Roof flashing is used to tie two elements of architecture together, eliminating a seam that could otherwise cause leakage and/or rot. As such, it is an important element of your home whose importance is often underestimated. From time to time, this flashing will require a little bit of maintenance, so let’s talk about the things that will be involved in that maintenance.
How To Check The Flashing
In most cases, you will need to carefully consider the safety issues before you even check the flashing. You might be able to use binoculars to check your roof from below (or a window), but it’s hard to get a complete view of things in that way. To properly inspect your home’s flashing, you will need to invest in a good ladder, and it will need to be large enough to reach the roof.
One thing to note here: If your roof’s slope is too steep to climb, do not attempt to check the flashing yourself. You will need to hire the services of a professional. It might be a little bit expensive, but a broken neck is a lot more so.
What To Look For When Checking The Flashing
Here is a shortlist of the things you want to check out and examine when checking the flashing. We will also include brief instructions for repair:
- Most flashing will have caulk around its edges. This serves as another seal against moisture, but it tends to degrade over time. Look for peeling, cracking, pitted spots, and missing beads. This is probably the most common flashing maintenance job. Naturally, this can be fixed by peeling off the old caulk and applying a new layer.
- Roof flashing is most often made of aluminum, which is used for its anti-corrosion properties. That’s a fancy way of saying that it doesn’t rust. Unfortunately, it is not as durable as steel. When it cracks or breaks, you will need to replace the section.
- Flashing is attached with nails or screws, and both of these can wiggle themselves loose over time. This happens because of the natural flexing of wood. As it heats and cools, it bends very slightly, as does the attached flashing. If you see any raised nail or screw heads, pound or tighten them down.
- Aluminum may not rust, but it can become discolored if it gets dirty. If the flashing has lost most or all of its shine, it is probably due for a good cleaning.
- Obviously, missing pieces of flashing are a serious problem that can only be fixed with replacement.
- Sometimes, flashing can peel away from its seal. It might look fine from far away, but it has lost that essential bond between sealer and surface. Add more caulk to fix this one.
How To Maintain Roof Flashing
In the above section, we talked about how you can identify and address various roof flashing problems. However, prevention is always better than repair because you keep the problem from occurring in the first place. Here are some simple maintenance tasks that you can do from time to time if you want to keep your roof flashing in good shape.
- At least once a year, you should give the roof flashing a little cleaning. You don’t need to go overboard with harsh chemicals, either. A little bit of soapy water can be combined with a mildly acidic substance like lemon juice or vinegar. This will remove debris and corrosion. A piece of super-fine steel wool might also be helpful here.
- At least once a year, you or a trusted professional should inspect your roof flashing closely. This might be done as part of a total roof inspection, or as a separate job (depending on your needs). There are a lot of problems that will not be found until you get a close look.
- Even if you don’t see any obvious problems, it’s a good idea to re-do the caulking around the outside of your flashing once in a while. Once every two years should be sufficient, but areas with extreme weather might require more frequent replacement.
As you can see, this isn’t a particularly hard matter. Roof flashing doesn’t tend to need a whole lot of maintenance, but it’s still important to understand the basics. Your roof flashing represents an important barrier between the inner part of your home and the elements. As such, a flashing problem can be a very serious one. Even a small leak can cause problems over time, so keep your eye on the ball. If our short article has helped you to understand this problem a little better, feel free to fill out the contact form below.