Author Topic: Window flashing help  (Read 612 times)

TrudgingAlong

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Window flashing help
« on: March 11, 2017, 02:45:55 PM »
The house we bought a couple months ago has caulk and no window flashing. We want to find someone to do all the windows as well as the roof line over the garage. Who might do this? A siding guy, window installer, roofing company? I have no idea where to begin to look. This isn't a job we're planning on attempting ourselves, as it's a two story house, we live in the PacNorWest, so lots of rain and needs to be done right.

TrudgingAlong

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Re: Window flashing help
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2017, 04:03:03 PM »
I realize this is probably the wrong forum, heh, but more related to diy - how hard is window flashing to install? Would we be crazy to consider attempting it ourselves? I don't know anything about it.

paddedhat

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Re: Window flashing help
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2017, 10:21:34 AM »
Flashing can be a bit of an issue for a dIYer, since most pros. have a very large portable sheetmetal brake they operate onsite, to fabricate custom profiles that address quirky sizes and shapes of material needed. I would find a small, local window replacement and/or siding contractor. The key here is to find a guy who is a small self employed craftsman, NOT one of the slick window replacement or siding companies. Given that sheetmetal work is a bit of a learned art, with lots of specialized tools and techniques, and that many homeowners can't caulk anything and have it look like it wasn't done by a three year old, this is one time where a good pro. can eliminate a lot of pain and frustration.

TrudgingAlong

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Re: Window flashing help
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2017, 11:14:24 AM »
Flashing can be a bit of an issue for a dIYer, since most pros. have a very large portable sheetmetal brake they operate onsite, to fabricate custom profiles that address quirky sizes and shapes of material needed. I would find a small, local window replacement and/or siding contractor. The key here is to find a guy who is a small self employed craftsman, NOT one of the slick window replacement or siding companies. Given that sheetmetal work is a bit of a learned art, with lots of specialized tools and techniques, and that many homeowners can't caulk anything and have it look like it wasn't done by a three year old, this is one time where a good pro. can eliminate a lot of pain and frustration.

Thank you! I thought it would be something along those lines. Now to find someone decent...

lthenderson

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Re: Window flashing help
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2017, 08:29:58 AM »
A picture might be useful in this situation. I've seen several people who confuse the terms flashing and drip caps. Some windows have drip caps systems that are integrated well enough that it can be hard to tell to the average person. Your windows might be fully sealed and you just might not know it by looking at them. A good expert should be able to tell you this by looking at it.

Prospector

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Re: Window flashing help
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2017, 09:07:52 AM »
Around here the guy you want also installs seamless eavestrough. they usually have the word "Alumination" in their business name.
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threefive

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Re: Window flashing help
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2017, 09:26:53 AM »
Flashing can be a bit of an issue for a dIYer, since most pros. have a very large portable sheetmetal brake they operate onsite, to fabricate custom profiles that address quirky sizes and shapes of material needed. I would find a small, local window replacement and/or siding contractor. The key here is to find a guy who is a small self employed craftsman, NOT one of the slick window replacement or siding companies. Given that sheetmetal work is a bit of a learned art, with lots of specialized tools and techniques, and that many homeowners can't caulk anything and have it look like it wasn't done by a three year old, this is one time where a good pro. can eliminate a lot of pain and frustration.

This. If you have never tried to fabricate a sheet metal sill pan with tin snips and pliers, then you don't know what hell is. Even most crappy contractors just forget it, slap a bunch of silicone down, and call it a day. Years later I'm doing it myself because rain water is now pouring into my kitchen from under the door.

For vinyl windows on a house-wrapped, vinyl sided house, they make a self-sticking flashing that is actually pretty easy to use. I've replaced some of the windows and much of the non-existent flashing on my house's existing windows using this stuff. Just follow the directions and be sure the overlap pattern is right.

Otherwise, pony up and pay an actual professional. Flashing is one of those areas where you might not know you buggered it up until a few years later when you have a very expensive problem.

TrudgingAlong

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Re: Window flashing help
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2017, 09:28:14 AM »
A picture might be useful in this situation. I've seen several people who confuse the terms flashing and drip caps. Some windows have drip caps systems that are integrated well enough that it can be hard to tell to the average person. Your windows might be fully sealed and you just might not know it by looking at them. A good expert should be able to tell you this by looking at it.

I will admit right away I have no idea how to evaluate this. This is our first house. We've been doing the military life thing for fifteen years, so didn't have e stability to buy until now. I'm going on what the inspector told us. He said our windows were caulked not flashed, and pointed out the house next door (this is a development, so everyone's house is basically the same), which had windows that were flashed and framed in in some way. I'll post a pic if I can figure out how...

TrudgingAlong

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Re: Window flashing help
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2017, 09:30:19 AM »

This. If you have never tried to fabricate a sheet metal sill pan with tin snips and pliers, then you don't know what hell is. Even most crappy contractors just forget it, slap a bunch of silicone down, and call it a day. Years later I'm doing it myself because rain water is now pouring into my kitchen from under the door.

