Chimney Leak Advice from the Pros
Chimney professionals deal with leaky chimneys on a regular basis. Anyone who repairs chimneys for a living will tell you that a chimney leak is something you don’t want to ignore and delay in having fixed.
Here’s what you need to know about leaky chimneys.
Why chimney leaks are so dangerous
When water has infiltrated some part or parts of your chimney system, two things can happen:
1. The chimney structure or its components can be destroyed
Eventually, water will eat away at brick and mortar and cause metal to rust. Crumbling mortar joints, loose bricks, a leaning chimney and compromises in the structure that allow toxic gases to leak into your home are major concerns. These and other problems almost always start with a “small” leak.
2. Building materials of the home can be seriously damaged
Because of the chimney’s close proximity to home building materials, a lot of damage can be done to the home itself when a chimney leak isn’t addressed. Flooring, wall boards, insulation and the like can become rotted and unstable; attics and crawl spaces can begin harboring dangerous mold that often isn’t seen until a serious problem exists.
Why do chimneys leak?
Certified chimney sweeps and others who do chimney repair and cleaning work use the term “leaky chimney” to refer to any situation in which water is entering the chimney system. Common causes of these leaks include:
- Missing or damaged chimney cap that allows rain and snow into the flue
- Cracked concrete chimney crown that opens up areas inside the chimney for the inflow of water to reach the inner chimney.
- Decay or cracks in the bricks and/or mortar due to lightning strikes, gale-force winds, problems with the chimney footing, a chimney fire, plain old age and other causes
- Warped or missing chimney flashing, which seals the gap between the chimney and the roof, preventing leaks
How to spot a leaky chimney
The problem with chimney leaks is, you aren’t always aware of them as soon as they start. This is why all chimney-safety agencies recommend annual chimney inspections to spot early signs of trouble so they can be quickly and inexpensively repaired.
Here are 5 signs of a chimney leak to watch for:
- White staining (efflorescence) on the exterior masonry – means water is getting into the bricks
- Water in the firebox – this could be from an open chimney top
or masonry damage
- Damp sections of walls or the ceiling near the fireplace/chimney – an inspection is needed to determine if the leak is from the chimney or the roof
- Musty smells coming from the fireplace when not in use – a leaky chimney as well as condensation during combustion could cause this odor
- Crumbling mortar on the roof near the chimney – this may not mean the chimney is leaking right now, but it likely will in the future if the mortar isn’t repaired
What to do if you have a leak
Step one is to contact a licensed, CSIA-certified chimney sweep or chimney repair company. Schedule an inspection, and then arrange to have the problem professionally resolved. Chimney technicians have the tools, equipment and know-how to fix any leaky chimney issue safely and correctly.
Chimney Solutions of Alpharetta, GA, is ready to help with all chimney leak problems and all other needs including certified chimney sweeping, masonry rebuilding, component repair/replacement and professional chimney inspections. Speak with an expert today at (770) 255-1300.