Your roof is a complex, multi-layered system that’s strategically designed for keeping moisture out. Roof flashing is an important part of this system. Like all other roofing components, it protects your Monroe, Connecticut home from rain, sleet, snow, and more. If you’ve had problems with your roof flashing in the past, you may be wondering exactly what it is and what it does. Following is everything you need to know about roof flashing, including why it matters.

Roof Flashing Directs Water Away From Potential Points of Ingress

For most homes, roofs aren’t a seamless application of materials over the substrate. Due to the nature of buildings, there are many potential points of ingress that require additional features to keep them securely closed off from moisture. For instance, if your roof has valleys and peaks, a chimney, or vents, each of these things creates an area of vulnerability. Flashing is used to direct water away from these features so that it cannot penetrate the outer roof, seep down into the substrate, and cause water damage to the building’s interior. Flashing is also found along the edge of the roof and the wall. Here, it keeps water and snowmelt from permeating the siding and other nearby structures.

Roof flashing can be made from several common metals including aluminum, galvanized steel, and copper. Copper is a popular choice for Connecticut homes with aesthetic enhancements such as copper downspouts and copper gutters. However, galvanized steel provides the same level of functionality and at a far lower cost. Thus, it is the most common choice for flashing in most areas.

When flashing is installed correctly, gravity naturally directs snowmelt, rain, and other moisture directly towards the gutters and downspouts. In this way, flashing can also be considered an important part of the rooftop drainage system. However, when it is improperly installed, flashing is more likely to develop rust, mold, mildew, and other problems. Improperly installed flashing won’t direct water away from vents, chimneys, or valleys, and it will create an elevated risk of leaks and eventual roof failure.

Several Common Reasons Why Roof Flashing Fails

Roofing companies aren’t always guaranteed to replace flashing when providing roof replacement services. As such, if you’ve recently purchased pre-existing construction that’s just been re-roofed, your roof may or may not have brand new flashing. This is important to keep in mind when assessing the age and overall lifespan of the entire roofing system. Among the most common causes of roof flashing failure are age and the ongoing ravages of normal wear that occur throughout the years. Like all other roofing elements, flashing is constantly exposed to the sun’s UV rays, wind, and severe weather events. Constant contraction, shrinkage, and expansion resulting from changes in temperature and the overall climate can give dated flashing a shriveled or wrinkled look. When the normally smooth texture of flashing dramatically changes, this is a sign that it’s ready to be replaced.

Incorrectly installed flashing is more likely to separate from the home when exposed to strong winds and other extreme weather events. However, flashing damage can also occur as a home settles. For new construction, early settlement issues that occur at the foundation can affect buildings structures all the way to their very tops. As foundations settle, flashing tends to loosen. Although this loosening may not be visible to the untrained eye, other changes around the home can highlight the need for a flashing inspection. For instance, if you’ve been noticing fresh cracks around door frames or at the upper portions of your walls, scheduling a roof inspection is a good idea. When settling at the foundation causes cracks to appear, the flashing around your chimney or fireplace will prove the most vulnerable.

Routine Flashing Maintenance

Apart from proper installation from the outset, roof flashing doesn’t require any special maintenance or care. It simply needs to be inspected at least once each year. This is something that your roofer will automatically do during your yearly annual roofing inspection. During a roof inspection, your roofer will check for missing or bent nails, broken seals at the edges of the flashing, cracks, and holes. Torn, cracked, and improperly sealed flashing rank among the most common causes of costly roof leaks. If you haven’t been scheduling annual roofing inspections, the risk of flashing damage and the high costs of resolving all secondary problems are good reasons to start doing so. A quick flashing fix now could wind up saving you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, in the future.

Regular flashing inspections can actually stave off a number of expensive and incredibly common roofing issues. Most roof leaks occur at areas with torn flashing given that roof valleys, vents, and chimneys are most vulnerable to moisture. Catching and correcting torn flashing early-on is considerably cheaper than waiting until the problem spirals out of control. Moreover, if you have a new roof but old flashing, these inspections will allow your roofer to diligently track the flashing’s remaining lifespan. It’s also a good idea to have your flashing inspected after any severe windstorm, hailstorm, or other severe weather event. This is especially true if you’ve got older flashing or have had flashing problems before.

Routine flashing inspections also provide many aesthetic and health benefits. Areas where damaged flashing allows moisture to enter the roofing substrate can eventually develop problems with mold and mildew. When flashing is intact, buildings are less likely to have black mold and other odorous and unattractive growths at their rooftops. When problems with rust are identified and taken care of in a timely fashion, shingles and siding in the affected areas are less likely to become discolored.

Signs Your Roof Flashing Needs to Be Repaired or Replaced

There are several signs that your roof flashing is ready to be replaced. These include:

  • Holes
  • Bends
  • Cracks
  • Missing pieces
  • Dents
  • Corrosion

Evidence of damaged siding or shingles near your roof flashing is likely a sign of disrepair. Just as flashing protects the interior of your home from roof leaks, it also protects other roofing components and various exterior features. Minor flashing damages such as bent or missing nails, small dents, or broken seals are often fixable. Severe and widespread corrosion, deep cracks, and significant bends are frequently cause for replacement.

Unless you’ve got eye-catching copper flashing that seamlessly blends with your all-copper gutters and downspouts, flashing probably isn’t one of your roof’s most noticeable features. However, it is still one of its most important. Flashing prevents roof damages that can cause separation at the roof’s valleys and at other seams. When roof valleys start to separate or when significant moisture damage occurs near vents and chimneys, it may be necessary to repair or replace the underlying roofing substrate. In severe cases of valley damage, it’s usually time to replace the roof entirely. Ignoring your flashing and neglecting to schedule annual roofing inspections can lead to progressive problems and extraordinary spending.

At CMW Roofing & Siding, we proudly serve residential and commercial property owners in Monroe, Connecticut, and the surrounding areas. We offer roofing, gutter, and siding services that include installation, annual inspections, ongoing maintenance, and repairs. We also provide several options in financing and multiple service specials. If it’s time to have your roof’s flashing inspected or if you need urgent flashing repairs, we’ve got you covered. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

David Fraga

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