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EZ-Up, EZ-Down - Don't Try at Home

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Earlier this year in my blog entry: EZ-Up Version 2, I talked about how I had replaced my 6 year old Ez-Up shelter with a new model this past spring. Back then I noted they had changed the roof support system, I thought it might be done for value engineering purposes (a nice name for making the product less costly that sounds better than cheapening). I was wondering if the roof would hold up as long as the last one. It didn’t. I got 5 years out of the first shelter and I had to take down the second shelter after 3 months, before it came down itself and took my grills with it.
I have written a little more about this in a 2014 blog entry called: FAIL & PARTIAL SUCCESS

Before I explain what happened let me just take responsibility for the fact I was using the shelter in a way never intended by the manufacturer. I’d gotten away with keeping the first shelter up 24/7 with some minor problems. This time around I wasn’t so lucky. While I am sure the shelter is still adequate for it’s intended use, it is no longer up to the extra wear & tear it gets when it is kept erected for months at a time. But like I said: the manufacturer always said it was never designed for that. So if you’ve read the other blog entry and were thinking of following me down the path of using an EZ-Up full time as a grill shelter, DON’T! I’ve amended the other blog entry with a reference to this blog entry, so someone reading that will know the experiment didn’t work. Fortunately no grills were harmed in the running of this experiment.
Back in May when I wrote about the new roof design I question whether it would hold up as well. They eliminated the four ridge support trussed and had replaced them with a single support system consisting of a single pole running up to the peak of the roof. This change allowed them to use shorter horizontal trusses to support this pole and eliminated longer, more complicated sloped trusses. It looked like value engineering to me, but my brother felt it might actually work better. He pointed out the steeper pitch of the roof and felt it would help the roof drain better overall. This was one of those cases where I would have loved to have been wrong-but I wasn't.

The old shelter, which had trusses at the for corners, didn't exhibit any sagging of the roof material at the four corners since there was a truss there. After several years the roof material began to sag at the bottom edge of the sloped roof midway between the two corners. This was logical, this was the section of the roof furthest from the sloping roof rafters at the corner. The solution was simple: I was able to pull the base of the roof down at that point and stretch it so there was no longer a low spot to collect water. I would use a couple pieces of 3” wide white fiber-reinforced tape to hold the stretched roof in place by securing it to the horizontal fascia trusses. This solution worked year after year and what did in my first shelter was a tear put in it when I was putting it away.


The new design eliminated the sloping corner trusses for a single pole supporting the peak of the roof. The lack of corner supports proved to be my undoing.

The new shelter was supported at the peak of the roof and by the horizontal fascia trusses at the bottom of the roof. There were no longer any sloping ridge trusses at the corner. If you think about it, the problems with the roof of the first truss happened at the point farthest away from any support: The middle of the roof at the base, midway between the ridge trusses. Starting in late July and continuing into August, we had a series of severe thunderstorms on a regular basis. Several of them gave us rainfall of 2-3 inches an hour and flooding problems in many towns. The EZ-Up seemed to be doing fine at first, but one day when I looked out the window I could see that water from the severe storm du jour had collected at the base of the roof on either side of the corner seem at the ridge. So much water had collected the roof was sagging down so I could see the bottom of this sag below the bottom of the vertical fascia. This meant the roof had sagged 11” or so, well below the 9” fascia. I ran out to try to push up the roof and drain the water and was having trouble lifting it. I did get it to drain, but managed to get soaked in the process. Later in the day I revisited the problem area to see what could be done. The short answer was no. Unlike the old EZ-Up there was no ridge rafter at the corner and so this roof was sagging hear because there was a longer section of unsupported material here than there was in the middle of each roof. It was consistent-each shelter’s roof was ponding where there was the longest piece of unsupported roof. The problem was there was no way to stretch the roof down more at the corners and tape it like I did with the middle of the old roof. The roof had pockets in the corners that seated the roof on the corner posts. These pockets prevented me from pulling the roof down at all. Plus the roof material was stretching each time this happened so there was little hope for improvement.

Meanwhile the ponding started happening at a second, then a third corner and finally all four corners. This all happened in less than a week. I was hoping to make it to the weekend where I could have someone help me take it down. On Wednesday night of this week I headed to bed around 11:30 PM. A few minutes later we started getting bad lightning, thunder and heavy downpours. Since I couldn’t sleep, I got up and looked out my Kitchen window and could see the worst ponding yet and at all four corners. I went outside and struggled to push the roof back up and get the water off. The rains calmed down, but now even with a relatively light rain I was faced with the task of going out every 30 minutes to drain the water that had collected on the roof. At his point I was afraid the EZ-Up would collapse or the roof would rip and the weight of all that water would take out my grills. I was particularly worried about the new Big Green Egg which is ceramic. If it even got knocked over that could crack the ceramic shell and that would not be covered by warranty. So at 2:30 and my 6th trip out to drain the roof, I threw in the towel and attempted to take the shelter down myself. Because it was new and wasn’t stiff at the joints I was able to move it and take it down myself. It is time consuming because you must go from corner to corner and collapse it a little at a time. But at some point when you are wet, you can’t get any wetter so I just kept at it.

So although the story of my second EZ-Up shelter ended badly, my grills are still all in one piece. In an ironic twist, the grill cover for my BGE, which had been backordered, arrived at the dealer the next day. So if you are thinking of using an EZ-Up shelter as a grill shelter the manufacturer and now I don’t recommend it. For a special event where it goes up one day and comes down the next sure. But don’t plan on being able to leave it up for an extended period of time.

  EZ-Up Version 2 The 2012 Blog Entry from when I first put up this shelter in May. It has now been amended to say “Don’t try this at home”.


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