Understanding Wind Uplift Testing for Standing Seam Roof Systems

Posted on June 22, 2016 by Jason Allen

When properly designed and installed, a standing seam metal roof system provides the building owner with long-term dependability and value. Standing seam roof systems fulfill requirements for durability and protection against just about any type of weather situation, and they excel in high winds. Overall, they have outstanding performance records.

In the most severe weather conditions, wind pressure can force panels to deflect. This causes the seams to open and the panels to shift in failure mode. Typical failure occurs at the corners and edge zones. As a result, standing seam metal roofs must meet certain standards and testing criteria.

While there are many performance tests out there, the ASTM E 1592 is considered most reliable for the design of standing seam panels.  It is the standard test method for structural performance of sheet metal roof and siding systems by uniform static air pressure differences.

The most common wind testing standards include:

  • Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 580
  • Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 1897
  • Factory Mutual (FM) Global Standard 4471
  • American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) E 1592
UL 580 Wind Test
Uplift resistance testing with UL 580 test platform.

UL 580

The UL 580 rating determines the uplift resistance of roof assemblies. The test evaluates the roof panel, panel clips, fasteners and the substrate.

Test Method

  • A 10-foot by 10-foot sample of roofing material is installed onto a test platform. The edges are then sealed with closely spaced fasteners and two purlins in the interior.
  • Next, the sample is subjected to a static uplift pressure for a 5-minute period and an oscillating pressure in 10 second intervals over a 60-minute period.

Considerations

  • UL 580 is a pass/fail test and does not specifically determine wind resistance of the panel assembly.
  • It only tests over a specific substrate at a certain clip/fastener spacing.
  • The test standard will not indicate how strong the panel assembly is under load.
  • Most importantly, the test does not simulate real conditions.

UL 1897

The UL 1897 wind test is a continuation of UL 580, and is the standard for uplift tests for roof covering systems. The purpose of this test is to gain uplift resistance data for the panel assembly, and evaluate the attachment of the roof covering systems to the roof decks.

Test Method

  • Utilizing a test chamber, this test is conducted by either pulling a vacuum above the assembly or by pressurizing an air bag placed loosely between the deck and the roof covering.
  • The test is run to failure, and the results are reported as the highest uplift pressure achieved prior to failure (in psf).

Considerations

  • UL 1897 does not consider the strength of the roof deck.
  • The method does not necessarily simulate the actual dynamic uplift pressures encountered by roofing systems.

FM Global Standard 4471

FM 4471, Approval Standard for Class 1 Panel Roofs, states the requirements for meeting the criteria for fire, wind, foot traffic and hail damage resistance.

The test sets performance requirements for panel roofs, which includes all components necessary for installation of the panel roof assembly as a whole. This includes the potential for fire spread on the underside and exterior of the roof panel. It also measures ability to resist simulated wind uplift resistance while maintaining adequate strength and durability.

Test Method

  • FM 4471 utilizes a 12-foot by 24-foot section, including the connecting fasteners and clips used in the field. The panels are subjected to increased wind pressures until the assembly fails.
  • The ratings are stated as 1-60, 1-90, 1-120, and so on, referring to wind pressure in pounds per square foot (psf).
  • This rating is used to apply a classification to roof panels. Class 1 roof panels are rated at 1-90. A safety factor of 2 means the maximum allowable design load is 45 psf.

Considerations

  • FM Global is a non-profit scientific research and testing organization that deals with commercial and industrial property insurance.
  • For roofing projects where FM insurance is required, project designers should work closely with the roofing manufacturer to ensure the roofing system complies with FM requirements.

ASTM E 1592

This test method provides a standard for structural performance under uniform static air pressure differences, and is run to failure to find the ultimate uplift load capacity. This test measures both panels and anchors. ASTM E 1592 is not a pass/fail test; it merely shows how a roof performs under uniform static load.

Test Method

  • A 5-panel-wide sample (10 feet) by 25-foot length is subjected to pressure from underneath to imitate wind load. The sample has intermediate purlin support at varied intervals and covers several spans.
  • The pressure is applied to identify slowly developing failures such as seam separations, and to determine the ultimate failure load of the standing seam roof system.
ASTM 1592 Wind Uplift Testing
MBCI research and development team performs ASTM 1592 wind uplift tests. The wind pressure forces the panels to deflect, pushing the center of the panel above the seams.

Testing for Reliable Design

ASTM E 1592 was developed to account for the many complexities of evaluating uplift properties of metal roofing. The test method “provides a standard procedure to evaluate or confirm structural performance under uniform static air pressure difference. This procedure is intended to represent the effects of uniform loads on exterior building surface elements.” (https://www.astm.org/Standards/E1592.htm)

In conclusion, while all of the standardized test protocols mentioned above were established to determine uplift capacities of roof assemblies, only the ASTM E 1592 uplift test is considered reliable enough for the design of standing seam roof panels. Among its key differentiators, the test takes into consideration the roof’s flexibility, changes in shape occurring under air pressure, and it measures both metal panels and their anchors.

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