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James Melhuish
Posted on Monday, April 18, 2005 - 01:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

We have a Victorian house near Boston, MA, built around 1860. It has
the original slate roof. The valleys have been mostly replaced with
copper, but the ridge caps were not in good shape, and over the winter
several came loose and ended up in the back yard.

We hired a contractor who has specialized in slate roofs for many years
in our area, but after two days of his crew working, we are very worried.

There is a small ridge board (a 2 x 2?) that sits about 1 inch above the
apex of the cap slates. The old ridge iron (galvanized iron or tin?) was
nailed down beside the ridge board (through slates and into underlying
boards). One ridge had been replaced with copper and this was nailed
directly down the center with the nail heads soldered.

The contractor told me that nailing down through the center of the ridge
cap was wrong, even when the nail heads were soldered. He said the
dimples collect water and speed corrosion. The Slate Roof Bible says to
nail the ridge iron edges spaced on every slate gap. (Except if a ridge
board is present, then you can nail sideways.)

After removing the old ridge iron, the contractor's workers nailed new
copper ridge directly down on the ridge centerline. The spacing of nails
is 3 to 4 feet, and the ends are sometimes not nailed, but bent around
the end, or bent over and nailed to the fascia.

Could you tell me what is proper practice, and what is NOT proper, for
nailing down new ridge copper?

We are also curious about the proper way to join ridge copper -- we have
three ridges that come together to form a peak. The contractor has used
lead flashing for this. We do not know whether he plans to solder it.

You can see lots of photos of the current job in progress at my website:

http://melhuish.org/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=9

These are small thumbnails, click on any image to get full size. Thanks
very much in advance for any help.
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Walter Musson
Posted on Monday, April 18, 2005 - 06:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'd be more concerned with having the valleys redone since they are obviously a problem that has been temporarily repaired with roof cement.
Although you have a nice Maine slate for your roof,the valleys need to be done.
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Walter Musson
Posted on Monday, April 18, 2005 - 07:16 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I missed a bunch of the photos the first time clicking on your site.
Yes poor workmanship thru out the fabricating and installation of this ridge and hip copper.It looks like inexperienced help was allowed to fit the end pieces,because it looks really ragged.
The juncture with three pieces should have had no lead and been fitted and soldered.Obviously it takes more time and is more needing of skill which these folks may not have enough experience to perform.
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slateworks
Posted on Monday, April 18, 2005 - 07:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Messy Workmanship is right-You need to find another Slater/ Sheet Metal Contractor,To pay for that type of workmanship is just not right.
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James Melhuish
Posted on Tuesday, April 19, 2005 - 09:56 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks so much for your replies. You've confirmed what we suspected. Now the question is...how do we fix this? Do you think we can salvage the copper ridge, or does it all have to be ripped off and redone? Will the nails down the center prove to be a problem long term? We paid the roofer in full for this portion of the repair (50% of the total), so that is gone (unless we go to court, which we really don't want to do). The contractor admitted to us last night in an hour long phone conversation that the work is crap, but we don't know what, if anything, he plans to do about it. He says he will try to find someone else to do the work, but we are not counting on that. Meanwhile, some of our ridges have no cap and are exposed to the weather, so we will have to go up there and do something about that. I should have just done the job myself, but we just finished a huge kitchen remodel ourselves and wanted a break.
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admin
Posted on Tuesday, April 19, 2005 - 01:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Beautiful slate. The ridge installers didn't know what they were doing. I think it can be salvaged. We don't use lead at the juncture of three ridges, we cut, fit and fold the copper so it overlaps properly. Some sealant may be required. We always seal any exposed nail heads with GE Silicon II - a clear "lifetime" silicon sealant. I think the bad ridge ends can be re-cut properly, the center nails caulked and the ridge renailed along the edges. You may have to drill through the slates to get a copper nail to go through. That may be why they decided not to nail the edges (bent copper nails). Ridge is edge-nailed to keep the wind from getting underneath it and to make it lay tight against the roof. The ridge may have to come off anyway, at least in part, to get the new valleys in place.

Joe Jenkins
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Walter Musson
Posted on Tuesday, April 19, 2005 - 05:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Wherever they did edge nail thru slates they broke or cracked them.
In order for the hips to look any where near respectable I think you'll have to remove them to be re-cut to fit properly.
I doubt if they renailed the hip and ridge 2x2 down to secure it prior to installing the new ridge roll.It looks loose at the ends where the hips terminate,also that loose copper nail may be in loose wood.
I'd take it off and start over,using the majority of whats there and add to it if needed.You can obviously fabricate nice looking ends,so maybe work with someone to complete the job.I would refasten the nailers if you do remove it all.
What was the balance of the work to consist of?
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James Melhuish
Posted on Tuesday, April 19, 2005 - 09:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Again, thank you all for your help and advice. The balance of the work was two rubber roofs that were to be installed on the flat sections (currently asphalt) along with copper flashings and copper face metal/reglet. We won't be having them do that work.

We were up on the roof tonight reinstalling the old tin on the sections without any ridge cap so that if it rains, we won't be flooded. I think it should last long enough for us to find another person to complete the job. The contractor did not call us back today as promised, so we're not hopeful that he will come through with a solution.

Joe, I'm curious about how to join the three ridges. Is there a diagram/picture anywhere that I can take a look at?
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Walter Musson
Posted on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - 04:52 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

In one photo it shows a vent stack out almost to a hip at the rear of the house that is in need of replacement too.Maybe it would be possible to shift that out into the body of the roof if it's accessible in the attic.
Was that the contractors set up to hold his ladders in place?Looked really risky to walk on.
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admin
Posted on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - 01:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't have a diagram for the ridge juncture. The bottom two are first cut to fit against each other where they meet, with some overlapping where possible, then the top piece is cut to create a flap that covers the other two. It's hard to describe. We do it on site in the field and custom cut the ridges for each application. It varies with slope, etc.

