Tag Archives: roof steel leaks

A Serious Case of Roof Steel Leaks

This is one of those “Dear Pole Barn Guru” letters which I feel bad for the client in having to answer. The client has paid good money to have his new post frame building constructed, only to have installer challenges render the end result as far less than ideal.

For your reading pleasure:

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: The Hansen pole barn kit I bought has 26 gauge steel roofing put on twice by a licensed contractor that still leaks profusely. A licensed roofer suggested 50 year shingles. Will the trusses bear the weight of a wooden deck and shingles? What’s the expected life span/warranty on your 26 gauge steel roofing from ABC in SLC? TOM in SHERIDAN

DEAR TOM: I’ve had seen the photos of your roof from the inside, as near as I can tell, the roof purlins were not originally set in a straight line from one end of the building, to the other. It then appears the roof steel was predrilled, causing a plethora of screws to miss the purlins as installation progressed from the end towards the middle. The only real solutions are to add lots of framing under all of the holes (so every screw goes straight into the underlying framing) or to remove the roofing, align the purlins and then install new steel over them. If the roof plane is square, the purlins are placed in straight rows and the roof steel is predrilled to properly match the purlin spacing, there is no reason it should leak – other than plain installer error. Placing screws through holes at an angle, or using caulking is not an adequate repair.

As with most post frame (pole) buildings, the roof has been designed to support the weight of the trusses, roof purlins, minimal roof insulation (to prevent condensation) and the roof steel. In order to support OSB or plywood and shingles, at a minimum the roof would need to have been designed for a 7 psf (pounds per square foot) dead load, rather than 3.3 psf. It might be possible to get an engineered repair to the trusses to increase the load carrying capacity, but it is unlikely it would be an easy, or inexpensive, fix.

The steel warranty information is available on our website at:


In your climate, properly installed, your steel roof should last longer than either you or I.

On a side note – a “50 year” shingle typically has a very rapid decline in what percentage of replacement material (no labor) is covered. Here is the true story of shingle warranties:


Steel Siding Failure?

In my fledgling days in the pole building industry, we jumped on board when ASC Pacific began offering “Twice the Life” Zincalume® coated steel roofing panels as an alternative to bare galvanized. Keep in mind, back in the early 1980’s almost every roof was unpainted – so this was huge!

One side benefit of Zincalume® is the aluminum content of the protective coating causes the bare panels to oxidize to a milky white over time, unlike the red rust of galvanization. One prolific Pacific Northwest builder even sold Zincalume® to customers telling them they would eventually have a white roof!

My business had provided a three sided “machine shed” 40 foot deep by 60 feet long and 10 foot eave to a farmer in the state of Washington. Within a year after he had the building up, he called because he had fist sized holes in the roof of his barn!

Well, there was a “Paul Harvey” to his story….he had enclosed the open side of the building, and then used it for raising hogs! The building had absolutely no ventilation provisions, nor was there a vapor barrier installed under the roof steel.

The wastes produced by the hogs contained a very high amount of ammonia, which reacted with the aluminum in the Zincalume®, and literally ate holes in it!

rusted steel sidingWe recently had a client send us the photos seen with this article. Their four year old building had developed a series of rust through holes and the client wanted to know if the steel panels were still under warranty.

Strangely, the holes are all in a straight line, across one panel of steel and just onto the next panel. The line of holes just happens to coincide with the location of a “bookshelf” style wall girt on the inside of the building. Nowhere else on the building is there any sign of rust.

While the ultimate authority will be the steel roll forming company, my suspicion is some corrosive material was placed on the bookshelf girt (which was being used as a shelf), and it leaked or spilled along the girt line.

What came to mind first was an old battery. A frequent poster to internet discussion boards, from Tennessee, had this to say about battery acid and steel:

“I fought the battery acid contamination for years on mine equipment on metal a heck of a lot thicker…” “What I found is no amount of rinsing, or pressure washing will stop the damage from continuing and once the metal is contaminated replacement is about the best solution. The problem with acid is not just having the corrosive substance lying on the surface dissolving the metal, but the fact that once contaminated a chemical reaction is started that is very hard to stop! The acid will “eat” into the metal and cannot be simply rinsed off nor is it easy to neutralize for the same reason.”

Steel roofing and sidings are strong and affordable, however care must be taken to protect them from caustic situation, which may lead to premature failure of the product.