Electronic Leak Detection for Roofing Systems
October 16, 2019
A building’s roofing system separates the damaging outdoor environment from the valuable interior contents. To be effective, it must be watertight. Although roof systems are inspected and sometimes flood tested prior to warranty issuance, small, difficult-to-see breaches in the membrane system can go unnoticed until damaging water leaks occur inside the building. Moreover, once a leak has developed it can be extremely difficult to locate the leak and perform the necessary repair, especially when overburden materials are installed.
Enter Electronic Leak Detection, otherwise known as ELD. ELD systems have been around for 20+ years and are gaining popularity due to some revolutionary new products that have expanded testing capabilities. ELD systems come in two main varieties: low-voltage and high-voltage, with low-voltage being the most common. ELD systems work by creating an electrical potential difference between a non-conductive roof membrane and a grounded conductive structural deck or substrate. Testing is performed by applying water, which is conductive, to the surface of the roof membrane. The roof membrane will isolate the potential electrical difference between the deck and the water, but when a breach is present, the water will create an electrical connection to the grounded deck, pinpointing the exact leak location to the testing technician. A major benefit of ELD testing is that it can be performed at any time, even after overburden materials are installed.

For ELD systems to be effective, a conductive substrate must be present directly below the membrane’s surface. Due to this requirement, membrane choice and application method can be limited.
Two ELD companies that Carlisle has experience with are International Leak Detection (ILD) and Detec Systems. Products from either of these companies are permitted for use in a Carlisle warranted roof system but are not covered in the Carlisle warranty.

ILD has been around since 2001 and promotes a conductive mesh that must be installed directly below the membrane for accurate testing of membrane systems over non-conductive decks. Due to the design of the conductive mesh, it is only acceptable for use under thermoplastic FleeceBACK® membranes adhered with FAST™ or Flexible FAST Adhesive.

Detec Systems promotes a conductive primer called TruGround® that is roller-applied over the top layer of insulation, prior to adhesive application. Once dried, the membrane system can be installed as usual. TruGround conductive primer expands ELD testing capabilities, as it is suitable for use with bareback membranes and even black EPDM, which historically has not been compatible with ELD testing. Carlisle SynTec Systems has secured FM approvals for Detec’s TruGround in a number of different roofing assemblies. Those assemblies include:

EPDM and TPO with CAV-GRIP® III adhesive over SecurShield®, SecurShield HD, DensDeck® Prime, and SECUROCK®.
PVC with Low-VOC Bonding Adhesive over InsulBase®, SecurShield, SecurShield HD, and SecurShield HD Plus.

 Contact Chris Kann with questions regarding ELD systems.
January 8, 2020
Air and Vapor Barriers for Roofs

In 2012, the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) introduced the continuous air barrier requirement for new commercial construction. This meant that air and vapor barriers were now required for walls, and they must be tied to both the roofing assembly and the foundation. For years, many architects and designers only utilized an air and vapor barrier on the roof deck for high-humidity occupancies, such as swimming pools or food processing facilities. But the new requirement meant taking a hard look at the needs of all buildings and what a roof assembly could do for the building envelope. A single-ply membrane, as stated in the IECC and as tested utilizing the ASTM E2178 standard, qualifies as an air barrier and can satisfy the requirement for an air barrier on any given project. So why would you consider adding an additional air and vapor barrier to the roofing assembly? There are a couple of very simple reasons: Reason 1: Air Intrusion. While a properly installed roofing system will not allow air leakage (e.g., conditioned indoor air from exiting the building thermal envelope), it does allow air movement within the roof assembly. As the single-ply roof membrane is on the top of the assembly, indoor conditioned air can infiltrate into the roofing system and travel into the layers of insulation or cover boards. Why is this an issue? See Reason 2… Reason 2: Moisture Migration. Adding a deck-level air and vapor barrier is a great solution to prevent air intrusion and moisture migration. This also allows the wall air and vapor barrier to be tied together at the deck level, which allows the roof to be replaced more easily in the future. The contractor will not be modifying the continuous air barrier when re-roofing, as the roof is no longer that barrier. Carlisle SynTec provides many options for deck level air and vapor barriers: VapAir Seal MD for steel deck construction, direct to deck; VapAir Seal 725TR for Concrete Decks; VapAir Seal Flashing Foam for sealing around penetrations such as pipes; Go to the Air and Vapor Barriers Product Page on the Carlisle SynTec website for more information, specifications, and details. Contact Craig Tyler at [email protected] with further questions.

