There’s a reason why your roof’s flashing is considered its weak point. It’s because it’s particularly prone to leaks. Flashing refers to the thin pieces of metal covering roof joints – the areas where roofing panels meet – to prevent water from infiltrating your roof. They’re also found on parts of your roof where water gathers (e.g. roof penetrations and valleys). Eventually, however, roof flashing will loosen, creating an opening for water to infiltrate your roof’s underlayers.
How to Prevent Leaks Caused By Loose Flashing
To prevent flashing failure and by extension roof leaks, your roof should be inspected by a roof replacement contractor at least twice a year. Through routine inspections, your roofer can replace loose or damaged roof flashing before water can infiltrate your roof.
Important note: your roof should also be inspected after a storm or extreme weather event. No matter how durable your roof or exterior is, it’s likely to have suffered some form of damage during a storm. What if there aren’t any leaks or visible signs of damage? It would still be a good idea to schedule a roof inspection. That’s because it takes time for the early warning signs of roofing damage to emerge. And, by the time they start to appear, it’s too late to mitigate damage to your roof.
Don’t forget to have your gutters – your roof’s first line of defense against the elements – routinely maintained as well. If your gutters are clogged or damaged, water might spill onto your roof or exterior, causing leaks. And, if leaks aren’t immediately fixed, moisture damage might affect other parts of your home. Remember: the sooner roof and gutter repairs are conducted, the better.
While loose flashing is the most common flashing issue, it isn’t the only one. For instance, wrinkles might form on roof flashing as a result of abrupt changes in temperature. As temperatures drop and increase, certain flashing materials contract and expand. Over time, these repeated expansions and contractions can cause wrinkles to form.
Choosing the Right Flashing Material
Wrinkled flashing is a common issue if the flashing material isn’t suited to the local climate. Remember: there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach in home improvement projects, and roofing projects are no exception.
Here’s an overview of the most common flashing materials:
- Sheet metal – Sheet metal, which is made from steel, zinc and aluminum alloys, is the most commonly used flashing material.
- Aluminum – Aluminum is relatively durable, versatile and moldable around the corners, making it an ideal material for flashing. However, it shouldn’t be installed on the roofs of homes with fiber cement siding or pressure-treated wood. Otherwise, the alkaline components found in fiber cement siding or wood preservatives will degrade aluminum.
- Copper – Copper is a bit on the pricey side but is worth the investment if you’re looking for exceptionally durable flashing that can last for years. Unlike other metals, copper’s aesthetic appeal and value increase as it ages, thanks to the green patina that forms on its surface over time. As an added benefit, it’s also highly resistant to mortars and wood preservatives, which can corrode metals.
Important note: if you live near the coastline, we recommend choosing the lead-coated copper variety, which sheds water more easily than the regular variety. In general, cold-rolled copper is better than soft copper as it’s more resistant to contractions and expansions brought about by abrupt temperature changes. But, if your roof has a complex or unique shape, malleable soft copper would be a better choice.
- Zinc – Soft zinc gutters are an alternative option for homes with uniquely shaped roofs. Like soft copper, zinc is extremely malleable.
- Stainless steel – An equally durable alternative to copper is stainless steel, which can withstand harsh weather conditions. Of course, stainless steel isn’t without its disadvantages. For instance, like copper, it’s also a bit on the pricey side. However, its exceptional durability justifies its price tag. While it’s important to stay within budget, you shouldn’t get too preoccupied with the costs. Focus instead on maximizing the returns on your investment.
- Lead – Lead flashing is usually installed over the gaps between chimneys and roofing panels.
Important note: aluminum, zinc and coated steel flashing should not make contact with copper or lead. Otherwise, they might suffer corrosion.
To learn more about your flashing options, consult local roof replacement contractors. Since they’re more familiar with the local climate and building codes, they can make better recommendations.
The Different Types of Flashing
Aside from roof flashing, the aforementioned materials are also used to manufacture:
- Drip edge – Drip edges are found at the roof’s edges and divert water away from the fascia board and towards your gutters.
- Pipe flashing – As the name suggests, this type of flashing is used in roofs that are penetrated by pipes.
- Cap flashing – Cap flashing is found above your windows and doors.
- Sill flashing – This type of flashing is installed under windows and door thresholds.
- Channel flashing – U-shaped channel flashing is installed on the edges where the roof meets the walls.
- Through wall flashing – This type of flashing is used to direct water away from your interior in case it managed to infiltrate your interior.
- Kickout flashing – Located at the lower section of the roof-wall intersection, this type of flashing diverts water away from the wall.
Your roof might also suffer leaks if its flashing isn’t installed correctly. That’s why it’s important to vet a roof or gutter repair contractor before hiring one.
Here are some vetting tips:
- Hire local – Faster vetting is another advantage of hiring local contractors. You can quickly narrow down your options by focusing on contractors near your area.
- Skim through online reviews – Online reviews should give you a good idea of the level of service you expect from a roofer. Keep in mind that a few negative reviews aren’t necessarily a red flag. After all, miscommunication happens sometimes. In these cases, what you should focus on is the contractor’s response to the online complaint.
- Check how long they’ve been in business – The number of years a roof and gutter repair contractor has been working in the industry gives you a good idea of their level of expertise.
- Check their certifications – Contractors with certifications have already undergone vetting by the manufacturers or independent non-profits that issued these certifications. In a sense, they’ve done all the vetting work for you.
Looking for roofers near you?
Northeast Gutters and Remodeling, a company with an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, offers a wide range of professional exterior services, including roofing as well as snow and ice removal services. To get an estimate, call us at (860) 899-7878, or fill out this form.