Although masonry chimneys are durable structures, wear and tear, seasonal temperature changes, and intense storms can damage the masonry, chimney cap, flashing, and other components allowing water to leak inside the chimney. It can also increase the risk of fire and exposure to harmful gases making your fireplace unsafe to operate. If you suspect a chimney leak, it is essential to hire a Certified Chimney Sweep® to quickly find the source of the chimney leak to prevent significant water damage that can lead to extensive repairs. Here are four common sources of chimney leaks.
Chimney Cap is Damaged or Missing
One of the most common causes of a chimney leak is a damaged or missing chimney cap. The chimney cap is installed on top of the chimney to keep rain and snow out of the flue. Its constant exposure to seasonal weather changes can eventually cause the chimney cap to crack, corrode, or rust allowing water to leak in the chimney and fireplace. Strong wind gusts can cause it to separate from the chimney. If you notice water dripping in the fireplace or pooling in the firebox, your chimney cap may be damaged or missing.
Chimney Flashing is Worn or Installed Incorrectly
Another common cause of a chimney leak is damaged or improperly installed flashing. The flashing is the sheet metal covering the gap with a water-tight seal where the chimney and roof meet. Improper installation, normal wear and tear, and periodic bouts with inclement weather conditions can damage the flashing allowing water to seep through the gaps between the chimney and roof. Some of the signs of a flashing problem are water stains on the ceiling and walls around the fireplace. Damaged flashing requires immediate repair to prevent extensive water damage to the attic and roof deck.
There are Cracks in the Masonry
Masonry chimneys are vulnerable to extreme weather conditions. Its exposure to freezing rain, snow, and ice can cause cracks in the bricks and gaps in the mortar joints providing multiple entry sources where water can leak in the chimney. As the masonry damage continues to progress, bricks will begin to flake, chip, and crumble. The deteriorating mortar can cause bricks to separate from the chimney leaving gaping holes in the structure. Extensive water damage can also result in a partial or complete chimney collapse causing significant damage to your home.
The Damper Doesn’t Close Completely
When the damper is closed, it should form an airtight seal to prevent energy loss when you’re not using the fireplace. It also keeps the fireplace dry when it’s raining outside. If the damper or gasket is worn or damaged, moisture can leak inside the fireplace. Creosote build-up on the damper can also interfere with its operation allowing water to leak inside.
Preventing Chimney Leaks
Annual chimney inspections are the most effective way to prevent chimney leaks. The chimney technician will examine the entire structure for damages that can lead to a chimney leak. If any damage or leaks are discovered, repairing them quickly will prevent further chimney damage and more expensive repairs later. Your chimney professional can also apply a vapor-permeable waterproof sealant to protect the exterior masonry from water damage.
This post first appeared on https://www.mychimney.com