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Columbia Roofing & Sheet Metal Earns Phenom Award

Posted By Alec Ward, Western States Roofing Contractors Association, Wednesday, January 31, 2018

WSRCA Member Columbia Roofing & Sheet Metal, a specialty roofing contractor in the Pacific Northwest and Southern California, was recognized during the Daily Journal of Commerce’s recent award program, “Phenoms & Icons.” Chief Executive Officer Mark Carpenter earned an Icon award and Kendall Ekerson, marketing and business development manager, earned a Phenom award.  The father-and-daughter duo were highlighted for their contributions within the commercial roofing industry.


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A View From the Hill - Political News: Tax Bill Victory for the Roofing Industry

Posted By Western States Roofing Contractors Association, Monday, January 29, 2018

by Craig Brightup, The Brightup Group LLC


When President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) on Dec. 22, 2017, it ushered in the most significant federal tax reform since 1986. It also marked a huge policy victory for the roofing industry and WSRCA members by way of enhanced IRC Sec. 179 expensing.


The Sec. 179 expensing provision (deduction) is intended to primarily help small businesses purchase needed equipment and write-off the full amount on their taxes for the current year, which is a good thing for roofing contractors. Effective this year, qualifying 179 property includes most business equipment, such as computers and certain vehicles, and construction equipment and machinery purchases qualify. But the big breakthrough for the roofing industry and its customers is that Sec. 179 qualified property now includes improvements to nonresidential roofs!


The new limit on the total amount of Sec. 179 property a business can purchase each year before a phase-out begins is $2.5 million (up from $2 million), and the annual limit for the deduction itself has been raised to $1 million (from $500,000). This means that a property owner can write-off up to $1 million in the year that a commercial roof is purchased. Also, the $1 million annual deduction and $2.5 million maximum business investment limits are now permanent and indexed for annual inflation starting in 2019.


This victory culminates more than a decade of work to shorten the 39-year tax depreciation schedule for commercial roofs, which started in 2003 when then-Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) introduced the Realistic Roofing Tax Treatment Act. NRCA led this effort and it’s a great example of why it’s crucial to have strong industry presence in Washington, DC.


Another option for WSRCA members is the IRC Sec. 168(k) Bonus Depreciation Deduction, which has been raised to 100 percent for qualifying new and used property acquired and placed in service after Sept. 27, 2017, and before Jan. 1, 2023. Property with a depreciable tax life of 20 years or less generally qualifies and includes machinery and equipment, furniture and fixtures, computers and computer software, and vehicles used primarily in business (with a dollar cap on business cars and trucks that have a loaded vehicle weight of 6,000 lbs. or less).


On a broader scale, the tax rate for C corporations (the corporate tax rate) has been cut from 35 to 21 percent. Also, pass-through entities organized as S corporations, partnerships, LLCs and sole proprietorships get a 20 percent deduction on taxable income up to $157,000 or $315,000 if filing jointly (that’s phased-out at $207,500 or $415,000, respectively). Many contractors use the pass-through structure and pay their business taxes as individual returns, so it helps that the top individual rate has now been lowered from 39 to 37 percent. Please note, however, that the tax rules for pass-through entities are complicated and companies organized as such are encouraged to consult with tax experts about their status.


Finally, for contractors that are family businesses, the new tax code doubles the estate tax exemption so that estates of up to $11 million (or $22 million for couples) are now exempt from taxation. And though the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) continues to cover individuals, the exemption and phase-out amounts have been sharply increased.


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Repeat Violations will add up quick in 2018

Posted By Darin Douglas, Lowe Roofing, Inc., Monday, January 22, 2018



Courtesy of: News Release


U.S. Department of Labor Finds Ohio Contractor Continues
To Expose Roofers to Falls and Other Safety Hazards

HOLLAND, OH ‒ The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited an Ohio roofing contractor for exposing employees to falls and other safety hazards. The contractor, Casey Bortles, faces proposed penalties totaling $91,629.

On Oct. 26, 2017, inspectors observed five roofers at a Waterville residential site working at heights greater than 8 feet without adequate fall protection, and employees using nail guns without eye protection. OSHA also cited the company for failing to train workers on fall hazards, and for not developing and maintaining an accident prevention program. Bortles has been cited for similar violations four times since 2014.

“This employer continues to expose employees to fall hazards by failing to comply with federal safety requirements,” said OSHA Toledo Area Office Director Kim Nelson. “Employers are responsible for ensuring employees are adequately protected from the hazards that exist at their worksites.”

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit

Tags:  SAFETY 

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Arbitration Agreement

Posted By Kenneth S. Grossbart — Law Offices of Abdulaziz, Grossbart & Rudman, Monday, January 22, 2018

We have written before regarding the concept of arbitration vs. litigation.  Arbitrating disputes is very common and arbitration clauses are found in all types of different situations.  Arbitration clauses are very common in construction related contracts as well as employment related contracts.  Arbitration is favored by the courts and if there is an arbitration clause contained in a contract, the court more often than not will enforce the arbitration clause and require that the parties arbitrate their disputes as oppose to litigating their disputes in the court system. 

A recent California Appellate[1] case addresses the validity of an arbitration clause that was contained in an employment agreement.  Maya Baxter was employed by AssetMark Investment Services, Inc.  Genworth North acquired AssetMark.  Genworth required that Ms. Baxter sign an arbitration agreement.  The arbitration agreement required that all employment disputes be resolved according to Genworth Alternative Dispute Resolution guidelines.  At a later date, Genworth eliminated Ms. Baxter job position and as a result terminated her employment.  Ms. Baxter sued Genworth for wrongful termination alleging Genworth fired her because of her race.  Genworth filed a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to the arbitration clause contained within the employment contract however the court denied Genworth’s motion on the grounds that the arbitration agreement was procedurally and substantively unconscionable. 

As mentioned above, the greater percentages of motions to compel arbitration are granted and thus compel the parties to arbitrate their disputes.  It is a rare situation that a trial court denies a motion to compel arbitration.  However in this instance that is exactly what the court did. 

In denying Genworth’s motion to compel arbitration, the trial court found that Ms. Baxter did not have the power to bargain with Genworth over the terms of the arbitration agreement.  As a result, the trial court found that unconscionability was present in the negotiation of the arbitration clause.  The court further found that the provisions of the arbitration clause were unfairly one sided in favor of Genworth.  By way of example Ms. Baxter was not allowed to communicate with other employees about her claims.  Baxter was also restricted on discovery, shortened limitation periods and limited Baxter’s ability to seek administrative remedies prior to participating in arbitration. 

Because the trial court found that the arbitration clause was both procedurally and substantively unconscionable, the court ruled that the arbitration clause is unenforceable and Ms. Baxter can pursue her disputes in the court system. 

Although arbitration is a favored means of dispute resolution, there are instances where arbitration clauses will not be held to be unenforceable.  Where the facts of this particular case are in the realm of employer/employee, the situation can be equally construed in any type of industry such as the construction industry. 

Whether you are the maker of the contract or the one asked to sign someone else’s contract, pay particular attention to the arbitration clause and make sure that the clause does not unfairly favor one person over the other. 

[1] The holding of this case would no doubt be the same in other States.

Tags:  LEGAL 

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Convoy Supply Names Jamie Mantle as Vice President of Sales

Posted By Convoy Supply - Monique Tute, Marketing & Communications Manager, Monday, January 15, 2018
Updated: Monday, January 22, 2018

Convoy Supply, a North American leader in the distribution of construction materials has announced the addition of Mr. Jamie Mantle to the new position of Vice President of Sales, adding to their team of well-known industry experts.


Mr. Jamie Mantle, new Vice President of Sales at Convoy Supply


Mr. Mantle will be responsible for the management of all sales and customer-facing activities for both the Canadian and US territories for Convoy Supply.

