Chimney Flashing Guide: Types, Lifespan & Replacement

Here, we’ll be discussing the types of chimney flashing, parts, and flashing repair among other things.

If you have a chimney, you should be knowledgeable about its different parts. There are internal and external sections of a chimney.

In this guide, our interest is on the latter with a special focus on chimney flashing. Speaking of the chimney flashing, this is the waterproof seal that keeps both roof and chimney from water damage.

Water damage results when there’s penetration. To form a protective barrier against water, the chimney flashing is used in conjunction with caulk to create a waterproof seal.

About Chimney Flashing Process

To make meaningful progress, it’s important to first clarify what a chimney flashing is and what it does. By its design, a chimney flashing is made to keep out or prevent water penetration.

Without the flashing, water easily seeps through the space between the roof and chimney.

This is where the chimney flashing is located. Consider the chimney flashing as a weather stripping that serves to combat moisture problems.

Now, the chimney flashing consists of three main parts; cap flashing, step flashing, and base flashing.

  • Cap Flashing

This component of a chimney flashing is L-shaped and designed to seal the step flashing.

Also called counter flashing, the cap flashing is installed in a way that it fits into a groove that’s created in the chimney brickwork.

  • Step Flashing

The step flashing is also an L-shaped component made of metal. You’ll find the step flashing beneath the roofing shingles and also along with chimney bricks.

Like other parts of the chimney flashing, its function is to help keep out moisture.

  • Base Flashing

This is yet another part of the chimney flashing connecting the roofing surface to the vertical surface of a chimney.

All of these chimney flashing parts together serve to prevent water damage to your structure.

Types of Chimney Flashing

Having discussed the different parts of a chimney flashing, it’s necessary to shift our attention to flashing types.

Here, we’re mostly looking at the materials these flashings are made of. The most common include PVC or vinyl, aluminum, copper, and steel flashings.

  • PVC or Vinyl

When seeking the most suitable flashing material for warm weather climates, PVC or vinyl will easily fit such needs. Areas with lots of humidity and wetness aren’t suitable for this type of flashing.

Vinyl is known to be brittle. As such, it can easily give way or crack under such conditions.

It’s best to allow an experienced chimney technician to pick the most suitable flashing material for your location. Also, all chimney-related installation jobs should be handled by trained technicians.

  • Aluminum

Aluminum is another type of flashing considered among the most popular.

This is due to its versatility. In other words, aluminum fits any roof type. Plus, it’s one of the favorites used by chimney contractors because it doesn’t rust.

It’s also suitable for all weather types.

  • Copper

When considering the best chimney flashing type, copper flashings are easily cut due to their durability. It also improves curb appeal and is resistant to rust.

This material will easily withstand all kinds of weather conditions.

However, a clear downside associated with copper chimney flashing use is the costs. This is the most expensive option of all flashing types.

As such, the cost of installation is likely to play a key role in determining installation.

  • Steel

If you need a chimney flashing with guaranteed durability as well as having non-corrosive properties, steel flashings will easily make the list. Variants include steel and galvanized steel.

This is also a popular material with chimney contractors and homeowners.

Chimney Flashing Lifespan

There’s a need to know how long it will take until your flashing needs replacement.

This can be confusing for persons having no idea of when the chimney flashing was installed. This is especially true if you recently moved into the building.

Typically, a chimney flashing should last over 30 years.

However, this is only the average as multiple factors may impact replacement frequency. The most common of these factors include your location, materials used as well as the size and shape of your chimney.

Knowing When to Replace Chimney Flashing

Among the key chimney maintenance requirements is knowing when to call for flashing replacement. As stated earlier, chimney flashings come with an estimated lifespan of 30 years.

This important chimney component will show several signs pointing to the need for replacement.

You’ll have to be attentive enough to notice. In situations where there’s doubt, it’s best to have a chimney technician come around for inspection.

Signs pointing to the need for chimney replacement include visible gaps in caulking around flashing and internal or external leaks.

Other signs include water stains, dripping sounds, discolored bricks, and rust stains. However, not all such signs are 100% proof of flashing disrepair.

Other causes outside of a faulty flashing may be the reason. This is why further inspection is necessary.

  • Visible Gaps in Caulking Around Flashing

There are situations where visible gaps appear in caulking around the chimney flashing.

When such is noticed, it’s best to take urgent action to fix the problem. Here, it’s evident that your flashing needs to be replaced.

In some cases, repair may be carried out while replacement may be the only option in other situations. It all depends on recommendations from your chimney technician.

  • Internal or External Leaks

Sometimes, you may experience leaks from the inside or outside of the chimney.

At other times, both may apply. Here, a chimney technician must be called urgently to provide a fix. This is likely to involve chimney replacement.

  • Water Stains

When chimney flashings are faulty, they let in water which causes stains on walls or interior ceilings. These visible stains require investigation.

Your chimney flashing will likely have to be replaced.

  • Dripping Sounds

Sometimes, you may hear dripping sounds caused by leaks from chimney flashing.

Further evidence is seen in puddles appearing among others. This is a clear reason to have your flashing checked and possibly replaced.

  • Discolored Bricks

Like discolorations to interior ceilings, bricks may also get discolored when your chimney flashing is damaged.

With further investigation, the need to change your chimney flashing may arise.

  • Rust Stains

Moisture easily promotes rust. This is likely to be the case when a chimney flashing is faulty.

A chimney contractor should be called upon to carry out further investigations and necessary actions taken.

The basics of chimney flashing have been discussed.

With this information, you’re able to call for immediate fixes to your chimney flashing problems.

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