Structural Issues From Non-Existent Flashing

Many Chicago-area townhomes were built in the 80s and 90s as four to six units, two stories, with a balcony over a two-car garage. During inspections of these homes, we have found that proper flashing was not installed around the doors and balconies.

Around the garage area are structural headers that support the opening, and weights above the garage opening. These structural members take the weight of balcony floor joists, first floor, second floor and part of the roof load.

If metal or self-adhering flashing tape is not installed under the siding, around the windows, doors and balcony ledger board, water will penetrate the building envelope and slowly move towards the lowest point in the building. If it doesn’t drain away or dry out, it will pool behind the trim and the structural members. Over time, this rots out the structure and becomes a major life safety hazard. It often takes many years to notice a problem.

What should you be looking for?

  • Rotted/stained wood trim 
  • Exposed level header(s) 
  • No flashing above door or around windows 

There are a few different ways to fix these issues. The procedure that FirstService Construction and Maintenance begins with removing all the trim and siding around the garage door. We must properly shore up the structure, remove the existing rotted level headers and install new structure.

Once that is installed, all new flashing is installed around the doors, balcony and around the sides of the balcony with “butyl tape”, also known as self-adhering flashing tape.

A cap flashing is also installed above the patio door with self-adhering tape over the top of the cap flashing (see photo above). Generally, the trim above the garage is rotted away as well and most of the time this must be replaced. Once all the pieces are installed, we caulk wood to wood areas and paint the trim.

If you suspect this is happening on your property, please reach out to FirstService Construction & Maintenance, and we will be able to assist you!