There's more to a roof than meets the eye
Silvers stressed it was no one’s fault that there were problems with the roof, but just like a roof on a house “it only lasts so long.”
Following the School Board meeting Monday night, member Gary Silvers explained how the roofing systems work at Benton Elementary, Chilhowee Middle, and Copper Basin Elementary Schools. Silvers stressed it was no one’s fault that there were problems with the roof, but just like a roof on a house “it only lasts so long.”
Silvers explained that the roof structure was made of angle iron. The iron holds up a decking panel, which holds a lightweight concrete. Roofing materials is on top of the concrete.
Because the roofs are flat, drains are installed to ensure rainwater does not sit atop the roof. Silvers said all water should be gone from the roof within 12-24 hours of a rain in order for the roofing material not to deteriorate or the water to cause stress on the roof.
Over time, a roof will gradually sink lower. The roof drains, however, remain in place. This, Silvers said, is part of the issue once a rood is past a certain age. The drains cannot properly work if they sit slightly above the rest of the roof. When water can’t drain and sits on the roof, the roofing material begins to deteriorate. Silvers said patching and tarring, or using a foam covering, might stop the leaks, but is only a temporary fix.
If water continues to sit on top of a roof, over time it eats away at the covering. The major problems come when that water begins to leak into the structure of the roof. If water consistently leaks and gets onto the iron structure holding it up, the iron can develop rust and will eventually weaken.
According to Silvers and Board member LW Smith, this has already happened in a portion of Copper Basin Elementary School. On a section of the library roof, the concrete was exposed and crumbled. Repair work for that section was done just before school began.
The structural integrity of an entire roof is not in jeopardy if certain sections of the iron have begun to rust and weaken. The structure of the roofs is made up of a series of many bar joists throughout each school. Those which have been compromised can be replaced; those which are in tact and undamaged do not cause a problem. Cost of replacing the roof depends upon how much of the system below it needs to be replaced.
In order to ensure the iron does not rust or weaken, the roof above it must be in tact and not carry standing water that can eat into the roofing material or put stress on the structure.
Silvers said roofs at both schools needed to be replaced. He said Copper Basin Elementary School’s roof was more deteriorated than Benton Elementary’s, but neither could be fixed by simply fixing leaks.
Polk County News | P.O.
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