Center Roof Drain Clogged After Roofer Finishes, He's Denying Responsibility - Roofing/Siding - DIY Home Improvement | DIYChatroom


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Old 10-21-2014, 12:46 AM   #1
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center roof drain clogged after roofer finishes, he's denying responsibility


I had a licensed roofer replace the flat roof on my 100 yo rowhouse, it had 3-4" of everything from rubber to black tarry gravel (bitumen?) He put down MB. The building has a 4" cast iron drain right in the middle and the roof pitches towards it from both front and back.

The day after he was finished cleaning up, and 5 days after the roof was finished I get a midnight call from a tenant saying there's water pouring from all the ceilings in the center. I get up on the roof and see a "plug" of debris about 2-3 feet down. I get a pipe and clear it, but as it rains the water keeps rising to drain between the pipe and the flanged sleeve he installed. The pipe is hopelessly clogged and I get a 24 hr plumber who cuts hole in the pipe in the basement allowing it to drain. Couple of days later he installs a new section with a cleanout, $1100.

Roofer's reaction next day: he's suspicious that this happens before he gets his last payment! Like I'd flood my building to rip him off for a few thousand. Like every contractor I've ever hired he had insisted that he get paid before the permit inspection. I agreed as I had more work I needed him to do. He pointed out that it had rained several days before with no flooding.

Last info is what the plumber vacuumed out of the pipe, which turned out not to have a cleanout because the floor drain next to it was actually the other side of a trap, enabling cleanout if I'd only known. The debris was a gravel of about half roofing material and half rust flakes.

Does anyone have a theory as to how the plug I saw could form without the roofers seeing it, or after one storm but before another? Could a large hunk of rust have detached and lodged? Should the roofer have examined the drain more closely, or known that they accumulate crap to this extent? I haven't show the roofer the bucket of gravel yet, but if he'd accuse me of scamming him to start with, I doubt he'll be on board with this evidence. It's pretty tenuous stuff though for suing him I would think. He's not so much as offered to pay the plumbing bill.

Any advice or info would be appreciated, this just reminds me why I like to DIY. However slower I am than a contractor I'm more careful.

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Old 10-21-2014, 07:50 AM   #2
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center roof drain clogged after roofer finishes, he's denying responsibility


Did the drain on your old roof have a strainer? If it was missing the strainer then some gravel could have washed down the drain over the years. Asphalt and gravel roofs tend to shed water slower than modbit, so you wouldn't notice poor drainage until a new roof was installed.

Ask to make sure the roofer plugged the drain with a rag while stripping.

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Old 10-21-2014, 08:55 AM   #3
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center roof drain clogged after roofer finishes, he's denying responsibility


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Originally Posted by jells View Post

The day after he was finished cleaning up, and 5 days after the roof was finished I get a midnight call from a tenant saying there's water pouring from all the ceilings in the center. I get up on the roof and see a "plug" of debris about 2-3 feet down. I get a pipe and clear it, but as it rains the water keeps rising to drain between the pipe and the flanged sleeve he installed. The pipe is hopelessly clogged and I get a 24 hr plumber who cuts hole in the pipe in the basement allowing it to drain. Couple of days later he installs a new section with a cleanout, $1100.

Roofer's reaction next day: he's suspicious that this happens before he gets his last payment! Like I'd flood my building to rip him off for a few thousand. Like every contractor I've ever hired he had insisted that he get paid before the permit inspection. I agreed as I had more work I needed him to do. He pointed out that it had rained several days before with no flooding.

Last info is what the plumber vacuumed out of the pipe, which turned out not to have a cleanout because the floor drain next to it was actually the other side of a trap, enabling cleanout if I'd only known. The debris was a gravel of about half roofing material and half rust flakes.

Does anyone have a theory as to how the plug I saw could form without the roofers seeing it, or after one storm but before another? Could a large hunk of rust have detached and lodged? Should the roofer have examined the drain more closely, or known that they accumulate crap to this extent? I haven't show the roofer the bucket of gravel yet, but if he'd accuse me of scamming him to start with, I doubt he'll be on board with this evidence. It's pretty tenuous stuff though for suing him I would think. He's not so much as offered to pay the plumbing bill.

