Copper Built in Gutter Box Gutter Robert Wewer

Copper Built in Gutter Box Gutter Robert Wewer

Howdie Folks,
We are in Lambertville, NJ looking at a built-in gutter. Now what happens to these commonly
is the metal liner is put in and it splits because of thermal expansion and contraction
through the seasonal changes. When it splits the structure rots, the gutter sags and subsequent
gutter lining and repairs are added and the spout is moved to a different location where
the water is puddling. That’s what happened here because who would ever put a spout in
the middle of a gutter? Nobody. So we set up for this. We had pergola structure, a trestle
and we put a little extra support under us while we were working just to be on the safe
side. We laid some plywood on the top and secured our equipment so it wouldn’t kick
out and hold us up while we were working, set up a scaffolding, a staging system and
we ventured up on the roof to see the EPDM liner in place. It looks more like a ski slope
than a gutter. Certainly it wasn’t working. As you can see it was quite a mess. In looking
at this gutter, we had three existing layers and the layer at the bottom was not the original.
There was at least one before that one. At the turn of the century this type of gutter
was added late 1800’s to early 1900’s. This house was from the 1700’s and it did not have
a gutter. Cornice and details were added. Original terne coated steel gutter was removed
and two more metal liners were put into place and then the EPDM and as you can see. This
gutter liner material was shot. The old gutter was tin and lead sacrificial layer over steel.
Follansbee was the predominate maker of terne coated steel from the mid-1800’s to just up
to a few years ago. There is a spout that has been moved about 10 foot off the edge.
Originally this had a singular spout on the one corner. It was moved over because the
gutter sagged and collapsed where there was a seam split. You see this outlet keeps moving
with every gutter liner. Here is the Follansbee stamp that came with every roll. It was 40
lb. Terne as you can see Folllansbee was the manufacturer. There were a lot of timplate
companies in the US at that time. Morris in Morrisville was one local company. Here is
a split right in the seam close to the middle on the lowest existing steel gutter liner.
That is what happens. There is the outlet that was put in, actually a leader head that
was made into a outlet and put up there. Somebody tried to be fancy there – kind of ridiculous.
There is the original outlet on the end before they relaid the soffiting and cornice (several
times). We totally dismantled it and took off the structure, took it to the recycle
yard and threw it away. We rebuilt the structure nice and straight, level and then we incorporated
a slope with a high point in the middle sloped to both ends. This is the way it should be.
When you have a gutter that is about 38 feet long you want to split it down the middle
ideally. We lined it and installed crown molding and a sloped gutter belly straight soffit
nailed to the framing and lined it with Grace Detail Membrane and as you will see why. We
had a nice window of opportunity to work on this in the winter but for the snow. We got
snowed on a couple of times on the job. This was a tough winter. The winter of 2014 was
the coldest in history as you will recall. We barreled through it. We went to the shop
and we used soft copper because soft copper does not exert so much lateral stress on the
joints. When it is bent it will move through its seasonal changes gently through the temperature
cycles. We bent the pans at 10 ft. intervals. We use a blind cleating system on the face
of the crown. The gutter is clipped in and not nailed or directly fastened in any way.
They will move back and forth unimpeded. The cleating system is hard copper fastened with
brass screws to the crown. Here we swept off the snow. The gutter itself is laid onto a
rosin surfaced felt base that isolates any harmful acidic elements that may be harmful
to the copper. It also allows the copper to move freely and acts as a slip sheet. That
nail in the cleat provides mechanical fastening while swinging to allow movement. There is
the very center high point where that outlet was positioned and is now the high point and
the break. There is a space provided a little more than an inch because you now have two
separate gutters. You now have two separate gutters. With two outlets, one on each end,
the pans will not move in those directions. Here you see two caps that are fabricated
with returns to allow for a floating cap riveted to one of the pans. The gutters are allowed
movement and since it is about as cold as it is going to get, expansion room is allotted.
Here is a seam that is lapped, riveted and soldered. This is the best way to do these
joints. The old lap and hem method with 4 layers of metal only causes a bump in the
gutter that impedes water flow. The gutter is completed after a couple od snow events
and some slate dust we swept it out after we re-installed the slates. Integral gutter,
built-in gutter, copper gutter will last a lifetime or maybe a hundred years and the
seams will not break. Now we move onto the spouts. The spouts are custom cut and soldered
and the racks are installed. Man its freezing out here….. Take you around and show you
the downspout we put up. We have to take that old ratty one off but there it is …..copper
smooth round or Peerless Spout attached with rack and keys. I don’t know if you can see
that….so they can be easily taken out if ever needed. Professional installation……Now
we are wrapping it up…..We’ve got the copper built-in gutter, downspouts..all done…


  1. That's great work I am a gutter contractor and sheet metal fabricator. I am part of an association that has many contractors in the mid – west and north east members as well. Many of their problems are with expansion and I must say it's good to see that some one actually either reads up or knows how to do a proper expansion joint. If only some of contractors would do a little homework maybe their issues would be non existent. GREAT WORK!

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