Q: Recently, a client asked me to look at her “leaking” gutters. The gutters seem to be positioned properly under the edge of the shingles, but in places it appears that water dripping off the roof follows the drip-edge back and then drips down the fascia behind the gutter. The edges of the shingles are almost flush with the drip-edge. What I can do at this point to cure the problem?
A: Mike Guertin, a builder and remodeler in East Greenwich, R.I., and a presenter at JLC Live, responds: Just because that folded metal strip at the edge of a roof is called a “drip-edge,” it doesn’t mean that the water will always cooperate and drip off the edge of the roof and into the gutter like we want it to. There’s a small kickout at the bottom of the vertical fascia leg of the drip-edge. Ideally, any water that makes its way along the drip-edge will hit that little kickout and be diverted safely into the gutter. Water that does find its way behind the gutter and drip down the fascia usually doesn’t cause problems other than annoying the client.
Having the shingles nearly flush with the drip-edge should not be a problem. The amount that shingles overhang the drip-edge should comply with the shingle manufacturer’s recommendations. The Residential Asphalt Roofing Manual from ARMA (Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association) says that asphalt shingles may be cut flush with the drip-edge or extend 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch beyond the edge of the roof. Another factor in determining the overhang is whether strong winds are a problem in your area. If the house is in a high-wind zone, I would not let the shingles overhang more than 1/4 inch, to minimize the chance of them lifting up during a storm.
Check first to see if the kickout portion of the drip-edge extends over the back edge of the gutter. If the gutter is mounted too far below the drip-edge, or if the kickout doesn’t extend far enough over the gutter, a retrofit solution would be to slip a strip of metal or rigid plastic flashing under the vertical fascia leg of the drip-edge and let the bottom edge of the strip overlap the back edge of the gutter. The success of this strategy depends on the shape of the gutter and the type of hangers. If the hangers are in the way, I’d insert the strips between the hangers.
Then, when the time comes to replace the shingles, a new drip-edge should be installed—one that has a fascia leg with a big enough kickout along the bottom edge to channel water directly into the gutter.