Flashing is one of the most critical components of your roof. It provides durability and protection where the roof meets other joints and structures. Unfortunately, flashing won’t last forever. Like roofing shingles, flashing wears out over time, leaving your house vulnerable. The good news is you can repair flashing on your roof without fully replacing the roof.
What Is Roof Flashing?
Roof flashing is a thin material, typically galvanized steel, used to direct water away from critical areas of the roof. You’ll find roof flashing around dormers, vents, chimneys, skylights, or anywhere that needs protection from puddling water. The goal is to allow water to run down the side of the flashing and flow over the shingles rather than finding its way to the roof deck.
Your roof wouldn’t fully protect your house from water damage without flashing. Water could drip slowly into crevices, flowing down to the wood below. It could eventually leak into your home, causing extensive damage throughout.
It’s easy to assume that your shingles are to blame when you have leaks or problems with your roof. Yet in many cases, the signs all point to flashing issues. Flashing placement is critical to a roof’s success. Roofs tend to leak where a roof starts, stops, or changes direction. That’s almost always where you’ll find flashing.
How Is Flashing Installed?
While you can purchase premade flashing, roofing professionals usually cut their own flashing from sheet metal. We cut and bend each piece to the exact size we need, then nail it into place. This often gives a tighter fit, which ensures greater protection.
Different types of roof flashing are created for the different areas on your roof. Continuous flashing is installed as long, single pieces of metal that carry water to the shingles below. But you’ll find other types of flashing around chimneys and other features. Base flashing is a two-part system that naturally expands and contracts with weather changes. Step flashing is a rectangular piece bent at 90 degrees to be used between the roof and walls.
Proper installation is critical to prevent water from seeping in, regardless of the type. It’s nailed tightly to avoid damage to the roof base and, ultimately, inside your home.
Can You Reuse Flashing?
If the flashing on your roof is working and in good shape, why not continue using it? Why replace it? We get those questions a lot. And it makes sense. Why fix something that isn’t broken?
The short answer is, if you’re replacing a roof that’s been in place for 20 years or more, do you really want to rely on the same flashing for another twenty? Considering it’s one of the most essential pieces to keep your home safe and dry, the answer is usually no.
When you take up the flashing to remove and repair the roof base, the nails will rarely line up in the original holes. Why take the chance?
Can You Repair Flashing on a Roof?
Repairing is a different matter. As your home ages, a lot can happen to your roof. Sun. Wind. Rain. Snow. Ice. Hail. All of it takes a toll.
If flashing damage is caught early enough, the repair work is usually minimal and inexpensive. Small holes can be repaired by patching. Flashing with extensive damage or high corrosion can be replaced. It may require pulling up a few shingles to access the flashing, but the cost will be lower than waiting until the damage spreads and requires a new roof.
How do you know if your flashing needs repair or replacement? Look for:
- Visible damage
- Holes in the flashing
- Corrosion or rusting
- Loose flashing
- Missing nails
- Dried-out or cracked sealant
While it’s essential to inspect your roof from time to time visually, follow roofing safety measures and be careful where you step. Avoid kneeling or stepping directly on the flashing. Even stepping within a foot away from the flashing can damage these thin strips. Excess weight can damage the joints and disturb the flashing material.
If you have a question, call. As professionals, we provide a complete inspection anytime we’re called for repair work. If something goes wrong in one area, it’s best to do a thorough inspection to ensure the entire roof is in great shape.
How To Maintain Roof Flashing
Many things can cause roof flashing damage. Your roof is constantly subjected to the environment so it can change quickly depending on the weather. A sudden hailstorm or a prolonged cold spell can damage the flashing and create problems that can quickly escalate.
That’s why it’s best to call a roofing technician at the first sign of trouble. It’s the best way to keep your roof in its best condition.
Regular maintenance should also be a part of your routine. During an inspection, the flashing edges are carefully examined for gaps allowing water to filter in. Roofing cement is observed to ensure it’s not cracked or crumbling. If it needs resealing, adding life to the roofing material is a quick job.
While roof flashing is usually galvanized steel for its aesthetic and malleable properties, it’s not the only choice. Aluminum flashing is easy to use because it’s lightweight. Copper flashing is highly durable but tends to discolor, which some homeowners dislike. When flashing is replaced, it’s essential to use the same material so the roof looks the same throughout.
Is It Time to Consult a Roof Repair Contractor?
Homeowners often make the mistake of repairing their roofs themselves. When it comes to critical components with a lot of stress placed on them throughout the year, such as flashing, it’s better to trust the experts. If it isn’t installed right, water can quickly seep underneath the roofing material and into your home.
As a quality roofing contractor, Interstate Roofing provides services for every part of your roof. Whether you want a regular inspection to ensure your roofing materials are in good condition or know there is damage currently in place and need someone to repair the flashing on your roof, our contractors will ensure the job is done correctly and up to code. And you can have peace of mind that your roof is doing its job and protecting your home.