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here is a new one - Rubber roof de-icing

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by monson770, Feb 4, 2011.

  1. monson770

    monson770 Senior Member
    Messages: 133

    we own some commercial buildings, one of which is leaking in a few spots. i was just up there today with my dad, and he is hammering ice that is anbout 1-2" thick in spots, to loosen it up to shovel off of the roof.

    so, here is what i'm wondering:

    A.) is there a product like they use in heated floors that i could put down to keep the drain channels open, to allow ice to melt and drain properly?

    b.) is there any easier/faster way to de-ice a RUBBER roof, withouth damaging the rubber?

    I have thought about salting and liquid de-icer but do not know how effective it will be here..
    i realize this is a plowing forum, but ice removal is a part of it i guess.. any help or points in the right direction would be helpfull!
  2. Rc2505

    Rc2505 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,245

    I can't imagine that salt would hurt the rubber. As far as being effective, I would imagine with any bare spots, and a little salt the black from the rubber would melt off pretty quickly.
  3. Surfdunn

    Surfdunn Member
    Messages: 43

    propane torch. wouldnt be to worried about 1 or 2 inches of ice though. watch what kind of shovel your using on the roof,only takes a hole the size of a nail to cause a leak
  4. CGM Inc.

    CGM Inc. PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,598

    Rubber roof on our property is white.....
    Chipping it off is deadly IMO!

    Try de-icing cables maybe :confused:
  5. Rc2505

    Rc2505 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,245

    I'm not sure de-icing cables would be right for rubber roofs. Maybe look it up on the internet and see, but I have always been under the impression they can be used in gutters, or on ashpalt shingles only. Good luck
  6. rooferdave

    rooferdave Senior Member
    Messages: 525

    calcium cloride is the way to go, salt rusts the flashings and the drains are sometimes just light galv metal. A heater cable down the drains is not a bad idea or have an electrictian wrap the drains from the inside. What do you call a rubber roof??? Are we talking modified bitumin or an epdm system? PLASTIC SHOVELS ONLY!!!
    no rock salt. Are you fixing the leaks too?
  7. monson770

    monson770 Senior Member
    Messages: 133

    not sure exactly what type of rubber it is, but it was say around 5-7' wide and does long runs, so it seems to be more like the epdm system i looked up.

    calcium chloride or magnesium or potasium?? any of these work on rubber roof? or just the calcium chloride?

    we have been using plastic shovels. my dad has owned the buliding for about 15 years, and he was the one that put the roof on about 10 years ago. he had some help, but says now that it would have been smarter if he'd payd a company to do it.. neither here nor there anymore, so were are looking for ways to keep the ice from forming TO the rubber..

    the insulation on the roof is thicker in the center of the building, and gets thinner as you go toward the outer walls. this is his design to allow a drainage path, but the ice forms TO the rubber on the outer say 4'. which is why the water is pooling and finding all the leaks..

    so my plan is to figure out a way to keep the drain channels open, and clear of icedams, so the water has a place to go when the snow melts.

    next summer will be full of making sure this roof is SEALED! i am thinking that the "heater cables" sounds like the best plan with the least amount of price/maintenance. and will employ that idea next summer along with the patching that needs to be done.
  8. leon

    leon Senior Member
    Messages: 872

    rubber roof and ice

    You need more insulation to counteract the heat loss for sure as the thinner insulation is the problem.

    Is the area above the insulation allowed to breath with soffit venting to the outside?

    The fastest and best way to break the ice up is to use a small propane salamander with
    a sheet metal plenum box to direct the heat to the ice and let it work.

    Once the ice sucks up the heat created by the salamander it wil want to pup right off
    rubber roof by it self simply because of the convection heat.

    Are you dealing wih a suspended cieling with furnaces and air ducts in the cieling?

    We ended up installing a shingled roof over our buildings after dealing with leaks and
    repairs for 35 years with 2 buildings.

    The ONLY way to keep ice from forming is to remove the snow fall and do it this way as that is the
    root of the problem you have, as well as the thinner insulation on the edges.

