Common Causes of Chimney Leaks

Of course, a fireplace and chimney add warmth and monetary value to a home. However, with all the cozy benefits that fireplaces and chimneys bring, they require a lot of care and maintenance. Additionally, both your fireplace and chimney can experience problems over time. Luckily, there are experienced chimney repair services available to help when these problems occur.

Our chimney sweep company provides homeowners with professional chimney flashing and chimney inspection services in the surrounding areas. With years of experience providing chimney repair services, one of the most devastating problems that happen to a homeowner’s chimney is a water leak. Masonry chimneys are made up of various materials, all of which are affected by water.

In this blog, we are going to look at a few of the most common causes of chimney leaks.

A Faulty Chimney Cap

It is installed at the top of the flue and features a small, metal mesh that helps prevent animals and debris from getting inside, but it also helps water run off and away from the flue opening, as well as deflects wind. Of course, without a chimney cap, water would easily get inside and create a moisture problem. However, a faulty chimney cap will also allow water inside. When these caps become damaged, whether due to wear and tear, harsh winds, or animal tampering, it can allow water to flow directly into the chimney flue. Once water is inside your system, it is likely that chimney water damage will occur.

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Damaged Chimney Flashing

Chimney flashing is made up of multiple thin sheets of metal, which are meant to form a waterproof seal between the roof and chimney. Flashing is used to protect the vulnerable area where the chimney intersects with the roof. While it is meant to protect water from damaging a chimney system, it is susceptible to leaking for several reasons. First of all, flashing is difficult to install, and without proper installation, it can cause problems over time. Secondly, flashing can eventually begin to rust and develop leaks. Because most chimney leaks are caused by damaged flashing, it is important that your receive regular chimney inspections.

A Worn Out Chimney Crown

A chimney crown, or mortar crown, is the cement surface at the top of the chimney. They are typically designed to meet certain specifications. Quality crowns will slant at least four inches away from the flu and have an overhang of at least two inches. Poor construction or installation of these crowns will cause them to sustain damage quicker than a crown that is well made. Even a well-made crown can crack under the pressure of sun exposure and temperature fluctuations. When cracks develop in the crown, water gets between the flue lining and the chimney, which can cause damage to the chimney system and the structure of a home.

Severe Weather

We get our fair share of severe weather conditions. Unfortunately, this is one of the causes of chimney leaks. Even if your cap, crown, and flashing are in good shape, severe weather conditions can cause some issues. When the masonry takes on mass amounts of water over time, it will likely form leaks at one point or another. A helpful way to protect your chimney against severe weather conditions is to add a waterproofing solution to the exterior of the chimney.

Why You Should Leave Chimney Care to Professionals

If you’re considering performing a chimney inspection or repair yourself, we urge you to reconsider. While some inspections and repairs are doable (like checking to see if the chimney damper is open), we recommend that you hire a professional for most issues. After all, your chimney is full of dangerous soot and creosote, and if you have to do any work on the roof of your home, the height alone can prove hazardous. Fortunately if you live here in Frederick or the surrounding area, you can count on your neighbors here for expert inspections, repairs, and cleanings. Again, we urge you to use a professional company for all of the following reasons:

Safety First

As we just mentioned, safety is our first concern when it comes to working on your chimney. We know how to properly handle chimney care, from cleaning out hazardous soot and creosote, to navigating your roof for chimney repairs. We have years of experience and the training necessary to perform chimney services. In addition, we have the proper tools to safely inspect, repair, and clean chimneys. Plus, our team is licensed and insured to work on chimneys, which means that if an accident should happen while we’re on the job, you won’t have to deal with the consequences. So, don’t turn your chimney care into a DIY job. Trust the pros here.

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The Right Tools

You can rest assured that we have the right tools and the proper know-how to complete your chimney care project properly — without damaging your home or your chimney. From cleaning to tuckpointing, we use the right tools of the trade to ensure that your project is completed thoroughly and efficiently. For instance, when we clean a chimney, we use brushes, vacuums, and cleaning solutions that are specifically designed for chimney cleaning, so that your chimney will be wholly clean within about an hour of us arriving on site. Instead of buying all the right tools yourself, you can simply pick up the phone for dependable chimney care.

Expertise Through Experience

Experience goes a long way regardless of the profession, and chimney care is no exception. Our professional chimney care specialists have years of experience in the business — proudly serving frederick and surrounding counties since 2005 — so you can trust that we know what we’re doing. Your chimney will be in tip top shape after the crew has done their job.

