Dear Pole Barn Guru: Leaking Roof

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My contractor started by installing the roofing screws in the high ridges which I stopped since it was not per the instructions. After doing the installation there were many, many, many misses or partial misses that have cracked the wood members or at angles through them. Bottom line there are many leaks at the screw locations which I have numerous pictures of. He wants to utilize caulking as the fix per the following response.

“I’ll have to replace the screws. If they were properly caulked they wouldn’t leak. I will install new screws and re caulk them. But as informed when the roof started I stated “If I install this per their specifications it will leak.” You said you understood all that and you wanted me to proceed. You may understand that though it seems obvious from the bottom when on the roof it’s not as obvious. If the screws were on the high ridge like I advised this conversation would not be happening. I will personally attend to this issue as I want to be sure it is resolved once and for all.”

I have read your articles about roofs but he does not agree. Where do I go from here so that the roof does not leak on my shop equipment or vehicles? He is planning on doing the work next week so need help asap. TOTAL FRUSTRATED in SHELTON

DEAR FRUSTRATED: There is no steel roofing manufacturer which recommends installing screws through the high ribs of the typical panel profiles used most prevalently for post frame construction, it isn’t just Hansen Pole Buildings. Properly installed, there is absolutely no reason a screw installed on the flats should ever leak. A predrilled roof, should never have a miss or partial miss – so it sounds like your contractor was “flying blind” and hoping to end up hitting wood. Predrilling not only keeps all of the screws in straight lines, it also immediately lets the installer know if a purlin is bowed up or down, as there is no resistance to the screw going in. The offending screw(s) and their neighbors can be removed – the purlin pushed manually up or down with the slope of the roof, and the screw put back into the center of the purlin.

roof-leak-150x150Caulking is also not an approved fix for a leaking screw – it will just leak again, over time. The only fix for what you have is to replace any roof panel which has been screwed through the high ribs, as well as probably panels where the steel was not predrilled.

If your contractor believes he can truly repair this with caulking, I would suggest he post a bond in an amount which would cover someone removing and replacing the roofing entirely, in the event of a leak, good for say 10 to 20 years (or a time period of your comfort level). The reality is – he won’t, because he is just trying to get by until the statutory one year coverage on labor expires, leaving you disappointed.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Consider a pole barn with a floating slab targeted as a residence. I’m assuming that it is unavoidable that there will be some settling of both the poles and the floating slab. I realize that all settling issues depend on the specific soil, soil compressibility etc. but considering the large difference in the weights and footprints of the poles and slab, I’m further assuming that the poles and the slab will settle at significantly different rates? If the pole building trusses are designed so as to support drywall etc. for a ceiling, and the inner walls are built on top of the floating slab, how would one take into account the difference in the settling of the walls compared to the ceiling. i.e. if the ceiling is attached to the trusses of the shell, and the inner walls are attached to the floating slab, won’t the ceiling settle much faster than the slab/walls? Do the walls and ceiling have to be built incorporating some kind of slip joint? Thanks LONNIE in COLORADO SPRINGS

DEAR LONNIE: With a properly prepared, well compacted site, settling should prove to be minimal, if at all. I’ve addressed soil compaction in a series of articles which begins here: Properly done, the columns should be tied into the concrete slab floor by means of rebar hairpins. This helps to keep any upward, downward or sideways movement being all together. More of an issue than settling of either the slab or columns, would be the differences in expansion and contraction of materials. Here are some thoughts on how to tie interior walls and roof systems together:

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am very interested in building a pole barn house. Can a complete job be done for less than 200k? RYAN in CEDAR SPRINGS

DEAR RYAN:  Can a complete job be done for less than $200k? Certainly, however your budget could easily be blown out of the water by size or extravagant amenities (or even permitting costs in some areas). I’d encourage you to start by crafting a floor plan which works well with the needs of your family – identify all of the spaces you will need and their approximate sizes, then fit them together like a jig saw puzzle looking at how to reduce the number of steps it takes to get from Point A to Point B. In our home, we are empty nesters, so we put the laundry room in the master bathroom, which is directly attached to a walk-in closet. Try to avoid multiple levels and stairs – think about what happens when one of your loved ones is confined to a wheelchair. Once you get a basic configuration figured out, then it is time to wrap it all up in a box (the exterior walls) and put together a serious game plan to moving forward into your dream pole barn house!

2 thoughts on “Dear Pole Barn Guru: Leaking Roof

  1. I had a stick built barn about eight years ago. It has a metal roof and sides. after they frame it the covered it with some kind of reflective insulation, white on one side and mirror silver on the other. It is rated with a 10R rating, silver side out. I had them put a vent panel on one end and an exhaust fan on the opposite end. No ridge venting. After a couple of years, the sunny side of the roof, which also faces the prevailing wind started to leak. Some one told me that it was condensation. I did notice a separation in the white and silver insulation and I sealed it back together with a quality tape. That slowed it down but now the leak moved further down the barn by about twelve feet or so. Until lately I’ve been putting up with it, but now it’s getting worse. I’m calling the contractor tomorrow. I know I should have called a lot sooner.

    1. admin Post author

      Chances are if it did not “leak” in the first year, it isn’t a leak, but is condensation. Your reflective”insulation” is not actually insulation and has an R value of less than one, by the way. Unless it is perfectly sealed and all seams taped, warm moist air can get through and create condensation between the steel and the barrier.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Building KitPrice

Know more about our pricing.

Pole Barn Guru Blog

The industry’s most comprehensive post frame blog.

Ask The Guru

This guru will grant you the answer to one pole barn question!

Pole Building Learning Center

To help guide you in the design of your new pole building.

Photo Gallery

Look at our collection of building photos for creative ideas!

Paint Your Building

Lets pick out some colors!