First Post, Two Questions (Window Drip Cap, Deck Ledgerboard Bottom Flashing)

Howdy everyone.

I became an InterNACHI member in February and just received my New Jersey inspection license in the mail last week (after waiting four grueling months upon submitting my application). My field background is in masonry, so admittedly my experience has been limited to the great outdoors with few interactions with other tradesmen aside from excavators and framing contractors once foundations have been completed. Regardless, I’ve been an avid student of the home inspection industry and follow the board on a daily basis to pick up on new things that I may see on the field and get a feel for the personalities of the people on here.

*** Feel free to skip past this software experience story ***

Quick side story about my experience just as the New Jersey Advisory Board approved my license-- I looked around for report writing software toward the end of my Inspection course and decided on PalmTech after much deliberation. I loaded hundreds of verbiage comments into my template. It was okay until I started filling out my Mentorship inspections. The software (Version 9) glitched like crazy as soon as I had about three sections filled out (slow scrolling, random freezing, randomly closing without saving my progress). After doing a bunch of practice reports I couldn’t take the glitchiness of PalmTech Version 9 and I had to drop it. While searching for a replacement, I realized that they’d just launched the web-based “PalmTech Complete.”

They were able to move my template to the new version. I think it’s actually really nice but I had to go through every comment I had and add a title to each one since the old method of labeling comments is different on Palmtech Complete than Version 9 and it didn’t translate well at all.
Anyway, so after three days nonstop of adjusting my template (I have some time as I’m nearing the end of my paternity leave to care for my firstborn daughter), the server completely erased the template draft I was working on based on my main template. After the experience I had with PalmTech, including all your comments about Porch and ISN, I finally made the switch to Spectora and it is excellent in every way. I planned on moving to Spectora eventually but the price threw me off since I am just starting my company.

Sorry for the long-winded story there but some of you may be happy to know another Inspector has thrown PalmTech into the trash.

*** End of software rant ***

Now that that’s out of the way, I have two questions about flashing details that I see often (my current job brings me to close to a thousand houses a year, so I have a lot of opportunities to check stuff out in all kinds of communities).

1.) I understand the installation of windows with flashing tape and housewrap, but rarely do I find drip caps installed over windows. Do you write this up as a deficiency every time (aside from when the height between the window and the eaves is 25% of the overhang), or do I just accept that contractors trust the flashing tape/housewrap/caulking to appropriately protect against moisture intrusion?

2.) Similarly, I find that more often than not I don’t find metal flashing at the bottom of ledger boards. Is tar paper acceptable, or should we be writing up missing metal flashing at the bottom?

Thanks, had to find a way to break the ice with the forum and these two questions have been eating at me.


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First of all, welcome to the forum, and dont be afraid to post questions, they help more than just yourself.

A little clarity would help. Are these block homes? Wood frame? What type of exterior cladding?

Again, are we talking about decks? crawlspaces? Metal flashing is not required UNDER the ledger board, I assume you meant over?
Again, this can depend on what it is attached to


Welcome Joseph!

@ruecker will be happy to hear that…great software I hear, too.


It’s OK. It isn’t the end all to be all though. Hopefully all of the software providers keep pushing each other to make improvements and stay cost competitive (just like we have to do).


Thanks, Dan.

Regarding the ledger board let’s say a wood deck attached to the band joist of a house with vinyl siding. I’ve seen several details where the back/bottom flashing is present and also where only the top flashing is present, as well as others where flashing tape is utilized.

Here are some details to express my confusion:

Peel and stick membrane

Two Z-Bar flashings, at top and bottom

Back flashing and Z-bar on top
Flashing Tape

Regarding windows I’m referring to exteriors with vinyl siding. I’ve read that with the J-Channel installed the drip cap isn’t necessary because the fin is taped to the WRB with window flashing tape, and elsewhere that a drip cap should always be used even on top of the J trim.

To me these conditions are very similar and two of the only ones that, while very simple, I can’t get to the bottom of definitively.

Sigh :frowning: I love Spectora but its not perfect. Its all I’ve ever used so I don’t truly know how bad or good it is in relation to other software with no other experience to reference it to. I’ve had high hopes for the upgrade but it doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon, at least nothing I’ve seen or heard.

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Fair enough. It is what you make it, right?

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It would be great if you could compartmentalize comments under each component. For organization I enter “.” as a comment above the title in the following comment for each comment grouping.

Sump Pump - Inoperable (Full of Water)
Noted that the sump pit was full of water and the pump was not operating. The pump should be put back into operating order or replaced. All repairs should be performed by a qualified plumbing contractor.
Sump Pump - Inoperable
Noted that the sump pump appeared to be inoperable. Water may accumulate in the building substructure during periods of heavy rain. Recommend that a qualified contractor evaluate and repair or replace the sump pump as necessary.

Palmtech was a hot mess and the title for your comments would get cut off if they were too long.

Forgot to tag you in my response ha (gotta get used to the forum)


Welcome to the MB Joseph and congratulations on your first born.

There is nothing wrong with asking questions about things you are unclear about, this is how we all learn after all, but keep in mind to not wear your feelings on your shirt sleeves as some on here can get a little harsh.

