Most homeowners do not give much thought to the components that make up their roof until a problem develops. Flashing is one component of a roof that does not get much credit, even though it performs a very important job. In simple terms, flashing is just a piece of material, usually galvanized steel or aluminum. The main job of flashing is to protect certain areas of the roof from water infiltration which could cause major damage.
What Exactly Is Roof Flashing?
While most people understand that roof flashing is important, many do not know what it is used for. So, what is roof flashing, exactly? Roof flashing is made up of waterproof material which allows it to withstand rain, snow, wind, and hail. Flashing is installed over the joints of your roof where part of the roof meets a wall structure, such as around a chimney, skylight, or dormer window. This roofing material typically consists of thin strips of metal that are rolled out into place and then sealed to prevent issues like mold and water damage.
Flashing works by collecting pooling water from rain and snow and directing it away from the most vulnerable locations on your roof. However, flashing can function a little differently based on where it is installed. For example, flashing that is installed in a valley is placed underneath the shingles at the edges. When water drips down the shingles into the valley, it moves down the metal and into a gutter. Around vents and pipes that protrude from the roof, flashing with a central spout opening is installed with a rubber compression fitting that wraps around the protrusion to create a watertight seal.
Types Of Roofing Flashing
Without roof flashing, areas where two different materials intersect on your roof could succumb to leaks and other issues. Roof flashing can help prevent damage by creating a tight seal in these areas. There are several types of roof flashing that can help protect your home, including:
- Abutment: Two main types of flashing are used when a pitched roof goes against a wall. The first is called double-lap flashing. This type consists of two parts and are best suited for roofs with plain tiles or slats. The second is single-lap flashings, which are used on roofs with contoured tiles.
- Apron Flashing: This simple type of flashing is used when a wall meets the top of a lean-to roof.
- Chimney Flashing: With chimney flashing, the front of the chimney receives an apron flashing that extends to the sides of the chimney stack. The ends fold around the side of the stack and are then covered with single- or double-lap flashing.
- Valley Flashing: Valley flashing is used when two parts of a roof meet at an angle. With this type of flashing, boarding is built to run down the roof’s pitch from the eaves to the ridge. Fillets are then secured on both long edges and sheeting cover the fillets.
Signs Of Bad Flashing
It is not always easy to spot damage to roof flashing. Sometimes it takes the sharp eye of an industry professional to locate damage. However, if you plan on examining your roof for signs of damaged flashing, there are a few things you will want to look for. First, inspect the flashing for small holes. Holes can develop over time due to corrosion or wildlife. Water can seep through even a tiny hole, making this type of damage a major issue. Next, look for signs of corrosion or rust. Roofing flashing can corrode over time due to its reaction with air. If you live near salt water, this can happen sooner than later.
Another sign that you have flashing that needs replacing is missing pieces. Over time, flashing can become loose. During high winds or storms, pieces of flashing can fall off your roof, leaving intersections of your roof vulnerable to water damage. Other signs of roof flashing damage to look for include cracks, bends, or dents in the metal or coating, staining or visible mold on fascia boards, or worn or damaged siding or shingles. You may also experience internal leaking in your home which could indicate damaged flashing.
How Damage Occurs
Flashing is the roofing material most susceptible to damage. This is because roof flashing is essentially a sealer, and not an actual part of the roof. If the material becomes cracked, bent, or damaged in some other way, water is able to sleep underneath the flashing and into your home. While you may not notice the issue at first, you likely will after the first heavy rain. Moisture damage is usually minimal at first but can become much worse in time, and a lot more costly. If mold develops, the roofing materials may need to be removed completely and replaced with new.
There are a number of reasons flashing becomes damaged. Sometimes flashing is not installed correctly which leaves the roof susceptible to leaks. In some cases, roof repairs are not correctly performed which can also lead to further damage. Human error is always a risk when you have any type of roofing repair done, especially if you choose to go with a company with a poor reputation or an unlicensed “handyman.” Sometimes there is nothing you can do to prevent flashing damage. In some cases, the damage is caused by old age and exposure to the elements.
Speak To A Professional Roofing Contractor
While damaged flashing may not seem like a big deal, it can have costly consequences if not promptly repaired or replaced. All it takes is one rain or snow fall to cause a leak into your home. Water infiltration also creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew growth. If you suspect that your roof flashing may be damaged, but have not seen any signs of damage from the inside of your home, it is still a good idea to have your roof inspected. For more information about roof flashing or to schedule a roof repair or replacement, contact Beyond Exteriors.