After a long winter, the warmer temperatures and milder weather of spring is a welcome reprieve. Unfortunately, April showers may bring more than May flowers – they may cause your chimney to leak.
The symptoms of chimney leaking can take a number of forms, ranging from a damp or moldy smell, water damage to walls or ceilings, or a tell-tale dripping noise when it rains. No matter what symptoms of water entry your chimney is exhibiting, it is important to have it inspected and repaired as soon as possible.
Causes of chimney leaks
Although chimneys look simple, they are actually complex structures with a number of different parts that work together to protect your fireplace and flue from water entry. However, because chimneys are directly exposed to the elements, they often deteriorate faster than your fireplace itself.
While pinpointing the exact point of water entry can be difficult, the following are some of the most common causes of leaky chimneys.
Chimney cap: The chimney cap covers and protects the top of the flue against water, animals, and debris such as leaves or branches. Chimney caps that are not sized correctly, were incorrectly installed, or have been damaged may begin allowing water in. Likewise, some older homes – especially those that do not receive regular chimney maintenance – may be missing chimney caps entirely.
Chimney crown: The chimney crown is the slab of masonry or concrete that covers the top of the chimney. Chimney crowns should never be flush with the masonry of the chimney; an overhang is necessary to prevent water from flowing directly onto the bricks and mortar. Likewise, good chimney crowns are also angled to protect water from pooling – and therefore damaging – the crown.
Flashing: Flashing is a weatherproof strip that seals the seam between the chimney and the roof. If you’ve had your roof recently repaired or replaced, you may want to check the flashing; most roofers are not equipped to adequately install flashing and may use the wrong materials or too many nail holes, both of which can cause flashing to leak.
Masonry damage: Because chimneys are exposed to the elements, they can very quickly deteriorate when damaged. This is especially true of water damage which can cause bricks to crack and spall in as little as one year.
Preventing leaky chimneys
The most important thing homeowners can do to prevent a leaky chimney is to have regular maintenance performed. Regular maintenance such as chimney sweeps and inspections ensure that small problems are caught and repaired early before they can turn into major issues.
In addition to regular annual maintenance, having a waterproof sealant applied to your chimney is another way to prevent water damage. These professional-grade products are specially designed for use on fireplace and chimney masonry; by allowing the brick to retain its permeable properties, water and gas are not trapped inside the brick.
Don’t let a leaky chimney ruin your spring – contact Mountain Man Fireplace and Chimney today to have your chimney leaks repaired! We serve in and around Littleton, CO, so visit our service area page or give us a call for more information.