The “peel and stick” tape is a self sealing membrane that is used to prevent water from penetrating the homes exterior wall where fasteners are used. Flashing tape used on window openings is no different. Using it behind metal flashing is merely “insurance” so to speak against leaks. I have never seen metal flashing used under a ledger board around here, but that could be a regional thing. Unless your local regs require it, I wouldn’t put too much thought into it. As long as there is flashing on the TOP of the ledger and it is installed correctly, you should be good to go. Here is another thing as far as the tape goes, the self sealing / self adhering tape used on windows (and in the diagrams you posted) is not much different than ice & water shield used on roof tops.
FortiFlash® - Window & Door Flashing | Henry Company

GRACE ICE & WATER SHIELD® Roofing Underlayment - Residential Roofing - CertainTeed

AS far as vinyl siding goes, it is notorious for water getting behind it, and in my opinion, for what it’s worth, there should be metal flashing behind the J-channel over top of a window or a deck ledger. similar to this:



Now if you have masonite / hardboard siding, then most likely there will be a trim piece over the window. That trim piece will need to have flashing on the top and not just caulked. Here are a couple of pics from a house I inspected a while back where no flashing was used. Water was entering the attic space behind the trim and onto the ceiling drywall of the main entryway.


Builders in many places in my area are getting away with no ledger board flashing on decks. They’re using the excuse that house wrap (WRB) prevents any water intrusion. And the local AHJ are letting them do that.

Even though I have found several, 10-years or older, that have severe moisture damage below the deck. I find it often in unfinished basements below sliding doors, pull insulation back at the rim joist and nothing but rot.

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Thanks Michael, loving fatherhood. And that’s exactly the information I was looking for. Of everything we have to look at those two issues are the ones that stick out.

As far as jackasses go I’m from New Jersey so I can deflect :innocent: …I did just finish inserting my Sewage Ejector Pump comments in my template so I can just refer them to one of those. ::sewage ejector pump too noisy, recommend replacement:: :rofl:

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Michael did a pretty good job there.

A ledger board attached to wood framing should always have flashing installed at the top edge, that wraps behind the cladding, just like his pics.

As far as vinyl siding, you will often times just see the J channel above the window, and there really isnt much to write up in that case. As long as you dont see any signs of moisture at the interior, I wouldnt really mention it.

Vinyl siding is by no means waterproof, it is just a protective covering, and the main defense against moisture comes from the Moisture barrier behind it. I have seen sheathing and framing completely rotted away behind siding that was missing the WRB.


It’s amazing how bad practices can win the day…

Speaking of which, have you seen a lot of issues with weep holes missing in brick veneers? When I was doing masonry most of the brick siding was old/terminated underground and weep holes weren’t considered in their construction (most of the jobs I did were block foundations, flatwork, and steps/porches). We never really had an issue due to lack of weepholes in veneers but it’s in our verbiage…

No weep holes here, 80% of the time anyway. Even above ground, none above the windows, doors, etc. But, I rarely see any moisture issues because of lack of.

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Thanks. You might recall when vinyl siding was all the rage here, but not so much anymore. Since it doesn’t hold up to the climate and hail, most folks have replaced it with hard board or cement board siding. I haven’t seen any new homes with vinyl siding in years. Soffits yes, but siding… nope.

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In general, there should be flashing on top of windows. Some windows are designed to be “self-flashed” but unless you are up-to-date on every window manufacturer, you and I don’t recognize those when they are installed. I rarely see the window flashing installed properly which means that our local building inspectors are not calling it out, so I just look to see if the flashing/drip cap appears to be performing. Most of the time it is, but I live in a dry climate.

Me neither. It’s a best practice, but rarely required. I saw flashing on the bottom of a deck ledger last Thursday. It had been over ten years since I had seen that done. I gushed to my client about what a good deck builder this contractor was. The important flashing is on top of the ledger. I write up missing flashing on top of the ledger almost weekly. And I write up ledgers attached over the top of siding and veneers weekly too.


Thanks. Just wanted to determine how picky I should be in these areas. The consensus is to definitely call out missing flashing at the top of ledgers and look for failure in the other areas I mentioned. I just don’t want to be too picky in areas where I constantly see best practices aren’t used.

IMO, you will generally NOT see ‘best practices’ being applied in any significant manner in this industry, not even in “custom homes”.
(Bare minimum) Code is the best that most can hope for, and even then, is not always applied properly, if at all.
This is/will be one of the most difficult tasks for you in this profession, and my best advise is to stay aware of what is the correct and best methods, and next, be informed of what your peers, (specifically other long-term veteran inspectors) discuss on these MB’s. Read everything by everyone, then consider what and how it is being said and by whom. Over time, you will gain insight on what’s important and what is less concerning, which also varies from region to region.
Bottom line here is, this is YOUR business and reputation. YOU must do what you and your company can live with. Yes, you will make mistakes and bad decisions, we all do, but be prepared for them, and have an Action plan and Policies in place to handle them when they occur.
Yes, I know I am drifting off subject, but all of this really is intertwined, so don’t discount anything as ‘not important’, until you prove it isn’t… this time!!


You are perfectly on-subject, your points are the crux of my concern. Thanks for your insights. I definitely read the board daily and go through tons of sample reports to see how others approach their inspections.

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