We receive many requests from around the country to fix and repair previously built conservatories on homes. For the most part, these are vinyl (uPVC) conservatories that have been built with in the last fifteen years. Most have polycarbonate roofs, and in most cases, the polycarbonate has failed.
If it were just a matter of replacing the polycarbonate, this would be simple, but indeed the whole issue is quite complicated.
How to glaze a vinyl roof
The roof frame is assembled on top of the erected windows. This is a rafter bar that is attached on the bottom to the eave and on the top to the ridge. The polycarbonate panel is then set on the rafter, ridge and eave. Capping is friction fit over the polycarbonate. This capping is plastic, and co-extruded with rubber to create a seal against the polycarbonate. The capping has a center prong that friction fits down between a kerf in the rafter, and will not pull out again unless with extreme force. The ridge is the final cap and done in the same manner.
This is where the problem arises. The cap generally shatters when removed, and the older the cap is, the more UV deterioration has occurred making it even more brittle. Unless fresh new glazing caps are available to replace them, the roof will be unable to seal with the new polycarbonate.
Almost all companies that have built or manufactured these vinyl conservatories are out of business. They made a huge impact on the early market because of price, but were unable to maintain a place in the market when their structures began to deteriorate. In the case where the company may still be functioning, the extrusion has been replaced and updated (primarily because of the Kioto Agreement of 2008). Old extrusions are not available. Thus, replacement parts for these structures are not available. If we were to take the responsibility for the roof, at the point where materials are unavailable to repair the roof, we take on liability.
So, the answer is simply replace the roof.
Not so simple.
The windows below are glazed on sight (meaning the glass is installed after the room is constructed). In order for us to remove the glass on the vertical wall so we can release and replace the roof, we have to remove the glazing beads from the windows themselves.
Same story as above: The beads are plastic, they degrade and become brittle in the UV and they break upon removal or replacement. It is for this reason, the only response we have to repairing a conservatory roof made of vinyl (uPVC) is to replace the entire room. Our replacement is with aluminum, thermally broken and powder-coated. We have aluminum rooms that we have built 25 years ago, and yes, we have replaced polycarbonate. There is no problem doing so.
Aluminum is an upgrade to Vinyl, so we are unable to provide apples to apples estimate for the replacement value of the vinyl room. One may endeavor to find a company to provide and install a vinyl conservatory, but that is a daunting task. Glass roof is an upgrade to polycarbonate, but the reason for the initial insurance claim is the polycarbonate. It has a 10 year+/- life span, whereas glass is lifetime and permanent. However, glass is also an upgrade. As a further upgrade, customers may wish to have us build their rooms from Mahogany, wood, and these rooms are serviceable forever, as wood can easily be accessed and milled to fit. We are ready and available to answer any questions that home homeowners or insurance adjusters may have for us. Please don’t hesitate to call us to discuss them.