Mistakes Can Be Costly

When it comes to chimney care, a mistake could be hazardous and expensive. For example, if you’ve decided to clean the flue of your chimney yourself, and you’ve left behind a big swath of creosote, your chimney is liable to catch fire whenever it is in use. Chimney fires are still rather common, and in fact, cause over a 100 million dollars worth of damage to homes in the United States alone. Homes may burn down entirely if a chimney fire should occur, and there are about 25,000 reported incidences of chimney fires every year. ” So, instead of cleaning your chimney yourself, you might get better peace of mind if you hire a professional crew for chimney care.

Voiding Your Roof’s Warranty

If you’re doing work on the exterior of your chimney, and you have to access your roof, you should be wary that you may void the warranty of your roof, simply by working on your chimney. Many roofing installers and roofing material manufacturers offer warranties to cover their workmanship and products these days. However, some of these warranties may be voided if work is performed atop the roof — especially if it is performed by someone who isn’t a professional. For instance, if you’re working on the flashing of your roof, and you damage the shingles of your roof along the way, then you may void your roof warranty. If you’re concerned that you may void your roof’s warranty, then it’s best not to take a chance — you could end up saving yourself thousands in the long run.

Signs Your Chimney Is Failing

That said, chimney components can fail, and they require proper maintenance to ensure that your chimney remains safe and free from leaks. That’s why it’s crucial to have regular inspections and maintenance performed on your roof, and it’s why we recommend that homeowners understand some of the signs that their chimney isn’t up to snuff. If you’re concerned about your chimney, don’t start a fire just yet. Be sure to have a licensed chimney expert inspect your chimney and its components, and be especially wary of any and all of the following signs of a damaged chimney:

Leaks

If your chimney is leaking into your home (either through the flue or along the sides of your chimney), then you have an issue that requires immediate attention. Leaks can occur for all sorts of reasons, so it’s best to have a professional take a look to assess the situation. What’s worse is that the source of a leak can be difficult to locate for the untrained eye, because leaks can move across surfaces, so you really may not know the origin. For example, if you have a leak caused by poor flashing around the base of your chimney, that leak may enter your attic, move across the rafters, and make its way into a wall that doesn’t appear to be close to the chimney. When you notice a leak, just give us a call for an inspection — we’ll find the problem and fix it before any more damage can occur.

Blockages

Your chimney can be blocked by a variety of obstructions. You could have birds that have built a nest in your chimney. You could have a rodent that is stuck in your flue. Your flue could be caked with soot and creosote buildup. Your damper may be stuck shut. Or you may have snow and ice covering the hole for your chimney. Regardless of the blockage, these scenarios can prove rather hazardous, and you should never light a fire in your fireplace if you suspect that the chimney is blocked. And unfortunately, you may only notice that your chimney is blocked if the smoke isn’t escaping your home through the chimney. If you’d like to test whether or not your chimney is blocked before you light a fire, you may be able to hear air flow through the chimney (listen for a small amount of wind) — just make sure the damper is open. You can also inspect your chimney visually to check if the damper is open (use a flashlight to inspect your damper), and you may be able to see light through the entirety of your chimney during the daytime if it is unobstructed. Just be wary that if you’re inspecting your chimney and fireplace yourself that you’re liable to get some soot on you! If you do notice a blockage in your chimney flue, count on us for an inspection and cleaning.

Damaged or Missing Bricks

If the exterior of your chimney has bricks missing or damaged, then it is overdue for repairs. Chimneys are certainly built to last, yet their exposure to the elements means that they won’t last forever. Bricks will eventually deteriorate and fail, and the mortar holding your chimney’s bricks together will also lose its integrity. Your chimney is liable to be damaged from falling branches, high winds, hail, other precipitation, and changing temperatures, so it’s a good idea to inspect and maintain the brickwork of your chimney regularly. We recommend an inspection at least once per year.

Poor Mortar

As we mentioned, your mortar endures all of the elements that the bricks of your chimney endure. And, over time, the mortar will slowly chip away. Fortunately, brick chimneys can be repaired with tuckpointing, a technique where the mortar is replenished to reestablish the structural support it was intended to provide. Mortar may also be applied to the surfaces of your bricks to restore their protective functionality. We use colored mortars that match your current brick and mortar colors to perform any necessary tuckpointing.