By Brian Tregoning
As home inspectors, we are generalists. Meaning that when we inspect a home we not only look at individual components, we look at how those components perform together as a system. In this case, we will look at a component known as kickout or diverter flashing and how it is a small but important part of the roof/gutter system.
As you can see kickout flashing makes up a very tiny portion of the roof system, however, it can be the proverbial chink in the armor. The roof system is meant to operate as an umbrella for your home. It catches all the rain and snow that nature provides all year round. All that water needs to go somewhere, so in steps the gutter system. The gutter system is meant to take all that water and send it far away from the foundation. (This is one of the most important systems for maintaining the structural integrity of a home.) Now, as you can see from the diagram in figure 1 there is a lot of effort put forth in the construction of a home to take that water deposited on the roof and send it into the gutter system. Gutters, just like everything else in construction have come a long way over the years, but the one thing they have not been able to achieve is a flush meeting where a gutter meets a side wall. Therefore, kickout flashing is used. Where a gutter meets a sidewall creates an opportunity for a concentrated water intrusion point. If water makes entry at this point of the home and makes its way behind the siding, there is a good chance it will not be noticed until it becomes a significant issue. See Figure 2
If you do not have kickout flashing on your home currently, don’t feel too bad. Kickout flashing is a relatively new practice and it is relatively inexpensive to get installed. Finally, if your home inspection report calls this feature out, there is reason for it. A good home inspector spends countless hours in supplemental training and keeping up with the latest developments in construction practices and will be able to recognize this, then recommend a plan of action.