Sugar House Roof DIY

Bringing the Sugar House Conversion to Completion

There is one big project left for Primal Woods Sugarers, and a myriad of smaller details, in the completion of the Primal Woods Sugar House conversion; that being the roof penetrations required to allow for exit of steam from the Leader Evaporator Revolution syrup and flue pans, and smoke from the Inferno arch. The “arch” is basically the wood-fired furnace that heats the flue and syrup pans to make our Primal Woods Pure Michigan Maple Syrup.  Let it be said, I’m no carpenter, and I’m no roofer.  But again I think I am going to be pressed into service, this time as a roofer.  Read on to see what this project involves.

I thought about naming this post, “A Day in the Life…” or words to that effect, because I am learning a lot for the first time, and therefore I engage in this sort of learning exercise frequently.  And as I think about whether or not to do it myself, I am thinking also about how often I might in the future utilize a particular skill that will be developed in the doing.  In this case, not only is time in short supply, in terms of the calendar and the imminent maple syrup season, but I need to make three roof penetrations in the house for bathroom vents.  Construction skills in general are very valuable.  So, I decided it was worth my while to take on this project.  Still, I’ll take some help if it shows up!

Mapping the Sugar House Roof Penetrations

The first step in this process is to locate the roof penetrations on the underside of the roof deck.  This work is done from inside the Sugar House, and is done by dropping a plumb bob from the roof deck to the center of each of the three stack centers.

Leader Evaporator stack locations

Stack locations (L-R), syrup pan steam, flue (evaporation) pan steam, arch (furnace) smoke.  Ignore the bloke to the right, just somebody who happened by.

This work has been done, an extra set of hands was useful.  Okay, that’s it for the easy stuff.

Making the Sugar House Roof Penetrations and Installing the Roof Jacks

Now for the “heavy lifting.”  At least for me, where as mentioned I am taking this on for the first time, I try to do at least a modicum of research.  These days research includes some Googling, and a quite often a trip to YouTube University.  Below is the documentation I created as a result of that research.  But first, what the heck is a “Roof Jack?”

Leader Evaporator stainless steel "Roof Jack"

Leader Evaporator stainless steel “Roof Jack”

The Roof Jack is basically flashing, that’s the flat piece, with a 3 foot section of stack attached.  The flashing is 30 inches on each side, so it’s quite a bit bigger than most plumbing or furnace vents in the average house.  I’ve propped it up on one end so that the stack is more or less vertical, which is how it will sit on the roof.  This Roof Jack was custom made for a 4 12 pitch roof.  That pitch means that the roof rises 4 inches for every 12 inches of horizontal run.  The steam and exhaust stacks from the evaporator and arch will fit inside their respective Roof Jacks, forming a double-wall.  So, I need to install three of these on the roof.  Now, on to the results of the “basic research.” Or as Wernher Von Braun famously said, “Basic research is what I am doing when I don’t know what I am doing.”  That’s it baby!  Keep in mind please, that these are what I call “notes to self.” Anybody with more knowledge on the subject than I have, which is pretty much everybody, is welcome to chime in.

Steps in Making the Sugar House Roof Penetrations

  1. Locate roof penetration centers on roof deck (from inside the Sugar House) DONE
  2. Drive screw up through roof deck to mark hole center(s) on the roof
  3. Scribe hole outline on roof
  4. Remove circular patch of shingle along hole outline using carpet knife
  5. Cut hole through roof deck with drill and Sawzall

Steps in Installing the Sugar House Roof Jacks

  1. Remove course(s) of shingles above hole as necessary to allow placement of Roof Jack (flashing is 30″ square)
  2. Place and secure Roof Jack flashing (2 or 3 nails or screws at the top edge) on roof underlayment (tar paper) above hole, and on top of existing shingles below hole). May need to trim flashing for smoke stack Roof Jack flashing near Hip Rafter. Sharp sheet metal shears (tin snips) might do the trick.
  3. Replace old shingles, or install new if necessary. Use roofing cement (aka roofing tar) between Roof Jack flashing and layer(s) of shingles on top of the flashing, so that water does not flow sideways on top of flashing and underneath shingles.
  4. Cover any exposed nails with roofing tar (aka roofing cement)
  5. Caulk (see video 4, Dap Clear caulk recommended) new nails in old shingles above new shingles as necessary

Note: “up” or “above” would be in the direction of increasing vertical height of the roof trusses
Note: the “sides” would be in a direction perpendicular to the roof trusses
Note: second video below, in the comments section, a commenter says the underlayment (tar paper) should go over the Roof Jack, not under (I’m not seeing that in any of the videos)
Note: In video 3, installer did not use roof tar between vent and tar paper, only between vent and shingles

Sugar House Roof Penetration YouTube Sources (all links open in new tab, I’m grateful for these YouTube Creators)

  1. Water Tight Installation of a Roof B-Vent Flashing & Cap
  2. Lifetime Tool ultimate pipe flashing fitting installation
  3. How To Install a Vent in Shingles (the best overall video)
  4. How to install a pipe boot on your roof (good treatment of how-to with existing shingles)

I’m also grateful to Rick and Mary at Sugar Bush Supplies for the much appreciated hand-holding.

Tools and Supplies:

  • Milwaukee 18V portable drill with 1″ paddle bit (drill hole for starting Sawzall cut)
  • Milwaukee Sawzall
  • Hammer
  • Tin snips (or jig saw with hacksaw blade)
  • Caulking gun
  • Framing square
  • Carpet knife/box knife
  • 3/4″ board as working surface
  • Shingles
  • Roofing nails
  • Roofing cement (in tube for caulking gun)

I plan to make another post of the work, including pictures, and possibly video, so stay tuned by subscribing!

All the best, and kind regards,


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4 replies
  1. david wildermuth
    david wildermuth says:

    We are in prayer!

    Dave and Charlotte

    • John Newell
      John Newell says:

      Thank you Dave and Charlotte! Prayer is both necessary and sufficient to the task. Thanks again, and God bless you both.

  2. George Ewbank
    George Ewbank says:

    John, hope you have a good flat bar for removing the shingles above the where you are installing the roof jacks. I usually like to start removing the shingles at the highest point and working my way down. Then install the jacks working from the lowest point up.
    If the lower stack flashing is near the valley you may want to use ice and water shield in addition to roofing felt to minimize ice creeping in.
    Sorry it didn’t work out in my schedule to be there but feel free to call or text if you have any questions.

    • John Newell
      John Newell says:

      I was just about to call you Sam, thanks for the comment. Is there a better time today for you to take a call?

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