One of the most common deficiencies we encounter at nearly every home we inspect is missing kickout flashing. To understand its importance, we should first define what flashing is in general. The term flashing refers to any impervious material (usually metal) that is installed – especially at roofs – to prevent water or moisture intrusion that could damage underlying materials, like wood wall sheathing. Most flashing is always installed because it’s simply a given that it must be to prevent fast and widespread damage. Kickout flashing, on the other hand, is usually not installed, despite the fact that it is extremely important and fairly easy to put in place, and the damage caused is often concealed for quite some time before it is discovered.
Kickout flashing is designed to be installed at the base of roof-wall intersections, along the bottom of the wall where the roof eave and wall meet. A common example would be a lower garage roof joining a wall of a higher second story. The kickout flashing is typically L-shaped and is installed at the base of the wall with one edge angled toward the downspout. The purpose of the kickout is, as its name suggests, to “kick” (divert) rainwater coming down the wall into the gutter rather than onto the wall material below. The end of the gutter in this same area should also be at least one inch from the adjoining wall rather than directly against it. Here are a couple of example illustrations of kickout flashing and where it should be installed:
Kickout flashing is often neglected because it is viewed as a mere add-on and is small. When a roofer has to install an entire roof with long pieces of flashing in multiple areas, it is easy to forget about the much smaller and seemingly less significant kickouts. Unfortunately, though, that error can result in quite a bit of damage that will likely go unnoticed for quite some time. In fact, I would wager that if the siding below corners without kickouts were removed on many homes, water damage would be evident on the wall sheathing beneath more often than not. Here’s an example of wall damage beneath a roof-wall intersection that didn’t contain kickout flashing after the siding was removed:
In cases like this, evidence of damage is usually visible on the siding itself, but no one would know that this level of damage was present on the wall sheathing without doing some invasive work. And needless to say, this damage would only continue to worsen if not located and repaired.
Take a look at your roof and all areas where the roof surface meets a sidewall. If no kickout flashing is present (and it likely won’t be), consider contacting a qualified contractor to have kickouts installed. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to also have them take a look at the surrounding wall areas for signs of water damage that may be hidden and need repaired.
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