Steep slope retrofit roofing challenge

What was ripped apart in days is taking years to rebuild, remodel and replace.

When Hurricane Katrina rudely made her way through New Orleans just more than three years ago, lives were destroyed and lives were lost. Many families left the area, never to return because they had nothing to return to. Others stayed or returned to rebuild.

Extensive damage at Xavier University of Louisiana included metal roofing that was blown loose in some spots. Options for fixing the roof included a complete tear-off, which would be a costly venture considering the height and slope of the roofs on the Living Learning Center and St. Martin Deporres Hall, just south of I-10. The residence halls are five and seven stories, respectively.

The eventual logical solution included a retrofit purlin system from Roof Hugger over the existing roof with 22-gauge 1-3/4-inch snap seam panels from Architectural Building Components with 18-inch panels. “We had to use 22-gauge because 24-gauge wouldn’t have made the wind load required for the area,” says Charlie Smith of Architectural Building Components. “The Roof Hugger gave us a rigid new purlin and added significantly to the structural strength.”

Some of the original panels had to be replaced because the damage was too extensive to work with the retrofit system. Roof Huggers are retrofit sub-purlins installed horizontally across the original metal roof. They can be custom-made to fit any metal system.

Troy Odenwald of Juneau Odenwald, Inc. in New Orleans said employing the Roof Hugger system with the Architectural Building Components roofing worked best because it didn’t interrupt the day-to-day operations in the buildings. “It’s an operating campus,” he says. “There are a lot of safety issues with an occupied building. The Hugger allowed us to keep the building dry and keep it functioning.”

Two crews of eight worked separately on the two buildings simultaneously. Working at heights of five and seven stories with panels up to 35 feet long on a roof with an 8:12 slope, meant the two crews had to be extra careful on windy days — in fact, there were several days the jobs were shut down because of dangerous winds. “We got it done on schedule, but it was a miracle we finished on time,” Odenwald says. “It was one of those perfect projects. No leaks, no problems and it was done on schedule.”

The steep slope application of the Roof Hugger may be unique, but it was effective. “Most of the work we do with the Hugger is on low slope roofing that leaks,” Smith says. “The metal roofing leaks at the exposed fastener or the end laps. The end lap is generally where it will leak first.”

The campus at Xavier University of New Orleans is spread out in an area near the downtown area. The metal roofing — in a very recognizable Xavier Green, easily identifies the campus. “It visually helps unify the buildings on campus,” Odenwald says. With no leaks!

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