Any advice or info would be appreciated, this just reminds me why I like to DIY. However slower I am than a contractor I'm more careful.
This happens a lot more then you think. One of the things we always stress is to make sure the drains are clear. Durring the reroofing process the drain strainer and clamping ring is removed. Then a pipe plug or more commonly a ball of rags is placed in the drain to keep the debris from going in. Once the days work is complete the drain bowl is cleaned and the plug removed.

You said it rained days before after he completed the work and there was no issues.

Is there a drain strainer? Before or after the reroof.
If there is not why did the roofer not install one (at your cost)?
If there is a strainer why is there that much gravel in the pipes?


With the stuff that came out of the drain pipe it sounds like they didn't plug the drain. Since you mentioned suing it would be a difficult thing to prove he actually allowed the debris in the drain if there was in fact a rain event after the roof work had been completed and the drain didn't clog then.

The most concerning part of all this to me is the fact he didn't just take the cost of the drain repair off the amount you still owe. You said your self you have more work for him and you paid up front.

I wouldn't allow this guy to work on my buildings again to be honest. I would ask him nicely again to deduct the amount and move on. If he doesn't agree to it, call the licensing board, his insurance company and anyone else you can think of. If it is in fact his fault for the pipe clogging he would also be responsible for any repairs to not only the piping but to the damage it caused when it leaked.

Ad for future reference never ever ever push anything down the drain again, get a shop vac and extensions.
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Old 10-21-2014, 12:35 PM   #4
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center roof drain clogged after roofer finishes, he's denying responsibility


Thanks for the replies. There was a crappy strainer when I bought the place 2 years ago, because the 4" pipe opening had been narrowed by roofing jobs to less than 2" any debris at all clogged the strainer and caused a pond to form eventually overtopping the roof edge and pouring down the sides of the building. But this roof is 40 or so feet up, it's not like even leaves commonly get on it. And the roofer did not leave a strainer.

A lot of the debris seemed to be rust flakes and particles from a very old pipe. Likely my attempts to clear it with very long metal channel made that worse. I recognize that vacuuming it out would have been better, but it was 1am, and I was up on the roof in a rainstorm trying to stop my property from being flooded! I still can't believe even a semi-competent roofer could miss that plug, nor that it could form in a couple of days. But maybe in bright daylight it couldn't be sen without a flashlight. He did comment that he would check gutter type drains to see if they were blocked. But not apparently my 4" cast iron.

I did take photos as best I could before I cleared it.
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Old 10-21-2014, 01:13 PM   #5
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center roof drain clogged after roofer finishes, he's denying responsibility


I don't see a clamping ring and it looks like a insert drain.

How big is this roof that size a drain looks to be to small.
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Old 10-21-2014, 01:23 PM   #6
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center roof drain clogged after roofer finishes, he's denying responsibility


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I don't see a clamping ring and it looks like a insert drain.

How big is this roof that size a drain looks to be to small.
It's about 1000 ft. I commented to him that by the time he put in the insert and glued in the modbit it was looking more like a 3" opening.
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Old 10-21-2014, 01:55 PM   #7
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center roof drain clogged after roofer finishes, he's denying responsibility


Yikes that's a lot of roof area for one drain. Yes if it was a 4" pipe to begin with the insert would be around 3" what was the reason for the insert?

If they didn't install a strainer then it's their fault IMO, insert drains come with their own strainers.
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Old 10-21-2014, 11:24 PM   #8
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center roof drain clogged after roofer finishes, he's denying responsibility


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Yikes that's a lot of roof area for one drain. Yes if it was a 4" pipe to begin with the insert would be around 3" what was the reason for the insert?

If they didn't install a strainer then it's their fault IMO, insert drains come with their own strainers.
I think your "insert" is different from what I have. This is simply an aluminum tube with a flange around it. Tube goes in the pipe, modbit goes over the flange and inside the pipe as in the pic.

I dunno, like I said my experience with strainers was bad, debris that would have no problem going down the pipe would cause a lake on the roof. I think they didn't stuff a rag in the pipe during the stripping off of the old roof.
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Old 10-22-2014, 08:57 AM   #9
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center roof drain clogged after roofer finishes, he's denying responsibility


Insert drains are all basically the same. There should be a clamping ring though. The clamping ring compresses the modbit and that's what creates the seal, if there is not a clamping ring the seal will break free from the flange probably the first winter.