“This restructuring will allow Convoy to build on the successful collaborative work achieved by our current  team of General, Sales, and Operations Managers over the past several years” ,  says Alma Garnett, President of Convoy Supply. “Already a friend and industry partner,  I have great confidence that Jamie’s leadership will add significant clout to Convoy’s sales strategies and market presence as the company continues to expand its reach and its commitment to service excellence.”

Mantle joins Convoy from Soprema, where he has spent the last 14 years as Vice President of Sales. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this new role, having worked in both distribution and manufacturing within the building materials industry for the last 36 years.


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Drive Safely and Buckle Up!

Posted By Darin Douglas, Merge 3 Technology, Inc., Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Be careful on the roads this Year.  Vehicle safety is a big part of your company safety program.  By training your team to buckle up and follow all traffic laws you take a big step towards sending everyone home safe.  

Tags:  SAFETY 

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Roof Tarping (Blue Roof) Safety

Posted By WSRCA, Friday, December 1, 2017
Updated: Friday, December 1, 2017


Reinforced plastic tarps, commonly called “Blue Roofs,” provide temporary protection for the roofs of homes and other buildings damaged during severe weather such as a hurricane or tornado. When employees access roofs to install these tarps, they are at risk of falls, electrocutions, and other hazards. OSHA recommends the following steps to help keep workers safe.


Courtesy of: OSHA Fact Sheet



Identify the Hazards

• ALWAYS avoid electrical hazards!


• Look for downed overhead power lines; treat all power lines as “live.”


WARNING: Generator use can cause “backfeed” — energizing lines that are no longer receiving power from the electrical grid. Contact the utility company to ensure lines are de-energized. Do not use a metal ladder near power lines or in close proximity to energized electrical equipment.


ASSESS the roof condition/stability prior to allowing employees to start work.


• Do not allow employees to work on top of a damaged roof until after the strength and structural integrity of the roof has been determined.


SELECT the fall protection system(s) employees will use while installing the tarp.


• Low-slope roofs (a roof with a slope of less than or equal to 4 inches of vertical rise for every 12 inches horizontal length) use conventional fall protection (fall arrest, guardrails, or safety nets) with or without a warning line system; a warning line system with a monitor; or a monitor alone on small roofs (50 ft. or less in width).


• Steep roofs (greater than 4 in 12 vertical to horizontal) do not stand on a steep roof without using conventional fall protection systems.  


Installing the Tarp

• Never install a tarp during a storm while it is windy or raining.  


• Use proper protective equipment such as hard hats and eye protection and/or other control measures such as chutes and barricaded areas when removing roof debris. This ensures employees on the ground are not exposed to hazards from falling objects.  


• Remove roof debris using a roof rake or brush from ground level. If using a ladder, ensure the use of proper safety techniques to prevent falls.   Whenever possible, avoid getting on the roof when tasks can be done from ladders or other stable platforms.


• When accessing the roof, lean the ladder at a safe angle that is at a 4:1 ratio (one foot away from the building at the bottom for each four feet of ladder length to the roof eave), and make sure the ladder extends three feet above the roof edge.  


• Watch for tripping hazards including vent stacks, satellite dishes, lightning arresting components and cables, and cleats holding down the tarp.  


• Do not walk on a tarp. A tarped roof will be very slippery, especially when wet.


• Watch your step — skylights and other openings that have been tarped over will not be obvious to someone walking on the roof.  


Worker's Rights

Worker's have the right to:


• Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.  


• Receive information and training (in a language and vocabulary the worker understands) about workplace hazards, methods to prevent them, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace.  


• Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses.  


• File a complaint asking OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA’s rules. OSHA will keep all identities confidential.


• Exercise their rights under the law without retaliation, including reporting an injury or raising health and safety concerns with their employer or OSHA. If a worker has been retaliated against for using their rights, they must file a complaint with OSHA as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days.  For additional information, see OSHA’s Workers page. 


Note: Using a rope grab as part of a fall protection system is one example, among others, of equipment that can be used to reduce the risk of falling. All components of the system, including the harness, rope and rope grab, any connectors, and the anchor point must meet applicable OSHA requirements 


How to Contact OSHA

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit or call OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), TTY 1-877-889-5627. 

Tags:  SAFETY 

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“Leaky” Exhaust Vents – The 500-lb Gorilla of Condensation Problems

Posted By WSRCA, Monday, November 27, 2017

Courtesy of: Phil Dregger - PE, Technical Roof Services

Phil Dregger is a Professional Engineer, Registered Roof Consultant, Fellow of the Roof Consultants Institute, and President of DNG Group Companies - Technical Roof Services and Pacific Building Consultants – in Concord, California.  Mr. Dregger has investigated, designed, and provided expert testimony involving roofing and waterproofing systems since 1984.  Mr. Dregger has special expertise in code compliance; wind damage, roof drainage; and analysis of condensation problems.


Many factors contribute to excessive condensation in low slope membrane roof systems installed over wood decks with insulation below; high interior relative humidity (RH), high roof reflectance[1], and especially air intrusion[2].  One contributor - the impact of warm humid air leaking out the ends of improperly terminated exhaust vents - is like the proverbial 500-lb gorilla.  We are keenly aware he is in the “reroof” room with us but have done a pretty good job of ignoring him.  When this big guy creates a problem, however, roof professionals are often asked to explain why they did not “correct” the improper exhaust vent termination conditions before installing new flashing assemblies over them.

This article will explain why complete discharge of exhaust air - especially gas combustion products - is so important, will review code requirements for termination of exhaust vents, identify tell-tale signs of existing condensation problems, and will offer ways to avoid exhaust vent-related condensation problems.

Although broken or disconnected exhaust vents can pose an even more serious problem, this article will focus on how improper termination of exhaust vents can contribute to excessive condensation in low-slope membrane roofs.  All photos in this article are courtesy of DNG Group Companies - Technical Roof Services and Pacific Building Consultants - and show projects located in California in ASHRAE Climate Zone 3.

Soft Spots – Serious condensation problems usually start with someone noticing a soft spot like that shown in Figure 1.  Usually, the soft spot is positioned near a “high” point on the roof, usually the roof construction contains air spaces with cold surfaces, usually the reroof membrane is considerably more reflective than the old roof membrane, and more often than not the roof is installed over a residential occupancy.

Before we go further, let’s review some condensation related concepts: relative humidity, dew point, radiative cooling, and convective air currents.

Dew Point and Relative Humidity (RH) – Let’s say it is 52°F outside and foggy.  The air can’t hold any more water vapor.  It is at its dew point temperature.  It is at 100% RH.  The water vapor present starts condensing on exposed surfaces.  Since warm air can hold more water vapor than cold air, if we let this air inside and heat it up to 72°F, its RH drops to 50% but the dew point temperature doesn’t change.  So, if we cool down the air back down to 52°F (the dew point temperature), condensation of water on surfaces will begin again.  Pretty straight forward.  Condensation is primarily related to the temperature of the air and the surfaces it encounters.

What we need to keep in mind is that on most winter nights the temperature of our wood roof decks, when we insulate below the deck, gets well below the dew point temperature of the air inside our buildings even here in sunny California.  This means that if the air inside our buildings were to come into contact with our wood decks at night, it would condense.  It does and it does.  I’ll explain why.

Smoke and Dew - Two things we learned as kids.  Smoke rises and dew forms on grass overnight.  Later someone explained to us this was because warm air is less dense than cool air (thermal buoyancy) and surfaces exposed to a clear sky at night lose lots of heat (radiative cooling).  This means that the air inside our buildings naturally wants to rise up into our roof assemblies.  And, if it’s cold outside - and especially if the sky was clear overnight - the intruding air will cool down to its dew point temperature and condense inside our roofs.

