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Winston Salem Roofing: Article About Ensuring Quality Chimney Flashing

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Chimneys become prone to leaks whenever the flashing surrounding them is not installed properly. Here are some things homeowners should look for in order to ensure their Winston Salem roofing provides adequate protection.

Flashing should generally be replaced whenever it becomes rusty or torn. High winds may also bend the corners of flashing, leaving areas of the roof exposed. Metal that is extremely bent may not go back into position when refastened, and should therefore be replaced. Homeowners should also replace the flashing each time a new roof is installed, since the lifespan of flashing is approximately the same as for shingles.

Several materials are used to make flashing, including steel, copper and PVC. Of these, PVC is the least expensive, followed by steel and then copper. PVC flashing is also the least durable, and may easily crack or break when exposed to the elements. It is also more difficult to bend PVC into the proper shape. Copper and steel are both durable materials that can easily be molded to form a tight seal, which is why they are preferred by most roofing contractors.

Flashing may not be enough to protect roofs with chimneys very close to a valley.

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In these instances, it might be necessary to form a saddle with flashing to help whisk water away. Chimney saddles are essentially raised sections of flashing that create a trench in the center of them for water to flow down and away from the roof. Since saddles do not lie directly on the roof, they must be inspected periodically to ensure they do not come loose.

A layer of counter flashing should be placed underneath the flashing. Counter flashing is basically an "l" shaped piece of material that wraps around the base of the chimney. This material should be sealed all the way around before adding step flashing, the outermost section of flashing that extends between the roof and the exterior wall of the chimney. It typically resembles a set of stairs when viewed from the side, hence the name "step flashing."

Caulking must be placed around the step flashing to ensure a tight seal. Homeowners should inspect this caulking on a regular basis and replace it as needed to keep water from getting underneath the flashing.

Installing new flashing is not a DIY project, as a great deal of skill is needed to fit material properly. However, inspecting and making minor repairs is something every homeowner can and should do to prevent major damage to the chimney and/or roof.

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