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Old 03-10-2013, 06:46 PM   #1
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Are homes with TPO roofs insurable?


Has anyone heard that it is difficult to get a homeowner insurance policy on a house with a TPO membrane roof? Thanks for your input.

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Old 03-10-2013, 06:54 PM   #2
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Are homes with TPO roofs insurable?


Might want to be asking your insurace company that question.
Some insurance company have take some big hits and are starting to find excuses to drop people to cut there losses.
We just had ours drop us even though in 16 years there's never been a claim.
In this area we had a hurracane, tornato, and an earthquake all in about 12 months. Which has never happened before.
Worked out for the best through, went with another company and saved $250.00 a year.

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Old 03-10-2013, 07:29 PM   #3
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Are homes with TPO roofs insurable?


I think the issue may be that you are talking about a low slope roof, not specifically a TPO roof. Thermoplastic Olefin (TPO) is a relatively recent addition to the single ply market, The most prevalent being EPDM, which is synthetic rubber. TPO is a thermoplastic which is heat welded in the field, whereas EPDM cannot be welded, and must rely on a seam tape or adhesive. Like all roof systems and all roof membranes there are good ones and there are bad ones. Since TPO is relatively new, the jury is still out on it.

Generally speaking, commercial single ply roof system manufacturers will not warrant residential roofs, and maybe that's where the problem lies. There are, however single ply membranes that are over 30 years old and still performing, so you cannot judge them all the same that is for certain.

The bottom line is that warranties dont keep the water out of a building, that requires a good specification, a good contractor, good details and a quality material.

I would think that if you got the home in question surveyed by a competent, knowledgeable design professional, you would get a waver by the insurance company.
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Last edited by jagans; 03-11-2013 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 03-11-2013, 05:41 PM   #4
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Are homes with TPO roofs insurable?


Thank you for replying, Jagans. I have read some of your replies to others and you seem very wise.

What I have found out by calling the manufacturer is that they give a 10 year materials warranty on TPO if it is used on a residence. The same type and thickness of TPO if used on a commercial property is eligible for a 20 year warranty. From that, I figure if the company believes it will last at least 20 years on a commercial property, why should it not last at least 20 on more years on a house. Does that make sense to you? As you said in your reply, the most important factor is the competence of the roofer doing the job.

My roofer must be competent--He can't get to my job until mid June...he's so booked. He mostly puts TPO on commercial properties but has put it on residence-like public buildings as well. He's been very patient with me as I have taken a month to learn about TPO and I've asked him and his on site supervisor lots of questions.

I've also spoken to other commercial roofers who use TPO membrane and the feedback has been mostly positive.

My roofer wants to use TPO rather than EPDM or any of the others because that's what he uses on his commercial jobs and he says the heat welded seams will never come apart. He showed me some 60 mil stuff and says it's extremely puncture resistant and is easy to mend if something--I don't know what--damages it. I was considering 80 mil but the feedback on that question was that 60 is what is used most often and that 80 mil is overkill.

A realtor I spoke with today says that insurance companies are interested in how old the roof is and whether or not it leaks. That makes sense to me.

Last edited by xmasfrog; 03-11-2013 at 05:58 PM. Reason: Additional comment
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Old 03-11-2013, 06:19 PM   #5
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Are homes with TPO roofs insurable?


Im not sure who's TPO you are talking about, but to be perfectly honest with you, the reason that TPO has become so popular is because it is white, and it is relatively inexpensive, compared to some of the other heat welded single ply membranes. I have heard that some TPO's cannot be heat welded after a relatively short time in service, and that does not bode well for a heat welded membrane.

Please do not fall for the warranty scheme. It is a sales tool. There are quite a few single plies that gave 20 year warranties that went belly up in a very few years, and the roofer and owner were left holding the bag.
There is no validity to the logic that a material that will last 20 years on a commercial project should last longer on a residence.

Since we are talking about a residence, and therefore very little square footage, I would go with a premium membrane like Sarnafil, or Fibertite. Sarnafil is a PVC with a very successful history of performance, and Fibertite is a Ethylene Interpolymer. It also has a very successful history of performance.

These membranes are both heat weldable, and you will be able to weld them throughout their service life. I installed quite a few 1000 sq plus sized projects with Sarnafil in 1985 and they are still in great shape. Fibertite is just as good.

Finding a Liscenced installer for these two membranes will be harder than finding a TPO installer.

Frankly, you have to be careful with membranes that are too thick, as welding becomes more difficult because of the fall off at T joints. If you go with a thicker membrane make sure they put blow out patches on all T joints. A good hand welder will use the handle of his scissors to press the membrane in at the fall off while the material is molten.

Good luck, and thank you for your kind comment.
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Old 03-12-2013, 12:11 PM   #6
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Are homes with TPO roofs insurable?


For some reason I think it's GAF that will do residential warranties. The only reason they would give 10 years for a residential is because that is the actual life expectancy they believe the material will have. The longer warranties are kind of like insurance, you may for them and you may or may not need them. The manufacture is taking a risk offering 20-30 warranties on their products.

Personally I would trust EPDM more then TPO my self, The seams are not that big of an issue if done correctly. Then again that goes for all roof systems.
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Old 03-12-2013, 02:23 PM   #7
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Are homes with TPO roofs insurable?


