The roof is arguably the most important part of a building because it protects occupants and valuables from harsh weather conditions. In most cases, roofs are erected, repaired and maintained by professionals because if you do it yourself, you might end up doing it wrong or create a new problem. Therefore, you need to hire an experienced contractor to help you fix your roof problems in the event you have any. If you have a leaking roof, some of the main reasons why include:
- Cracked flashing
- Broken shingles
- Valleys that are not properly sealed
- Cracked vent booting
- Skylights that are improperly installed
- Ice dam build up on your roof
- Cracked chimney
- Clogged gutters
If you happen to notice water stains on your ceiling near or above your fireplace, you need to inspect your chimney flashing because it could be the cause. Water can leak into a building through the metal flashings which are placed along the corners, front edges and ridges of your roof. It is important to understand that metal flashings are installed where your chimney and roof intersect to create a watertight seal. However, if they are not properly installed, have been subjected to a violent storm or the sealant used has deteriorated, you may experience water leaks inside the building.
How to detect a chimney flashing leak
After noticing water leaks in the building or seeing water spots on your ceiling, you need to establish the cause and have it fixed immediately. If you know that your roof is not damaged, you need to verify that your chimney flashing is the cause so you can have it fixed. To achieve this, you need to run a low-pressure hose around the leaking region (around the chimney and roof intersection) and then check for any water leaks inside the building. This should be done by two people (one on the roof operating the hose and the other in the attic). You need to have constant communication using mobile phones or walkie-talkies to clearly establish where the leak is. Remember, when using a ladder and whilst on the roof, you should exercise extreme caution to avoid any injuries. If you cannot do it yourself, you can hire a reputable roofer.
When to replace chimney flashing
Normally, you should inspect your chimney flashings every 6 months to make sure they are in optimal condition. By having regular inspections, maintenance and repair of chimney flashings, you reduce chances of having a leak inside the building. If you inspect the flashings yourself and you notice they are rusted, missing, covered with roofing tar or visibly separated from the chimney, you need to replace them immediately. Finally, you are required to replace your chimney flashings every time you replace your roof shingles. This is to ensure that the flashings you’ve installed last as long as the new roof. If you replaced your shingles and fail to replace your flashings, you might end up having roof leaks even though your roof is in good condition.
How to repair loose chimney flashing
If your flashing is not rusted or missing and it’s causing a leak, you may have to replace the sealant to prevent further leaking. Here are some tips to follow if you decide to caulk it yourself:
- You are supposed to remove all the leaves or any other debris that may have accumulated between the flashing and the chimney. This will facilitate your repair by allowing you to see the flashing properly
- Then, use a chisel to scrape off hardened roofing cement that was used previously so that you can apply a fresh roofing cement behind the flashing
- After applying roofing cement, attach the flashing tightly to the chimney with screws or masonry nails. This helps to make it watertight even during storms
- If there are any nails or screws heads that are exposed, you should cover them using roofing cement
- You need to apply roofing cement to the joint between the brick and the flashing and then use a paint stirrer or a putty knife to smooth the roofing cement applied
Unless the pitch of your roof is relatively low and you have the necessary tools, experience, and confidence to do it yourself, it is advisable to hire a professional. Leaks around the flashing can be very difficult to find and repair because they require roofing skills and experience. However, if it’s a minor flashing problem, you can go ahead and fix it yourself. Even so, if you have resealed the flashing and your roof is still leaking, hire a roofing contractor to inspect and repair your roof.