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Home Maintenance Tip: Check Your Roof Flashings

Posted on October 10, 2014

While cleaning your gutters, it’s an excellent time to check the flashings on your roof to prevent a potential water stain on your ceiling or worse.

What is roof flashing? Pitched roofs rely on gravity to direct water off the roof. After the roof sheathing is installed, other building components such as the building paper, shingles and flashing are overlapped in such a manner to direct water downward and off the roof.

The purpose of flashing is to continue this downward direction for the flow of water where there are intersections of different roof lines, at chimneys and at dormers. Flashing is also used where there are interruptions in the roof. Examples include holes in the roof for plumbing and exhaust vent pipes, as well as around skylights. Flashing can be made of galvanized metal, copper, aluminum, rubber or plastic.

Most roof leaks occur at one of these intersections or holes in the roof where the overlapped roof materials are interrupted. Rubber flashing boots or collars for vent pipes can dry rot over time and should periodically be replaced. Roofing caulk and cement will deteriorate over time and must be reapplied. Building materials expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity. Roof intersections are particularly vulnerable to this expansion and contraction especially if the sealants do not have the capacity for joint movement.

Almost every roof has many of these possible locations for leaks to occur. That’s why it’s important to check roof flashings on a regular basis. Here are some tips to consider when checking your roof flashings:

  • Look for loose nails in the flashings.
  • Check for unsealed nail heads on all flashings.
  • Observe any flashing that has pulled away from joints.
  • Inspect flashing around skylights very carefully.
  • Check the drip edges along the roof eaves.
  • Look for deteriorating caulk or roofing cement at flashings.

Don’t forget to also go in your attic. Examine on and around vent pipes for water stains that would signal a problem with the roof flashing for the pipe.

If you notice any problems, call in the professionals who know how to safely work on pitched roofs. Be proactive and check your roof flashings before a costly repair has to be made.


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