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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    3

    Default Need new copper gutters-welded vs riveted BIG $$ difference

    This is my first time posting here on the forum, I have perused it several times and found some great information, hopefully someone can give some advice on my first question here.

    I just bought a beautiful 1920's home that came with all copper gutters. It is a fairly large house (about 4500 sq ft) that I couldn't pass up, both because I fell in love with the home and the location and also because it was sort of a distressed sale, the previous owner was having financial problems and needed to sell quickly, so I think I got a great deal as well. Part of the reason why it was at a great price was that the house needed some maintenance in different areas that had been put off over the last 5 years or so due to the owner's financial issues. (nothing BAD, overall it is still a very solid house, just things here and there that need work)

    The question I have is for the copper gutters. The horizontal gutters are bent out of shape in several spots, quite out of shape in a few, due to ice dams during the winters. (I'm in the upper midwest) Also, one downspout is half gone, another is missing completely. I have had two estimates so far, both from very reputable companies. I don't know a whole lot about copper gutters and was hoping that there would be a way to somehow bend the horizontal pieces back into shape, but both companies totally dismissed that right away, saying that copper gutters are very tough to straighten out once they are twisted out of shape. They both came back with the same answer, that the whole gutter system needed to be replaced. They said that replacing all of the gutters was really the only option, because if they were to "patch in" for the bent pieces, I'd end up with bright orange-ish copper gutters in the new sections and the well-weathered green copper gutters in the original sections, which I can understand, I don't want the place looking like a circus tent when they are done!

    The first company said that they would be welding the gutters and their estimate came out to about $17,000. The second company said that they would be riveting the gutters and their estimate came out to $7000, quite a difference! The guy from the second company said that welding the gutters is overkill and that he would only recommend it for a very high end home project. So, my obvious question is, is it really worth the extra $10,000 for welded gutters over riveted gutters? (If it makes any difference, the fair market value of the house once I'm done with the maintenance work is between $600,000 and $700,000) I had figured that I would end up spending somewhere between $75,000 to $100,000 on the work that needed to be done to the house and while spending the extra $10,000 wouldn't blow my budget, I'd certainly rather spend it somewhere else (or keep it for a rainy day!) than spend it on the gutters.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,557

    Default Re: Need new copper gutters-welded vs riveted BIG $$ difference

    I don't know how it is where you are but around here a 6 t0 $700,000 house is high end. I personally have never seen a riveted connection that didn't leak in time.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    South*East
    Posts
    1,168

    Default Re: Need new copper gutters-welded vs riveted BIG $$ difference

    Copper gutters are soldered not welded. If there riveted did they say what they will be using to prevent them from leaking? It really doesn't take that much more time to solder them to justify the $10,000 difference in price. I would get another price. I am assuming they are 1/2 round gutters.

    John
    Last edited by johnjh2o; 06-19-2012 at 08:18 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    975

    Default Re: Need new copper gutters-welded vs riveted BIG $$ difference

    At the price of material, the labor difference should be a non-issue. I would discard the low bid as the outlier.
    You solder copper. Our roof mechanic even solders the 10' lengths of downspout into a continuous run, including the elbows. They screw on at the gutter leader. Reason? nothing to catch debris and start a clog, which will split the pipe when it freezes.
    Casey
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    140

    Default Re: Need new copper gutters-welded vs riveted BIG $$ difference

    Quote Originally Posted by BT5150 View Post
    The first company said that they would be welding the gutters and their estimate came out to about $17,000. The second company said that they would be riveting the gutters and their estimate came out to $7000, quite a difference! The guy from the second company said that welding the gutters is overkill and that he would only recommend it for a very high end home project. So, my obvious question is, is it really worth the extra $10,000 for welded gutters over riveted gutters?
    Congratulations for a house you really like, and for not having sticker price shock on gutter replacement. Considering the price of a new roof that should last 20-25 years, the cost of copper gutters would be like replacing your roof.

    My house is 1964 and also has Copper gutters & downspouts, and has green platina on them. The shiny new copper will attract thieves so be careful.

    I am a novice homeowner but mention an issue that I encountered so you can avoid it. My gutters & downspouts seem to be inadequate during heavy or flash rains. Basically, water is oveflowing the gutter on one side. Even with speaking separately to a gutter cleaner & a roofer, and cleaning the gutters, I cannot determine if the gutters are not holding enough water (as a reservoir) or my downspouts are not carrying away enoough water, backing up on the gutters.

    As it is so costly to fix things afterwards, I recommend you examine the engineering specs around the gutter & downspout capacity. In my case, I suspect the 2x3" downspouts can't carry enough water away from the gutters. Perhaps you should consider 3x4",considering your 4500 sf is a large footprint (my house is 55 x 35).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Pacific Northwet
    Posts
    1,356

    Default Re: Need new copper gutters-welded vs riveted BIG $$ difference

    It should be possible to "age" new copper to approximately match the patina of the existing gutters.

    Don't ask me how, I just know it can be done.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    1,381

    Default Re: Need new copper gutters-welded vs riveted BIG $$ difference

    Copper can be tig welded, but traditionally it is soldered. Rivets are out of the question as far as I am concerned.

    However, I would look around for another company to straighten them. Copper is very malleable and has almost no spring back. But to do this in place, you are going to need an artisan or metalsmith, someone who makes things from copper, so a gutter company may not be the best place to look. Check out your local art scene for a starving artist that might be willing to tackle this job.

    The replacement down spouts will clash with the old copper for awhile, but that should clear up in a couple of years. If you find an artist or metalsmith, (s)he may have a few tricks to "age" the new copper.

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