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What is Roof Flashing?

More roofing definitions

Everyone loves a good roof - to keep the rain and snow out, to allow us to sleep in on sunny days, and to make sure birds don't nest in our books or ruin the furniture. However, for many people, a roof is something we depend on, but don't think about. Until, of course, a roof leaks

If you are dealing with a leaky roof, you will probably hear a contractor talk about flashing. Roof flashing is generally made from galvanized metal or aluminum and is placed wherever parts of a pitched roof intersect or penetrate. Its purpose is to direct water to run-off down the slope of the roof. Flashing is extra protection for the most vulnerable places on a roof such as where the chimney joins, at the edges of skylights, where dormers meet a roof plane, or any similar seam or joint in a roof design. Flashing is generally nailed down, but when flashing is corroded, bent, or missing, it will not work effectively and water can get inside a home and cause serious damage.

copper roof flashing

Types of Flashing

There are a few different kinds of flashing for the places it is needed.

  • Step flashing: Used around the base of a chimney, step flashing is placed on each row of shingles so it appears to "step up" the roof.
  • Valley flashing: Used where two roof slopes meet, valley flashing is V- or W-shaped to fit into the groove.
  • Vent pipe flashing: Fits over flues and pipes. Shaped like a cylinder.
  • Drip edges: Placed around eaves to protect the finished edging of the house.

Repair and Maintenance of Flashing

If you want to keep your home dry, prevent the growth of mold, and extend the life of your roof, maintenance of roof flashing is important. A visual check for loose nails, peeling caulk, or rusty metal each time you clean the gutters is one easy way to stay on top of the situation. If you live in a rainy or snowy climate, the flashing - along with other roof elements - will experience extra wear and tear. Normal house settling can also affect the fit of flashing. Corroded or loose flashing needs to be replaced immediately to ensure the integrity of your roof.