caused by the folded dog-ear corners and still be able to put our patches on after ward. I wish they had of taught me that in school. But then again who would have thought that would have ever been done in the first place 🙂 I guess the moral to today’s blog is that there is no such thing as a “typical day”. I keep on learning new things.
Did I say I loved Mother Nature in my last post? I must have been on a happy pill or something because she messed up my plans again. I’m starting to get bitter. I was scheduled to do a large EPDM rubber membrane gutter upgrade with some 34 patch locations up in North Burnaby. I wish I could say it went smoothly. We arrived on site and saw dark clouds around but the ground was dry. We had driven through a couple showers on our way but nothing substantial. That is until we were setting up the ladder. Boom. The rain came down. We got hammered by a cloud that looked friendly. Not ominous but friendly. So here we go again. Pack it up, change it up and go see some other sites. So now what do I do with tomorrow? Weatherman says 60% chance of showers. I bet it’s sunny and warm.
EPDM membrane bridgingStaying with the topic of EPDM membrane hidden gutter systems I would like to touch on the topic of membrane bridging. This evolving deficiency occurs on almost all rubber gutter systems. It is due primarily to the fact that the gutter itself was merely loose-laid into the trough and not chemically adhered to the wooden substrate with a bonding agent. Through the lifecycle of the rubber, it dries and shrinks and becomes in non-contact with the underlying deck. This shrinking action results in the pulling-away from the wooden deck and a bridging of the membrane.
The bridging primarily affects the desired water flow of the system to the drain. When a membrane bridges, it causes a rise in the level of the rubber and sometimes builds an obstacle that the water cannot bypass to get to the drain. The end result is a gutter that constantly holds water. This is not an extreme issue of concern if the gutter is installed according to today’s accepted practices. Where this becomes an issue is if the initial installer’s workmanship is failing. Standing water plus poor installation details commonly result in an accelerated fascia board and soffit rot problem.
Extreme cases of membrane shrinkage result in water overflow down the fascia boards instead of the intended flow through the drains and downspouts. Membrane shrinkage can also cause poorly sealed seams to tear apart and become water ingress locations.
Resolution of such bridging problems can be brought about by adding additional drains at critical points or cutting out the extreme bridge locations and patching the resulting cut/hole with appropriate and compatible rubber products applied with accepted and proper means.
If you notice standing water, fascia board and/or soffit damage and are concerned about the cause, contact Crucial Roof Services for a free consultation and estimate.
Gutters are commonly found in two formats. Hidden gutters and exposed gutters. Hidden gutters are usually waterproofed using a single ply EPDM membrane. Exposed gutters are aluminum troughs hanging on the face of your fascia boards. I’ve recently done two full repair jobs to rubber gutters. The original installation is never done according to today’s accepted standards. Either the builders didn’t want an expensive system or the chosen roofer was uneducated in Carlisle or Firestone membrane procedures. I find most hidden gutters are leaking at the corners and where the drains are located. It is not necessary to replace the entire gutter membrane because of a leak or several leaks. Although the problem is systemic, it can be fixed by installing patches to all seams and corners. The patches are applied using compatible products. The membrane must first be dried, cleaned and primed. A special uncured membrane patch must be prepared and also primed. The patch is laid in, rolled with a steel roller and then finished with a compatible caulking.
The attached photo shows three new patches on an EPDM gutter repair. Crucial Roof Services should be on your call list for rubber gutter repairs.