This happens all the time and usually our roofs have enough water storage capacity that it doesn’t create a problem.  But sometimes too much water ends up condensing and things we don’t like to talk about start to grow, and wood starts to decay.  At the moment, I’m referring to condensation of water vapor that hitched a ride up into the roof on a convective air current.  It can get a whole lot worse if the air we’re talking about condensing is being propelled under pressure out the end of an improperly terminated bathroom fan duct or gas flue vent.

There are two basic kinds of exhaust vents: environmental air ducts and gas vents.  Living units (single family homes or multi-unit apartment buildings) typically have two or three exhaust vents per unit; something like 1 or 2 every 1000 sf of roof area.  Roofs over most non-residential occupancies have far fewer exhaust vents.  Figure 2 shows a high concentration of exhaust vents on the roof of a three-story apartment building.

Environmental Air Ducts - Environmental air ducts are typically single walled, do not have any required clearances from combustible materials, and are connected to exhaust fans serving bathrooms, stove hoods, and/or clothes dryers.  The exhaust air is “pushed” along by a fan.

Gas Vents – Gas vents are typically dual-walled, require minimum clearances from combustible materials (because they can get hot), and are connected to appliances like gas water heaters and gas furnaces.  By the way, when gas is burned it produces heat, CO2, and lots of water vapor.  This is why you sometimes see water dripping our of a car’s exhaust pipe.  Water heaters typically rely on convective currents to carry the combustion products up and out of the gas vent.  Furnaces typically have “draft” fans to help push the combustion products up and out of the gas vent.

If the gas combustion products are completely vented to the outside, great.  If not, you can get serious condensation and wood decay.  Figure 3a shows a “soft spot” (red arrow) found next to an improperly terminated gas vent.  Figure 3b shows the gas vent improperly terminated inside the roof flashing assembly very near deck level.

You might ask, “How, then, are exhaust vents supposed to be terminated?”  Good question.  It depends on the type of exhaust vent you’re asking about.  Code requirements for environmental air ducts and gas vents are different.

Code Requirements – The 2013 California Mechanical Code (CMC), based on the 2012 Uniform Mechanical Code , Chapters 5 and 6, requires environmental air ducts, including joints, to be substantially airtight and terminate outside the building at least three feet from openings into the building.  Note:  The 2013 California Residential Code refers back to the CMC for requirements.

The conditions shown in Figures 4, 5, and 6 were all discovered while investigating “soft spots” on reroof projects.  Figures 4a and 4b show a “wet” cover board next to 7” air ducts which terminate below 5” T-top flashings.  Figures 5a and 5b show two air ducts positioned in one oversized deck opening and terminated inside one large roof flashing.  Figures 6a and 6b (red arrows) show a rectangular air duct stopping at deck level and then “extended” upward using a round roof flashing.

It is not clear if the metal flashings installed over these air ducts would be considered extensions of the duct or not; or if the openings in the decks around the ducts would be considered “openings into the building”.  Nevertheless, these duct terminations and flashing conditions were all strongly suspected to allow some portion of the exhaust air to flow back into the insulated rafter spaces and make a major contribution to the excessive condensation conditions present.

Gas vents have different termination requirements.  The 2013 CMC, Chapter 8, requires gas vents to extend completely through roof flashings, extend to a height at least 12-inches above the roof deck, and have “listed caps”.

Figure 7 shows two properly extended and terminated gas vents.

Know Your Codes – Codes address other aspects of roof construction that potentially impact how much water accumulates in a roof assembly.  I’ll mention just two:

·       The 2013 California Energy Code (CEC), Section 110.7, requires sealing of joints, openings, and other potential sources of air leakage into or out of the building envelope.

·      The 2013 California Building Code (CBC), based on the 2012 International Building Code, Section 1203, requires cross ventilation of “enclosed rafter spaces”.

Code provisions are amended and/or interpreted on the local level; sometimes quite differently.  Accordingly, I suggest roof professional review local code amendments and/or seek clarification with the local code official regarding how various code provisions apply, or don’t apply, to specific reroofing projects.

Compact Roofs and Framed Roofs - Borrowing terms coined by Wayne Tobiasson of the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab (CRREL), I refer to the roofs with rigid board insulation above the deck as “compact” roofs and those with batt insulation below the deck, as “framed” roofs[i].  Some roofs have or end up having insulation above and below the deck. I call these roofs “a good idea”.

West Coast wood framed roofs with only batt insulation below the deck are inherently prone to condensation.  They are prone to condensation because they contain air spaces with cold surfaces.  And, usually, the air inside the building has a pretty easy time working its way up into these air spaces and condensing.  Compact roofs, on the other hand, have limited air spaces with cold surfaces (e.g., joints of insulation boards) and by their very construction naturally resist air intrusion.  We’ve talked about this before. [1]

Blindsided – The most common cause of a serious condensation problem (e.g., soft spots) is, well, an existing condensation problem.  This is true regardless if the existing problem is due to intrusion of high RH air or leaky exhaust vents.  In such cases, if highly solar absorptive roofs are replaced with highly reflective roofs, roof professional can inadvertently kick into high gear existing condensation problems; and end up wondering what hit them.  Note: The same physics apply when a “cool” coating is applied over a “non-cool” roof membrane.

Many older low slope membrane roofs installed over wood decks with insulation below have condensation problems; they accumulate more water than they should.  Usually, however, they also have roofs that absorb lots of solar radiation.  The highly absorptive (non-highly reflective) roofs get hot whenever the sun comes out and work to rapidly dry accumulated water downward.  This can keep even fairly serious condensation problems at bay for years.  When these roofs get replaced after 13 to 18 years, they often require replacement of an unusually large amount of deck; enough to make a roof professional wonder why the owner didn’t complain more about roof leaks. 

Keep this in mind.  A large amount of deteriorated wood decking without a corresponding high number of reported leaks, is a telltale sign of an existing condensation problem.

Unfortunately, when an existing condensation problem is unleashed by installation of a “cool” roof, wood decks can starting showing nasty bite marks (e.g., soft spots) after just a few years.  This was sort of an epiphany to me; and maybe to you too.

As mentioned above, the silver lining to this ominous cloud is that existing condensation problems usually exhibit telltale signs - if you know how to read them.

Warning Signs – The best time to find out a roof has an existing condensation problem is before the roof is specified and bid.  However, the best time to see warning signs is during roof removal.

Before tear-off warning signs include reports of roof leaks when it is not raining, soft spots not near penetrations or flashings, ceiling stains near high points, and multiple stains below metal hangers.

During tear-off warning signs include more decay than the number of reported leaks suggest, decay at locations not readily explained by roof leaks, and exhaust vents that terminate very near the roof deck.  

Figure 8 shows an area of concentrated decay.  The area is not near a low spot or next to a penetration but penetrations are nearby.  No rain leaks were reported and the top of the gypsum ceiling boards had only limited stains.  The decay is not reasonably explained by a roof leak – it is a telltale sign of an existing condensation problem.

Low Exhaust Vents - When “low” exhaust vents are uncovered, extend them in accordance with code requirements.  Obtain the assistance of a mechanical engineer or a design/build mechanical contractor as needed.  Figures 9a and 9b show one example of how existing low air ducts can be extended and flashed.

Summary - The best way to deal with a 500-lb gorilla is to swing open its cage and face it head on.  Keep in mind improperly terminated exhaust vents can discharge large amounts of water vapor into enclosed rafter spaces and that some roofs rely on solar heating to keep excessive condensation in check.  Extend and flash low exhaust vents, as needed, in compliance with local code requirements.  Watch for telltale signs of existing condensation problems, especially if your project involves replacing a highly solar absorptive roof with a highly solar reflective one.

