As a homeowner, you know that keeping the mechanisms of your house regularly maintenanced and well groomed is important. This is extremely true when it comes to your fireplace and chimney. As a chimney being part of your homes structure, if your chimney is damaged or leaking it can lead to some serious costly problems if it is left neglected. A regular maintenance and inspection from your trusted Albany roofers is a greater way to catch and fix any problems that may have occurred without your notice.
Now, you may be wondering what are the common chimney failure points, well the most common areas that chimneys fail are
- Base Flashing (where the roofing and chimney meet)
- Step flashing that is installed under the shingles and over the ice and water barrier.
- Counter flashing
- Within the brick veneer, stone veneer, and exterior insulation
- Chimney cap
- Vent stacks and flues
Is it normal for rain to come down the chimney?
If there is a sound of dripping coming from your chimney after a heavy rain storm or you notice moisture and stains on the wall there is an issue. Therefore, you must contact either a qualified roofing installer or a chimney repair specialist. Rainwater trickling into your fireplace is not normal. In fact, it is a telltale sign that there is an issue within your chimney system. The chimney is a much more complicated structure than most people realize. For this reason pinpointing the exact source of the leak can be challenging. Therefore, when it comes to detecting the source of the problem, contacting any professional roofers in your area, especially roofers in Albany is the best resort. Below are some signs to look for and the reasons why your chimney would be leaking.
Signs of water in your chimney
To fix a leaky chimney the first thing that should happen is finding where the problem is and how it happend. Some appear extremely obvious leaving puddles in your fireplace. Then there are the less obvious signs of chimney leaks which most likely is damaging your chimney. Visually inspect the bricks of your chimney. When you are visually inspecting the chimney, you should be looking for spalling. Spalling is when the surface of the brick is flaking away, it looks cracked, broken and is missing some or a lot of bricks. With that being said you would see some pieces of brick or stones on your roof. The reason that spalling happens in your chimney is because it sustained water or moisture damage. Too much moisture penetrating the mortar can result in spalling.
The other sign of water damage is efflorescence. When it comes to efflorescence it is a lot easier to spot because it results in white residue on your chimney bricks. The white residue is salt deposits that are caused by the migration of salt to the surface of your bricks. It also can occur due to rain, but it can also come from condensation forming within your chimney.
The reason that chimneys leak
If there is a pool of water or signs of water in your chimney, there could be a few things that are going wrong. The easiest way of detecting and repairing a leaking chimney is calling your local roofing contractor. If you feel safe on a ladder or have easy access to the chimney then these are some signs to look for yourself.
- Cracked or torn chimney flashing. The flashing is the material that surrounds the part of your chimney that meets with the rooftop. Flashing is typically aluminum, sealed with tar, which bends over the sides of your chimney and shingles. Flashing keeps water from entering the cracks between your chimney and roof. If you see cracks or tears in your flashing, this could be allowing water to enter during rainstorms.
- Deteriorating mortar. The mortar that holds the brick, stone, or stucco of your chimney together plays an important role in waterproofing the system. If your mortar is cracked, missing pieces, worn away, or otherwise damaged, it could be allowing water inside. Cracks in the mortar can occur naturally over time. Repairing mortar right away can prevent worse water damage from occurring.
- Lack of chimney cap. The chimney cap is an accessory, not a necessity. However, buying a chimney cap that fits your chimney can prevent rain from falling straight down the chimney stack and into your fireplace. A chimney cover can prevent water leaks and other things such as falling leaves or birds from clogging your chimney.
- Cracked chimney crown. The crown of your chimney is the surface as its very top, typically made of cement. If you see cracks in your chimney crown, this could be the source of water in your fireplace. Cracks can allow water to seep through the flue lining and enter the chimney, causing potential damage to your walls and ceiling. If caught soon enough, a professional can seal cracks instead of having to replace the crown entirely.
- Issues with wood siding. Your home’s siding could affect the performance of your chimney and fireplace. If you have wood siding that’s warped, peeling away from your home, or missing, this can allow water to get behind the siding and leak into your chimney. Replacing or repairing your siding can prevent these types of water leaks.
- Check the chimney cap. If you don’t have a chimney cap then you will need to get one. Without one, water can easily get into the firebox and drip down the walls of the flue liner at will causing your fireplace to drip and sometimes pool water. Damage to an existing chimney cap can also be a water issue and may need to be repaired or replaced if the damage is beyond repair. If you need to replace a cap get one that is rust resistant like a stainless chimney cap. Rusting caps are always a problem and will eventually break down and need to be replaced. If you get the right one the first time you should not have to deal with this issue again.
Is chimney waterproofing necessary?
Masonry chimneys are mainly built with bricks or stone bonded with mortar, a cement material, that forms a sturdy and practically impenetrable structure. But like most structures, water is a mortal enemy that can bring down a chimney like a falling deck of cards. However, keep in mind that all masonry chimney construction materials, except for stone, will end up suffering from accelerated deterioration, due to prolonged contact with water.
The reason is because bricks are composed of clay which is a soft and porous material. During the brick-making process a waterproof hard outer shell is backed in to prevent the bricks from soaking up water. However, if the material continues to be exposed to periods of different temperatures and wind, rain and snow, it can take a beating that will eventually begin to pierce the outer layer of the bricks. Without waterproofing the chimney tine holes will begin to form in the brick surface like a sponge that will gradually grow larger allowing water to penetrate the flue and damage other chimney components.
In addition, excessive exposure to moisture will also soften the mortar. Left untreated it will eventually melt away where you may notice gaps between the bricks or stone masonry that will also enable water leak inside the chimney. In extreme cases where chimneys have not been maintained for years it is not unusual to spot missing bricks and mortar. The chimney may also begin to lean as the foundation shifts due to its weight. This can also damage the structure of the home as the chimney pulls apart from flashing material attached to the roof.
As a result chimney masonry should be protected from exposure to water. That’s why many chimney professionals recommend homeowners apply waterproof sealer to protect the chimney from water damage. It’s important that the waterproof coating will wear over time and gradually lose its effectiveness. So for optimum performance, waterproofing should be reapplied every five years by your local roofer in Albany or any roofers in your area if you are not located in the Albany area.
Coated or painted chimneys
If you own a chimney and have had the copper flashing replaced you should reseal the existing chimney to prevent any further leakage. Hiring the wrong contractor, any old painter, or someone who uses a sealing product that is not meant for exterior masonry can cause more issues down the road if it counteracts with cement. Coating the chimney is meant to be used as a last resort and should only be used for sealing a leaking chimney and will not be of any help for structural support or loose bricks.
How do I stop my chimney from leaking?
When you have roof flashing around chimneys it can separate from the brick, therefore, allowing rainwater to leak inside the house. If your chimney flashing is leaking or loose here are some things you do. First thing is to clean any leaves or other debris out of the gap between the flashing chimney. You should use a chisel to remove any hardened roofing cement. Apply roofing cement behind the flashing and use masonry nails or screws to reattach the flashing tight against the chimney.
Water in your chimney is not a normal thing, and it is certainly not anything that should be ignored. A leaky chimney can cause a lot of damage as mentioned above. To avoid any moisture damage that would cause your bricks to collapse into the chimney and clog it, contact your local roofers in Albany. If you’re not in the Albany area just simply search roofing companies near me and find the roofing contractor that will work on your chimney. No homeowners should have to deal with a clogged chimney that can further create a dangerous situation like carbon monoxide leaks in your home.