Roof Replacement Eases Maintenance Woes

  May 1, 2012

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today’s topic is, successful roof replacement. The hailstorm that pummeled the University of Northern Iowa in 2009 did more than uproot hundreds of trees. It also damaged campus buildings and inflicted major damage to the roof of the university's UNI-Dome, a multi-purpose facility on the Cedar Falls, Iowa, campus. The subsequent decision to replace the roof eliminated a long-standing headache for maintenance and operations and brought in a new roofing system that has performed just as intended. The UNI-Dome opened in 1976 and had one unique feature: an inflatable roof. A 1998 storm damaged that roof, which led the installation of a more structured roofing system — a stainless steel, standing-seam system. That roof presented problems throughout its life. "Once we put the standing-seam sheet metal on, it got turned over to me to try to keep it watertight," says Mike Zwanziger, manager of maintenance and operations. "I was working with the local vendor, and every year we'd go up and inspect it. We'd get a report from the UNI-Dome staff about where the leaks were, over what seats, what areas. We were spending, on average, $25,000 a year in an attempt to keep it watertight, and then we'd chase some of these other little leaks throughout the year." But the roof was not simply creating challenges for front-line workers who had to chase the leaks. "We didn't spend a lot of trade man-hours on (roof repairs), but administratively, we spent a lot of time every year trying to trace what was done and what the problems were," Zwanziger says. "It's definitely nice not getting all those calls." The damage from the 2009 storm was a tipping point in the life of the stainless steel standing-seam roof. "Afterwards, when we went up to do an inspection, it looked like someone had taken a baseball bat to the roof, and we had a lot of open seams," Zwanziger says. "At that point, we were able to convince everybody we needed a single-ply roof on it to keep it watertight." The new system also has benefited the maintenance and operations department. "The occupants have been very happy it's not raining inside the dome," he says. "They used to be out there with mops trying to clean up the water or moving people during games so they wouldn't get dripped on. That's probably been the biggest benefit of all."


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