Roof flashing is one of the most important components of your roof. It is the thin material, typically galvanized steel, that is used to secure joints in areas that tend to receive a lot of water, such as valleys, dormers, chimneys, and skylights. When flashing becomes loose or broken, these vulnerable areas can succumb to water damage. Flashing essentially protects areas where the roof meets other structures.
Unfortunately, roof flashing is not impervious to damage. Over time, the material can shift or deteriorate, resulting in the need for immediate repair. Learning how to repair roof flashing and when to seek assistance regarding repair is key to prevent costly water damage.
Basics of Repairing Roof Flashing
If roof flashing damage is caught early enough, the repair is often minimal and inexpensive. For example, if the flashing on your roof has developed small holes from corrosion, holes up to ¾- in diameter can be patched using roofing cement and a patch of the same material of the flashing.
Repairing Small Holes
To repair small holes in roof flashing, roughen the material around the hole using sandpaper or a wire brush. This will allow the cement to better adhere. Next, clean the flashing to prepare it for repair. The patch should be cut slightly larger than the hole so that it overlaps on all sides. Once the flashing is prepared, the patch can be affixed to the flashing using roofing cement. Use extra roofing cement over top of the patch as an extra waterproofing measure.
Replacing Damaged Or Corroded Flashing
If the flashing has suffered extensive damage or is highly corroded, it will likely need to be replaced instead of repaired. This requires the removal of several rows of shingles to gain access to the base of the flashing. It is easy to damage the shingles while trying to remove them. Therefore, this project is best left up to the professionals.
Removing Old Mortar & Caulk
Replacing old flashing requires removing the old mortar and caulk that line the edges of the flashing. This can be tricky as the seals must carefully be chipped away to prevent damage to surrounding materials. Special masonry caulk can then be used to seal the joints between the new piece of flashing and the structure. The seam between the cap and step flashing must also be sealed using urethane roofing cement or some form of silicone caulking compound. Roofing cement should also be spread approximately six inches from the edge of the shingles and under their edges.
Reseal Drip Edging
You may find it necessary to reseal drip edging when replacing your roof flashing. To do this, you will need to seal under the shingles without sealing the drip edge along the eaves. If you need to replace roof flashing around a vent pipe, start by removing the shingles that cover the flange at both the sides and back. Once you have pried and lifted the flashing, remove any nails and put the new vent-pipe flashing in place. You can then place nails and replace any shingles. Use roofing cement to cover nail heads.
How to Maintain Roof Flashing
Roof flashing damage can have many causes, such as when ice dams occur. However, following certain maintenance tips can help keep your flashing in good condition and help prevent leaks.
If you find that there are leaks in areas where the roof meets a structure, such as a chimney, deterioration of the metal roof flashing is usually to blame. Sometimes the metal simply rusts from exposure to the elements, and other times it becomes loose or can deteriorate from old age. Either way, old or damaged roof flashing can wreak havoc on your home.
Regular Roof Inspections
It is important to have your roof regularly inspected to determine the condition of the flashing. During inspection, the edges of the flashing will be closely examined to look for gaps that could allow water infiltration. The roofing cement should also be examined to determine if it is cracked or starting to crumble. In some cases, the flashing can be repaired by simply resealing it which is easier than patching. If you want new or repaired flashing to match the rest of your roof, you may need to paint it so that it looks cohesive.
Avoid Stepping On Flashing
Whenever you are working on your roof, it is important to avoid kneeling or stepping on the flashing. You also want to avoid putting a lot of pressure to any area that is within 12 inches of the flashing. This can put excess weight on the roofing materials which can cause damage to the joints and disturb the flashing.
Replacing Damaged Flashing Areas
Roof flashing is available in a number of materials, including galvanized steel, copper, and aluminum. If you are going to replace a piece of flashing, try to use the same material as the rest of the roof so that it looks the same. A roofing contractor can help you determine what type of material is being used and where you can purchase a piece that will match well with your roof.
Consult a Roof Repair Contractor
Many homeowners make the mistake of taking on their roof repairs themselves. When it comes to critical components of the roof, such as flashing, it is always best to leave this job to the professionals. If roof flashing is not installed properly, water can gradually sink beneath the material and into your home. You may not notice at first, but over time the damage will be evident. This will result in more costly repairs down the road.
Roof repair contractors also have more expensive repairing roofs. A contractor will know the right procedures and materials to use to ensure that the job is done properly and up to code. A roof repair contractor can also provide regular inspections to ensure that your roofing materials are in good condition and that there are no signs of damage that require attention.
Want to learn more about how to repair roof flashing or need assistance with flashing repair? Contact the Northern Virginia roof repair contractors at Beyond Exteriors today and schedule a roof inspection.