Dealing with Dead Valleys

Question for my fellow roofers about dead valleys. I’ve had a few homes over the years with problematic dead valley areas, especially the ones where a slope terminates right into a sidewall of a gable, dormer or other second story detail. The kind where the leaves pile up, get wet and rot the siding, rust out the flashing, stuff like that.

My question is this - assume for a second it’s an insurance hail claim and it gets approved for a roof replacement. We all know the dead valley issue isn’t covered because ‘homeowner maintenance’. We also know if we just follow the scope of work the insurance paid for, the dead valley goes un-addressed. Fast forward a year and now there’s stains on the wall or ceiling inside near the dead valley and you get the dreaded phone call ‘I have a leak’. What do you do?

I think every builder and architect that designs roofs with dead valleys should go prematurely bald, but it’s not a roofing problem, it’s a design problem right?

What are you installing in these dead valleys? I think installing proper materials in them in the most important thing. Shingles and ice shield is not the proper material in dead valleys imo. I explain beforehand that I will be installing one of the products designed for flat roofs in such areas and why I am doing so. Also I will be running this material fairly high up up the connecting wall as well. Most times they appreciate me educating the them. And if they don’t approve and want me to install shingles in such an area, I walk away from the job. It’s not worth the potential leak to me.


Typically nothing. Part of the problem was the ice damming that happened this year which was a completely new phenomenon for this part of the country.

I guess if I see them before the job starts, I’ll mention it and quote a repair to address it that includes siding removal (what about brick?) and replace, paint, etc. If they decline, I’ll add something to my contract that says I absolve myself of any liability for leaks in that area.

Walking away is something I really need to learn still…

Yep, noticing these types of areas from the start is part of an estimators job imo.

When I encounter these areas in brick/stucco/ect I just run my flat roofing material (usually epdm but sometimes mod bit) up the wall high enough to be confident water won’t ever reach that level. Then grind a slot in the wall to receive a counter flashing to cap it all off.

When it’s an area with siding, I remove the siding and do the same thing minus the counter flashing. When I reinstall the siding I make sure to keep it high enough that i’m not putting a bunch of holes in my membrane that are gonna be potential issues.

Dead valleys are design flaws and if you want a true leak free result you often need to sacrifice some form for function. Luckily most times these areas aren’t visible from the ground.

And lastly, I can’t stress enough how fast I run away from customers that after I explain why I want to do all this extra work reply “can’t you just install shingles and ice guard there?”


I follow island roofing exact procedure.
No shingles go on the dead valley.
Where it deads into a wall.
Even up to a 4/12.
Even the totally correct nailing and good ice and water shield wont save you.
It must be a flat roofing product installed period.
I use self adhered modified bitumen or torch grade.
I go up the wall tall as well.
At least a foot.