If unusually large amounts of decking need to be replaced and the large amounts can’t be reasonably explained by roof leaks, investigate the cause; it is likely due to the intrusion of high RH interior air and/or leaky exhaust vents.  Depending on the results of the investigations, air sealing around penetrations, adding rigid board insulation above the roof deck [i] [ii], repairing exhaust vents, and/or upgrading mechanical ventilation systems inside may be warranted. 

Note:  The 2013 CEC, Section 150, based on ASHRAE Standard 62.2-2010, now requires mechanical ventilation for all low-rise residential buildings for indoor air quality which also really helps to control interior RH levels.

[1] P. Dregger, "Cool Roofs Cause Condensation — Fact or Fiction?" P. Dregger, Western Roofing, Jan/Feb 2012.

[2] P. Dregger, "Air Infiltration: The Enemy of Wind Resistance and Condensation Control," RCI Interface, June 2002.

[3] W. Tobiasson, “Roofs”, ASTM Manual 18 2nd Edition, January 2009

[4] A. Desjarlais, et al, “Hygrothermal Performance of West Coast Wood Deck Roofing System”, Nov 2013, Pub 47188.

[5] P. Dregger, “Good But Potentially Misleading Guidelines”, RCI Interface, May/June 2014.




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Independent Contractors vs. Employees

Posted By WSRCA, Monday, November 20, 2017


WSRCA Contractors Counsel: Legal Talk 

Independent Contractors vs. Employees


By: Kenneth S. Grossbart

Abdulaziz, Grossbart & Rudman


In past articles, we have written regarding the importance of classifying those persons who worked on your projects. Employees vs. independent contractors. Although our office has written on this subject before, I recently read an article by our colleague, Phil Vermeulen of the Contractors Licensing Center in Sacramento, who also wrote on the topic.


It is a very common practice for contractors to classify their workers as “independent contractors” when in reality they would be considered to be employees. This policy is done primarily to avoid the cost of workers’ compensation and overtime pay that would be due and owing to workers classified as employees. As Phil points out in his article, the Department of Industrial Relations (“DIR”) has strongly cautioned employers to be very careful with this dangerous practice. We reprint the following from DIR:


A federal court judge has sided with California Labor Commissioner, Julie A. Su, issuing a judgment in favor of five port and rail truck drivers against SPO Cartage Inc. The ruling awards the drivers reimbursement for expenses and unlawful deductions in the amount of $958,660 plus attorneys fees and costs. The Labor Commissioner previously issued awards to the five drivers following hearings that found they had been misclassified as independent contractors. XPO Cartage appealed the five decisions in Superior Court and the case was removed to Federal Court, where attorneys for the Labor Commissioner defended the decisions on behalf of the drivers. After a four-day bench trial and post-trial briefing, U.S. District Court Judge William Keller ruled that all five drivers were misclassified as independent contractors and were entitled to reimbursement for expenses and unlawful deductions.


State courts have also upheld the Labor Commissioner’s awards in misclassification cases in many other professions, particularly in construction, so we cannot emphasize enough, take heed!! All employers are urged to be aware of this important decision and the myriad consequences of misclassification of employees including:


• Stop orders and penalty assessments pursuant to Labor Code section 3710.1;

• Liability for overtime premium, meal period pay, and other remedies available to employees under the Labor Code and Orders of the Industrial Welfare Commission;

• Exposure for tort liability for injuries suffered by employees when workers’ compensation insurance is not secured (Labor Code section 3706);

• Exposure for unfair business practices (Business & Professions Code section 17200);

• Tax liability penalties; and

• Criminal liability (Labor Code section 3700.5).


Although the reprint from the DIR deals exclusively with a California business, the points raised would appear to be equally applicable to those businesses that operate outside of California. All businesses that are presently or are considering using independent contractors to perform work should do so with caution and not before seeking qualified legal advice.

Tags:  LEGAL 

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Now Accepting 2018 SOPREMA Scholarship Applications

Posted By Chris Alberts, Western States Roofing Contractors Association, Thursday, November 16, 2017
Now Accepting 2018 SOPREMA Scholarship Applications
Applications are now being accepted for the SOPREMA Scholarship Program for the 2018-2019 academic year. The SOPREMA Scholarship Program offers a $5,000 award to up to five students nationwide.  
Requirements for the SOPREMA Scholarship Program include:
  • High school seniors or graduates, current postsecondary undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a degree in architecture, engineering, construction management or a similar field
  • Enrolled in or planning to enroll in a full-time undergraduate or graduate study at an accredited four-year college or university for the entire 2018-2019 academic year
Applications must be submitted by March 29, 2018Submit your application online today.
Visit our website to learn more about the SOPREMA Scholarship Program.


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Five Must Have Workplace Policies for Roofing Contractors

Posted By WSRCA, Monday, November 13, 2017

Five Must Have Workplace Policies for Roofing Contractors

By enforcing practical workplace policies, employers can decrease potential legal challenges.

Courtesy of: Roofing Contractor Magazine, Richard Alaniz


Today’s employers have an increasingly regulated and overly litigious landscape to navigate in managing their workplace. The continued growth of federal, state, and even local regulatory protections for employees, coupled with an overabundance of lawyers, has made virtually every workplace decision a potential lawsuit.

Most large employers have experienced, professional human resource staffs to enforce comprehensive and up-to-date employment policies usually contained in an employee handbook. They also often have the support of in-house or outside legal counsel to help with the more difficult decisions. But what about the small-or medium-sized employers who generally don’t have a human resources department and where most decisions regarding employees are made by the owner or plant manager? While some guidance and best practices are often available through their industry or business associations, their potential exposure to legal challenges on employee-related decisions remains significant. However, by implementing or updating as needed, and consistently enforcing five practical and well-known workplace policies, most employers can dramatically decrease the potential that a workplace decision involving an employee will result in a successful legal challenge. These policies should ideally be contained in a more comprehensive employee handbook if possible. The five “must have” policies and how they provide protection are discussed below.


1. No Harassment Policy

Under federal law, Title Vll of the Civil Rights Act, the American With Disabilities Act as amended, and the Age Discrimination In Employment Act, as well as related state laws, harassment based upon a protected status is unlawful. Sexual harassment, the type that’s received the greatest attention, is based upon gender and is equally unlawful. The law is now well-established that it’s applicable to same-sex harassment as well. Bullying is clearly another form of harassment, and with the ubiquitous presence and use of social media, has also become a common workplace problem. If based upon a protected status, bullying goes from workplace misconduct to unlawful discrimination.

Without an all-encompassing no harassment policy that’s posted or otherwise widely disseminated, an employer will find it difficult to defend against Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or similar state agency discrimination charges and possible lawsuits alleging unlawful harassment. In fact, the first document requested by investigating agencies in such a case is a copy of the employer’s no harassment policy. Having such a policy in place and consistently enforcing it will help provide a reasonable defense against some of the most frequent claims made in today’s workplace. Lack of a policy may lend support to a prima facie case of discriminatory harassment.


2. Equal Employment Opportunity Policy

One of the most fundamental of all employment policies is the one assuring all applicants and employees that any decisions affecting them will be made without regard to race, gender, religion, national origin, age, disability, or sexual orientation, as well as any other protected status. All job advertising should and generally does include such a statement. It should also appear on the face of any employment application utilized. In short, equal opportunity should be second-nature for anyone in management making any decision that affects an employee. And no company is too small to have such a policy.


