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Gap in metal flashing above window causing leak


joebann
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I'm getting water in the house - and I've found that where the flashing is supposed to be joined there is a 1/2 inch gap that is allowing the water to run into the house. (top arrow)

(I've posted a picture at: siding3.jpg )

The flashing is supposed to act as a channel. What's the best way to fix the gap in the flashing to prevent any more leaking?

I've been told to take the flashing off, and overlap it better to eliminate the gap, but I don't see how that will be water tight.

Any suggestions? Thanks!

Joe

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I'm getting water in the house - and I've found that where the flashing is supposed to be joined there is a 1/2 inch gap that is allowing the water to run into the house. (top arrow)

(I've posted a picture at: siding3.jpg )

The flashing is supposed to act as a channel. What's the best way to fix the gap in the flashing to prevent any more leaking?

I've been told to take the flashing off, and overlap it better to eliminate the gap, but I don't see how that will be water tight.

Any suggestions? Thanks!

Joe

Would it be possible to get several close ups of the top left corner of the window.

Your link is hiding behind your photo.

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You've got a rainscreen wall. Even if there is a "gap", there shouldn't ge water getting past the water resistive barrier (WRB, usually housewrap).

Rainscreens depend on a lot of underlying details so they don't leak.

When you have a leak in a vinyl wall, it's pretty much assured that a lot of vinyl has to come off to fix it correctly. The fixes almost always involve reshingling or otherwise correcting problems in the housewrap or WRB.

A better photo isn't going to tell us much, but it would help.

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You've got a rainscreen wall. Even if there is a "gap", there shouldn't ge water getting past the water resistive barrier (WRB, usually housewrap).

If I remove the flashing, there is bare wood. The wood has about a 3 inch gap. If I remember correctly (as I opened it up last year in the fall) if I look into the 3 inch gap of the wood, I can see insulation. So when water gets into the flashing gap, it then runs into that 3 inch gap in the wood, which gets the top wood panel of the inside of the window wet, and the rest of the water runs down side of the window between the wall.

What should be there? Is rainscreen wall the same as blueskin or ice and water shield? This is what someone suggested I put up...

Thanks, (sorry for the basic terminology)

Joe

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It's an incredibly ham fisted detail. By the description, I think it's a total mess; of course, can't tell for sure without being there.

That means taking siding and trim off and reinstalling it with the appropriate shingling effects on the WRB. I just couldn't trust any other repair.

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(Yes, I'm using duct tape to keep the water out.)

Red Green would be proud.[:-taped]

If I'm reading you correctly, you can see bare plywood behind the cladding and some insulation. That tells me you are missing a drainage plane or weather resistive barrier (WRB) such as building paper or HouseWrap (Tyvek/Typar)

There are folks that specialize in building technology and have written volumes on the subject so I'll try to simplify things the best I can.

Your wall should have three basic elements:

1. A material against the sheathing to allow for vapor to escape out of the building and prevent water from wetting the sheathing. The majority of builders use Tyvek, I like building paper.

2. Something to direct the water away from the building face. Flashing comes in all shapes and sizes, they are mostly made of aluminum or galvanized steel.

3. A cladding to resist the weather like snow, rain, hail, wind etc. That can be anything- stone, wood, plastic, metal, Corn Flakes.

No.1 and 2 are most important, they drain away water that's managed to infiltrate behind the siding and trim. And that's by design, we know the vinyl siding will leak, take a close look at the bottom of the sheets, those holes are there for a reason. The basic function of the siding (cladding) is to protect No. 1 from mechanical damage and ultraviolet deterioration. No. 1 and 2 are most critical and they must be correctly installed and protected.

If you can see bare and unprotected sheathing and insulation then No. 1 is missing and by all appearances No.2 is also missing at the most critical location, the top of the window.

I would remove the siding and possibly the window, correct the WRB and add flashing at both the window opening (pan flashing) and top of window (head flashing).

Anytime you have a horizontal break or difference in material a head flashing is required at the transition. In this case you need a head flashing on top of the 'band'.

Hope this helps.

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Thank you for all the responses, they really helped to guide my searching.

I spent a good few hours last night learning more about WRB and how vinyl siding is supposed to be put on. As well as how windows are supposed to be flashed.

I will remove some of the siding shortly (weather permitting) and see what's going on - then go from there.

Joe

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Ok, I've removed the metal band - and here's the pic:

bandremoved.jpg

There's a piece of wood that's been nailed across the WRB, but the WRB does not seem to continue under the wood. Here's a closeup:

closeupjw.jpg

Then following the wood down it meets the top of the window. (Don't know if that can be seen.

lookinside.jpg

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Ok, thanks for bearing with me...

