How To Look At A House

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The inspector says that a missing kickout flashing caused water damage inside the wall. What's "kickout flashing"?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

It’s a type of flashing that diverts rainwater away from the bottom end of wall surfaces that abut a roof. See the photo above for an example. Sometimes called “diverter flashing,” it provides excellent protection against the penetration of water into the building envelope when installed properly. 

  Several factors can lead to rainwater intrusion at roof-wall intersections, but a missing kickout flashing, in particular, often results in concentrated areas of water accumulation and potentially severe damage to exterior walls--usually near the edge of the roof. The effects of water penetration into the wall siding can be observed on the exterior wall in the form of vertical water stains, or staining in the soffit or ceiling below the area, or noted from the inside during an attic inspection.

  A kickout flashing is necessary anywhere a roof and exterior wall intersect, and the wall continues past the lower roof-edge, or vice-versa. If a kickout flashing is absent in this location, large amounts of water may be funneled under the siding and become trapped inside the wall.

  Once in while, we see a homeowner-modification of a kickout flashing because they don’t like the look of it sticking up at the edge of the roof.  A common way this is done is to shorten their height or trim away a portion of it, which will greatly reduce effectiveness.

     Kickout flashings are extra-important when the exterior cladding of the home is EIFS (Exterior Insulated Finish System), a stucco-like finish over a hard foam insulation board, that is popular in homes built in the 1990s and later around the Gainesville area. The photo below shows evidence of extensive water intrusion behind EIFS wall at location with missing kickout flashing.

The following diagram shows the recommended kickout flashing detail for Hardie-brand fiber-cement siding at roof/wall intersections.

     And here’s an example, shown below, of how water can easily get around an inadequate kickout flashing. The IRC Code specifies a kickout that is a minimum of 4” high and 4” wide, and this one falls way short.The stains on the wall indicate the path of the rainwater.

    If you want to know what can happen if a missing kickout flashing is ignored for years, well, there’s an example below. 

    And here’s an example of a missing kickout flashing at a recently built home that is stucco over wood frame. It has not experienced problems yet, but will soon when the caulking begins to fail. There is also a secondary problem that the end of the gutter abuts the stucco, and future leakage at the end cap will drain against or into the wall.

    Also, see our blog posts Are kickout flashings required by code? and Why is my stucco cracking?

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  To learn more about roofs and attics, see these other blog posts:

Why is my roof sheathing sagging between the trusses?

Why is granule loss a problem for an asphalt shingle roof? 

What are the mistakes to avoid when doing attic improvements?

What is "ponding" on a flat roof?

Is an attic required to have a light by the building code? 

How can I inspect my roof for hurricane damage?

Why is premature curl of roof shingles a problem?

How can I tell if a roof has more than one layer of shingles? 

What are the common problems with attic insulation? 

What is the life expectancy of an asbestos cement shingle roof? 

What's the average lifespan of a roof?

Why is it a mistake to replace a roof and not replace its flashings? 

Why is there no attic access hatch in the house?

What is the building code requirement for an attic access hatch, scuttle, or door? 

Does a roof with multiple layers of shingles last longer?

What can I do to prevent roof leaks?

Are roof trusses better than roof rafters (stick framing)? 

Why is a popped nail in a shingle roof a problem? How do I fix it?

What are the most common problems with wood roof trusses?

What causes a lump or dip in the roof? 

If my roof is not leaking, why does it need to be replaced?

How can I be sure my roofing contractor got a permit?

How many layers of roofing are allowed on a home? 

What are the dark lines running parallel to shingles on my roof?

Can metal roofing be used on a low slope/pitch roof? 

How can I make my roof last longer?  

What are the warning signs of a dangerous attic pull-down ladder?

     Visit our ROOF AND ATTIC page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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