For vinyl windows on a house-wrapped, vinyl sided house, they make a self-sticking flashing that is actually pretty easy to use. I've replaced some of the windows and much of the non-existent flashing on my house's existing windows using this stuff. Just follow the directions and be sure the overlap pattern is right.

Otherwise, pony up and pay an actual professional. Flashing is one of those areas where you might not know you buggered it up until a few years later when you have a very expensive problem.

Understood! Our siding is fiberboard. I definitely don't want to screw around on this. We get a lot of rain here in the winter months.

TrudgingAlong

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Re: Window flashing help
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2017, 11:34:13 AM »
Ok hopefully this works, but blue house pic is our window. Brown house is neighbor. They have some kind of overhang between the window and the white framing. We have nothing but window.

paddedhat

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Re: Window flashing help
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2017, 03:03:01 PM »
Disclaimer:
 This is based on experience and the pics. posted,  examination in the field by a pro. might reach a totally different conclusion. OK?

You probably do not have a flashing issue, nor a need for anything but a through inspection and touch up of any suspect caulk. Typically this type of window has a nailing flange, which is a wide plastic or aluminum "fin" built into the exterior skin of the window, and projecting from the side of the unit, about an inch or more back from the face of the exterior frame. The window is installed by nailing through the flange  into the framing of the building. This is done to both secure the unit to the building and to provide a weather tight seal to cover the gap around the window at the framing. The next step in the construction process is to carefully cut the exterior siding sheets to make a neat hole about 1/8" bigger than the window dimensions. Finally the sheets of plywood, or other fiberboard product, are nailed to the framing, painted and the gap around the window is sealed with caulk. If the windows are built and installed as described, and the caulking is sound, there will be no leaks. The biggest issue I have seen in installations like this is when they have an additional piece of trim "picture framing" the window. this is often a fair grade of 1"X3" pine. The problems start when the caulking at the top of the trim fails where it meets the siding sheet. Water gets behind the trim and starts to do a real impressive job of rotting everything, while hiding the damage until the trim and siding are essentially wet mulch covered by a layer of paint. If the siding is not rotted, and there is no evidence of water intrusion inside, there probably is no real issue here.

lthenderson

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Re: Window flashing help
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2017, 03:17:25 PM »
From what I can tell in the pictures, your window is probably a flanged type window and the flashing is underneath the siding. What the inspector is probably referring too, (I can't tell with the resolution of the photo of your neighbor's house) is what is called a drip cap. It is a z-shaped piece of metal that tucks up underneath your siding, runs along the top horizontal surface of your window, and hangs down over the front edge of the window. It is to ensure any water that gets under your siding (above the window) if funneled out and over the front of your window instead of continuing on inside the window and your walls. This is probably the overhang between your neighbor's window and the trim.

At this point, it isn't worth installing it. Just monitor the caulking and touch up as necessary every couple years and it should be fine.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2017, 03:19:16 PM by lthenderson »

paddedhat

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Re: Window flashing help
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2017, 04:18:27 PM »
I just caught the info. about this worry being generated by a home inspector.  I have been in the trades for decades as a builder and electrician. To put it as mildly as possible, I fucking hate home inspectors. Most are a waste of good air, and should be forced out of the racket. There isn't another game out there where you can become an "authority" without knowing your ass from your ear, and create an absolute clusterfuck by offering your "expert opinion" even if you have no experience, knowledge, professional standing, or a clue.  If your house was built to nominally half-assed standards, as in the siding was cut reasonably well to fit around the windows, and a reasonable attempt was made to caulk the opening, that's a wrap. You own a reasonably well detailed finished product.  Like most inspectors, your's knows enough to be dangerous and that's it. When you are dealing with a structure that uses a sheet product for siding, any flashing is built into the system as the place is being constructed. For example, you install the windows, then install a flashing, which would be typically called a Z or head flashing. At this point the siding is installed OVER the flashing to cap the upper leg of the flashing. This is called "Shingle lapping" where each exterior layer overlaps the last to form a water resistant barrier.  By now it should be obvious that you cannot effectively install this stuff AFTER the place is sided.
 
This type of stupid bullshit is common with home inspectors, and unfortunately causes a lot of needless anxiety. One reason the industry went to flanged windows was to eliminate the need for a lot of flashing, and depending on the ability of a talented carpenter to fabricate and install it properly.

 Relax, everything is cool here. Check the caulking, touch up anything that loose or damaged and forget about it. Fucking home inspectors, it's enough to make my head hurt.

threefive

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Re: Window flashing help
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2017, 05:41:49 PM »
I just caught the info. about this worry being generated by a home inspector.  I have been in the trades for decades as a builder and electrician. To put it as mildly as possible, I fucking hate home inspectors. Most are a waste of good air, and should be forced out of the racket. There isn't another game out there where you can become an "authority" without knowing your ass from your ear, and create an absolute clusterfuck by offering your "expert opinion" even if you have no experience, knowledge, professional standing, or a clue.  If your house was built to nominally half-assed standards, as in the siding was cut reasonably well to fit around the windows, and a reasonable attempt was made to caulk the opening, that's a wrap. You own a reasonably well detailed finished product.  Like most inspectors, your's knows enough to be dangerous and that's it. When you are dealing with a structure that uses a sheet product for siding, any flashing is built into the system as the place is being constructed. For example, you install the windows, then install a flashing, which would be typically called a Z or head flashing. At this point the siding is installed OVER the flashing to cap the upper leg of the flashing. This is called "Shingle lapping" where each exterior layer overlaps the last to form a water resistant barrier.  By now it should be obvious that you cannot effectively install this stuff AFTER the place is sided.
 