1985gt has a good point. Since a residence is so small, you could use fully adhered 60 mil unenforced Black EPDM, and strip the seams in with 6 inch pressure sensitive tape, then coat the roof with a white acrylic and you would have a roof that would last a very long time, with a re coat about every 7 years.

The general mode of failure with EPDM is T-Peel at the seams. Adding a pressure sensitive cover strip stops the T peel in its tracks. A friend of mine at NIST did extensive testing on EPDM seam strength, and due to his research I came up with the cover strip scheme.

The best way to install your roof is fully adhered, with an insulation package consisting of thermal insulation and a cover board, in what we call nail one mop one, meaning you mechanically fasten your (first layer) of thermal insulation, then adhere an approved cover board to that in adhesive (Hot asphalt is the best and the cheapest, but most resees dont own a kettle) with staggered joints. This halts thermal bridging, and the potential for fastener back out and membrane puncture.

Whichever membrane you use, use 60 mill, fully adhered. DO not use reinforced EPDM membrane, and do not mechanically fasten the membrane. (All TPO,s are reinforced)

I would bet that an EPDM roof installed as indicated above would last 30 or more years. I would not bet past 15 or so on the TPO. This is of course based on in-field experience, which is the only thing that counts in my opinion. Speculation is just that, speculation. You would have thought we would have learned with the 20 year shingles that lasted 7 years, The poorly formulated PVC membranes that lost plasticizer and cracked , Hypalon, and CPE which were attacked by algae sloughed off, and suffered from mud cracking, and the two ply coated felts but we didn't. Mother nature has a way of rendering today's bright idea tomorrows disaster when it comes to roofing.

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Last edited by jagans; 03-12-2013 at 02:36 PM.
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Old 03-13-2013, 12:08 PM   #8
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Are homes with TPO roofs insurable?


On the topic of insurance, I personally have never heard of anyone having a problem getting a single ply roof on a home insured. I know some insurance companies will make home owners replace Asphalt and Gravel and Torch down roofs for them to continue insuring them. Most of the time the Asphalt and gravel/torch roofs are beyond the service life and a good amount of insurance companies will not allow a roof system of that style to be installed. Not because they are not great roofs, but I figure mostly because the lack of people who can properly install said roof systems and or not burn the house down. I've also had insurance companies insist on replacing a asphalt and gravel roof with a asphalt and gravel roof. So there is not real set of guidelines there other then what they set.



But yes I would absolutely stay away from a mechanically attach system that penetrates the membrane. Depending on the lay out and size of the house it is possible to do a EPDM with no seams, but finding someone who is willing to work with a 50x100 and set it on a house is not very likely. I've personally seen very few seam failures when seam tape is used, the glued seams are a completely different story. This also all depends on the region you live in. So you may or may not be able to not have to strip in the seams and or coat the roof.

Again the main thing is to find a qualified contractor. There is no simple formula for this, everyone of them will say they can do it or have done it and are the best. We all know that isn't true. Look at some of the other work they have done, drive by some of their on going job sites, look at the ground and the workers. If the workers are not half way neat looking and the ground is a mess they clearly don't have pride in their work. Now I'm not saying both the workers and the area(s) they are working on and the ground need to be spotless, but it shouldn't look like a hurricane just hit the roof and dumped some "roofers" on it. Check on references ect. And look at the warranty last. TO many people focus on a warranty, and it means nothing if the company is not in business anymore.



Also I would like to add jagans said Hypalon!
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Old 03-13-2013, 02:16 PM   #9
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Are homes with TPO roofs insurable?


Not sure what the laughing guys are for re Hypalon. There was a great deal of reinforced hypalon installed for a number of years all along the east coast. Hypalon or Chlorosufinated Polyetylene (CSPE) was very popular due to its white color VS EPDM Black. It was an uncured elastomer that was heat welded, and became cross linked in the field in the presence of moisture and UV. Unfortunately, some CPE based membranes were improperly formulated and they suffered from what is referred to as mud cracking, and sloughing off of the surface polymer. They also had a tendency to suffer from black and red algae attack. The Hypalons that failed were improperly formulated. There were actually two manufacturers that produced a sheet that did not have the problems of the major seller, but in the commercial roofing business, once there are failures of any manufacturers product, they all tend to get painted with the same brush.

As far as the seam cover tape with EPDM goes, no, you do not need it to obtain a leak free roof, but on a small project like a home it is cheap insurance to do it. As far as I know, unreinforced 60 mil sheets are limited to 20 foot wide, unless that has changed.

The white acrylic coating keeps UV off the membrane and keeps the temperature down. UV and heat eventually kills all roof membranes.
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Old 03-13-2013, 02:23 PM   #10
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Are homes with TPO roofs insurable?


Laughing because 90% of the Hypalon in our area failed miserably, was unrepairable.

30' 40' and 50' wide sheets are available, in 50 and 100' lengths, but being a 50' x 100' roll of sixty mill weighs in around 2000 lbs, it would be unbearable to work with on a home.

45 mill you can go up to a 200' roll in 50' wide.


But yes reinforcing the seams would be cheap insurance but like I said, I see more corner details fail then seams, and yes the sun does break down all roofing materials but it is not as necessary in some climates.

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