It’s that time of year — temperatures and humidity are ready to soar to almost unbearable heights. Here are methods for dealing with it all
When you’re hot, you’re hot! (Thanks Jerry Reed!)
Installing metal roofing can be a dangerous job in the most pleasant conditions, but any extreme climate change adds to the health risk.
With the summer months approaching — and bringing in the hottest time of the year — we sought out some advice from those in the metal roofing industry about best practices for working in extreme heat. Most of the advice is common sense, but it comes with a twist that specifically applies to those installing metal roofing.
Rowe Roofing is a full service roofing installer, running five crews, installing built-up and single-ply roofing as well as metal — metal roofing products from Berridge Manufacturing, Englert Inc. and Drexel Metals.
Owner Rudy Rowe III says the hottest part of the working day ranges from 1-6:30 p.m. “We’ve had extreme temperatures of 104, 105 degrees,” he says, “but we get days where the heat index is in the 120s while dealing with 100 percent humidity exacerbating the heat.”
Extreme weather conditions make working safely more challenging. In Florida, afternoon showers are frequent and Rowe says that can be as challenging as the heat. When temperatures and humidity get high, his crews work off-peak hours. “We’ll put crews out there from 5 in the afternoon until 2 a.m. or work a shift from 2 a.m. until 10 or 11 (in the morning), but there are times when you have to work during the day. Then we’re constantly hydrating and making sure everyone is eating right. Gone are the days when everyone slipped off to McDonald’s for lunch. Now we’re eating bananas and other fruits for breaks and encouraging healthy lunches.
“We provide this stuff through our commissary. Foremen pick it up each day to supply their crews.”
Rowe recently outfitted his crews with new gear for the summer — long-sleeve breathable Columbia shirts that pull moisture away from the body and reduce sun exposure. Rowe, who has had several malignant melanoma removals, also supplies floppy hats and sunscreen to guard against sun damage. “I’m kinda the walking poster child for that around here,” he says.
Athens Roofing, Athens, Ga.
For the crews at Athens Roofing, it’s all about getting a jump on the sun when temperatures and humidity skyrocket.
“We’ll get to the jobsite when it still dark, get things set up and be ready to go by daylight,” says Chris Lutz of Athens Roofing.
Athens Roofing purchases panels from Georgia Roofing, mostly 3-foot wide through-fastened panels, but also installs standing seam products. About 50 percent of the business is metal.
“On extremely hot days, we’ll start working around 6 in the morning and knock off around 1 in the afternoon,” Lutz says. “Then we’ll go back later in the day. It stays light pretty late, so we can work a couple hours then.
“The heat and humidity are brutal and the material itself gets so hot, it’s hard to work with. You have to wear gloves just to handle it. And if it’s a bare Galvalume job, a bright sun reflects in your face off the panels.”
Lutz says when he visits jobsites, he brings Gatorade or Powerade to help crewmembers stay hydrated and provide electrolytes to get through the day.
“Actually, we’ve found that wearing long sleeves, bigger hats, anything to stay fully covered, really helps. Staying protected against the sun is important.
“Some jobsites you have shade on the roof and some you’re out working in the middle of a pasture. Our guys like to work, they tend to keep going, but sometimes you have to know when to say ‘when.’”
Rock Solid Roofing, Melbourne, Fla.
Even in early April, temperatures in East Central Florida can climb into the 90s — and stay there for six months. Or they can go higher.
For Davin Riedinger of Rock Solid Roofing and his crew, it’s also the busiest time of the year and they tend to work longer days. “The No. 1 thing is water, stay hydrated,” Riedinger says. “Every morning, I get two bags of ice, a bunch of waters, keep it all cold and we’re ready to go.”
Rock Solid Roofing goes where the work is, installing residential roofing as well as taking on larger commercial jobs. Riedinger says his crew is prepared for the extremely warm working conditions. “They’re used to the heat, so they don’t complain about it. They wear the long-sleeve breathable shirts. They keep the sun off you and when you sweat, it cools you. I’m not sure how it works, but they love it. They’re not wearing my shirts, but I don’t care.
Riedinger says the hottest part of the day in Florida is between 2-3 p.m. With that in mind, the crew always “takes a five,” at least every two hours. “They’ll find some shade,” he says.
“There’s always at least one tree in every yard, so they go to the part of the roof that’s shaded. They find that spot on the roof.
“We’re into the peak time of year, so we tend to work longer hours, from daylight until it gets dark, but we make sure we’re working safely.”
Metal Roofing Hawaii, Oahu, Hawaii
Richard Foust has been in the roofing business for a long time. For the last couple years, his Metal Roofing Hawaii has been manufacturing metal roofing and gutters for island installers. He operates a couple of New Tech Machinery SSQ roof panel roll formers as well as combo gutter and commercial gutter machines, also from New Tech.
Foust says temperatures rarely get above 90 degrees in Hawaii, but the climate range on the islands covers the gamut. When it is warm and the trade winds are calm, the combination of heat and humidity is intense. “That’s when it feels hotter than it is,” Foust says. “When the winds don’t blow, it gets real hot.”
As the state closest to the equator, sunlight is an issue for Hawaiian roofers.
“Depending on the product you’re working with, if it’s highly reflective you have to wear sunscreen on a sunny day,” Foust says. “Roofers wear the cooling scarves, hats, gloves, long sleeves. Bright roofs, copper and other light-colored roofs can cause bad sunburn just from the reflection.
“And, of course, the main thing is to keep hydrated.”