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    Understanding Where Roof Leaks Happen

    There is no mystery about the fact that roof leaks represent a troublesome and potentially serious problem for a home. Should such leaks go undiagnosed or unrepaired for long enough, they can lead to all kinds of structural damage inside of your house. Such damage may include everything from to wood rot to crumbling plaster and drywall. Leaks can also lead to other problems such as:
    •    sagging or falling ceiling tiles
    •    wet insulation
    •    mold and mildew
    While it is best to allow an experienced roofing company undertake the business of repairing roof leaks, understanding where they tend to occur is a piece of knowledge that every homeowner should have. If you would like to boost your understanding of where roof leaks tend to form, read on. This article will introduce you to two common problem areas.
    The basic principle of a pitched roof is that water is not able to pool up or accumulate on it. This is key in preventing leaks since standing water will always find a way to penetrate beneath even the most well-constructed roof. Unfortunately, many people overlook one key feature of a roof in this regard: the chimney.
    The point here is that chimneys tend to be both wide and flat. That means that the back side of the chimney — the side that faces the peak of your roof — presents a flat wall that water can begin to pool up against. Intensifying the problem is the fact that things such as dead leaves, branches, and even animals also have a tendency to build up in this crevice. Such elements only act to retain a greater amount of water.
    The solution here is to have a professional roofer construct what is known as a chimney saddle. A chimney saddle is made from 2x4s, plywood, and roofing shingles. The idea is that it prevents water from congregating against the chimney by forming a surface that tilts away from the chimney, in the direction of the roof's peak. The angle of the saddle — roughly 26.5 degrees — is steep enough that the water simply cannot pool there.
    Step Flashing
    Another highly problematic area for leaks is anywhere a roof, and a vertical wall intersect. The difficult thing here is to ensure that water is not able to get beneath the edges of the shingles that are directly abutting the wall. This task is best accomplished by means of so-called step flashing; unfortunately, many homes have either insufficient or poorly installed step flashing — a scenario that makes leaks a highly likely problem.
    Step flashing consists of thin pieces of non-rusting metal, for instance, aluminum or galvanized steel. This metal is bent at a 90-degree angle so that it can be attached both to the roof and to the wall. That way, the vulnerable joint between those two elements is fully protected by the elbow of the flashing. The pieces of flashing overlap one another, thus forming a watertight layer beneath your shingles.
    As you may be able to guess, to eliminate leaks caused by absent or faulty step flashing, new flashing must be installed. It is a process that is best accomplished by a roofer with years of requisite experience. Compared to other types of flashing — for instance, the flashing used around roofing vents or skylights — installing step flashing is an intricate and nuanced operation.
    Step flashing installation always begins at the bottom corner of the wall in question. This piece of flashing is affixed to the wall using galvanized roofing nails. A bead of heavy-duty roofing caulk is then laid down along its edge, and the next piece of flashing is pressed into place. Once this piece has been nailed to the wall, the process is repeated, gradually working up the slope of the roof until the entire wall has received a protective line of flashing.