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Roofing/not good of a smell

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Question
Hello

Our single story house just got a new roof - Certainteed shingles part of the house -  and IB roofing system  (garage and kitchen).  Throughout the process there has been a heavy glue smell in the house.  Is it normal?  We aired it out, thought it was gone, turned on our central air system and the glue smell is back REALLY STRONG. What happened?  What do we do?  Is it toxic?  

Also, IB system on flat roof (looks like PVC) has some bubbles.  Can this affect the longevity of this roof system?   

Thanks,  Gabriel

Answer
Gabriel,

With a newly installed roof system, a certain (though minimal) level of smells should be expected. The new asphalt products, underlayment and shingles will have minimal asphaltic smell but generally not detectable within the home.

The low-sloped roof, if it is an IB Roofing Systems would be a PVC membrane. Not knowing what they installed or how, I offer a few opinions based on certain presumptions. The adhesive for membrane to any wall and curb detailing is a solvent-based adhesive unless IB has come up with a new adhesive I am not aware of.  It likely contains Xylene, Tolulene and MEK or combination thereof which will contain a sharp odor that may smell sweet yet irritating to the membranes in the nose.  To put in basic terms, these solvent are heavier than air so they linger and do not dissipate into the atmosphere easily or quickly. In the heat this solvent smell will be all that more noticeable. If the only used adhesive to install at the roof detail(s) it should disapate more quickly. If they used to adhere the membrane over the entire roof this will linger much longer as the solvents are trying to pereate through the PVC over the entire roof and the PVC is holding under the membrane.  If you smell it more when the HVAC is running, it is likely because there is a unit near the roof as the HVAC unit pulls in a percentage of outside air not just recirculate interior air when it runs, with heavy solvents lingering it could be drawing them in.

I would first try to define where and to what degree the adhesive was used. You will need to get this from the contractor along with a copy of the MSDS for each product used on your home as part of this work. This will give you a better idea of what you may be faced with.  Most contractors will refrain from using solvent-base adhesives and membranes that require such on residential applications just because of the aroma issues that will go along with it.  Unless something is grossly out of order, the smell should go away fairly quickly. I would suggest changing the filter for the HVAC unit inside as if it was een slightly dirty, the solvent will linger in the entrapped dust.

This is what I will offer as a starting point and hopefully resolves itself quickly for your health and convenience.  The solvents involved are not without inhilation concerns and to those that are hypersensitive to such can adveresely effect ones health pretty dramatically. If you feel there is a real concern that may be worse than what we are discussing, you can contact a company to come do air sampling within and around you home.

Steven C. Wadding CDT,RRO,RRC

Roofing

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Steven C. Wadding RRC,RRO,CDT

Expertise

General questions in regards to most roof types and situations. As the Technical Services Manager for Polyglass USA, Inc. this would not be a forum to address any issues directly related to a product my employer manufacturers.

Experience

I have been active in the roofing and waterproofing industries for more than 30 years with extensive experience from product installation, product development and consulting. I have been active in the Construction Specifications Institute and Roof Consultants Institute for approximately 20 years. I am a member of ASTM and am a voting member of various subcommittees. I have many years of consulting experience in the fields of Roofing, Waterproofing and Exterior Building Envelope disciplines.

Organizations
Roof Consultants Institute Construction Specifications Institute ASTM

Publications
Division 7 Technical Binders for Malarkey Roofing Products and Polyglass USA, Inc. CSI Phoenix Chapter Cactus Comments

Education/Credentials
Registered Roof Consultant - Roof Consultants Institute Registered Roof Observer - Roof Consultants Institute Certifified Document Technologist - Construction Specifications Institute Spray Fireproofing Special Inspector - International Code Council

Awards and Honors
Registered Roof Consultant - Roof Consultants Institute Registered Roof Observer - Roof Consultants Institute Certifified Document Technologist - Construction Specifications Institute Spray Fireproofing Special Inspector - International Code Council

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