Groovy! A Retro Solution for Metal Roofing
D.V. “Red” Mc-1 sounds like a serial code for some novelty model, doesn’t it? Well, D.V. “Red” Mc-1 isn’t the manufacturer’s issued number to a product, but a proper noun that has been making an impact in the roofing industry with an engineered solution called Roof Hugger.
“Red” McConnohie is the walking think-tank who constructed this new form of retrofitting as a reaction to the “make do” applications that the industry had been using for some time. “Necessity is the mother of all inventions,” says McConnohie. “I had been building hundreds of thousands of square feet of metal-roofed industrial and commercial buildings, and owned some myself. In the late ‘80s one of my buildings needed reroofing and my tenant didn’t want his business interrupted to remove the old roof. By then I had retired, so I called my old erection crew and told them what needed to be done.
“When I visited the job as they started, I was shocked to see how they intended to attach the new roof. I pointed out that it would never stand the wind load, and the sheet metal erector said that was how everyone was doing it. By modifying the ‘hat’ channels they were using and adding fasteners, we got the job done—but it was still a non-engineered ‘make-do’ and I was determined to find a better way. By ‘91 I had finally perfected samples and found a new type of computer-controlled punch press machine that could solve high production needs of various punch profiles.”
Thus the inception of two products: the Roof Hugger and Webtherm; fast and less costly solutions to reroofing existing ribbed metal roofs.
The Roof Hugger product is a subpurlin that “nestles” into and over the existing roof rib profile, which in turn enables the worker to attach any new metal panel roof onto the subpurlin the same as if it were a new building with new purlins. The company also offers a thermally non-conductive, polypropylene spacer that efficiently isolates all metal-to-metal contact from the outside roof to interior structurals. Even the fasteners are isolated by means of a “sleeve washer.” The combination of the Webtherm spacers with a modified subpurlin eliminates the age-old problem of “cold-bridging” (the rapid migration of heat to cold or cold to interior structurals, creating internal condensation) and assures that full R-values of specified insulation will be maintained. So, as a result, for those metal roofs that were new 20 to 30 years ago but that are now beginning to decay, retrofitting is the practical solution.
There are a number of reasons why this process of retrofitting is becoming popular in place of tear-offs. For one, some businesses just can’t close shop, and the open area subjects the interior to damage from weather and debris from construction. Two, the cost and labor of removing and disposing the old roof is about as expensive as a new roof, hence doubling the price after all is said and done. In addition, even under the best circumstances, the existing roof insulation is impossible to preserve during tear-offs and must be replaced, while a retrofit leaves the insulation unscathed.
For these reasons, Roof Hugger is winning the confidence of many contractors. Carlo Parente of Tri-Tech Metal, New Port Richey, Fla., has used the Roof Hugger and offers much praise for the product. Tri-Tech was invited to bid on the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Evidence Building and Distribution Warehouse. Tri-Tech got the job with the low bid and the submittal of engineering data for Roof Hugger.
Although familiar with retrofitting, Parente was used to those applications that are the antithesis of Roof Hugger: mostly the “make-do’s” that McConnohie outlines in Roof Hugger’s brochure of “thou-shalt-nots.”
“We did another system that consisted of using a two-piece Z and hat-tracking,” states Parente. “With the Roof Hugger, it’s all one piece, unlike the other method. Plus the Roof Hugger offers a much better wind-load. Of course we had to make sure the substructure was not damaged by rust, due to the existing roof leaking, but it was all in good shape. When using the product, there’s less preparation, so with the existing roof all that was needed was cutting the roof panels so they come back flush with the existing walls. There is no overhang on the system now.”
The scope of this job was to cut back the existing roof at the eaves line, install the Roof Hugger, then attach the panels to the Roof Hugger system. “We used 22-gauge IMETCO standing seam panels: a 2 3/8-inch high standing seam that is 12 inches wide, with a 18-gauge single-piece clip. On our eaves and rake ends, we used a continuous clip. That was to engineer it for the wind load.” Tri-Tech Metal had no problems adapting to the new system of re-roofing and steamrolled its way through the 36,000-square unit.
The future offers hope for the world of the steel roof erector and Roof Hugger. The company furnished the products to AEP Span, Dallas, so AEP Span could add these patented purlins to its single-source retrofit systems, in addition to any design and/or engineering services requested. Mark Barlett, retrofit sales manager with AEP states, “Contractors who have used the Roof Hugger or EZee Sub Purlin confirm that it is the most efficient metal-over-metal reroof application, while maintaining direct mechanical attachment.” Roofing contractor Mike Rigby of Camp-Rigby, Cape Coral, Fla., adds, “We had a very good experience with it. There was no way we could interrupt the business. We used the Roof Hugger and it went very quickly. There was no type of water exposure, which was the biggest advantage; liability was limited and they kept the plant running. It is far less expensive than a tear off.”
Not only is the system gaining attention in the United States, but it’s also creating a buzz internationally, from the Caribbean to Guam. The company has recently completed a royalty agreement with HOPSA, Panama City, Panama. The company manufactures and distributes Roof Hugger exclusively in Central America and regions of the northern portion of South America. “We are delighted that companies of the stature of HOPSA and AEP Span recognize the Roof Hugger product as the premiere retro-fit attachment system offered to our industry,” remarks Roof Hugger’s president, Dale Nelson.
As long as there’s a market for metal roofs, there’s a market for retrofitting and Roof Hugger.