Category Archives: Working With…

Working With Concrete

Whether it is new construction of retrofit; there is always a way to install window washing, suspended maintenance, and fall protection equipment.  While equipment can be installed on structural steel or even wood structure, the easiest structure to work with is reinforced concrete.  It is the most cost effective and does not typically require access to the underside or localized reinforcing.  It also has a number of other benefits such as improved insulation and sound barrier qualities.

The best part in the new construction phase is that we do not have to send anyone to the site for installation (which obviously saves everyone money, time, and other resources).  We simply send the equipment (usually a “roof anchor”) to the site (with our shop drawings) and the roof anchors are cast into the concrete.  There are three types of “cast in” anchors:

  • single stud,
  • four stud, and
  • fully embedded.

Single Stud Roof Anchor

A single stud roof anchor is the most physically difficult to place (for casting in) as there is only have one bolt to balance the anchor.

single stud

Four Stud Roof Anchor

A four stud roof anchor is much easier to place when casting in.  As you can imagine, there are more studs (or bolts) from which to stand the anchor on.  These extra studs are required by engineering (specifically for taller anchors).

four stud

Fully Embedded Roof Anchor

A fully embedded roof anchor is actually the easiest to cast in because of its flat bottom.  Also, it is the most cost effective because it is all pier (instead of having stud(s) on the bottom).

fully embedded

What If Pours Are Missed?

In the unfortunate event that a pour is missed by the roof anchor manufacturer and anchors have to be retrofitted, it is not the end of the world!  

Adhesive Roof Anchor

An adhesive roof anchor is glued into place with an epoxy.  This type of anchor does require load testing once every five years though (which is an extra service).


Bolt Through Roof Anchor

A bolt through roof anchor is another solution for a roof anchor that has to be retrofitted.  This type of anchor does require access to the underside of the concrete though and it leaves components (base plate, bolt, nut) exposed.

bolt through


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Working With A Standing Seam Roof

We are often asked to provide our equipment on buildings with a standing seam roof.  In the past this request would make even our most knowledgeable designers cringe but alas we have engineered a solution.

What is a Standing Seam Roof?

A standing seam roof consists of a series of sheet metal panels that are connected “above” the panels (creating a “standing seam”) in a manner that does not penetrate them.

These are some examples of connections:

Various Types

Pro-Bel is an official distributor of S-5!® clamps (as seen in the picture below) which connect the panels by tightening the seams together.  You can learn more about this product from their website ( and by following them on Twitter @S5_TheRightWay.

S-5!® Clamps

Structural Requirements

The big obstacle with our equipment being on a standing seam roof is that the panels will not support the applied load/force that our equipment is engineered to accept.

CAN/CSA-Z271, Section 6.3.2  – “Strength Requirement” asks that all “anchoring systems shall be designed to resist a force” of five thousand (5,000) pounds.  This load/force is indirectly applied to the structure of the roof as well which is where the problem arises.

The Ridge Cap Flashing

Usually with a sloped roof there is a gap at the peak of it between the panels.  This is usually covered by a ridge cap flashing which actually does penetrate the flashing and panel (in a strategic way).  As seen in the picture below, Z bar connection penetrates the flashing and connects it to the panel.  As long as the penetration is “above” and “away” from the envelope (the area inside the flashing) there is no concern for water damage.  If the Z bar is installed incorrectly (as shown on the right side of the picture below) then water could potentially enter the envelope and travel toward the unprotected roof material and structure.

Ridge cap flashing

The flashing will run along the peak of a sloped roof with a large amount of connections (nails or screws) running along each side of it like so:

Ridge cap flashing 1

ridge cap flashing 2

Our Solution

Our Engineers agreed that the connections make the flashing the strongest component of a standing seam roof and thus the ideal location to install a piece of our equipment to.

What we did was design a large galvanized rectangular plate with ninety degree angle pieces welded to it (the plate).  Our standard stainless steel U-bar is centred on the plate and the angles would be screwed into the flashing (standing seam where the Z bar would be) instead of penetrating the envelope or panel.

Anchor Details

We hope to build upon this application as this solution will revolutionize fall protection systems on a standing seam roof.


Working With Hollow Core Precast

Every type of roof structure presents its own unique challenges in new construction for companies who supply and install permanent equipment on them.  With structural steel its reinforcing, with concrete it can be missing a pour.  Hollow core precast can be looked at as one of the most challenging roof construction types for the installation of window washing, suspended maintenance and fall protection systems.

The main issue with precast lies with the fact that there usually is no drop ceiling underneath.  It is quite often stucco and even plaster which means bolting through the structure would require leaving a backplate exposed to view at the underside of the precast.  Not only is this not aesthetically pleasing, it also presents a potential danger to the workers who use the roof anchors as the base securement of the anchors is exposed and could potentially be tampered with.  This provides us with two options: cracking open the cores and grouting the anchor in or having the precast manufacturer embed plates.

Grouting A Roof Anchor Into Hollow Core Precast

This option requires two cores to be broken open and embed plates at bottom of the bolts to be cast in with rebar and grouting.  This prevents from having to bolt through the structure but is very labour intensive and thus costly.  Ideally in new construction the roof anchor company would supply only this anchor and leave it up to the general contractor to break open the cores and grout the anchor in.  Grouting in hollow core is quite common.

Having The Precast Manufacturer Embed A Plate

This option although the most cost effective when you cannot bolt through, is unfortunately very impractical and rarely used.  An embed plate is sent to the precast manufacturer along with an engineered stamped layout showing the location of the roof anchors on the roof plan.  The precast manufacturer then embeds this plate in to the hollow core structure at the appropriate locations.  The roof anchor manufacturer goes to the site afterwards and welds the pier and U-bar in place.  The problem with this approach is that the precast manufacturer will usually not want to take responsibility for casting the embeds in.

At the end of the day bolting through is the best way to go but when you cannot here are a few options for you to consider.