Prevent Roof Leaks By Protecting Your Flashing

You might think the secret to preventing roof leaks is to keep your shingles in good shape – but while intact shingles are important, there's another component of your roof that need to be in good shape to prevent water from coming in: the flashing. Here's a closer look at what flashing is, how you can protect it, and what to do if you think your flashing is damaged.

What is flashing?

If you look up to your roof, you'll see metal sheathing around the chimney and also around any other objects that protrude from your roof. You may also see metal in any valleys where different portions of your roof come together. This is flashing. It is meant to form a barrier along the edge of shingles so that water does not seep under the shingles. So as you would expect, if the flashing becomes damaged or falls off completely, water can easily seep under the shingles and into your home.

How can you keep flashing in good shape?

Make sure you keep your roof free from debris. Leaves can collect in valleys and around the flashing that secures chimneys and other structures; they trap moisture against the flashing, leading to corrosion and rust. Whenever you see leaves or other debris on your roof, use a long-handled broom or a leaf blower to clear it off.

You should also inspect your flashing once a year. Spring is a good time to do this since the winter season can be hard on flashing with all of the snow and ice it brings. Wipe the flashing off to remove any small debris, and look for any small holes or corroded spots. If you see a speck of corrosion, you can apply a dab of roofing cement to it. Just squeeze some cement onto a little spatula, and wipe it onto the corroded area. As long as you spot the corroded areas when they're still small, you can stop them from leading to leaks with this method.

What should you do if your flashing develops substantial damage?

There are several types of more serious flashing damage that you may spot while you're inspecting your roof:

  • Corroded areas that are larger than, say, the size of a penny
  • Flashing that is bent and is peeling away from the chimney or another structure
  • Flashing that is no longer attached to the roof as it should be

All of these issues mean that the flashing needs to be replaced. Unfortunately, this is a pretty involved project since it will involve removing  and replacing some layers of singles. If your flashing is in need of replacement or extensive repair, contact a roofing contractor to tackle the project for you.