    The propane salamander and the sheet metal box air baffle is the only way quickly reduce the
    problem to nothing.

    You will continue to have problems no matter what as the snow has to be removed as it is going
    melt and refreeze unless it is removed to allow the base to be exposed to sunlight.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2011
  9. leon

    leon Senior Member
    Messages: 872

    snow etc.

    You need to/should invest in a Toro snow pup or three with the curved paddles
    to use it on the roof as you will have to keep the snow off the rubber roof
    as it is now because it will not dissolve and flow out the scupper drains.

    Roof drains are only as good as the roof they are secured to and not disposing
    of the snow around the drains is the biggest issue which is why you need to use a "Snow Pup"
    for heavy acccumulations.

    Until the ice and snow is gone or nearly gone the problems will continue.................................
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2011
  10. monson770

    monson770 Senior Member
    Messages: 133

    i know we have roof top heating units, that i believe push the hot air to heat pumps, then to offices..

    insulating the roof more would be a great fix, but to do that we'd have to tear up the whole roof and re do it.. not quite an option, as my dad has been toying around with selling the building if he can get enough for it..

    but for now, looks like i'll be up there with some ice meleter, as the torch idea is not something i want to test, not sure if i trust myself with flames and rubber....

    anyone know any good cable heater comapny's? i think i'll be hoppin on that train as soon as i can.
  11. leon

    leon Senior Member
    Messages: 872

    ice etc.

    No torch needed,

    You can invest in very small light wieght propane forced air salamander,
    and some sheet metal air duct with a series of vents, placed in the bottom
    of the ducting facing the roof to allow the forced air heat created by the
    propane salamander to work with a very slow heat.

    These heaters work very well for melting snow and ice.

    The heater cables have to be secured with wire clamps and screws in
    contact with the material being deiced.

    Short of buying a Landa hot water generator to heat tap water to melt ice you wont
    get very far as you wil still have freeze thaw cycles to deal with no matter what.
    as the forced air propane salamander space heater with a piece of air duct is the only
    quick way.

    Using ice melt in storm drains is not recommended by roofers and the discharge is
    going to a storm sewer which drains to surface waters in most cases.

    A very quick way is to purchase pool chlorine by the 5 gallon pail which is greater in
    strength than normal bleach but the issue of the rubbers quality will be a concern.

    The pool chlorine tablets also work.

    The chlorine will render itself harmless over time as it is a gas by its very nature.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2011
  12. rooferdave

    rooferdave Senior Member
    Messages: 525

    the thicker insulation in the center or high point will have the least amount of heat loss and should stay frozen ( depending on r value ect) the thinner insulation at the outside should have more heat loss and deter ice buildup. If you had a bur roof or mod bit the snowblower or heat are viable options. If you have epdm BE AFRAID! BE VERY AFRAID!!!!
    However I have been doing this type of work in Toronto since 1983 and usually advise the engineers on how to deal with these problems. Note 1 oz of gasoline will cause catastrophic damage to epdm. Perhaps you have large soffits with no heat loss that are causing the ice. Pm me pics and I can help you out. Maybe there can be a road trip in my future!
  13. monson770

    monson770 Senior Member
    Messages: 133

    i'll get some pics asap.
    there are i believe aroun 8-10 drain points that gutter the drainage down the side of the building. its a 2 story, and the gutters only go from the drain point, strait down, there are no horizontal gutters. all of the water collection is done by the roofs slant system. so when water collects, has to drain, and there is ice building up infront of these drain points, it just sits on the roof looking for somewhere to go.

    we don't have to get up there till next saturday so hopefully i can start with a good mind of what i can do after its all cleared off..
  14. JonnyBoyPlowing

    JonnyBoyPlowing Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    calcium chloride

    fill a brown paperbag halfway with calcium chloride. Put it on the roof and the bag will dissolve releasing the calcium chloride.
  15. rooferdave

    rooferdave Senior Member
    Messages: 525

    please give me a pic of the outside of the building (all sides) from the ground that will give me some good info