As winter approaches, diligent inspection and repair of vulnerable roof flashing helps safeguard homes from moisture damage and leaks caused by heavy snow, ice dams, and frigid temperatures. Properly maintaining critical flashings now better equips roofs to endure the harshest weather ahead. This comprehensive winter guide covers best practices for assessing and restoring roof flashings to optimal shape before the cold sets in.
What is Roof Flashing?
Flashing refers to sheet metal components sealing roof joints and valuables against water intrusion at intersections where different materials or planes meet. Common flashing types include rake, valley, pipe boot, chimney, skylight, and vent flashings. Durable galvanized steel and corrosion-resistant metals effectively repel moisture when properly installed and maintained as intact, watertight barriers. However, years of expansion, contraction, sun damage, and extreme weather exposure cause flashing to eventually fail if not proactively serviced.
Why Care for Flashing Before Winter?
As heavy snow presses down on roofing and multiple freeze-thaw cycles strain seams, inferior flashing integrity leads directly to leaks, ice dams, rot, and structural decay over winter. Additionally, roof flashing sustains accelerated deterioration from harsh UV rays at high altitudes during warmer months. Come winter, this localized damage manifests through ruptured, loose, or cracked flashings no longer able to withstand heavy snow weight, meltwater pooling, and severe wind. Addressing compromised flashing now prevents avoidable harm later.
Inspect All Flashing
Conduct thorough roof flashing examinations in early fall and after any intense storms. Scan for apparent damage like separation at joints or seams, puncture holes, cracks, corrosion, blockages, and evidence of leaks. Also inspect for proper slope, seam tightness, and fastener security enabling adequate drainage. Probe any spongy or rusting areas needing reinforcement too. Complete inspections when weather permits safe roof access.
DIY Flashing Maintenance Tips
Homeowners comfortable accessing their roofs safely can perform minor preventative maintenance themselves. This extends the lifespan of flashing between professional inspections. Useful DIY flashing care includes:
- Clear leaves and debris near flashing
- Reseal opened seam sealant
- Apply protective sealants
- Tighten loose fasteners
- Patch small holes/cracks
- Bolster thin, buckled areas
- Improve flashing slope as needed
- Paint rusted sections
Clear Fall Debris Near Flashings
As trees shed leaves through autumn, debris accumulation readily clogs vulnerable roof valleys and drains. Carefully remove piled leaves, plants, dirt, and other detritus around flashing to encourage optimal drainage. Clogged flashing often contributes to ice dams once winter precipitation arrives. Take advantage of mild fall weather to clear anything potentially impairing proper water runoff.
Reseal Exposed Seam Sealant
Where separated flashing edges meet, dried out or cracked seam sealant enables moisture seepage and corrosion underneath. Monitor sealants closely around flashing joints for small gaps needing re-application of pliable waterproof sealants or adhesives before temperatures plummet. Match sealant types for metal compatibility. Resealing avoids further wind and meltwater exposure of covering materials.
Apply Protective Sealants
For flashing showing signs of rust, oxidation, or surface erosion despite intact seams, apply reinforcing cold process sealants or metal primers formulated to stop corrosion and add a protective barrier coating before additional damage occurs. Butyl rubber, elastomeric coatings, and thick Mylar covers also defend flashings from harsh winter elements exposure through the outermost layer.
Tighten Loose Fasteners
Loose screws, fastening clips, nails, and other flashing attachments enable wind lifting and water intrusion if left unaddressed. Check visible fasteners around the roof flashing for tightness. Re-secure wherever protruding, seriously corroded, or absent. For temporarily patching damaged flashing itself, use sealed screw clamps or metal stick clips until permanently replaced later.
Patch Small Holes and Cracks
Left unrepaired through winter, small holes or cracks compromise flashing’s structural shielding capacity against wind, snow weight loads, and melt infiltration. Utilize patching kits or heat welding compounds to temporarily plug holes, cracks, or split seams too large for sealant alone pre-storm. This cheap repair buys time for permanent flashing fixes later under better conditions.
Reinforce Thin, Buckled Areas
Sometimes flashing sustains damage like minute fractures causing ridges or air pockets stretching the metal thinly until structural failure results. Head this off by flattening buckles with a rubber mallet for smoother airflow. Support damaged sections underneath using heat-resistant patching tape, sealant, or rubberized reinforcements to prevent cracking before replacement.
Improve Flashing Slope
For effective drainage prevention, ensure adequate angle and slope exist between flashing pieces so water readily runs off without pooling or waterfall-effect erosion. Measure slope angles with digital levels and make alignment adjustments as needed by modifying roofing structures or inserting shim pads underneath. This damping runoff protects finishes underneath.
Paint Rusted Sections
Where rust appears without deep pitting, prepare the section fully with sanders and metal etch primer before repainting with durable, rust-inhibiting metal paints matching existing finishes. Prompt touch-ups deter costly premature flashing replacement if decay remains superficial without compromising roof integration or drainage flow just yet. Prevention is key!
Hire Professionals When Necessary
While able to remediate some flashing deficiencies independently before winter, substantial visible damage or improper initial installations require contacting certified roofing specialists for comprehensive fixes beyond temporary measures. Seek professional assessments whenever encountering:
- Complete seam/joint failures
- Pervasive cracks/holes
- Roof integration problems
- Drainage/slope issues
- Extensive rust pitting
- Moisture entry points
- Flashing detachment/lifting
Only qualified roofing technicians have the expertise to appropriately remedy complex flashing failures and diagnostic testing capabilities to check for non-visible deficits like substrate damage or moisture accumulation lurking internally before repairs commence. Let professionals also handle dangerous high-roof access work scenarios as well.
Emergency Winter Flashing Repairs
Harsh storms inevitably still take us by surprise once winter begins. Prepare an emergency flashing patch kit containing temporary sealants, Mylar sheets, melt compounds, shovels, reinforcement mesh, block heaters for thawing ice-coated flashings enough to work on, and roof safety essentials like shoes, gloves, rope, and harnesses. Having resources ready to deploy for temporary repairs after storms buys crucial time until insurance adjusters authorize contracted crews for appropriate permanent restoration work later. A bit of planning makes a big difference in minimizing overall home damage!
Guard Against Winter with Watertight Flashings
Diligently maintained, durable flashing stands the best chance of shielding homes from winter’s wrath through intact, reinforced moisture barriers keeping interiors protected until spring. Follow these preventative care steps and responsive measures to confirm roof flashings remain in peak form entering the harsh weather months ahead. Stay vigilant this winter by knowing optimal flashings keep loved ones warm, safe, and dry indoors no matter how severely the bitter cold rages right overhead.
For expert flashing advice, maintenance, or repair, contact the roofing professionals at Lednor Home Solutions. You can rely on their roofing knowledge and experience to make sure your roof is safe and well-maintained all winter long. Schedule a free estimate.