Here's where I'm at...

I got some of the siding off and here's what it looks like:

bandremoved.jpg

The WRB stops about 5 inches before it reaches the opening of the window leaving 5 inches of exposed plywood.

Then there's nothing that stops water from running into the top of the window into the house.

whattodo1.jpg

Here's my question - how do I seal this up properly? (Bare in mind I'm just a dude trying to fix his house, no expert at this. Didn't even know what WRB was till yesterday.)

I'm assuming that I'm supposed to have some type of WRB from the house to the window.

1. What's the best stuff to use for that? The same black paper stuff?

2. How do I properly attach it from the house to the window? As there is a 1 inch gap from the end of the plywood to the top of the window.

3. I don't completely know where the water is supposed to go when it runs down the WRB when it meets the window. Over the front of the window?

Advice appreciated.

Thanks,

Joe

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Kurt's said it pretty good already, unless the warranty on the house is still valid.

It's an incredibly ham fisted detail. By the description, I think it's a total mess; of course, can't tell for sure without being there.

That means taking siding and trim off and reinstalling it with the appropriate shingling effects on the WRB. I just couldn't trust any other repair.

Marc

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Yeah, I was afraid of that. Anyone that would do something that stupid will do other stupid things. Like I said, I just couldn't trust any repair that didn't start over.

Vinyl siding (and just about everything else) is a linear installation process; you can't come in somewhere in the middle of the process and get it all the way right.

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Joe, with what you have found at the top you can just about bet that you will find the same at all windows and doors. Don't forget that you will most likely have the same on the sides of the windows.

It is a mess but not something that you can not recover from. Get into contact with a vinyl siding contractor in your area and seek their help and expertise. This is really something that you will not want to tackle by yourself.

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Go to vinylsiding.org and read everthing there. Then read the installation manual at certainteed.com. Then take Scott's advice and hire a siding contractor to remove and redo all of the siding and correct the flashing mistakes. You've done a good job figuring out what's wrong, these sites will help you understand what has to be done and arm you with enough information to hire the right contractor to fix it.

Tom

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Thanks for all the advice. The rapid responses REALLY helped me to piece together enough of an understanding to (I believe) address the issue.

I don't think it was as bad as I originally thought, though I do agree that further inspection of ALL windows is necessary.

Here's what I did with this window.

After removing the surrounding siding and sheet metal stuff - I saw that the WRB (tar paper) came short 5 inches from the window... but was cut around the window and continued down (which was good).

I also discovered the window cap/drip cap on top of the window was not attached to the house... it was just the horizontal section of the drip cap cut off and screwed into the window (shown in lower part of picture - yup that flat dirty looking thing), therefore it allowed water to run into the gap between the window and the wall.

bothcaps.jpg

So what I did was purchase a new drip cap that covered the top of the window AND attached 2 inches up the wall (upper part of picture)... then I covered that with some WRB self-adhesive membrane material up behind the existing tar paper. (sample on upper part of picture)

In my mind this should allow any moisture to run down the tar paper, onto the membrane, into the drip cap and run off to either side.

So no more exposed plywood. WRB layered with higher levels overlapping lower levels, all leading to a new WHOLE drip cap. HOPEFULLY this would have been the fix a contractor would have done. Or at very least a suitable fix that will last until the window needs to be redone.

After doing all that I dismantled the section over the sliding door and fortunately discovered they DID use a whole drip cap on the sliding door section and everything looks good there... so I can only assume the window was done on Friday at 5pm, and they just slapped something together to look finished. So I'm hopeful the rest of the house isn't as bad as this window... though I'll have to see.

I would have posted pictures of the work in progress, but I just wanted to get it done before the rain. I really hope my line of thinking is correct... but IT JUST survived a good rain storm with no leaks!

Thanks again to everyone, I wouldn't have been able to piece things together without your help.

edit:

I would remove the siding and possibly the window, correct the WRB and add flashing at both the window opening (pan flashing) and top of window (head flashing).

Anytime you have a horizontal break or difference in material a head flashing is required at the transition. In this case you need a head flashing on top of the 'band'.

I'm not 100% sure if I did all this... but must sleep now... I'll try and dicipher in the morning.

Joe

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Well said, Rob.

Thanks Bill,

I thought you were going to call me out on the breakfast cereal. [:-slaphap

I forgot the word sponge next to metal.

I see more Frosted flake than corn flake siding around here. It's always nailed too tight.

We had to give it up the kids were eating us out of house and home. [:P]

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