Although professional roofing inspections are a must, keeping an eye on your roof in between is also critical. As the homeowner, you have the most frequent opportunities to look at the roof and to notice incipient damage early.
Sadly, many homeowners only have a vague idea of what to look for when checking their roof for damage. You should inspect not only the shingles but also the flashing. The flashing is made of metal strips and protects corners and edges, including cut edges where something (such as a vent or chimney) goes through the roof.
Here are three things to look for when inspecting the flashing.
1. Look for Missing Flashing
Once you know exactly where to look for flashing, this one should be easy. Start by identifying all the edges and corners of your roof that need flashing, as well as valleys, and then move on to any roof penetrations.
Roof penetrations include skylights, dormer windows, and places where a vent or chimney goes through the roof, as well as places where something such as a satellite dish or solar panel is fastened on. The fasteners have to go through the shingles in order to anchor into the roof, and this provides an opportunity for moisture to get through.
Sometimes, vents will have caulking around them instead of metal flashing. Caulk is highly inferior because it has a much shorter lifespan than flashing and cracks easily, letting water through. If you don't replace it with metal flashing, your roof is likely to require more frequent maintenance and repairs. The best choice is to have caulk replaced professionally.
2. Look for Damaged Flashing
Flashing can come by damage in several ways. For example, it can rust over time, it can sustain weatherrelated damage from hail or from wind-thrown branches, or it can be violently pulled off by pests trying to get into your attic.
Some specific types of damage you'll want to keep an eye out for include:
- Visible rust or corrosion
- Missing fasteners
- Dents or cracks
- Bent, creased, or warped flashing
Since damaged flashing needs to be replaced and flashing that's incorrectly installed leads to serious leaks, you'll need to call out a roofing professional if you identify these types of damage to your flashing.
3. Look for Poorly Installed Flashing
A good flashing situation for a typical roof penetration such as a chimney includes two strips of flashing: the base flashing and the counter flashing.
There are several other types of flashing on a typical roof, such as step flashing and continuous flashing. Some common installation mistakes to look for include:
- One strip of flashing used where a roof slope meets a vertical wall. Instead, small pieces called "step flashing" should be used between each layer of shingles.
- Incorrectly fastened flashing. For example, a vent flashing apron that's not nailed down.
- Flashing used alone behind a wide chimney. If it's more than 31 inches across (or at the bottom of a slope), your chimney needs a chimney cricket behind it.
- Absence of kick-out flashing. This is a small piece of metal installed at the lower corner of a roof slope that meets a wall, so water won't dump down the wall.
In order to detect all possible flashing issues, you'd need to be a trained roofing professional, but don't worry; once your roof has good, sound flashing, you don't need to worry about this issue until the next time some of the flashing becomes damaged and needs replacing.
As you can see, hiring a roofing professional who's expert at installing flashing systems to keep water out of your home effectively is extremely important. Feel free to get in touch with Carroll Roofing Company, Inc., for any advice and repairs or maintenance on your roofing system. We offer emergency services and can even give you a free estimate.