copper roof - seams caulked not soldered???

alice462March 12, 2009

We have just installed a small copper roof on an entry porch. While installing gutters yesterday, one of the workman said -- "did you know that they used caulk on your roof and didn't solder the seams?". Well, no, I didn't know that and just assumed copper roof seams would be soldered. Am I off base? Is it acceptable practice to caulk, rather than solder these seams?

Thanks in advance for any help here......

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I installed several standing seam roofs, and attended classes in terne, tin, and copper, so I wouldn't call myself an expert, but IMHO, it should be either double-folded (minimum) to create a standing seam, or folded and soldered. Caulking on a roof is unacceptable to me. Again, though, I'm not an expert and used mostly snap-lock standing seam. Others?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 8:26AM
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Is it a flat soldered copper system or a folded and crimped standing seam system? I don't understand how any form of sealant could be used on a copper roofing system.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 8:26AM
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This is a standing seam roof -- being completely clueless and not knowing the difference between much more than flat panel and standing seam I am posting some pictures of the roof. Every place those "standing seams" meet is caulked, not soldered -- acceptable practice? From the little bit of research that I have had time to do this morning, I am not sure that this roof was installed properly at all.

Thanks for your help!

Here is a link that might be useful: Copper roof

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 9:05AM
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It looks like a single fold standing seam and probably not professionally done.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 9:57AM
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mightyanvil - thanks for your feedback! Can you elaborate on "probably not professionally done" for me? Again, as an individual w/no roofing knowledge and minimal building knowledge I don't know what I should be looking for.

What should a single fold standing seam look like if well done? What questions should I be asking to determine if the job has any merit? What should have been done?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 11:25AM
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You might get a consultation from another party to take a look up close onsite. Caulking should never be necessary on any standing seam roof in fact, it could damage your copper if the wrong compound is used by having a reaction. It would more than likely only be cosmetic problems, but again, I've never heard of caulking being used standing seam or most any metal roofing applications with the exception of venting protrusions where mastics are used.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 11:57AM
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Among the many, many things that the builder of our house did wrong was our copper roofing. And one of the things he did was use caulk on the ends of the standing seams. We had to recaulk often in the first 3 years we lived here - remember that copper is a metal and when the sun hits it, it expands a lot - it was always busting the caulked seams. Then the rest of the house went to heck and we ended up having the entire exterior redone.

That said, our roofing was quite a bit different - we originally had the standing seams coming all the way up to the wall of the house and caulked at the top where it met the vertial flashing (like yours does) - the roofer who redid everything was old-school Italian and did everything with hand tools the old fashioned way. He said the proper way to do it is to fold the seams down at the top and run them under flashing that is parallel with the roofline. Because of the small surface area of your roof and the number of angles you have meeting together, I'm not sure if that would work for you or how it would look.

I will say that there's an awful lot of incompetant people in the copper roofing industry - our original guys screwed it up royally and then the first roofer we hired to fix it (who supposedly specialized in ONLY copper roofing) screwed it up again (he was using pop rivets and caulk!)

I'm attaching a link to my whole ordeal - if you flip through the album, you'll see tons of pictures of the both our old bad copper work and the new ones we have - maybe it can give you some idea of how it should be done.

Here is a link that might be useful: Our house saga

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 12:44PM
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lkplatow - Thank you for such a dthorough documentation of your sage -- what an ordeal that has been for you! But, your conscisous decision to share has certainly been of benefit to me! I have talked to my GC and he, of course, is "waiting for a call back from the roofer". We'll see, but what I do know is that the roof as it is now installed is not going to cut it......Thank you again -- I now know how a good standing seam copper roof should look! And when I looked closely at the other copper roofing we have on our house can see that it was originally well done now that I have looked more closely at the seams and way they are "folded" and how they meet. Want our new part to match that! We'll see what answer I get back.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 7:53PM
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