We’ve already discussed wind uplift design in a previous SpecTopics post (FM 1-90 vs. ASCE 7); this post will help you understand how those wind speed numbers relate to wind speed warranties.
To calculate wind uplift for a roofing project, you’ll need to determine the building type and local wind speed. In gathering this information, some designers look at the American Society of Civil Engineers’ ASCE 7 Wind Maps for their area, see a number like 90- or 120-mph, and think that is the wind speed their building will encounter. Therefore, they specify the same speed for their warranty (i.e. 120 mph local speed means I need a 120-mph wind speed warranty). Rest assured, this is not the case.
ASCE 7 maps have contours with the local speeds in 10 mph increments. ASCE 7-2005 and ASCE 7-2010 were relatively straightforward; most of the U.S. was in a 90-mph zone. However, in 2016 ASCE deemed it necessary to have separate maps for each building risk category (Category I, II, III, and IV).
This increased the wind speeds for most of the country, especially for projects with increased risk categories.
Naturally, designers saw this increase and thought that since the local wind speed was increasing, they needed to ask for increased wind speed warranties. (i.e. 130 mph or more). Again, this is not the case.
It’s true that warranted wind speed is the limit of 3-second peak gust recorded at the weather station nearest your building project, measured at 10 meters above the ground, during a weather event that affects your building project. But to achieve wind speeds over 90 mph, a cyclonic windstorm (tornado, hurricane, etc.) is generally necessary.
If your building experiences a cyclonic windstorm, there will be flying debris, broken glazing, and other envelope breaches that could cause roof failure (over-pressurizing the building, detachment of decking from structural components, etc.). This would not be covered under a roofing warranty, regardless of the wind speed coverage.
Keep in mind that a roofing warranty assumes that the building remains intact, the decking remains solid, the inside pressure of the building is generally equalized, and foot traffic is limited to maintenance and inspection of rooftop equipment. It is not building insurance. Like fires and vandalism, critical weather events such as tornadoes and hurricanes are covered by the building owner’s insurance carrier.
Choose a warranted wind speed that makes sense for you and your client, but you don’t need to match that with your local wind speed. You’ll just be paying more for something you don’t need.
Always verify your need for increased warranty wind speed before inquiring about matching your local wind speed with the warranty.
Contact Craig Tyler at [email protected]