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A (Not so) Draining Decision

On April 28, 2012, two super cell thunderstorms brought large hail and damaging winds to the greater St. Louis metropolitan area. One location that suffered a great deal of damage from the storms was America’s Central Port in nearby Granite City, Illinois. Considered to be a hub of the nation’s transportation infrastructure with access to rail, river and road transportation, the Port had numerous buildings on its 1,200 acre, multi-use facility that were damaged from the softball sized hail, including four warehouses.

“As the head consultant for the Port, I was called in to evaluate the entire property a few days after the hail storm. The first warehouse roof I went out on was just peppered with holes from the hail,” said Tom Worley, senior consultant at RMT Roofing and Waterproofing Consultants, Inc. of Manchester, Missouri. “In fact you really couldn’t take a step on the roof without trying to avoid a hole. Every roof on this property had to be replaced.”

Due to the large scope of the job, two contractors were brought in to replace the 1,070,000 square feet of roof on four main warehouses. Bartch Roofing Company, Inc. of Bridgeton, Missouri installed the replacement roofs on Warehouses 1 and 3, and Shay Roofing, Inc. of Millstadt, Illinois replaced the roofs on Warehouses 2 and 4.

A Tandem Installation

The original roofs on the warehouses were PVC or TPO roofs, but it was decided to replace all four roofs with Versico’s fully adhered 60-mil Versiweld® O system over 1½ inch polyisocyanurate insulation, and a plank wood deck. The Versico TPO membrane was chosen for its excellent strength and long-term resistance against tears, punctures and weatherization.

There were 428 drains in total on the four roofs so it was critical to choose a drain that could be installed efficiently, and one with outstanding performance, durability, and stability characteristics. Fortunately, the selection of the drain was unanimous – the Hercules RetroDrain from OMG Roofing Products, Inc. of Agawam, Massachusetts.

Each Hercules RetroDrain has a one-piece spun aluminum body, a heavy duty cast aluminum strainer dome, and a clamping ring for strength and durability. The drain flange has a depressed sump area to facilitate water drainage from the roof surface. The Hercules RetroDrain also incorporates U-Flow® Seal technology for a secure, watertight, mechanical connection to PVC or cast iron pipe leaders.

“We like the Hercules Retro-Drains because they are made of aluminum and the strainers are screwed down,” explained Rob Berger, project manager at Bartch Roofing. “Other retrofit drains tend to be not as sturdy and the strainers have a tendency to fly off the roof.”

Glenn Wenzel, vice president at Shay Roofing added, “We feel the Hercules RetroDrain is the best on the market. It has a nice strainer, genuine clamping ring and fits well on the roof.”

“When I want a sturdier drain I go with the Hercules RetroDrain,” remarked Worley. “You know the drain and strainer are secured to the roof and that roof movement won’t affect them. I’ve seen a lot of Hercules RetroDrains installed and these are the Cadillac of them all.”

Hercules RetroDrains Deliver

Several challenges faced the roofing contractors as they installed the roofs. The first was keeping tenants in the buildings dry and safe.

“Our first priorities were the buildings with tenants because they wanted dry roofs as soon as possible,” Wenzel explained. “We had to remove and install roofing every day and make sure everything was watertight at the end of the day. We also had to prevent debris from entering the building by hanging plastic from the ceiling. Tom Worley helped a lot with those details.”

Since Hercules RetroDrains are installed from the roof top, the process does not disturb building occupants or require that office equipment, furniture or building components be moved, which is not the case when a complete roof drain removal is required. Typically, when a drain is replaced, it is cut or taken out of the deck. On concrete this may involve jack-hammering the decking to break it out. In addition, a plumber may be required to come inside to access the building’s plumbing system, which may also be disruptive to tenants.

Staging was also a concern. “Some roof sections were quite a ways away from access points, so we had to be creative in how we got materials to the roof,” Berger commented. “There were some empty indoor units where we could store things like insulation. We also used an onsite forklift to get materials to the crane and to the roof.”

One part of the installation that didn’t pose any challenges was the installation of the HerculesRetroDrains.

“Hercules drains are very easy to install, which is why I’ve been working with them ever since they were introduced,” Berger said. “We did have to field modify the flange a tad, but that went very well.” “Reworking” the existing drain typically takes up to two hours per unit, so it’s no wonder the OMG Hercules was the choice of both contractors, in terms of saving valuable time and labor resources.

“The Hercules RetroDrain is much more user friendly than other drains, which is another reason we like them so much,” Wenzel stated. OMG representatives did visit the site several times to make sure everything was going well. “Our OMG representative was supportive and has been very responsive to our needs in the past,” Wenzel commented.

Open and frequent communication between the two roofing installers also helped ease any installation problems. “Due to the large scope of the project it was important that the two contractors work closely together to make sure each had what was needed to get the job done,” Berger said.

“A project of this nature has many components ranging from fasteners to insulation and membrane, and we wanted to be sure that we were working as efficiently as possible and always had the materials that we needed. As a result of these relationships the project was a delight to work on.”

Today the roof and the Hercules drains are performing “exceptionally well,” according to Wenzel. “We are very happy with the drains, which is why we say ‘we tried the rest and Hercules is best.”

“Would I use the Hercules RetroDrains again? Heck yeah!” remarked Berger. “I’ve been on the roofs after every storm and have seen no problems with the roof or drains,” Worley stated. “The drains have done exceptionally, which is why I won’t spec any other retro drain but Hercules.”

OMG RetroDrains with integrated vortex breaker technology help get water off roofs faster. Learn More