3. Complaint Policy and Procedure

Employee problems and concerns are endemic to the workplace, irrespective of size or specific industry. Having a well-known and structured process through which employees can have their concerns fairly addressed, and hopefully resolved, will help avoid potentially more serious repercussions. Too often business owners, especially of smaller companies, rely upon the fact that they have an open door policy permitting employees to raise any concerns or complaints directly with them. Sometimes the practical effect of such a policy results in what some experts have called “hiding behind the open door.” Employees are sometimes reluctant to enter the manager’s office for fear of the consequences. Perhaps they will be found to be at fault. Or even if not, that nothing can be done about their problem. While the door may be open, it may not be used.

If employees are provided a formal, structured process whereby they can verbally or in writing bring an issue of concern to management, they’ll use it. Ideally, it should start with taking the matter to the employee’s own supervisor, and escalate it up the management ranks as needed until the matter is fully addressed. Employees should also be free to raise the matter with anyone in management with whom they are comfortable. Sometimes the problem is one involving their own supervisor. Some employees may be more open in speaking to someone of their own gender. The goal of the process is to solve the problem irrespective of how the issue is brought to the attention of management. The complaint and all actions taken to address it should be well-documented.


4. Progressive Discipline Policy

Virtually all employee disciplinary actions, especially involving termination, are subject to being second-guessed by some governmental agency or lawyer. This often occurs in the context of a formal charge or complaint filed with a state or federal agency. Whether it’s an agency investigation or a lawsuit, the most commonly asked questions are whether the employee was on notice of their unacceptable performance or conduct, and whether they were subjected to escalating discipline when they failed to improve. An employer’s inability to demonstrate such steps through a well-publicized and consistently applied policy of progressive discipline will likely find that their action, especially a termination, will be ruled to be improper. Frequently, the penalty is reinstatement and back pay for the employee involved.

The most common progressive discipline policies are comprised of a four step process. A verbal warning escalates to a written warning, which then goes to a final warning, sometimes including a three day suspension. Every step in the process should be well documented. The process finally culminates in termination. It’s generally a good practice to “suspend pending termination” to provide the opportunity to review the entire disciplinary record and related documentation before taking that last critical step. Consistency in applying progressive discipline is crucial. Exceptions will undermine the policy and jeopardize the action taken.


5. Absence and Tardiness Control Policy

As mundane and routine as an absence control policy sounds, it’s unfortunately one of the most frequently relied upon employment policies to support a termination decision. It’s also a policy that many employers, especially small ones, are lacking, at least in a written form. While leave policies mandated by either federal or state government continue to proliferate, regular employee attendance at work remains a significant problem for many employers. Some might point to the work/life balance that reportedly is so important, especially to millennials, as a reason. However, attendance problems cut across all age groups of employees as well as all types of workplaces.

Most attendance policies involve a set number of points or instances of either tardiness, absence or both within a set time period that, when exceeded, results in escalating disciplinary action, including termination. Without a policy that’s uniformly enforced and well-documented, an employer may be unable to show that a termination was in fact for excessive absences rather than because of a protected status as alleged by a disgruntled employee.

By having in place and consistently applying the five common sense policies cited, an employer will be well prepared to effectively address and perhaps even avoid the vast majority of workplace issues that arise. When employees know that policies are in place that are intended to assure fair treatment for all employees, it’s surprising how few problems actually develop.




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OSHA Issues Deadlines for Electronic Reporting of Injuries and Illness

Posted By WSRCA, Monday, November 13, 2017

OSHA Issues Deadlines for Electronic Reporting of Injuries and Illness

Courtesy of: Roofing Contractor Magazine


The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its official deadlines for tracking workplace injuries and illnesses. Employers in high-risk industries such as roofing, are required to electronically submit their 2016 annual data from OSHA for 300A by Dec. 1.

Every single location where the company operates with between 20 and 250 employees must submit their 2017 300A forms by July 1, 2018, to maintain compliance. The annual deadline will permanently move to March 2 in 2019, a news release stated.

Roofing contractors with more than 249 employees have the same Dec. 1 deadline for 300A forms, but must submit OSHA Forms 300A, 300 and 301 for 2017 incidents by July 1, 2018, and then annually on March 2 starting in 2019.

Employers will be able to use the web-based system's Injury Tracking Application, which was introduced Aug. 1, to report the information that typically would be submitted on the paper forms. Visit for more information.

Tags:  SAFETY 

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50 Shades of Confused...Taking the Grey Out of Lien Waivers, Joint Checks and Other Instruments of Profit

Posted By WSRCA, Monday, November 13, 2017
Updated: Monday, November 13, 2017

50 Shades of Confused...Taking the Grey Out of Lien Waivers, Joint Checks and Other Instruments of Profit

Contributing Author: Thea Dudley, VP Financial Services - SRS Distribution, Inc.


Joint checks, contracts, mechanics liens and the infamous lien waiver, all supposed to make business more efficient, easier and straight forward have become so complex you need a law degree and three hours to get through one of them.  If you joined me this past summer, you spent time at the seminar of the same name at the Expo, you already know these are all pet peeves and hot buttons for me. 

The very forms and tools that are there to grease the wheels of your business and make your life less complicated, have basically taken over your day.  Sadly, most contractors do not take the necessary time to insure those tools are not working against them…until it is too late and they are faced with countless hours trying to figure out how to undo the damage inflicted by their lack of attention to detail. 

Let’s take the torture out of some of the tools and make them profitable to your business again.

Joint checks:

The definition of a check joint is:  A check issued by one party (Payor) and made payable to two parties as co-payees.  That is the technical side of the joint check.  Funny thing about joint checks that rarely get mentioned at the beginning, they only work if the check gets issued and there is not standard joint check form to keep the playing field level.  There are no specific statutory laws regarding how a joint check has to read or what is required.  Since they are contractual in nature they are subject to contract law.  

So what exactly is a joint check?

1.     It is an enforceable contract

2.     It is a creature of contract

3.     It creates a tri-party relationship

4.     It identifies all the players (parties involved)

5.     It defines the relationship of all the parties


Which leads us to what it is not:

1.     It is not a security interest

2.     It Is not a guarantee for payment

3.     Not governed by statute

4.     Not effective if the check isn’t written


How so you make sure it is profitable and not painful? 

With joint checks, it is all in the wording. How the items are phrased.  Does the wording obligate the payor to one of the payees or merely give permission (to be used if the payor decides to). What’s left out?   What is not addressed in the document?   What is the enforcement of it (what do you need to do to get paid), how is the check issued/delivered?  What happens to your payment in the case of a dispute between the payor and your customer?  Is there a clause regarding a limited power of attorney for you to use to process your payment.  What are you giving up?  Lien rights, bond rights, suit rights   What are they asking you to include?  Blanket indemnity clause, warranty beyond your scope of work, asking you to have an obligation to a larger contact.


What are the three biggest joint check mistakes I commonly see?

1.   Not reading the agreement before signing it.  Everyone always seems surprised at this one but if I had a dollar for every customer who asked me for help with a joint check agreement after the fact-who had to admit they did not read it, I would be working on a tan in Belize.

2.  Trusting others to follow through. Your money is your responsibility.  Hold people accountable, be able to state what their obligations are if you need to.

3.  Not having a relationship with the check cutter.  You should know who you are dealing with, have had at least one conversation with them.  Not an email or text but a verbal conversation.  Know someone by name who you can reach out to for help if you need to.  Make friends with where your money is coming from.


To avoid mistakes, keep these tips in mind:

1.  Watch the wording of the agreement.  If you don’t understand something or it’s not clear in the wording, ask for clarification, or cross it out & rewrite it.  My rule of thumb in reading any document is this:  If I don’t understand it & you can’t explain it, it doesn’t need to be in there.  Cross it out. 

2.  Read the agreement.  The whole agreement.  All the way.  Don’t skim it.  It is not War & Peace.  It should be a simple, one pager.   Understand what you are agreeing to. 

