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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Installation Instructions for the Do-It-Yerselfer

( NOTE: for step by step instructions with pictures click here. )
Installation of the Gutter Sections

WARNING: Copper is a sharp metal and will bite you if you let it. Firmly and securely, hold all pieces when working with them. Do not slide your hands or fingers along any straight or finished edges. This is partly the reason why we wore gloves in our demonstration. Wearing gloves will also help minimize the fingerprint marks on the gutter system. The best gloves to use especially for grip are ones with the palm and fingers coated with a rubber or latex material.

Tools Required:

Tape Measure
Metal Scribe
Cutting Tools (this could consist of combination of many things here are a few)
Green and/or Red Tin Snips also Know as Left and Right Handed Tin Snips Respectively
Hack Saw with new blade preferably
Miter Box is handy for straighter cuts
Compound Miter Saw with either
Solid Carbide Metal Cutting Blade (get it at two words W_l M_r_) this blade leaves burrs, so you will need a utility knife with a curved or “Hook Blade” as it’s known to help scrape off the burrs
Slate and Copper’s Anything Cutting Blade (gives you that factory cut every time, effortlessly).
Cord or Cordless Drill (3/8” size drill is perfect)
1/8” Drill Bit for Drill
Pop Rivet Gun
1/8” Diameter Copper Rivets
*Slate and Copper offers two sizes of Copper Rivets, 1/8”diameter by 1/8” tall, or 1/8” diameter by 1/4” tall. If you do not use Slate and Copper’s Copper Rivets with Solid Brass Pins (Mandrels), then make sure the copper rivets you do use have a solid copper, bronze, or brass pins, and not a copper, bronze, or brass coated steel pins. If you do use copper rivets with the steel coated pins, then the pins will eventually rust out and can potentially cause leaks depending on where the rivets are used.

C Clamps (optional but very useful)
Soldering Equipment and Flux (do not use the pre-tinning flux)
Soldering Iron of some sort (many styles to choose from)
Propane (blue tank) with an Adjustable Flame Torch Head Nozzle

First step; we must determine the length of the run, and cut the gutter to length. For runs greater than a 10' or 18' length of gutter we need to cut and join two or more pieces of gutter together. When cutting gutter to make a longer run we also need to determine what the overlap of the gutter will be, and take this into consideration before we cut the gutter sections to length. The minimum overlap of gutter into gutter should be 3/4”, max overlap is what ever you want it to be. We suggest that 1 1/2” overlap is perfect. When overlapping gutters to make longer runs keep in mind the way the water will flow, and/or if the gutter is being pitched to one end or the other. Why? Because to help with water drainage we want to overlap the higher gutter into the lower gutter, or in the direction of the flow of water toward the outlet.

