Make drip edge flashing part of any roof replacement
Q. When we bought our home, the termite inspector found dry rot on the eaves, and the seller had to pay hundreds of dollars to replace the damaged boards. Now that we're selling the house, only four years later, we've had another termite inspection, and the eaves are rotted once again.
This time, it's our turn to pay for the repairs. When we mentioned this to our neighbors, they recalled the same thing happening when they bought their home. Does this happen to everyone who buys a home? If so, what's the use of making repetitious repairs every few years, without addressing the cause of the problem? Isn't there some way to break this cycle of damage and repair?
A. Dry rot on the exterior of a home is one of the most common of all home maintenance issues, especially on the eaves and the eave trim boards known as fascia. This is usually addressed only when homes are in the process of being sold and are subject to pre-sale inspections.
The cause of dry rot on the eaves and fascia boards is excess moisture, usually because of faulty drainage at the edges of the roof. Water runoff during wet weather tends to keep the fascia and eave boards continually wet, and this promotes the growth of fungus that feeds on wood fibers.
The best way to prevent fungus damage is to install drip flashing at the edges of your roof. Drip flashing consists of L-shaped sheet metal strips that extend from beneath the roofing material and lap over the edge of the eaves. Drip flashing promotes roof drainage so that wetness on the wood members is minimized.
Although common sense would dictate the use of drip flashing on all roofs, homes in many areas are constructed entirely without it. Unfortunately, most building codes do not require the use of drip edge flashing. Instead, the code specifies that the roofing materials must be installed according to the specifications set forth by the manufacturer of the roofing material. In many cases, the roofing manufacturers advise the use of edge flashing as an option, but not as a requirement. Meanwhile, roofing contractors often omit flashing in order to make their bids more competitive.
The best source for affirmative roofing standards is the NRCA Roofing Manual, published by the National Roofing Contractors Association. This book clearly specifies the use of edge flashing as part of a quality installation. Roofing contractors, product manufacturers and the authors of the building code would do well do establish this as a basic minimum standard.
Anyone who is currently paying for eave repairs or the installation of a new roof should make sure the builder or contractor installs drip edge flashing. Building a house according to code does not always ensure the best quality, and the arbitrary omission of drip flashing is a definite case in point.
Drip flashing adds a minimal cost to roof installation and can prevent very costly repairs when you eventually sell your home.
• To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at www.housedetective.com, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.
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