Over the past decade, the Mitchell Activities Center roof has been a nagging headache for the city of Mitchell and its users.
Problems began shortly after a major addition to the Activities Center was completed in 2013, which entailed the construction of a second ice rink that’s now the south side of the city-owned facility. Sports Complex Supervisor Jeremy Nielsen said the hockey and ice skating facility experienced leaks just months after the roughly 31,000-square-foot addition was complete. That led to water dripping onto the bleachers and locker rooms inside the building, and multiple attempts to repair the roof since it began leaking haven't fully resolved the issues.
“It’s been a problem ever since the addition was built, and I’m not sure why it was constructed that way,” Nielsen said. “Any time snow builds up on the roof and we get a 35 to 40 degree day in the winter, it automatically starts leaking and dripping inside as snow melts.”
In its most recent attempt to correct the problems, the Mitchell City Council tabbed Mueller Lumber to repair the roof at a cost of $118,785. While the local contractors finished the repair project in the fall, several more issues were discovered in the process, resulting in additional work and costs. The facility is shared between the Mitchell Skating and Hockey Association organizations, including the Mitchell Marlins boys and girls hockey teams.
“There was still some leaking due to the condensation and difference in temperatures, so we asked Mueller Lumber to do some additional penetrations and see where we can seal those up,” said Public Works Director Kyle Croce during a recent City Council meeting in early January. “However, we think we found a lot of what the problems are.”
The additional issues raised the repair project cost to $149,447, roughly $30,000 more than what was initially expected. However, the Parks and Recreation Department budgeted $173,000 for the project, which helped the city avoid tapping into emergency contingency funds.
For Councilman Jeff Smith, the roof’s ongoing issues have left him “perplexed” considering the addition that's caused the leaking was completed fewer than 10 years ago.
“We all know there has been water and ice leaking issues when the snow melts, especially during warm winters. I’m glad we’re getting it fixed, but I’m perplexed this has been happening since it is not that old of a building, so do you think there was a flaw with the way it was designed?” Smith asked during a recent City Council meeting.
According to City Engineer Joe Schroeder, the portion of the roof where the south addition connects to the main ice rink was identified as a major source of the problem. He said it’s where ice and snow build up, which then leaks inside the facility with warmer temperatures.
While the portion of the roof experiencing ice build up was recently corrected as part of the repair work, Croce said there was still condensation forming on the ceiling of the Activities Center due to a lack of a “vapor barrier.”
“The roof is doing well now. We fixed the problem with the ice and snow on the roof, but we found other issues. We do still have some air flow from the old arena into the new arena,” Croce said, noting the airflow contributes to condensation forming. “We’re looking to stop that airflow.”
The city worked with a Sioux Falls architect this past summer to further investigate the roof issues prior to beginning repair work. Robin Miller, of MSH Architects in Sioux Falls, pointed to the portion of the roof where the addition connects to the north side rink as the area that’s causing the leakage and ice buildup. Miller said the roof of the addition was constructed in a way that allowed snow and ice to collect and build up.
After reviewing previous consultant reports and the contractor's original construction designs, Miller said the south side addition was “not a great choice” of building type. In addition, Miller said there was inadequate caulking and sealant applied to sections of the roof.
Puetz Build + Design, formerly known as Puetz Corporation, was the construction company that designed and oversaw the $2.8 million addition to the Activities Center. The council unanimously approved Puetz to take on the job in 2013.
“When ice and snow builds up, it can slide off the steeper roof onto the addition, and it starts to melt and leak through. Snow coming off the old roof settles on the much lower sloped new roof and can create a dam trapping more snow and water against the juncture between the two roofs,” Miller said during a recent City Council meeting. “As the building was put together, it wasn’t designed to ever hold water in that area where snow and ice build up. And there is not enough sealant.”
According to Miler, the roof of the south side addition is roughly 18 inches shorter than the main rink's roof. He said the leaking is occurring from the roof due to a lack of caulking that connects the two rinks.
Mueller Lumber’s repair work consisted of removing and reconstructing the existing flashings where the Activities Center building structures connect, adding an extended sloped roof over the reconstructed areas, along with repairing closures on the south eave of the lower roof structure and adding seal penetrations and joints to the interior of the building.
It’s been a little over two months since the repair project was completed, and Nielsen said there has yet to be any leaks inside the facility. However, he said the roof will likely be put to its test in early spring when ice and snow begins to melt.
Although the Activities Center has managed host hockey games and figure skating tournaments in the past decade despite the leaking roof, Nielsen said fixing the problem will help attract more games and tournaments in the future.
“We haven't seen any leaks yet. But we haven't got much snow since it was finished, so we will really be able to see whether there are any leaks in the spring when warmer weather brings rain and melts ice on the roof," Nielsen said. "We have a nice facility here, and we need to keep it that way."