Example, if we have a 25' - 3 1/2" (303.5") straight run that slopes from left to right, the outlet being on the right end. We can use 3 - 10' gutter sections, but remember when using 10' gutter sections they are actually 118 3/16" long, and not 120" long. To make it easy on ourselves we can basically forget about the 3/16" dimension, or use that as a little bit more on the overlap. Each gutter section at 118" equals 354" total without any overlap, and we need 303.5" of that. We take 303.5" minus 118" = 185.5 minus 118" = 67.5" now we take 67.5" and add 3" = 70.5". Why are we adding 3" to the 67.5" dimension? Because we have two overlapping seams, and each seam we want to overlap 1 1/2" each = 3" of total overlap. The 70.5" is the dimension we need to cut one of our 10' gutter sections to. If we take 118" + 118" +70.5" we get 306.5" minus 3" for the total overlap gives us our 303.5" or 25' - 3 1/2" gutter section. We want to overlap the far left 118" gutter section inside of the other 118" gutter section, and the middle piece of gutter (the other 118" section) gets overlapped into the 70.5" gutter section on the end. You can use the short section anywhere you want, as the far left piece, as the middle piece, or as the far right piece. As long as you overlap the gutter sections into each other correctly it really doesn't matter where you use the short section. If you really wanted to you could cut each of the gutter sections equally so they were all the same. I dare you to do that math.
( the picture numbers below are out of date but the descriptions are good )
Second step; once we have our measurements, and we have cut the gutter sections to length we can install the gutter sections together to make our longer run. Picture PB194313 shows all the tools necessary to install our two copper gutter sections together. The picture below PB194313 is Vice Grip “C” Clamps another useful tool for gutter installation, and later we will learn how useful they really are. First we need to determine the overlap, and for this installation demonstration we are using 1 1/2” overlap. In pictures PB194314, PB194316, & PB194317 we are marking the gutter with a metal scribe. You want to make at least 3 marks on the gutter just like the previous mentioned pictures show. Why you ask? The one on the front bead is going to help us line up better when we overlap at the bead, and the other two are also strategically located as well. After making the marks we need to bend up the back overflow lip on the back of the gutter up slightly. Why? Because if we don’t when we do go to overlap the gutter sections into each other the one overflow lip on the unbent gutter will not slip up under the back overflow lip on the other piece of gutter. If you don’t have, want to buy, or rent hand breaks another method is to take a pair of tin snips and cut right on the mark we made on the back lip all the way to the top of the back lip. In pictures PB194319 & PB194320 we used a pair of 2” hand breaks right on the mark to bend the back lip up slightly. Notice in picture PB194320 we only needed to bend the back lip up this far, and picture PB194321 is the result of the bend. Now we take and line the gutter sections up like in picture PB194322. In picture PB194322 The gutter section on the left is going to be overlapped into the gutter section on the right. In picture PB194323 we rotate at the bead the gutter section on the left until we are able to slide the two front beads into each other. Once we are overlapped at the bead we want to line the gutter section on the left up to the mark we made on the top of the front of the bead of the gutter we are overlapping into. Once lined up at the bead we can rotate the gutter down inside of the other gutter section and lock the back lips together (see pictures PB194324 & PB194325). Make sure you are lined up on all our marks, and make any adjustments if necessary. Now we can rivet the gutter sections together to hold them into position for soldering. In picture PB194326 we are showing the area (in-between the fingers) where we want to install the rivet on the front bead of the gutter. By putting the rivet here we are concealing the rivet so it will never be seen. Pictures PB194327, PB194328, and PB194329 we are installing the rivet in the front bead. In Picture PB194330 we are showing the underside of the gutter with just the one rivet installed, and if you notice we have a gap on the underside seam. We want to get rid of this gap before we drill for the other rivet on the back of the gutter. We take a pair of “C” clamps and first clamp onto the front of the gutter like picture PB194331 shows. Notice in picture PB194332 how we got rid of the gap on the front of the gutter just by using the one clamp. Picture PB194333 shows by just using one clamp on the front now the back of the gutter is lower. This means our gutter has a tight fitting seam. In picture PB194334 we used another clamp on the back of the gutter. In pictures PB194335, PB194336, PB194337, & PB194338 we installed the rivet on the back of the gutter. If we really wanted too we can take our hand breaks and bend the back overflow lip so it looks a little nicer as picture PB194339 is showing. Picture PB194340 shows the underside seam of the gutter section we just riveted together. Now the only thing left to do is to solder the gutter section together to make it watertight, and also to make the seam stronger.

