Is Your Roof Flashing Healthy? 6 Ways to Tell

Is Your Roof Flashing Healthy? 6 Ways to Tell

Roof flashing is the number one defense (and in some cases the only defense) your roof has against leaks at edges and other susceptible spots. And you’re often the only thing standing between the flashing and a roof leak because of neglect. Keeping an eye on your roof and its flashing contingent should be near the top on your roof maintenance priority list.

Here are six ways to tell whether your roof flashing is healthy and in great shape or whether it needs a little TLC.

1. Check for Extraneous Roofing Tar

Roofing cement (asphalt-based product, quite often referred to as “tar”) is invaluable for roofing work. But unfortunately, people can, in some cases, use it a little too often. Roof cement is sometimes used for repairs when the person doing the repair work isn’t quite sure how to fix the problem or doesn’t take the time to complete the best possible repair.

In this case, you may find excess roofing cement slathered on over your flashing. The issue is that it’s not a lasting repair because roof cement will dry out and crack over time, exposing the area again.

2. Make Sure All Flashing Is Present and Accounted for

Several types of roof flashing need to be present for a well-functioning shingle roof. For example, you have drip-edge flashing and gable flashing, and in some cases may have valley flashing if you have any roof valleys. 

Some roofs also have a spot where a roof surface meets a vertical wall, and these spots typically need to have stepped flashing as well as kick-out flashing to direct rain away from walls. You also may need specialized flashing around any roof penetrations (such as the chimney, the kitchen and bathroom fan vents, any skylights, and so on).

3. Inspect Flashing Installation

If you’ve never done so, have a roofing contractor come out and inspect all the flashing on your roof to make sure it’s correctly installed. In some cases, the right flashing may be in use but not correctly fastened or installed. In this case, the water may be directed behind the flashing and cause damage to decking and/or walls.

4. Check for Roof Leaks

Flashing is one of the primary causes of roof leaks, so if you have any water intrusion through the roof around the perimeter, that may be an indicator you need flashing work. Don’t wait until water starts pouring into your living space. Check your attic space periodically for stains and other marks that indicate a water leak.

5. Compare Flashing Conditions Against Last Year

A good habit you can start developing now is to perform home roofing inspections using a high-quality camera. This isn’t a substitute for professional inspections, but it will help you keep an eye on things better. Take detailed pictures of the flashing every year, and then compare the flashing’s current condition against the most recent photos to see if any changes jump out.

6. Inspect for Specific Types of Damage

Keeping an eye on your roof flashing is all very well, but you need to know how to pinpoint a problem when it appears. Here are a few of the specific things you should look for when you check your flashing for damage:

  • Rust or corrosion
  • Cracks or holes
  • A warped or bent appearance
  • Caulk or roof cement that’s cracking or flaking off
  • Noticeable differences in appearance

Some of these problems are easier to spot than others. But they can all indicate that something has gone wrong with your flashing and that it will need maintenance or even replacement in some cases. Be sure to check for these types of damage on a regular basis, including after every storm.

These six methods can help you monitor your roof flashing so it won’t go unnoticed if the flashing fails and leaves your roof vulnerable. If you suspect your flashing needs work or if you’d like to schedule a professional roof inspection, get in touch with SUNVEK to discuss how we can help you and your roof.