Many homeowners have avoided some very costly leak issues by having their roof checked every three to five years. Because our homes are inundated with 3.25 feet of rainfall each year combined with our normal 20-30 mph Southwest winds, it just makes sense to give the roof a checkup. Prevention is always a safe investment when it comes to your home. This “Well Care Plan” checkup is a Roof Life of Oregon specialty and we have been perfecting it since March 4th, 1983.
The issue of concern in today’s blog is pipe flashing failure. You can see in the video this pipe flashing is worn out. Once the rubber is cracked or compromised water flowing down the roof will enter the home essentially undetected. Pipe flashings are most commonly used to secure the area of the roof where plumbing pipes exit through the roof top. When your home was originally built, plumbing pipes where installed throughout the house and the vent pipes which protrude through the roof are part of that system. These vent pipes allow air to be drawn in, so that the water in your sinks, tubs and toilets can discharge and the system can drain correctly. When the pipes are installed through the roof, they are typically flashed in with a metal base plate with a neoprene seal to accommodate whatever size pipe it happens to be. Most homes use this type of pipe flashing and the average life span in Portland, Oregon is 12 years. (There are other types of pipe flashings that can be used that have a longer service life).
Left unfound or unrepaired, these failed flashings allow water to enter through the roof and travel down the pipes, behind the walls, as they make their way towards the toilets, sinks, and tubs and begin to rot the wood structure in your home. If the pipe has a bend in it, the water could drop off the pipe causing a stain in your ceiling.
From our experience it seems that there have been varied grades of neoprene used over the years by different manufactures as not all pipes fail in that average time of 12 years. Directional exposure and pitch of roof also make a difference. Additionally, the South and West sides of the roof are exposed to more direct sunlight and therefore super heat causing premature breakdown of the pipe flashing. Using a low slope pipe flashing on a steep slope roof is often a cause of failure too.
The solution of course is varied but always correct. Depending on the age of your current roof, we might reinstall another universal style pipe flashing getting your roof to the end of its service life. If it was a miss application, we will re-install a new correct pipe for the job.
Some people think that caulking the pipe flashings and not replacing it is the answer. In our history at Roof Life of Oregon we have learned that it can be cheaper to do that in the short run. However, because the fix is only temporary, it will often fail in the middle of maintenance cycle causing unnecessary stress and costly repairs.
We think it is best to just replace them.