A key component every roofer should have in his toolkit is solder and a heat source. When tying up metal roof panel seams, you need to join them by melting a metal alloy that can reach between the sheets of metal and create a watertight joint.
Solder bars are made of low melting alloys, such as tin/lead mixtures. They have a lower melting point than copper or steel, which allows you to work it in its liquid form and manipulate it, without the risk of damaging the metal sheets you´re joining together.
In general, there are two preferred heat sources for the job: soldering irons and torches. But, which one is better for your working site?
Torches are excellent heat sources and they are used for a wide range of applications. However, working with them can be tricky. As they burn directly into the surface, they are best used for cutting through sheets of metal or welding iron and even steel. However, it is not uncommon to see roofers use torches for melting solder directly into metal sheet seams.
As of late, professional roofers have slowly moved away from open flame soldering as it risks damaging the metal panel´s finish, and they´re prone to causing fires.
Heat transfer soldering works by indirectly transferring energy to the solder bar or metal surface through a conductor or tip. This reduces the risk of burning a hole through your metal sheets or ruining the finish. They also allow you to directly manipulate the liquid metal into the seams. And the advantages don´t stop there: they are a lot less finicky, they tend to be gentler with your seams, and drastically reduce the risk of fires in the worksite.
Soldering iron tips are generally made of copper since it is a great conductor, and it is easy to keep clean and filed. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes that provide greater flexibility and reach without having to change tools in the middle of the job.
This does not mean you should never have an acetylene torch handy in your work site. They are great for working in cold weather as reaching solder melting temperatures becomes a challenge. However, Aero Torch soldering irons are specially made to get the job done even under freezing temperatures or windy days. When sealing up flat locks or lap seams nothing beats the soft touch of a tidy and filed soldering iron copper tip.
The most common types are pyramid and hammer soldering iron tips.
Hammer or hatchet tips look pretty much like hockey sticks and have a wider contact area, making it possible to cover more ground when soldering. Just make sure you´re using the right temperature and solder bar size so you don’t flood your joints.
Pyramid soldering iron tips have a pointed end that allows you to reach tight spots more easily. They´re great for finishing touches in corners and joints, making sure your whole roof is completely watertight.
If you’re looking for essential roofing supplies, such as soldering iron tips, bar solder, and more, check out our collection at www.stortz.com. If you have any questions, give us a call at 888-847-3456 and we’ll help you out!