Your roof consists of more than just shingles. Flashing is used around the chimney, as well as other rooftop vents and appliances. The following guide can help you understand how flashing works and when it needs to be repaired.
What Is Chimney Flashing?
When your roof is installed there is a gap between where the chimney protrudes and the roofing shingles. Water will flow into this gap, resulting in a leak around your fireplace inside your home. Flashing is made from sheet metal that is placed to cover this gap. It is typically sealed in place with roofing tar, caulk, or another weatherproof adhesive. Sometimes the metal will still be visible, while in some installations the metal is completely covered with roofing tar in an effort to create an even better waterproof seal along this joint.
How Can Flashing Become Damaged?
Many factors can lead to damaged chimney flashing. In some cases, the metal corrodes or begins to rust. Small holes form and the metal eventually weakens to the point where it allows water to leak through. Wind can also damage flashing, particularly if a corner comes loose and uplift tears the flashing free. Hail is another major cause of chimney flashing damage since metal can be easily dented and torn up by the striking hail stones.
Can Flashing Be Repaired?
Fortunately, you can have the flashing repaired or replaced without the need for an entirely new roof. If the damage is minor, your roofer may be able to reapply the caulk or tar to reseal the flashing to your roof. The flashing may require replacement if it has begun to rust or is otherwise irreparably damaged. In this case, your roofer will first remove the old caulk and flashing. They will seal up any leaks that may have begun beneath the flashing, and then they will replace the old flashing with a new layer.
Are There Ways to Prevent Damage?
Regular inspections are the best way to prevent flashing from becoming damaged in the first place. Most damages begin at a corner, often a corner on the upslope end of the flashing. When inspecting the roof, either annually or following a storm, check that these corners are properly adhered onto the roof and chimney stack. If the caulk or tar is cracking, peeling, or coming off, then you will need to have the flashing resealed to the roof. If you notice any type of rust or corrosion, then that section of flashing needs immediate replacement.
Contact a roofing contractor in your area for more help.