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December 18, 2019
Cold Weather Installation Tips Part 2 - Membranes and Insulation

As discussed in the previous SpecTopic, "Cold Weather Installation Tips Part 1 - Low-VOC Bonding Adhesives and Primers", specifying and handling of building envelope products is challenging during the colder winter months. Single-ply membranes and rigid insulation boards need some extra consideration, as they can be adversely affected by outside temperatures. For starters, all membranes will need time to "relax" after being unrolled from the original packaging; this applies to EPDM, TPO, PVC and KEE HP. It is also suggested that membrane widths be limited to a maximum of 10 feet for adhered roofing systems. Treat flashing products and accessories as you would adhesives and primers, by utilizing heated storage enclosures or "hot boxes". This practice is strongly recommended when ambient temperatures are expected to fall below 40°F for an extended period of time. In all applications, but especially in cold conditions, insulation and underlayments must be stored so that they are kept dry and protected from the elements. Insulations should be stored on a skid, covered with a breathable tarp, and weighted to prevent wind damage. In winter months, ice and frost can form on the membrane. This can be difficult to see and can remain on the roof well into the day, especially on white membranes. This can be especially hazardous when working near the edge of the roof. Additionally, frost on metal edges and copings can create a very slick surface and cause ladders to slide and shift. Never step onto a metal coping when it is frost- or snow-covered. So for your next cold weather specification for single-ply membranes and rigid board insulation, include some installation precautions as mentioned. Contact Craig Tyler at [email protected] with further questions.

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December 4, 2019
Cold Weather Installation Tips Part 1 – Low-VOC Bonding Adhesives and Primers

As temperatures fall and winter approaches, specifying and handling building envelope products – especially adhesives and primers – becomes a concern. Low-VOC adhesives and primers contain more water than standard adhesives and primers and can be adversely affected by outside temperatures. When specifying a low-VOC bonding adhesive or primer for a winter installation time frame, make sure to include information in the specification regarding cold weather application. This should include heated storage enclosures, or "hot boxes", for jobsite adhesive storage. This practice is strongly recommended when ambient temperatures are expected to fall below 40°F for an extended period of time. Adhesives and primers should be stored in locations where temperatures are between 60°F and 80°F. While working with adhesives, they should be rotated in hot boxes to ensure the temperature of the product stays above 40°F. Adhesives may appear gelled or lumpy when left for extended periods of time at temperatures below 40°F. If this occurs, return the material to room temperature for a minimum of 24 hours prior to use. In all applications, but especially in colder conditions, make sure you achieve the proper coverage rates for the adhesive or primer being used. Following coverage rates for Low-VOC adhesives and primers allows proper flash-off and reduces the trapped solvents which could lead to membrane blistering. For applications in very cold temperatures, Flexible FAST™ Adhesive may be necessary. Flexible FAST is a two-part polyurethane foam adhesive which is spray-applied and used with a fleece-backed single-ply membrane. The advantage of this system is that it can be sprayed using 15- or 50-gallon drums of Part A and Part B, which can be heated using drum or band heaters. This allows the material to stay warmer during application and lowers the minimum application temperature to 25°F. So for your next cold weather specification of Low-VOC adhesives and primers, include some installation precautions as mentioned. Contact Craig Tyler at [email protected] with further questions.

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