Your roof is your home’s main line of defense against water intrusion. It gets baked by the sun, drenched in the rain, and covered by snow and ice. It is the workhorse of your house and does its job without complaint, but there is one little detail that is missed by way too many roofers that causes big time damage to your house.
It’s not valley flashing or underlayments, though those are just as important. It’s something so simple and it is blatantly obvious if you know what to look for.
In fact, this issue is so common that a lot of the localities and even contractor training classes teach roofers to do this incorrectly.
The Drip Edge
For any asphalt shingle roof, a drip edge is required by most local building codes. What is a drip edge you ask? It is a small piece of “L” shaped metal with a little kick out on the edge that goes around the perimeter of your roof. Its purpose is to give water an edge to drip safely off your roof onto the ground or into the gutter.
I haven’t seen a roofer forget the drip edge, but I have seen WAY too many who have no idea how to install it properly. Without proper installation, it is completely pointless.
Look at the picture below and you can see the wrong installation on the left and the correct way on the right.
How To: Properly Install Drip Edge
This small little detail is incredibly important! I can’t stress this enough. The drip edge should be installed over a piece of 1×2 furring strip so that it stands off from the fascia or rafter tails.
If the drip edge is laid right up against the fascia or rafters, then because of surface tension, the water runs right up against the fascia and underneath the soffit.
You want water to stay off your house if you hope to avoid rot. This lazy installation causes all kinds of damage to much more than just the fascia. It creates soggy siding, encourages termite activity, and hugely increases any potential for rot.
A lot of roofers may disagree with me on this, saying that the kick out on the drip edge does its job without needing the furring strip, but experience is the greatest teacher. I’ve watched the water run down fascia boards and rafter tails on rainy days with the drip edge doing little if anything. So, in my opinion, there is only one way to install a drip edge properly, and it’s with the furring strip.
I have to think the problem is mainly ignorant roofers. I noticed the problem for years, but it wasn’t until my friend Steve Quillian of Wood Window Makeover kept ranting about it that I started to look for it.
And it is amazing how rampant this problem is. I’d say that close to 40% of the homes I see have this problem. It can be remedied fairly easily by a roofer for very minimal cost. And it honestly wouldn’t have cost anymore to do it the right way the first time. You just have find a roofer who knows what he is doing.
Check out your house and be a good neighbor by looking next door too. Hopefully, your home is protected. Knowing is half the battle. (Yes, I stole that line from GI Joe but, hey, it’s true!)
If your drip edge is improperly installed, I would call a local roofer and get it looked at immediately. The sooner you fix this, the sooner your house will be protected.
Founder & Senior Editor
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.