This type of stupid bullshit is common with home inspectors, and unfortunately causes a lot of needless anxiety. One reason the industry went to flanged windows was to eliminate the need for a lot of flashing, and depending on the ability of a talented carpenter to fabricate and install it properly.

 Relax, everything is cool here. Check the caulking, touch up anything that loose or damaged and forget about it. Fucking home inspectors, it's enough to make my head hurt.

Once again, this. Flashing wouldn't be visible from the exterior of a house with siding. I only knew mine weren't flashed right when water started pouring in from the top during a storm, and confirmed that suspicious when I pulled off the siding. Actually, for my windows there wasn't really a problem with the flashing, but the house wrap being installed incorrectly. If there are no problems, and you're not looking to install new windows, then I don't see a need for re-flashing the windows. Mainly because anything a home inspector that works the residential real estate market would tell me is immediately assumed to be complete crap. I have yet to meet one that had any actual experience in the construction trades. As far as I can tell, the only requirement to be a home inspector is that you have a ladder and a business card.

I thought you were having a legitimate problem with the windows leaking. If not, then save your money and just monitor the interior during wet weather.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2017, 05:45:16 PM by threefive »

TrudgingAlong

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Re: Window flashing help
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2017, 09:40:19 PM »
Thank you all, seriously! A major reason we picked this particular house was because it was newer (built in 2012) and had no major problems. We are learning this as we go. I was mainly concerned about preventing potentially big problems down the road. Glad to hear this is not the concern I thought it might be.

What should I be looking out for when it comes to need to caulk? Other than leaks :P

lthenderson

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Re: Window flashing help
« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2017, 10:00:53 AM »
Thank you all, seriously! A major reason we picked this particular house was because it was newer (built in 2012) and had no major problems. We are learning this as we go. I was mainly concerned about preventing potentially big problems down the road. Glad to hear this is not the concern I thought it might be.

What should I be looking out for when it comes to need to caulk? Other than leaks :P

I look for cracking or checking that will form with time and also shrinkage especially for a newer house where there is a good chance the caulking was first applied when some of the wood might have been a little green. I take a scraper and scrape all the loose bits away or any chunks that come out easily. Then take compressed air and blow away any dirt or debris before resealing it with caulking. Many use a paintable exterior grade acrylic latex caulking because it is easy to work with and adheres really well but it does shrink with time and moisture (if not painted later) will also degrade it over time. They do make paintable silicone caulking as well that doesn't shrink or degrade with moisture or sunlight but is harder to work with than latex.

paddedhat

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Re: Window flashing help
« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2017, 12:32:46 PM »

Once again, this. Flashing wouldn't be visible from the exterior of a house with siding. I only knew mine weren't flashed right when water started pouring in from the top during a storm, and confirmed that suspicious when I pulled off the siding. Actually, for my windows there wasn't really a problem with the flashing, but the house wrap being installed incorrectly. If there are no problems, and you're not looking to install new windows, then I don't see a need for re-flashing the windows. Mainly because anything a home inspector that works the residential real estate market would tell me is immediately assumed to be complete crap. I have yet to meet one that had any actual experience in the construction trades. As far as I can tell, the only requirement to be a home inspector is that you have a ladder and a business card.

I thought you were having a legitimate problem with the windows leaking. If not, then save your money and just monitor the interior during wet weather.
Depending on the age and installation methods, you can't make that blanket statement.  If the OP's home were a few decades older, it might have more typical wood framed windows with exterior brickmold. In that case, a Z flashing covering the top of the head flashing would be best practice. It used to be a stock lumberyard item in galvanized sheet metal, with a small lip on the front, and once painted it is pretty hard to spot. I once dealt with a customer who was rabidly pissed at his builder, and decided that I needed to hear his venting. His new house was built of T-1-11 textured and grooved plywood siding. The windows and doors all were painted on the exterior, with wooden trim. The first time they had a good rainstorm there were streams of water flowing through the inerior trim above every door and window. The idiot painter failed to caulk dozens of 1/4"x 3/8" grooves in the siding, at the tops of all the doors and windows. Could be worse. I had another customer who had a roofer tear the roof off an older home, install tar paper and walk away for the night. The roofer had lapped the tarpaper backwards and managed to flood the house, since there was a deluge of rain overnight. The disaster repair crew from the insurance company had to saw through the waves in the hardwood floors as they removed the interior of the home. About $75K in damage since the roofer apparently missed tar paper class when he took Roofing 101.

justinarnot

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Re: Window flashing help
« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2017, 02:57:20 AM »
I think window installer can do it