How Are Your Pipe Flashings?

How Are Your Pipe Flashings?

roof pipe flashingWhen it comes to owning a home, a good maintenance plan is always a worthy investment. In fact, you can avoid some expensive water damage issues by having your roof inspected every 3-5 years. Here in the Northwest, your roof will get hit with more than three feet of rain every year. Combine that with a couple annual wind storms and it makes a lot of sense to have your roof checked once in a while. Inspections are a special part of the quality service we’ve offered in Portland since 1980.

A Common Problem

When your home was originally constructed, pipes were installed everywhere for plumbing and ventilation, a few of which protrude through your roof. Some of these pipes let air in so that water flows smoothly through your sinks, tubs and toilets. Others facilitate the exhaust of hot moist air generated in your kitchens and bathrooms. At the point where the pipes come through your roof, a metal base plate and rubber seal are also installed, which is called flashing. These fixtures are made to keep the penetration leak free and they come in a variety of sizes to accommodate whatever pipes are used.

However, the service life of the most common pipe flashing products on roofs in the Portland area is about 8-10 years. You can find higher quality flashing products that will last up to 20 years. As time passes, the flashings will wear out. The rubber will crack and deteriorate, letting water flow into your attic and your home.

If this continues on unnoticed, the rain that comes in through your compromised flashings will travel down the pipes, behind the walls, and eventually rot the wood structure in your kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry room. Wherever there is an elbow in the pipe, the water could drip, causing stains and leaks in your ceiling.

We’ve been working on roofs in the Portland metro area for 35 years now, and we’ve seen and used a variety of flashing materials made by different manufacturers. Not all of them fail in that 8-10-years time frame. There are a number of factors that can affect the lifespan of your flashings, such as the slope and directional exposure of your roof. If your roof has a steep slope but your roofer used a low-slope flashing, it may not last as long. Additionally, the flashings that exist on the sides of your roof that face the South or the West will endure more heat and direct sunlight, causing them to break down more quickly.

The Proper Solution

With every problem there are good and bad solutions. The quick fix for a leaky pipe flashing is to seal it with caulking, but this is not intended to be a lasting solution. You’d be lucky if it got you through one season. Depending on the cause of the flashings’ demise, as well as the age of your roof, the best solution is usually to install a new flashing. Cutting corners will only cause a frustrating cycle of unnecessary stress and repairs.

Concerned about roof leaks? Give us a call at 503-635-8706 or visit our contact page to send us an email.

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