3. Don’t give up stuff you don’t want to give up like lien, bond and remedy rights.

4. Don’t agree to crazy add on’s.  This is a simple document on how payment is going to be executed & to whom.  It is not an extension of your contract.  



I want to point out one really important thing about any document.  The company/person presenting the document is usually who it is in favor of.  It is the nature of the beast. 

It starts out as a simple form then people start getting creative and before you know it, it is crazy long and has all kinds of weird stuff in it.


Mechanics Liens:

Everyone in this industry uses the phrase “lien rights”, but the majority don’t know exactly what that means or how to approach it to really capitalize on it.  Just so everyone is on the same page a mechanics lien is a security interest in the property for the benefit of those who have supplied materials or labor that improve that property.   A mechanics lien basically clouds the title so the lien has to be dealt with in some fashion before the property can change hands. 


I am a HUGE advocate of securing lien rights whenever possible.  Yes, I know, you don’t want to have a supplier secure them because you are afraid of what your customer will think.  Yep, it is much better to give up a way to get paid then have someone think ill of you. 


Without securing your lien rights, you can only sue the company you're contracted with (your customer).   But if I secure lien rights, I can bless everyone with my attention.  For all intents and purposes, it locks up the property, your lien has to be dealt with in some fashion, whether it is bonded around, paid, sold subject to, or foreclosed.  A lien gives you security in the property.  Suddenly, you’re important!  


Moral is:  If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody gonna be happy.  My issue of non-payment is now everyone’s issue.  I have just significantly increased my odds of getting paid. 


Lien waivers:

Let’s get the definition out of the way:  A lien waiver is a legally binding document from contractor, sub-contractor, material supplier or other party to the construction process stating they have received payment and waive any future lien rights to the property reference therein. 


Simple, straightforward?  Let’s talk about the painful, the unbelievable and the pleasurable.  There are four types of lien waivers:


1.     Conditional Progress (Releases all claim rights to file a lien once payment has been made and cleared the bank)

2.     Conditional Final (see above)

3.     Unconditional Progress (see below)

4.     Unconditional Final (Generally releases all rights to place a lien on the property. 

It is immaterial if the payment check has been returned or stopped.  Only use this release when you are positive all your work is done and the check has cleared the bank.)


The first two are safer for you, the second two are safer for the owner.  So why do you care?  You want to get paid!  You don’t want to give up rights you didn’t intend to.  If you sign a waiver without getting paid you most likely just gave up your right to any legal recourse. 


DO NOT sign an unconditional waiver without having been paid and the payment has cleared the bank.  Give a conditional if you have to give something.  If you are being asked to sign an unconditional or the customer is stating they will take their business elsewhere, it will come down to a business decision. 




To quote the words of the late Robin Williams, “Carpe Per Diem—Seize the check”!!  What else do you need to know about the much asked for but seldom understood lien waiver?  Plenty! 


Did you know? 

1.     A nationwide standard lien waiver form does not exist. 

2.     Terms & conditions are often included in the waiver – things like indemnity, guarantees of work, liability, warranty, etc.

3.     12 of 50 states at this time has some sort of language/requirements in their statutes regarding waivers.  Things that have to be on the form, right down to the font size. 


How painful can it be?  How many of you have received a lien waiver that you absolutely did not understand.  It was like a Shakespeare play.  Did you take time to read it?  I have received tons of waivers over the years and what some companies stick in there is mindboggling.  And frankly, entertaining.  Waivers asking for certification of work being properly performed, indemnity, subordination of lien rights to a third party, personal liability for the signing party, waiving rights to retainage or change orders, demanding an unconditional before work is complete and payment is issued, waiving rights to make claims for change orders, extra work, disputed items or retainage. 


There is a short list but it gives you an idea of what I am talking about.  So a document that was supposed to be a simple straightforward “Yes, we got paid, I am not going to lien your property” has become a catch all liability wish list.  Any language in the waiver that puts restraints and liability on your company is unacceptable.  Limit the language to the amount of money received and the date it is through. 

I promised you pleasure so where is it says you? Language on the wavier should be fair and reasonable.  In other words, KISS—Keep it simple stupid.  Keep in mind what the document is.  It is simply a waiver for payment through a fixed date.   Nothing more, nothing less.   It doesn’t ask for the meaning of life and indemnification of the world.  It only purpose is to acknowledge the receipt & clearance of payment through a set date on a specific project. 


To tie it up:

1.      Limit the number of people in your company with are authorized to sign off on a lien waiver. 

2.     Have a standard company lien waivers, approved by your attorney, you can use in place of what you receive.

3.     Use conditional lien waivers until payment has cleared the bank. 



If business was a game, contracts would be the rules of the game.  It is another place where money leaks out of your profitability.  Bottom line on contracts:  read them – the whole thing - boring as they are.  Make a highlighter pen your friend.  I mark all kinds of stuff up. That contact is not an ancient sacred text.  You will not remember what you saw that bugged you.  High light it.   Have an addendum if you would prefer, just like you would for lien waivers or joint checks, that outlines what you are agreeing to and make sure it supercedes any other contract. 



What are you and your trusty highlighter pen looking for?  Plenty.  A quick rundown of the killer clauses:


1.     Contingency payment:  This provides that the GC is under no obligation to pay the sub any $$ until and unless the GC gets paid by the owner.  Otherwise known as pay when or pay if clauses

2.     No damages for disruption – basically means that while the sub is not entitled to a claim for delay damages, the sub can have an extension of time.  They read something like this:  Sub agrees to waive all claims & shall receive no compensation for delays, hindrances, disruption or interference with it’s’ work.  So yes, everything is your fault.

3.     Agree to work when not getting paid:  If you can afford it awesome.  If not, you will want progress payments.  ALWAYS reserve the right to walk off the job and stop the work if you are not getting paid.

4.     Indemnification:  I hate this one.  This is just a contractual method of dumping legal liability from one party to another.  Under this jewel, one party agrees to step into another’s place and accept legal liability for that party’s actions- usually including that party’s negligence or wrongful acts.  Nope, I am only responsible for my own company’s stupid, not yours and the entire jobs. 

5.     Additional insured:  this is a sneaky little way to “back door” the indemnification by having the sub add the GC and other contractors as “additional insureds” on their liability insurance.  If there is a claim, your insurance premiums go up.

6.     No waivers by reference incorporation:  Another sneaky way to tie you up.  This would be lien waivers, payment waivers, or reference tying you to the original contract between the owner and GC.

7.     Dispute resolution:  Make sure you are not agreeing to something crazy.  Like the architect being the arbitrator, judge and jury.  Look for mediation vs. arbitration and how and who chooses the mediator or arbitrator.  Binding or non-binding.  You want it to be fair. 


If you take away nothing else from this article remember these three things.  READ everything you are asked to sign.  Ask, if you don’t understand it, doesn’t make sense or you don’t agree.  Men are terrible at this, ya’ll are always afraid people will think you are not smart.  Be smart enough to know what you don’t know.  Get your own forms so you have them when you need them.  You can find tons of them on the internet, something for everyone.  Get someone in your office to be the expert of these.  Your profit is your responsibility so stop trusting other’s to be responsible for it.  



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WSRCA TECHNICAL BULLETIN 2017-2-SIS: Self‐Adhering Underlayment Slip‐Resistance Research and Testing Project

Posted By WSRCA, Wednesday, November 8, 2017


Greetings to Members of Western States Roofing Contractors Association:


Steep‐slope roofing safety requirements and regulations continue to evolve and have become more stringent in an effort to provide safe working conditions. Agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) strive to regulate exposure to hazards through the development of workplace health and safety standards. Steep‐slope roof environments can pose numerous challenges and work on steep‐slope roofs has become more and more scrutinized as governmental regulations have been tightened.