Joe
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James Melhuish
Posted on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - 09:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks Joe, I think I understand.

Yes Walter, that was their set up. We thought it was frightening! We were up inspecting the roof again tonight and they really cracked a lot of the slates where they tried to edge nail. I assume if you drill this doesn't happen. Is it ever acceptable to just nail to the ridge wood and not edge nail?
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Walter Musson
Posted on Thursday, April 21, 2005 - 04:49 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Actually you could carefully screw into the 2x2's at an angle at the bottom of the curved part of the ridge roll.You would want to use 2.5" brass screws,and just tighten enough to hold without deforming the copper.
They didn't drill their nails thru slates is right.You have a good hard slate which is a plus,but it's tough to nail thru without a pilot hole.
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admin
Posted on Thursday, April 21, 2005 - 09:50 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

We have installed metal ridge on a wooden ridge board by nailing into only the board as Walter mentions - nailing sideways at an angle into the lower part of the ridge roll. Screws would, of course, work too.

Joe
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James Melhuish
Posted on Thursday, April 21, 2005 - 07:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

My concern about nailing into the ridge board is twofold:

1- the ridge board is very weathered, virtually rotten in places, and won't hold nails or screws properly for any length of time...

For this reason, to nail securely to the ridge board, we would likely need to replace all of them. This is work over and above the contracted work, and of course, we don't want to give the contractor any more money.

2- I am worried that the 3 inch flaps either side of the bell will, over time, blow up and expose the ridge board to weathering (rain, wind, etc.) This happened with the old ridge iron that was nailed (sideways through the bell) to the ridge board.

Contractors here in New England typically tell us that the edges of the ridge metal should be fixed down, because of the high winds here. The best method appears to be clips fixed to the ridge/hips and the ridge roll clipped to them. Another method suggested is to screw down the edges with brass screws, and then solder a cap over the screw head. This is less expensive than the clip method.

So the main question is: should I insist on screwing/nailing down the edges? Or do I allow the ridge board fixing method (which would require all ridge boards to be replaced).

Thanks for all your help.
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admin
Posted on Friday, April 22, 2005 - 01:15 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I wouldn't go to the trouble of replacing the ridge boards, unless they're easy to pop off and replace. Sometimes they're integral to the frame. We would just nail the ridge through the slates with 2.5" copper nails (through drilled holes) and caulk the nail heads. Clips would also work, but they also have to be attached to the roof and should be rigid. And you may have to rivet the ridge metal to the clips where they fold over the edge of the ridge roll.

Joe Jenkins
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James Melhuish
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2005 - 11:20 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Still trying to address our roof...We've gotten quite a few estimates -- the range is HUGE -- +/-$15K. Scope of the job is:

1) 10 hips, 4 ridges total that need copper ridge cap. Slates along the ridges are cracked and need repair/replacement.
2) Two tarred in valleys, about 8 feet each, that we want replaced with copper.
3) 25 of so miscellaneous slates that need repair/replacement.
4) Two flat VERY OLD asphalt roofs that need to be replaced including flashing-- most want to use EPDM. Sq ft: 350-370

Given our last experience, we are wary and concerned about making the wrong choice. We are in the Boston, Mass., area where construction costs are on the high side. Does the following sound reasonable? We do not have unlimited funds...

1) Ridges: 8,800
2) Valleys: 4,500
3) Slates: 1,200
4) Flat Roofs: 10,500 (does not include taking off the old roof)

TOTAL: $25K

Does this all sound within reason? Or, is something wildly out of whack? I realize that you can't give me an "exact" cost. I appreciate any help you can provide.
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slateworks
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2005 - 04:55 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I should be working in Boston-The prices seem high-But if they are in line with other Estimates ,not much you can do, Even with Travel cost and Installing Copper flat lock on the Flat roof areas we could save you some money. Good Luck. Ron
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Walter Musson
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2005 - 05:00 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Are you going to replace all the copper that the other contractor installed or try to reuse some of whats there?How many lengths of cap are needed?Are there two flat roofs each of 350 sq. feet?
The valley price is over double what I charge in Maine and the slate repair is also more.
Also are you asking for the wooden nailers to be replaced at hip and ridge?
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admin
Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2005 - 07:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The prices seem extraordinarily high unless the contractor is traveling from a long distance away (e.g. Mars). We've never charged more than $100/ft for valley replacement (labor and materials). We often install copper ridge for $15 to $20/ft (labor and materials). We install flat seam copper for $35/square foot (labor and materials). But no, we won't go to Boston, and yes there is a huge demand for our services locally. Of course, with the rates they're charging up there, I could retire in a year. Maybe I should raise my rates....

Joe Jenkins
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James Melhuish
Posted on Friday, May 20, 2005 - 12:10 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The contractors are all local. And, sadly, that wasn't even the highest figure that we got. It was the mid-range figure. Some of the contractors want $15K+ for the ridges alone -- which is just more than we can afford. To answer Walter's questions, the 350 sq ft is the total for the two flat roofs. None of the contractors who came to look at the roof wanted to use the existing copper. This contractor was not planning to replace the wooden nailers -- he was planning to drill along the edges of the ridge cap into the slate and then affix with brass screws and washers. I'm beginning to think about bringing someone in from somewhere else!

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