The strainers area necessary evil. Yes they can get debris built up in them, that's the job so the debris do not go down the pipes and cause clogs. We have various companies we go and do roof maintenance on, this is part of the roof maintenance.

Part of the issue is the lack of drainage on the roof, this is pretty common on older structures.

I agree they didn't plug the drain or they didn't take care to clean out the area.

I would suggest getting them to also install the clamping ring I really hope the drain included one and to install the strainer then just make going on the roof to clean it out a every 2 month project.
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Old 10-26-2014, 08:34 AM   #10
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center roof drain clogged after roofer finishes, he's denying responsibility


1/2 ass job of connecting to drain, and yes = where is the clamping ring. its the roofers job to make sure the roof is water tight.
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Old 10-26-2014, 12:23 PM   #11
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center roof drain clogged after roofer finishes, he's denying responsibility


I don't think that device would fit in the trough set between 2 joists on my roof. I'm still a little confused as to what this "clamping ring" does. If it does not create a seal between the 4" cast iron and the insert it would not have changed the outcome of my situation.

I met again with roofer, despite the roof debris in the trap he utterly denies responsibility and won't even cover the plumber. Not only that, he got hysterical and ethnically insulting when I told him I would wait til the city inspection to pay him the final 20%, as every permit card here tells you to do. I wonder if it will not pass.

I also wonder if I'm hurting myself by not lawyering up and making him pay for the plumber, floor refinishing and plasterwork.
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Old 10-26-2014, 12:52 PM   #12
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center roof drain clogged after roofer finishes, he's denying responsibility


At a minimum, despite all else, don't pay until it passes inspection. And I would from here on out record any interactions you have with this nitwit.

I recently waited an extra 3 weeks to make final payment...didn't have an issue with the contractor, but the delay was between him and the inspector. Finally happened, it passed, and I paid the balance owed. That's how it should work. I wouldn't pay for work that hasn't been inspected (and needs to be).
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Old 10-27-2014, 09:17 AM   #13
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center roof drain clogged after roofer finishes, he's denying responsibility


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I don't think that device would fit in the trough set between 2 joists on my roof. I'm still a little confused as to what this "clamping ring" does. If it does not create a seal between the 4" cast iron and the insert it would not have changed the outcome of my situation.

I met again with roofer, despite the roof debris in the trap he utterly denies responsibility and won't even cover the plumber. Not only that, he got hysterical and ethnically insulting when I told him I would wait til the city inspection to pay him the final 20%, as every permit card here tells you to do. I wonder if it will not pass.

I also wonder if I'm hurting myself by not lawyering up and making him pay for the plumber, floor refinishing and plasterwork.

The flange is set on the roof, the tube goes down in to the existing piping. The seal at the bottom is either self expanding or compression type. The clamping ring sandwiches the flange, roof membrane together.

Wait until the roof gets inspected before you give him the remaining money. It might not be a bad idea to get some consultation from a lawyer.

The roofer if found at fault will be responsible for any damages that has occurred.
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Old 10-27-2014, 11:24 PM   #14
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center roof drain clogged after roofer finishes, he's denying responsibility


Clearing of the drains, and in your case, a new cast Iron roof drain with a cast Iron grille (Dome) should have been installed with a sump receiver. A 24 inch square lead flashing should have been installed along with the roof system and the lead flashing and a target of the MB should have been used in the drain. From your description, I cannot tell if your roof drain is tied into the city storm water system, or into your sanitary sewer system. The latter is prohibited for obvious reasons. The drain in the attached illustration is a type A right angle drain which I have used in situations where the drain conductor has to run between ceiling joists. You should have overflow provision on your roof if you have parapet walls. A single drain in any roof area is dangerous.
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Old 10-28-2014, 12:23 PM   #15
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center roof drain clogged after roofer finishes, he's denying responsibility


Well Jagans, there's nothing that elaborate up there! Just a hole as you see in the pics. One roofer I priced did mention a cast iron bowl, but he was nearly 3x the price of the one I used, like $26k to do a 1000k ft roof. He also seemed obsessed with fire, saying flame down should be illegal, as should the old tar shingle siding I had, and that there needed to be a cement board substrate on the roof.

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