Our roofing industry is well aware of the challenges with maintaining safe working environments, and in our on‐going work with WSRCA’s Self‐Adhering Underlayment Slip‐Resistance Research and Testing Project, we have performed slip‐resistance testing of numerous steep‐slope roofing underlayments. This research and testing project was initiated in response to ASTM’s removal of slip resistance criteria from ASTM D 1970, the standard for Self‐Adhering Polymer Modified Bituminous Sheet Materials Used as

Steep Roofing Underlayment for Ice Dam Protection.


WSRCA’s Steep, Industry Issues, and Safety Committees’ preliminary test data confirms, in our opinion, that the value and importance of this testing project, with the goal of reintroducing slip‐resistance criteria back into ASTM D‐1970 Standard, as well as other underlayment material standards, simply is a matter of worker safety. WSRCA’s slip‐resistance testing has been conducted using a British Pendulum Tester, following the procedures outlined in ASTM E303‐2008 Standard Test Method for Measuring Surface Frictional Properties Using the British Pendulum Tester, which appears to be a very suitable test method.


To date, we have tested ten (10) commonly used and widely distributed roofing underlayment materials available in the Western U.S. market. Each underlayment was tested both dry and wet per the ASTM E303 test protocol. Table No. 1 below provides initial test data and is intended to provide a basis of comparison of general slip resistance for various commonly used roofing underlayment materials. Because the slip‐resistance test measures friction, the higher readings indicate a more slip‐resistant underlayment surface and low readings indicate a less slip‐resistant (i.e., more slippery) surface.




WSRCA’s Steep‐Slope Roofing Committee believes that all roofing underlayment products, including ice‐dam protection membrane underlayments, should have a required series of select physical properties to be tested and/or rated, and published in manufacturers’ Product Data Sheets, including slip‐resistance, similar to other characteristics that are already standard underlayment tests, such as:


o Tensile Tear – tested per ASTM D4073 – Standard Test Method for Tensile‐Tear Strength of Bituminous Roofing Membranes.


o Cold Bend – tested per ASTM D2136 – Standard Test Method for Coated Fabrics—Low‐Temperature Bend Test.


o Permeability – tested per ASTM E96 / E96M – Standard Test Methods for Water Vapor Transmission of Materials.


o Shower Test – tested per ASTM D4869 / D4869M – Standard Specification for Asphalt‐Saturated Organic Felt Underlayment Used in Steep Slope Roofing.


o Dimensional Stability – tested per ASTM D4869 / D4869M – Standard Specification for Asphalt‐Saturated Organic Felt Underlayment Used in Steep Slope Roofing.


Initial Slip‐Resistance Testing Results:

Concerned with the removal of slip‐resistance criteria from ASTM D 1970 Self‐Adhering Polymer Modified Bituminous Sheet Materials Used as Steep Roofing Underlayment for Ice Dam Protection, WSRCA has embarked on this Slip‐Resistance Testing and Research Project with the desire to have the industry participate and assist with the development of updated ASTM roofing underlayment standards. Table No.1 below documents WSRCA’s preliminary slip‐resistance testing data of commonly used and commercially‐available steep‐slope roofing underlayments. Please be aware that the ASTM E303‐2008 testing protocol states that the first test result from the pendulum swing is not recorded, as indicated in Table’s testing data below.



WSRCA Recommendations and Summary:

With the importance of safety in mind, WSRCA encourages manufacturers of steep‐slope roofing underlayments to conduct slip‐resistant testing of their products and provide the test data/information to the Industry in their product data sheets, in effort to work with associations such as WSRCA to incorporate slip resistance into ASTM roofing underlayment standards as one of the physical property attributes that are tested and measured. It is with this WSRCA research, pro‐active testing work, and solid data that WSRCA representatives intend to lobby ASTM Underlayment Task Groups and the D08.02 Sub‐Committee to incorporate slip‐resistance criteria into all roofing underlayment material standards.


In Closing:

Thank you for your participation in the western roofing industry and for counting on WSRCA to provide our Members with industry‐leading technical work, and member assistance, for use on your roofing and reroofing projects. WSRCA endeavors to promote quality and help maintain safe work environments.


Thank you for continuing your membership to support Western States Roofing Contractors Association in our active efforts with research and testing to strengthen and advance technology and science into the art of roofing.



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WSRCA TECHNICAL BULLETIN 2017-II-1: Knit‐line & Facer Irregularities in Rigid Polyisocyanurate Foam Roof Insulation

Posted By Chris Alberts, Western States Roofing Contractors Association, Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, November 8, 2017



Greetings to Members of Western States Roofing Contractors Association:


Executive Summary

Changes in materials and methods used to produce rigid polyisocyanurate insulation boards for roof systems has been a concern for WSRCA members at different times over the years. As you may recall, WSRCA’s Low‐Slope Committee provided WSRCA Members with a Technical Bulletin in 2000 a follow‐up during 2004 (No. 2004‐1) about changes in blowing agents and the LTTR (i.e., published results of long‐term thermal performance testing) regarding R‐values per varying thicknesses of polyisocyanurate insulation. It appears that as the manufacturers continue to fine‐tune the polyisocyanurate insulation manufacturing process in order to comply with regulations, while still producing quality products with the necessary properties, issues are occurring and being observed in the field, of which our members should be made aware. The issues may require new action(s) by the industry. Reports from the field indicate that longitudinal depressions (e.g., also referred to as ruts or grooves) appear to be occurring with more regularity in rigid polyisocyanurate foam insulation boards delivered to job sites and some are being used in roofing systems. This issue that had previously only been seen infrequently, appears to be becoming common.


The ruts or grooves observed are associated with “knit‐lines,” which are lines formed during manufacturing when the flow of liquid‐state expanding foam from multiple mix heads meet as the material expands just down the manufacturing line from the liquid‐chemical outflow points. As two neighboring lines of expanding liquid foam material meet, if a slight amount of skinning‐over has already taken place, and the two masses of foam do not completely meld homogeneously, it leaves a visible line in the material. The two sides, under most ordinary manufacturing conditions, can bond together but there may be a readily‐visible line of compressed polyisocyanurate cells across the thickness of the board and these are called knit‐lines.


In the rigid roof insulation materials that are presenting issues, there are varying sizes of grooves or depressions in the facers of the foam boards along the knit‐lines, running the length of the board, as if there was not enough foam insulation material and/or foam expansion to fully fill in and contact the facer along where the depressions occur. As these affected boards are installed end‐to‐end on a roof, the grooves or ruts may align and extend across the roof. Depending on how the insulation boards are installed relative to the slope of the roof, the ruts may run perpendicular to the slope and can inhibit drainage. However, of greater concern is the possibility that the board’s facer could be unadhered and may also be bridging across these knit‐line depressions. In a fully‐adhered single‐ply roof  membrane system that is applied directly to the facer of polyisocyanurate insulation boards, there appears to be a potential for wind‐uplift issue(s) and/or damage as a result of the voids under the unbonded facer.


We note that this issue is being discussed at the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) as well. An article written by Mark Graham, of NRCA’s Technical Section, regarding testing of rigid polyisocyanurate insulation board used in roofing, published recently in NRCA’s Professional Roofing Magazine, (Professional Roofing 12/02/2016, Another Round of Polyiso Tests, by Mark Graham.) touches on this subject. In the article, Mr. Graham states,


“…the issue of surface depressions associated with knit‐lines in faced, rigid board polyisocyanurate insulation is of particular concern. Although this problem was previously seen only in isolated instances, it now appears to be more pronounced and widespread with the current generation of polyisocyanurate insulation blowing agents and manufacturing processes. Polyisocyanurate insulation manufacturers need to improve the flatness of their roofing‐specific products, and appropriate evaluation criteria need to be developed and included in Faced Rigid Cellular Polyisocyanurate Thermal Insulation.”


