While lead-free solder has become increasingly popular and more widely used in recent years, most roofers would prefer to use tin/lead solder. It is certainly understandable. Not only is lead-free solder more expensive than 50/50 Tin/Lead Solder, but Lead-Free Solder also flows a bit more slowly.
In fact, Lead free roofs and flashing have become more in demand in the building and construction industry as there has been a global shift to their use. Health and safety issues are not the only reason behind the global shift, but environmental concerns also play a part.
However, below are five reasons why you’ll either need to use Lead-Free Solder or you’ll want to use Lead-Free solder:
1) When soldering galvanized steel with a powder coating, you will need to use lead-free solder
If you are soldering galvanized steel components that will have a powder coating applied on top, you’ll need to use Lead-Free Solder to safely make it through the bake oven. 50/50 solder has a melting range of 361°F – 413°F but powder coatings cure at 425°F-450°F in the oven.
50/50 will melt apart at oven temperatures, but Lead-Free 97/3 Solder won’t as it has a melting range of 441°F – 590°F. Just make sure the oven is set to 425°F.
2) Municipal, county, state or federal buildings require lead-free solder
When working on a municipal, county, state or federal building they are likely to mandate lead-free solder. If you aren’t sure it is best to get the solder specification in writing to avoid liability issues down the road. Only federal or state historical buildings may be exempt from lead-free requirements.
3) Amusement parks, Disneyworld and large corporations require lead-free solder
Amusement parks, especially with a large corporate owner such as Disneyworld or Universal Studios, will not allow any leaded products and they will be banned. You will need to use a Solder like our Stel-Flo 97/3 Lead-Free Tri-Bar solder.
Even though lead-free solder is a little slower, there are other reasons to use lead-free solder in roofing applications.
4) Lead-free solder can help avoid health and safety concerns
It is widely known due to OSHA guidelines that being exposed to lead can lead to health and safety concerns. And, of course, the risk to exposure is greater for roofing contractors who use lead flashing and/or roofing applications. These potential risks can be mitigated altogether by using non-toxic roof flashing.
5) Leaded solder can cause water contamination
If you are on a job or have a roof that collects rainwater from the room into a tank, lead-free roofing materials are much safer. Lead flashing can cause unsafe amounts of lead in the rainwater.
If you encounter any of the above situations or your employees are concerned about lead, consider using lead-free solder in your parts.