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Is Your Chimney Leaking?

Posted Feb 14, 2024 in Chimneys

When your home is tak­ing on water, the to do list to repair it can seem nev­er end­ing. At the top of that list is fig­ur­ing out who can help you resolve the sit­u­a­tion, which is not always a clear nor easy task. It is under­stand­able then when most peo­ple are not aware of all the repairs and ser­vices chim­ney sweeps offer. One such area is leak­ing or wet chim­ney sys­tems. When water is com­ing in through or around your chim­ney and fire­place sys­tem, this is a sign of sig­nif­i­cant dete­ri­o­ra­tion to the exter­nal chim­ney sys­tem of your home. What most peo­ple don’t know is that water intru­sion is one of the biggest safe­ty con­cerns for a fire­place not only for the dam­age it caus­es to the inte­ri­or of your home but also the dam­age it can cause to the inte­ri­or of the fire­place sys­tem. Water intru­sion can cause dam­age that will keep a fire­place from func­tion­ing prop­er­ly and one that doesn’t func­tion prop­er­ly does not func­tion safe­ly. Just like a leak in a roof sys­tem, there can be lots of places where water can intrude into a home through an exte­ri­or chim­ney. Here are some warn­ing signs your chim­ney is tak­ing on water:

  1. Water dam­age and/​or leak­ing around the chim­ney inside: this one may be the most obvi­ous, but some­times when we see water inside we can nat­u­ral­ly grav­i­tate toward issues with roofs or gut­ters. Look out for water stain­ing on the ceil­ing above the fire­place, white residue forming/​collecting on the inte­ri­or stone or face brick for the fire­place. Any rust­ing of the damper assem­bly in the fire­place or even rust­ing around the gas valve for your fire­place (if it has a gas sup­ply) is a sign of water intru­sion. In addi­tion, if you have water accu­mu­lat­ing in the fire­box for any rea­son, be sure to call a cer­ti­fied chim­ney com­pa­ny to come out and inspect your system. 
  2. Spalling brick and mor­tar falling out: This prob­lem will be found on the exte­ri­or chim­ney. A sign that a chim­ney has tak­en on seri­ous water dam­age is when the faces of the brick appear to be pop­ping off or the mor­tar joints between the brick have either fall­en out or reced­ed. If your chim­ney is in this state, call ASAP because the longer you wait to address it, the more it will cost you in repairs. A com­mon pre­cur­sor to the brick spalling is if it looks like there are white spi­der webs on the bricks them­selves. If you have nev­er looked up at your chim­ney, it is worth your time to take a look. 
  3. Sat­u­rat­ed chim­neys: if you take a look at your chim­ney the next time it’s rain­ing, and you see water slow­ing soak­ing into it from the top down, this means your chim­ney crown is allow­ing water in through the top. When this hap­pens, the water spreads down through the cours­es of brick and even­tu­al­ly, this water freezes and expands inside the mason­ry mate­ri­als caus­ing dam­age to the struc­ture of the brick and mortar.
  4. Black stain­ing and moss growth on your chim­ney: this is a sign the chim­ney is tak­ing on water in some way. Black stain­ing is typ­i­cal­ly mold accu­mu­la­tion on the brick or even inside the mor­tar joints. Moss can also thrive on mason­ry struc­tures when sub­ject to water. All of this means that the chim­ney will retain water and even­tu­al­ly receive dam­age as the water expands dur­ing the freeze thaw cycles in our area. If your chim­ney is green or black it’s time to get it checked out! 
  5. Rust­ing around the top of your chim­ney: some chim­neys or tops of chim­neys are made of met­al mate­ri­als and as they rust they allow water to enter the fire­place sys­tem or into the home. Some builders and man­u­fac­tur­ers choose met­als for price and not longevi­ty. As a result, the wrong mate­r­i­al used on the top of a chim­ney and fire­place sys­tem can cause cost­ly dam­age to the home and fire­place. If you see rust, have an inspec­tion done.

Water intru­sion pre­ven­tion is the #1 way to save mon­ey on main­te­nance of your chim­ney and fire­place and to pro­tect your home for the long haul. Cer­ti­fied chim­ney com­pa­nies are trained and resourced to detect water leaks and use a myr­i­ad of prod­ucts to prop­er­ly resolve the issue. Some­thing we remind our cus­tomers of fre­quent­ly is the soon­er we find an issue the eas­i­er and cheap­er it is to repair. 

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