Third step; flux and solder the gutter section seams together. For our soldering installation demonstration we used a 3” overlap. No real reason why but just to do a 3” overlap, and we didn't use the "C" clamps. Picture PB144270 we are applying flux with a flux brush all the way around the inside of the gutter. We must apply flux to our seam, or the solder will not stick to the copper at all. If flux is not applied or gets dried out during soldering, then the solder will bead off like mercury. Simply apply or reapply some flux. Pictures PB144271 through PB144278 we are soldering the copper gutter seam. If you are using a hand held torch to solder, then you will not need as many tack solder points 4 to 5 would do. Since we used a soldering iron as you can see in picture PB144272 we made many tack solder points. This many tack points is going to make our soldering job easier. In picture PB144271 a helpful hand was used to compress the metal together to get rid of a gap in the seam just until the craftsman who is soldering could tack solder that area. In pictures PB144273 & PB144274 the craftsman is building up and filling in-between his tack points with solder. When soldering copper gutter seams you will typically used more solder. Why? Because we want to make sure our soldered seam never leaks. It will end up helping us in the long run because with expansion contraction over time this type of seam will outperform any sweated type seam for sure. If you take notice in pictures PB144274 & PB144277 the craftsman is melting the solder with the tip of his soldering iron, and pulling the solder from the low side to the high side. By doing this his is actually pulling or drawing the solder into the overlapped seam. This is why the solder path is wider than any of the other solder seams you may have seen and/or read about in other parts of our installation manual. Solder will always flow to the highest temperature, and with the tip of the soldering iron being hotter than the surrounding copper the solder is sucked into the seam by doing this motion. Notice in picture PB144278 the drag lines from the tip of the soldering iron, and also please note the clean, beautiful, and perfectly completed soldering job on the inside of the gutter. There should be no solder that bleed through on the underside of the gutter. That absence of solder is just what we are looking for. This means we did a good job. If you would to learn more about soldering and the types of tools required seee my expert installation guide.

Common questions asked about copper and copper gutter:

Do I solder on the inside or the outside of the copper gutter, or both? Soldering is generally always done on the inside of the copper gutter. There would be no real advantage to do the soldering on the outside, or even both sides. If you did decide to solder on both sides, then you would have a pretty darn strong seam. If you really wanted a stronger seam, then you could simply put 4 or 5 rivets in the seam before soldering, and that would make it stronger too, heck there’s already 2 in it now. Putting 5, 6, or even 7 rivets in the overlapped gutter seams would be recommended on runs greater than 50’ in length, and especially if you are using 10’ gutter sections.

Will leaving the flux on the copper gutter system harm or discolor the copper? No and Yes, no to the first part, and yes to the second. Leaving most common fluxes on the gutter will actually turn green usually within a week or two. As long as you don't smear flux all over the outside of the gutter, or anywhere visible on the system you will be fine. If flux turning green is a concern, then simply do as we did after we were done soldering and use a clean rag and wipe it off. You can get rid of any chance of the flux turning green by washing and rinsing the area where flux was applied with mildly soapy water.

How much slope or pitch do I need when hanging the gutter? Any gutter can be hung level, and it will drain water. Water can only fill up so far in a gutter before it finds an outlet, and from there gravity and physics takes over pulling the water toward the outlet or hole in the bottom of the gutter anyway. For better drainage a gutter can be pitched 1/8" per every 10' of gutter length. Gutter does not need to be pitched any more than this, but certainly can be if so desired.

How long does a copper gutter system last? A 16 ounce copper gutter system will generally last about 75 years or so. This time can be shortened depending on environment and even roofing material. If the roofing material is asphalt shingles, then a 16 ounce gutter system may only last about 45 - 55 years or so. Why? Because the grains coming off of the shingles act as sandpaper over time wearing down the copper. How long will 20 ounce copper gutter last? A 20 ounce gutter system will service about a century or longer, and this life expectancy can be shortened depending on the roofing material used and the environment as well.

Why does copper turn colors? Copper will always turn different shades and colors because copper is exposed to the oxygen in the atmosphere. A.B Raingutters does sell products which protect the copper from turning brown. These products all last for about 10 to 12 years or so. Then the product needs to be re-applied, or you can let the copper go its natural course. One such product is called Incralac. Typically, in a normal environment, copper will turn from a shiny new penny look to fazes of turning brown, then eventually dark brown within a couple of months to a year or so. Then copper will turn to a streaking green, then to a darker greenish color. This may not happen for 30 to 50 years give or take a decade or two. Then copper will turn to a blue-green color 50 to 100 years down the road. If you have ever see copper that is green or blue-green it is more than likely old copper. When copper gets to the end of its life it will usually be in its blue-green stage, and there will be streaks of copper or orange color coming back through the blue-green patina. Patina products are available as well to turn the copper gutter system to a green/blue-green color.


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