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Anonymous
Posted on Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 09:13 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi all,
I am looking for advice and I'm not sure if I am posting this in the correct forum but here it goes.

My wife and I purchased a 106 year old house which has a slate Mansard roof. When we bought it, it needed some repair on the hipped portion of the roof and we hired a local slate roof specialist to do the repairs. His business is not a fly by night operation with clients in several states and he is licensed in the state I which live. He did a more than competent job and we subsequently hired him to do some emergency repairs several months later.

After several discussions with him concerning the box gutters on the house, we both came to the conclusion they should be replaced; not an inexpensive proposition. The job was scheduled and completed, re-lining all gutters with copper and sealing all the seams with solder. A two year guarantee against workmanship and materials was given to us.

After about a month, the seams started to crack. After this winter, most all of the seams have visable cracks in them and the problem of the gutters leaking, the original problem the replacement was supposed to fix, still exist and to some degree is worse than it was prior to the replacement.

The original work was completed in March 2003. I have tried to call this contractor, and I always get his answering machine and he does not return my calls. He has come out to do one repair on the copper work since I started calling him in the fall, fixing one seam. Although he lives in a different state, we live on the border of his state and his business is about 25 minutes from our house.

My question is, what are my options? Do I get the BBB involved, although he is not a member of his local BBB, or should I go straight to the legal option? Or, are there options I am not aware of?

I have seen his replys to questions on this site and is listed in the Jenkins list of contractors to call in this area.

Any help here would be greatly appreciated.

d
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Walter Musson
Posted on Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 11:23 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It sounds like you might need to get someone to inspect the workmanship of the gutters to determine why you have problems and where the responsibility rests.
Were the seams rivetted together prior to soldering?Solder is not intended to hold joints together,since the forces of heat and cold tend to expand and contract the copper.The solder seals the joint to make it watertight,but the structural integrity needs to come from a lapped seam or rivetted seam.
Before involving the legal field you should first find out what needs to be done to correct the problems and a cost for it.
Perhaps you need to leave the message that you are researching your options and would like to resolve this prior to litigation.
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Joe Jenkins
Posted on Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 02:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

We had a situation like that here locally in western PA last year. A hip roof with a flat top had box gutters replaced with new copper on all four sides of the main house roof and on the porches. The roofing was replaced as well (with fake slate). A few years later the box gutters leaked and the owners called us (Jenkins). I tried my damndest to get the lady to find someone else to deal with it for two reasons: it was fake slate and we don't work on fake slate roofs, and 2) it is ALWAYS a problem trying to fix someone elses half-assed work unless you can completely re-do it. I might add that re-soldering old copper is a huge pain. New copper is easy to solder.

I urged the woman to get the original contractor to take responsibility for his own work, but she said he no longer answered the phone or returned calls. Apparently she had been trying for years. I felt sorry for her, so I relented and we went ahead and resoldered ALL of the solder joints (about 100, if I remember right). We also did some repairs on the roof and the chimney flashings.

We took a stiff wire wheel on a high-speed grinding tool and ground the crap out of the original solder joints (which, by the way, had been poorly soldered) until the shined. One guy grinding and one following along and soldering. We fluxed them heavily with Ruby Fluid and soldered them with hot irons. It seemed to work. We laid the solder to them heavily (these were lock seam joints, luckily), and all was well until last winter when the lady called and said one of the joints was leaking. I will go and look at it when the weather allows.

That's why I don't like to get involved in these things - now it's our problem and it shouldn't be.

If it's only one joint still leaking, then it won't be so bad. We shall see.
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Anonymous
Posted on Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 02:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

there probably arent enough expansion joints.
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Anonymous
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 08:34 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Walter and Joe,
Thanks for the response. To Mr. Musson's question, yes the joints were locked prior to soldering. The way it was explained to me was the edges of the copper were shaped like a "C" and locked together, the copper sheeting then nailed in place, and soldered together. I thought I was getting a professional opinion about what needed to be done as far as trying to correct the original problem of leaks. After spending about 7k to get the gutters relined, I figured this would solve the problem. I still believe the contractor should correct his work, I just cannot get him to return phone calls or schedule a time to do the repairs that were his problem to begin with. I have thought about what Mr. Musson said about explaining to the contractor that I am exploring options and one of the options is litigation, but I don't want to burn my bridges with him and then be left out in the cold.

Mr. Jenkins, thanks for the reply. Your site is very informative and one of the first things I did when I bought this house is read your book. I get the impression that having another contractor come behind someone and "clean up" others problems is not something that most contractors want to do. I have quite a bit of heavy soldering experence and I knew the joints would not hold when they were soldering them. They were heating the solder and letting it drip onto the joints. I know the copper should be heated and the solder should "flow" into well fluxed joints. The owner of the company knows this as well and was having someone else do the actual soldering, but I didn't think it was my place to tell someone else how to do their job. I have thought about redoing them myself, but as of now I don't want to take that route.

As for the number of expansion joints, the copper is cut into appox. 10 foot sections, some may be smaller. The size of the runs are about approx. 32 feet.

I guess what I am hearing is to have someone else look at the job and determine if the workmanship was bad and possibly get the joints re-soldered. I really don't have much more money to sink into this roof project, thinking the slightly less than 10k (for this and other roof work) was enough. Or, do it myself; not a pleasant thought as I don't care for heights.
At what point do I start making calls? After the warrantee is up of before?

Thanks again for your help.
d
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Anonymous
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 08:51 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi d, What state do you live in?
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admin
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 10:49 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Don't wait until after the warranty is up. Start making calls right away and keep a record of everything you do. If you do go into litigation, you may be able to get your money back and use it to re-do the work. It will help your case if you have good records of your attempts to get the contractor to show signs of life.
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Anonymous
Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 - 01:16 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Great advice. I have some photos and I will start keeping a log of calls.
Thanks
d

previous quote:
Don't wait until after the warranty is up. Start making calls right away and keep a record of everything you do. If you do go into litigation, you may be able to get your money back and use it to re-do the work. It will help your case if you have good records of your attempts to get the contractor to show signs of life.
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Anonymous
Posted on Friday, March 19, 2004 - 04:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Gentlemen,

I'm a GC and I have some experience with slate
roofs
Can anyone tell me the proper application for cleaning a slate roof. What type of cleaner is used and how is it applied. I know that when wetwashing one begins at the bottom and works up to prevent permanent streaks.
If you've performed this cleaning are ther any pitfalls.

Thanks

Brian contracting

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