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Is there a way to hide roof leaks of large-scale office and warehouse buildings?

24 of November '22

Constant monitoring and automatic drying of roof structures. From the series "Modern office buildings - trends 2022"

Damage caused by soggy roof insulation due to leaks is one of the most serious problems associated with the operation of buildings with flat roofs. It turns out that the problem affects not only older buildings, but also new ones.

VILPE® Sense - damage prevention and demand-driven ventilation of roof insulation

In May 2021, on the roof of the 7R hall in Wroclaw, the headquarters of the Polish branch of VILPE installed a system based on the latest IoT technology - VILPE® Sense - a system for constant monitoring of the humidity of roof structures, combined with automatically controlled ventilation, adapted to the demand at any given moment. This is the first roof in Poland to be covered by such monitoring.

© Vilpe

In developing a system that allows automatic regulation of the ventilating power of roof structures, VILPE conducted a series of tests and studies in Finland on current market needs. It was found that the potential threats to the safety and durability of flat roofs, is not only snow or heavy rain, but also moisture lingering in its structures. The results of the survey, conducted in 2020 by Finnish research firm Kantar TNS, confirmed that damage caused by moisture accumulated in roof insulation is a common problem. And it affects not only older buildings, but also new ones. A quarter of Finnish experts estimated that 80-100% of roofs experience moisture damage while still in the warranty period.

PREVENTING ADVANCED DAMAGE

The problem would not be so acute if it were possible to repair damage detected at its early stages. Unfortunately, minor damages generally "work" in hiding for quite a long time. By the time they are detected, most often there is already a visible leak. At this stage, in addition to the damage to the membrane, we already have a seeping insulation layer, which is only suitable for replacement. Water migrating in the structures of the roof layers, finds an outlet in a place not infrequently distant from the source of damage. Usually its location is quite difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Unfortunately, regular roof inspections are rarely carried out, so before the problem is eliminated, such advanced losses occur.

Even minor moisture damage can turn into a major problem. If moisture is not removed on a regular basis, it creates conditions for the growth of fungi and mold, which over time leads to structural degradation, says VILPE R&D Director Veli-Pekka Lahti, so we focused on a solution that works preventively. Especially since it is not only due to roof damage that insulation can lose its insulating properties. Condensation resulting from temperature differences, construction or the nature of the building is enough so that, in the absence of proper ventilation, the soggy insulation material ceases to perform its function. - Lahti adds.

© Vilpe

OPTIMAL VENTILATION

The roof of VILPE's Wroclaw warehouse and office is the first implementation in Poland. The entire area of the 7R hall is 10000 m², the system was installed on a part of about 300 m². The roof covering is a PVC membrane, 15 cm of mineral wool insulation, vapor barrier film and trapezoidal sheet metal. The operation of VILPE Sense is based on a system of sensors; in this case two RH moisture/temperature sensors in the roof insulation zone, one outside, and a VILPE roof fan. The fan responds to an increase in humidity in the insulation layers and roof spaces by increasing the intensity of ventilation. Completing the system are four low-pressure Alipai chimneys, which supply air to the roof insulation, allowing proper circulation. The entire system is tied together by a base station for device communication. Sensor data is stored in the cloud, allowing access not only to current readings, but also to the history of records. The automatic alert system, available through the VILPE Sense app on a computer or phone, provides constant control over the condition of the building without involving equipment or roofing crews. It also allows you to set alarm limits on your own, without the need to systematically check readings.

© Vilpe

The monitored part of the roof has so far proven to be trouble-free, the reading history shows no major deviations from the norm. It records changes in relative and absolute humidity outside and in the roof structures, as well as changes in fan speed.

The hall is a new facility, commissioned in the spring of 2021. However, as if to confirm the results of the previously mentioned research conducted in Scandinavia, also in this case there was damage to the roof structures already in the first year of use, says Andrzej Janusz, CEO of VILPE Poland. - In a remote part of the roof, not covered by Sense's monitoring, a crew servicing air conditioning equipment left behind a messy mess, resulting in mechanical damage to the membrane. As a result of these leaks, there was leakage into the insulation and into the building. If this occurred in the area monitored by VILPE Sense, analysis of humidity and temperature measurements of the roof and its surroundings would detect anomalies, and the app would send an alert to the user. The system allows even the smallest damage to be detected as soon as it occurs, he adds. - In addition, thanks to an intelligent algorithm that controls the fan, moisture is quickly removed from the structure, preventing and even reducing additional damage.

On the roof of VILPE's headquarters in Wroclaw, the next stage of the installation is planned before the end of the vacations. The system will be enriched with additional sensors; 4 units in the ventilated zone and 8 units in the non-ventilated zone These will be the latest generation of sensors in the form of roof connectors, allowing the recording of insulation parameters and comparative data analysis of the ventilated and non-ventilated parts of the roof.

6 TIMES GREATER EFFICIENCY OF MOISTURE REMOVAL

A similar implementation, of a comparative nature, carried out in the spring of 2020 in the building of a Finnish secondary school (Kronoby in Ostrobotnia) confirmed the effectiveness of the VILPE Sense system and the significant advantage over the efficiency of low-pressure fireplaces. Here, the amount of water removed by the fan was up to six times greater than that removed passively. An area was set aside on a vast roof area where, to improve ventilation, a system consisting of a VILPE ECo roof fan, sensors and a control unit was used. In one month on the tested area, the system removed 18 liters of water, while at the same time, on an adjacent part of the roof, traditional passive ventilation removed only 3 liters of water.

Total moisture removed per month (g)

Total moisture accumulation in one month (the previous day's figure is added or subtracted from the next day's figure). The Sense system removes more moisture (18,335 g = about 18 liters) than passive air circulation
(3075 g = about 3 liters).

© Vilpe

OPTIMIZATION

The VILPE® Sense system does not stop natural air circulation, but rather improves it. When the roof fan is running at its lowest speed, air circulation corresponds to negative pressure circulation. As humidity increases in structures, the intensity of their ventilation increases. The fan is always on unless the temperature is -7°C or lower. At this temperature, the roof fan turns off so as not to overcool the structure. The algorithm that controls the operation of the roof fan was developed in cooperation with the Finnish VTT Institute of Building Technology in such a way that the ventilated area remains as dry as possible and the building structures are kept in good condition.

If you are interested in intelligent ventilation with VILPE® Sense, you want peace of mind and confidence that your roof structures are safe, call or write: tel: +48 71 740 26 23, biuro@vilpe.com


For more information, visit the company's Vilpe Poland Sp. z o.o. page on the PdA portal.

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