Why Roof Flashing is so Important!
Roof flashing is a vital component of your roofing system. It’s found and required in many locations to help shed or manage high water flow locations, prevent water intrusion, reduce or prevent the likelihood of dry-rot and to properly seal many different types of roof transitions including the perimeter below the shingles at eaves and rake or fascia locations, where a chimney, skylight, or many types of vents protrude from the roof surface as well as at valleys, step flashings at wall transitions, attic vents, etc. There’s a saying with flashing, “Think like a water drop”. As we all know, water flows down hill and if there’s a way in water will find a way. Often when a roof leaks old or damaged flashings are the most likely culprit.
Types of Flashing
Flashing is really a general term. Different names are given to flashing depending upon where it is used or even the shape of the flashing. Here are some common flashing types:
- Drip Edge or Nosing – installed around roof perimeters such as eaves, gutters or rakes.
- Plumbing or pipe flashing – installed at roof penetrations such as ABS, metal or gas pipes or code vents that extend vertically.
- Exhaust vent flashings – Used to manage attic heat, kitchen hoods, bathroom fans, dryer vents, etc.
- Step flashing – flashing used around a projection such as a chimney, skylight or sidewall transition on a pitched roof.
- Saddles or crickets – used where a chimney, skylight or other horizontal projection extends from the roof.
- Valley flashing – used where 2 roof planes intersect and form a valley
A Major Problem for Homeowners Repairing or Replacing Roofs
Unfortunately, in Northern California when replacing a roof the most commonly re-used components of a roof are the old flashings. We have often heard homeowners say they assumed the building department would “catch it” or “stop it”. However, the unfortunate reality is that while building inspectors check clearances around “hot pipes” on the roof and to make sure that nosing flashing is installed at the perimeter, they do not require the roofer to replace these other items if existing nor to replace items like plumbing flashings, vent flashings, skylight, chimney or saddle flashings. As a result, most roofers reuse these original flashing component. There are a number of reasons given for this such as: keeping their initial estimates down to capture more work, not wanting to increase installation time or pay for more costly fabrication on chimney and skylight flashings, and perhaps most sadly is the view that it helps reduce their liability as the excuse often used is, “Sorry, the leak is a flashing issue and we didn’t replace those flashings. But we could fix it for this much…”. Homeowners are often mislead to believe their flashings would be replaced because of estimates with minimal details or disclaimers such as “replace perimeter flashings”, “nosings” or “replace flashings as needed”.
A good and honest roofing contractor knows well the importance of replacing not just mandatory but all key roofing flashings such as plumbing, exhaust, chimney and skylight, nosings and valleys flashings. There are some flashings such as roof to wall flashings that installed behind siding which may maintain perfect condition when replacing a roof or stainless steel or copper flashings that will last many decades as well as other unique scenarios. However, most flashings eventually fail at the welded seams, high water flow contact points due to rust metal expansion and contraction or are crushed or damaged in roof removal, etc. Unless brand new these should be replaced.
In addition, when a new roof is installed with old flashings it substantially affects the overall appearance or aesthetics of the new roof. Paint does not adhere well to old or rusted flashings although some do attempt to paint them.
Thousands of roofs are replaced each year in Sacramento with new shingles and old re-used flashings. Many customers call us each year to help them deal with flashings issues which were reused by roofing companies who refused to honor a workmanship warranty due to “re-used flashings”. Sadly though most homeowners are not aware of this issue until after a leak happens sometimes well after the roof was installed and the company was out of business or used the excuses mentioned above.
Don’t fall victim to old, re-used flashing or cut corners. Quality flashing work is just as important as quality roofing shingles and roofing accessories. The job of flashing to shed water on your roof is critical and so is proper installation. Hire a quality roofing contractor who is willing to replace these important roof components and who communicates clearly that they will do so.
If you need a roof replaced properly or need roof repairs call Harlan Quality Roofing. Our team of professionals take pride in every job. We believe in doing it right the first time and that includes replacing vital components like your roof flashings. If you have any questions about flashing or concerns about the integrity of your roof, contact us for more information or a free esitmate.