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How To Spot Chimney Leaks

Recognizing Chimney Leaks - Littleton CO - Mountain Man Fireplace & ChimneyFire and water simply aren’t meant to mix – and that includes in your fireplace system. Water can be extremely damaging to both interior and exterior fireplace and chimney components. Because of this, it is important to be able to spot chimney leaks as soon as they happen.

What causes chimney leaks?

Chimneys are complex structures; because of this, there a number of areas where water can find its way in. While a chimney inspection is often needed to uncover the source of a chimney leak, the following are four common causes of chimney leaks.

  • Chimney cap: The chimney cap sits on top of the chimney structure and protects the top of the flue from water, debris, and animals. With a metal top and mesh sides, a damaged chimney cap can let water flow directly into the flue.
  • Chimney crown: The chimney crown is the masonry slab that seals off the top of the chimney structure around the flue; the chimney cap sits on top of the chimney crown. Because it is flat, the chimney crown often bares the brunt of the exposure to the elements. If the crown is not slightly sloped, water can pool on top and cause cracks, damage, and leaks.
  • Flashing: Flashing protects the joint between the chimney and the roof. Made of layers of metal, flashing creates a watertight seal that keeps moisture out; if damaged, however, a leak caused by faulty flashing can damage both the chimney and the roof. Repairs to the roof-line, damage to surrounding shingles, or even being installed with too many nail holes can all cause flashing to lose its watertight seal. Many flashing leaks are mistakenly thought to be caused by a leaky roof.
  • Masonry: While bricks and mortar are semi-porous – means they absorb small amounts of water – too much water absorption can cause cracks to form in the masonry. Even water damage to a single brick can quickly spread; the more damaged the masonry becomes, the more water it absorbs and the greater the chance of damage to the chimney becomes. Masonry with too much water damage can become structurally unsound.

Preventing chimney leaks

The best and most effective way to prevent a leaky chimney is through regular preventative maintenance. Yearly chimney sweepings and chimney inspections help make sure there are no damaged areas where water can get in; likewise, regular maintenance can help extend the life of your chimney and keep it burning safer longer.

Chimneys can also be protected against water entry by applying waterproofing products. Products designed specifically for masonry chimneys allow the bricks and mortar to retain their semi-porous properties; gas and water can evaporate out of the brick, but new water is not able to be absorbed. Waterproofing can also be helpful in slowing down deterioration in cases where the masonry has already been damaged by water.

Don’t let water entry cause damage to your fireplace or chimney; if you suspect you have a chimney leak it is important to call a chimney professional as soon as possible. Contact Mountain Man Fireplace & Chimney today to schedule a chimney inspection to uncover the cause of your leaky chimney – and prevent the leak from coming back.

By Jake Johnson on September 28th, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

A Small Chimney Leak Does Not Have to End in a Nightmare

Every homeowner fears water damage to their home. Whether the water drips from the ceiling due to a torn shingle or the basement fills with a few inches of water after a heavy rain, water can cause serious damage to a home and the bank account. An area that could present problems with water damage is one that few people think about: the chimney. Many wrongly regard the chimney as a strong, indestructible structure designed to survive the elements. While chimneys do live outside, they are not completely resistant to weather, especially not water.

Water Damaged Chimney - Evergreen CO - Moutain Man Chimney

Water can do a surprising amount of damage to a chimney, starting with the outside of it. Masonry chimneys are built with materials like brick, mortar, concrete and stone, and each of the materials aside from stone are susceptible to water absorption. The absorption of water alone is not much of an issue, but when the temperatures fall below freezing, the water becomes problematic. Below freezing, water undergoes continuous expansion and contraction due to the freeze and thaw cycle. Therefore, the water inside the masonry materials also experiences this movement, which degrades the strength of the materials. Issues like cracks in the chimney, missing mortar, and even collapse can result from this freeze and thaw cycle of winter. Fortunately, cracks and missing mortar can be repaired before they result in a collapsed structure. Then, a preventative permeable sealant can be applied by a chimney specialist to keep water from entering the structure in the future.

Water can also affect the inside of the chimney if it is allowed to leak in. First, the water will rust out the metal flue lining. This then exposes the interior of the chimney to the same water damage that the outside experiences. A rusted flue liner full of cracks and holes may also expose the house itself to the high heat of the fire, which could cause an unintentional house fire. The water could also drip down the chimney and rust out the damper assembly, preventing proper smoke ventilation. Water damage may also become evident inside the home, with water stains on the ceiling and walls surrounding the chimney. The hearth can also become damaged after long-term exposure to water. Preventing water from leaking into the chimney is as simple as having a chimney expert install or repair the chimney cap or chimney crown. Both of these fixes are much less expensive than repairing water damage.

Water damage is insidious and can cause thousands of dollars in repair before you even realize it is a problem. Avoid these high costs by having an annual chimney inspection, where a professional can catch water damage in the very first stages. If you live in central Colorado near Evergreen, contact Mountain Man Fireplace and Chimney for a professional consultation.

By Jake Johnson on October 31st, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment