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  • Writer's pictureTodd Engle

Flashings the weak spot for leaks

Updated: Nov 12, 2022

Valleys are weak spots in roofing systems. They have a lesser slope than the adjacent roof planes. They erode faster because water is directed into them. Inspectors must look not only at visible flashing, but also at the adjacent roof covering, at least a couple of feet on either side.

Valleys are defined as two main types: open and closed.

Open valleys are defined as roof plane coverings that do not overlap each other across the valley center so that the flashing material is visible, as is the case with most tiles and wood shingles. Closed valleys are flashings that are not readily visible because the roof plane material is carried over from one plane to the next, as is the case with most asphalt shingle applications.

Valley Flashing Materials

Valley flashing can be made of different materials and designs, depending on the type of roof covering. The common materials include:

  • roofing felt or tar paper;

  • roll roofing;

  • membrane material (ice and water shield); and

  • metal flashing, generally galvanized or coated steel, or stainless steel, lead or copper.

Asphalt Shingle Valleys

Open valleys are a rare sight on asphalt shingle roofs and should be formed with:

  • roll roofing in two layers. The first layer should be 18 inches wide laid face down in the valley, and the second layer should be 36 inches wide laid face up. Both plys should be cemented down, and the shingles cut back to 3 inches from the centerline; and

  • metal flashing a minimum of 24 inches wide with a center rib at least 1 inch high, nailed at 18 inches on center, and not more than 1 inch from the outer edges. Ideally, this would also have a layer of ice and water shield installed under the flashing, extending the flashing protection to 18 inches on either side of the valley.

In both cases, it is good practice to also cut an angle on the top of the shingle to help stop water from migrating across the top of the shingle.

Closed and closed-cut valleys are more common with asphalt shingle roofs.

A fully closed valley is when the shingles from both planes are interwoven across the valley and extend a minimum of 12 inches onto the adjacent plane. A closed-cut valley is when the shingles from one roof plane cross over to the next, but the covering overlaid from the other plane is cut back 2 inches from the centerline of the valley.

In both cases, the valleys should still have additional protection with one of the following applied, in addition to the normal felt or tar paper underlayment:

  • one layer of 36-inch roofing felt or tar paper;

  • one layer of 36-inch roll roofing; or

  • one layer of 36-inch ice and water shield.

The shingles should not be nailed within 6 inches of the valley centerline, and the un-nailed areas should be cemented down. InterNachi provided.

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