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Chimney "flashing"- what a mess


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Flashing installation methods have gone to hell in a handbasket. Of course, the flashing here is a mess, but even in new construction, builders are just fine attaching counter-flashing to the surface and applying a sealant along the top edge, which drives me nuts. I used to have to rake out my mortar joints to accomodate properly installed counter-flashing or actually lay it into the brick work. Why in the world do builders abandon such tried and true systems and install something that they know sooner or later will leak. It's shameful.

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Flashing installation methods have gone to hell in a handbasket. Of course, the flashing here is a mess, but even in new construction, builders are just fine attaching counter-flashing to the surface and applying a sealant along the top edge, which drives me nuts. I used to have to rake out my mortar joints to accomodate properly installed counter-flashing or actually lay it into the brick work. Why in the world do builders abandon such tried and true systems and install something that they know sooner or later will leak. It's shameful.

Our building code says the counter flashing must be let in to the masonry. I have never seen a new home in this area with embedded counter flashing.

-Brad

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Brad,

Maybe I have my terms wrong? The flashing in the picture is "step flashing" which would normally turn up under (what I call) counter-flashing. Maybe it's called something else. But I can say this - you won't ever see the upper piece of flashing merely fastened and pasted to an exterior surface on a school, prison, or any other building built to last a long time. Nor will you see flashing surface-mounted on older homes where an architect was involved. The upper component is always layed into the masonry which is totally unreliant on sealant and won't leak until the day water can flow uphill. You can find some fantastic flashing details in Architectural Graphic Standards, which is one heck of a book and has probably been the Bible of Architecture forever. It's an amazing book.

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Brad,

Maybe I have my terms wrong? The flashing in the picture is "step flashing" which would normally turn up under (what I call) counter-flashing. Maybe it's called somehing else. But I can say this, you won't ever see the upper piece of flashing merely fastened and pasted to an exterior surface on a school, prison, or any other building built to last a long time. Nor will you see flashing surface mounted on older homes where an architect was involved. The upper component is always layed into the masonry which is totally unreliant on sealant and won't leak until the day water can flow uphill. You can find some fantastic flashing details in Architectural Graphic Standards, which is one heck of a book and has probably been the Bible of Architecture forever. It's an amazing book.

Yep - we're on the same page. For flashing to be effective for any amount of time, the counter flashing should (must) be let into the masonry. Unfortunately, in my area, it never happens. In the past couple years I have looked at hundred of newly built homes, and every one of them has it's counterflashing caulked in place. It's terrible.

-Brad

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Flashing installation methods have gone to hell in a handbasket. Of course, the flashing here is a mess, but even in new construction, builders are just fine attaching counter-flashing to the surface and applying a sealant along the top edge, which drives me nuts. I used to have to rake out my mortar joints to accomodate properly installed counter-flashing or actually lay it into the brick work. Why in the world do builders abandon such tried and true systems and install something that they know sooner or later will leak. It's shameful.

Our building code says the counter flashing must be let in to the masonry. I have never seen a new home in this area with embedded counter flashing.

-Brad

The day of the Master Builder is long gone. Few people get the appropriate training anymore. How will they be able to teach their employees?

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They are still doing them correctly out here. The only ones that I've seen dicked up were where some handyman was hired to redo them.

OT - OF!!!

M.

Here too. In new construction, they're pretty much all done properly.

What I'm seeing more and more of, though, is roofers who refuse to cut in new step flashing on older chimneys when they repalce an old roof. They tell me that their insurance companies tell them not to cut into old chimneys to protect against liability. Most of the roofers will tell the customers up front that they'll have to hire a chimney guy to do the counterflashings. Of course, the homeowners just blow it off.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Well, you West Coasters are blessed then and I'm envious.

I see brand spankin' new 3500 - 5500 square foot houses every week with 100 feet of bright shiny copper sidewall and chimney flashing all fastened and caulked to the surface of brick veneer. My days on a drawing board making details of proper flashing in Architecture class make it a heart wrenching experience. It's why I LOVE the homes out of the 30's, 40's and early 50's - they're so architecturally "Text book" -lovely examples of a well designed and built home that can even be neglected for long periods of time, no worse for the wear.

Most of the young guys don't even realize or appreciate that the old homes they look at were agonized over regarding such choices as redwood siding because paint adheres to it like it's welded on, and slate and terra-cotta roofs that last 75 years, like it's a skip in the park, and, of course, proper maintenance free flashings. It's funny that we look at these old home and there is virtually no wood rot on a 60 year old home because of wood choices. I mean, kiln dried wood, and worse yet finger-jointed crap, as exterior trim? What is that?

When we were building custom homes, we even back-primed and end-primed every piece of exterior trim. We used to go to the "Parade of Homes" every year in Washington DC and while the average patron was uttering, "Wow!", we were looking at each other in shock and horror thinking something more like, "Oh My God!".

It's a very sad state of affairs. We are watching the erosion of tradesmanship in home building. Heck you let a new house go for four years here and the problems begin...

OK, I'm done now.. Lol.. (I think that used to be Chad's famous line from a few years ago that just popped into my head...)

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Be careful condemning surface mount flashing. I'll be the first to agree that counter flashing let into a reglet is the best way to flash a chimney or brick wall, however, the NRCA endorses an applied counter flashing. Late last year I was involved in some litigation concerning a faulty roof installation (as an authority, not defendant) and I'm glad I forced myself to research accepted flashing methods. I very nearly embarrassed myself.

Link to http://www.nrca.net/consumer/types/asph ... #flashings

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That's a nice detail for surface mounted flashing with a nice lip for sealant. Looks great and I could live with that! Most of what I'm used to seeing is merely the cut edge of copper or aluminum with sealant applied to the junction. I have no problem at all with the detail you've posted a link to - an equally beautiful thing. And, now that you have brought that particular detail up, I have seen it in some of our larger projects - something large enough to have an architect involved. I've never seen such a nicely designed surface mounted flashing on a home.

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