Vents are installed through the roof to relieve vapor pressure — in the form of water or gas — from the interior of the building into the atmosphere. Because this is required in all types of buildings, vents and tubular penetrations are typically standard details on any roof system.

Although common, installing roofing around vents and tubular penetrations can provide a challenge to the roofing contractor. The challenges exist in completing and tying in the sheet metal work with the roofing work. Typically, sheet metal workers install metal components. However, roofing mechanics work with the metal flanges for vents and tubular penetrations because the roof flashing and flanges have to be installed at the same time. In this procedure, the existing penetration is waterproofed in accordance with proper roofing procedures. The sheet metal flange is applied over the waterproofed penetration. Finally, the sheet metal flange is flashed or tied into the roof system.

It used to be common practice to cover the penetration pipe with a one-piece flange fabricated from lead. The lead flange would be fabricated to extend approximately 2 inches above the pipe penetration. After installation over the pipe penetration the excess top flange would be folded around the circumference of the pipe penetration. This provided seamless waterproofing at the top of the vent.

The major concern with this type of application is that there exists the possibility of differential movement between the top and bottom of the flange. In this detail design, there is no accommodation for movement at the top of the flange because it is tightly folded over the pipe penetration. The natural movement that occurs from the adjoining of the metal (flange) and the roof membrane transpires at the bottom. The movement of the metal flange at the bottom produces membrane splits, which allow for moisture entry into the roof system and eventually the building.

At these locations, it may be wiser to consider the installation of a two-piece metal flange. In this application, the metal flange is applied at the circumference of the pipe penetration and is flashed-in similar to the one-piece pipe flange. The difference is that a metal cover is fabricated to be soldered over the pipe flange. The metal cover is installed over the inside of the pipe penetration and at the outside of the pipe flange. The cover provides room for movement at both the inside and outside of the pipe penetration. This also allows for differential movement at the top and bottom of the pipe flange, relieving the pressure at the bottom of the flange. Waterproofing protection is maintained by keeping the inside and outside of the vent dry.

This is another minor modification that could add to the success of your next roof system installation decreasing the number of callbacks. And best of all, these are not time consuming practices so they will have little effect on the project’s bottom line.