Background Information:

As was stated in WSRCA Technical Bulletin No. 2014‐02 (“Updated Results of Long‐Term Thermal Resistance [LTTR] Testing, and R‐Value of Current Generation Polyisocyanurate Roofing Insulation”), over the past few decades the manufacturing of plastic foam roof insulations has undergone numerous changes, partly due to tightening regulations and governmental mandates to lower the amount of ozone‐depleting gases and VOC‐related blowing agents released into the atmosphere. Blowing agents evolved from the use of chlorofluorocarbon (e.g., CFC‐11) in the 1980s, to less volatile hydrochlorofluorocarbons (e.g., HCFC‐141b) with reduced ozone depletion potential and a lower global warming index in the 1990s, then changing again to pentane and cyclopentanes in the early 2000s.


Those earlier changes, and continued refinement of blowing agents, have caused manufacturers to invest significant assets in order to maintain producing successful polyisocyanurate roof insulations. Polyisocyanurate has been the most widely used rigid foam board in U.S. roofing assemblies for decades due to its high R‐value, fire resistance, and relatively low cost. Problems with dimensional stability had occurred over the years especially as manufacturer’s responded to regulations regarding potentially ozone layer‐harming chemicals used in blowing agents, and changed formulas. But over all, it has continued to be the most regularly specified rigid insulation board in low‐slope membrane roofing systems. Irregularities associated with the knit‐lines were reported occasionally in the past, but WSRCA Member reports are becoming more and more frequent and more concerning to WSRCA’s Low‐Slope and Industry Issues Committees. We have heard that some of the manufacturers have purportedly addressed this issue as merely an aesthetic one, but WSRCA, and other roofing industry organizations are concerned that this is a technical issue with potential for resultant roof problems.




Lack of Full Facer Adhesion:

When polyisocyanurate foam’s knit‐line grooves are deep enough and have left the facer unadhered along the length of the knit‐lines, the result is the same as facer separation, which can be a significant problem. Even though the knit‐lines result in the facer being unbonded at intermittently spaced portions of the board, across the surface of each insulation board, a relatively significant percentage of the surface area of the facer does not provide adequate wind‐uplift resistance for adhered systems. When we stop and think about this item or issue, it may be a problem over the life of any particular adhered roof system. Not all of our Member contractors, designers, and even some of our membrane manufacturer representatives may realize the potential magnitude of the emerging issue.



Variation in Board Thickness:

Judging by some of the photos being sent in by our WSRCA Members, and from what we have seen in the field on projects this year, polyisocyanurate roof insulation affected by visibly‐apparent knit‐lines can also result in a variation in board thickness, which can have another set of potential problems. One of these issues is continuous R‐value: Insulation R‐value averaging was once allowed by the Code. However, as you may be aware, most code jurisdictions no longer allow R‐value averaging, and now they require Total R‐value throughout the entire roof area. If the current polyisocyanurate insulation (i.e., which is knit‐line affected) varies in thickness, which some of the photos herein from WSRCA Members clearly show, then the Total R‐value of the roof system may be placed in question or jeopardy from a strict code violation perspective. And, if any of our Member contractors are having to guarantee the roof’s R‐value, which occasionally is required for sensitive projects, the Total R‐value over the full roof area may be affected by insulation that is compromised by knit‐lines with significant depressions along each of the insulation boards.





Potential for Condensation Issues:

In a mechanically‐fastened roof system with multiple layers of insulation board and potentially a cover board, where no vapor retarder is installed, the grooves in the boards create open pathways for air movement. In winter time heating climates, if there are any air leaks from the interior of the building, these pathways could help convey warm, moistureladen air through‐out a roof area and potentially form liquid water on the cold underside of the membrane from condensation, especially in our colder climate regions.


Problems at Membrane Lap Seam and Transitions at Boots:

Forcing a roof membrane to conform with an irregular substrate may be problematic at laps and seams in the membrane. The relatively deep grooves we are seeing in some insulation boards could increase the likelihood of voids and fishmouths at lap seams, boots, and patches, which could result in openings, the potential for moisture entry, and/or leaks.


Summary of Potential Issues: 

Unbonded Facer: Issues with the knit‐lines could be potentially problematic for wind‐uplift resistance where roof membranes are adhered directly to polyisocyanurate insulation boards if the facer is partially unbonded or has disbonded and delaminated from wind and/or thermal cycling movement along grooves or ruts at the knitlines.


Affected Adhesion: These irregularities may also interfere with proper adhesion between layers of insulation boards or coverboard in a roof assembly.


Effect on R‐value: Less of a concern, but still relevant is the possible effect on R‐value caused by changes in thickness along the knit‐lines. Especially if the roofing contractor is being required to guarantee R‐value of an installed roof system.


Air and Moisture Pathways: In a mechanically‐fastened system, grooves or ruts in both faces of rigid insulation board could provide pathways for air leakage from the building interior that may result in condensation within the roof assembly.


Drainage Interference: Grooves that run laterally across a roof that telegraph through the membrane can interfere with roof runoff and drainage.


Voids in Fully‐adhered Systems: Where roof membranes are to be fully adhered directly to facedpolyisocyanurate insulation boards, grooves in the insulation surface that intersect membrane laps can create difficulty in achieving a fully adhered seam, creating the potential for voids, fishmouths, and consequent moisture entry or leaks.



Purpose of Bulletin:

The irregularities that WSRCA is cautioning the western roofing‐industry about in this bulletin appear to be occurring with significant frequency throughout the Western States region. Because of the potential for these issues to become significant problems, which could result in wind‐related failures, reduced R‐value, standing water, debris accumulation, dark staining, increased membrane heat aging, and potential leaks, WSRCA desires all our members be aware of the issue. WSRCA encourages its members to be on the lookout and thereby try to prevent potential for problems on their projects before they occur. In addition, we want to encourage the manufacturing sector of our industry to take this issue seriously, and not as just an aesthetic problem, and to find ways to eliminate or address the problem of knit‐line irregularities and lack of facer adhesion.


In Conclusion:

As a result of continuing reported issues, WSRCA would like to update and restate our prior recommendations. In order to alleviate potential problems, WSRCA and its Industry Issues and Low‐Slope Committees continue to recommend the use of properly selected coverboard(s), appropriate for the climate and job’s conditions, and the type of roof system being installed, as a vital component in the successful design and construction of durable, long‐term, fire‐and hailresistant low‐slope roof assemblies. The use of a rigid coverboard over insulation that may have minor irregularities in the surface may help to minimize some of the potential problems those irregularities could cause.


1. Where possible and feasible, check the condition of polyisocyanurate insulation boards prior to accepting delivery and before installing them in a roofing project.


2. Educate supervising employees regarding the potential for compromised insulation boards and/or their unbonded facer(s).


3. Where possible on adhered roof assemblies, until all knit‐line affected insulation becomes a thing of the past, consider bead size and bead spacing of low‐rise foam and/or hot asphalt to attempt to more thoroughly adhere insulation and coverboards. Please note that WSRCA Low‐slope Committee intends to release a companion bulletin regarding lowrise foam insulation and coverboard adhesives in the near future.


4. Where possible and feasible, utilize coverboards rather than directly applying roof membranes to polyisocyanurate insulation boards.


5. Please continue to inform WSRCA regarding problems encountered in any of your roofing and waterproofing projects, and when possible provide photos as well.


Thank you for your support of Western States Roofing Contractors Association, and our active efforts to strengthen and advance technology and science in our industry, as well as to promote the art of roofing and waterproofing. We trust this information aids you to promote quality roof systems capable of long‐term successful performance.



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