It is easy to focus on maintaining your roofing material whether it be asphalt shingles, clay tiles, or metal panels. A less obvious repair arises when you have damaged flashing. In order to avoid leaks, you need to understand what flashing is, how it fails, and how to make repairs.
What Is Flashing?
Your roofing material—whatever it is— is designed to guide precipitation that falls on your roof down the roof surface, but what happens with water that falls on vent pipes, dormers, or chimneys. Water can run down the vertical sides of the protrusion and under your roofing material. Another problem spot is found in the valleys of your roof. In these valleys, gravity will push the water towards the low point in the valley, and it can then leak under your roofing material. To protect your roof, contractors will install strips of metal in these problem areas to guide water onto your roofing material and off of your roof.
How Does Flashing Fail?
If your flashing is secured to your roof with nails, the nails can pull out as the flashing expands and contracts with changes in temperature. As the nails fail, the flashing can pull away from the vertical surfaces of your roof. Also, falling limbs or other trauma can poke holes in or tear your flashing. In the first case, water can leak under the flashing, and in the second, water can leak through the flashing.
How to Make Repairs
Making repairs to flashing will depend on what kind of damage you find:
1. If you notice that the nails in your flashing are pulling out, remove the nails and replace them with screws. Make sure that the screws you use are made from the same material as the flashing—copper screws for copper flashing, galvanized screws for galvanized, etc. Cover the screw head with roofing cement.
2. If the flashing has begun to pull away from a vent, chimney, or other vertical protrusion from your roof. You will need to first use roofing cement or screws to adhere the flashing to the protrusion, then seal the top of the flashing with a bead of chalking.
3. If you have a hole in the flashing, cut a patch out of a thin sheet of the same kind of flashing. Adhere this patch to your flashing with roofing cement.
In order to keep your roof in good condition, make sure that you don't ignore your flashing when you inspect your roof for signs of damage. You can save a little money by making repairs on your own, but if you don't feel comfortable making repairs to your roof for whatever reasons, you can call in professionals (such as those from North Shore Roofing & Drainage Ltd) to make repairs for you.