Our Company Blog

Issues With Damaged Chimney Flashing

Flashing is a vital part of your chimney’s construction. It protects the area where your roof and chimney meet, so that no water enters your home and causes damage. Your ceiling, walls, and more could be left vulnerable if flashing isn’t installed or if it is need of repair. Luckily, the staff at Mountain Man Fireplace & Chimney is trained and certified to help you out!

How Does Flashing Work?Issues With Damaged Chimney Flashing - Littleton CO - Mountain Man Fireplace & Chimney Inc

First of all, let’s review how flashing works. The area where your roof and chimney meet needs extra protection due to the different materials that are present. The roofing materials and your brickwork expand and contract at different rates, thus creating small openings for water to enter.

Flashing works by sealing this area, while allowing these parts the flexibility they need. It’s typically made from a strong, metal material, and it will be custom fitted to your unique set-up. Then, caulking will be applied to ensure added protection and durability.

Typical Forms Of Damage

There are a few ways your flashing can be damaged. The first is corrosion. As time passes, you may eventually notice rust, holes, and similar types of wear and tear throughout your flashing. This is obviously not a good sign, and it should be addressed as soon as possible. When issues like this occur, water can enter fast, and your home will be left vulnerable. Give us a call and we get your system back to normal in no time!

Another problem comes in the form of loose parts. Bad weather and strong winds can sometimes cause parts of your flashing to detach, leaving you with open pathways for water to enter. Let us take a look at the problem, and we’ll see what we can do to repair any damage.

Bending is also a problem at times. If your flashing comes into contact with heavy items, the metal may bend, which will eventually lead to even more damage down the line. If water gets into the bent area, it will simply sit there until rust and corrosion occur. Also, the flashing itself will be weaker in the bent spot and cracks will eventually form in the affected areas.

What Can We Do?

We will do our best to repair your flashing so it looks and functions as good as new. If repairs cannot be completed, that’s no problem. We can install new flashing so that your home stays protected for years to come! We can also work with you to find the best fit and materials for your home and budget. No matter what, your home will be safer after the job is done!

Learn more by giving us a call. We can answer any questions you may have, then set you up with an appointment. Gain the peace of mind you deserve and get this maintenance done now, so you can rest easy. We looking forward to helping you out soon!

By Jake Johnson on June 21st, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

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

What Causes Chimneys to Leak?

Chimneys are designed and built to withstand constant exposure to the elements. However, even the best built chimneys can be damaged or deteriorate over time. Chimney damage often leads to chimney leaks; with so many different components, it can be difficult to determine the exact cause of a chimney leak.

Prevent Leaky Chimney - Littleton CO - MountainManCauses of chimney leaks

Diagnosing the cause of a leaky chimney can be difficult; because of this, we recommend having a chimney inspection done by a certified professional to identify the cause of the lea. Finding and repairing the source of the chimney leak first can prevent additional water from getting in after chimney repairs are made. The following are four of the most common causes of leaky chimneys.

– Chimney cap: The metal top and mesh sides of the chimney cap keep moisture, animals, and debris out of the chimney. However, if the chimney cap is improperly fitted, incorrectly installed, or damaged, water can easily flow into the top of the flue and down into the rest of the fireplace system.
– Chimney crown: The stone or masonry of the chimney crown is the slab that surrounds the flue and covers the top of the chimney structure. Because of their location, chimney crowns often bear the brunt of the chimney’s exposure to the elements; this can cause them to deteriorate faster than other chimney components. When this occurs, water can seem into cracks or holes in the chimney crown.
– Flashing: Chimney flashing creates a watertight seal on the joint between the roof and the chimney. Flashing can lose its seal due to overexposure to the elements, damage from storms, changes to the surrounding roofing materials, or improper installation. Leaks caused by flashing are often misidentified as roof leaks because the water appears on ceilings and walls instead of inside the chimney.
– Masonry: Water from rain, ice, snow, and even sprinklers can cause masonry to deteriorate over time. Damaged masonry can chip, crack, and spall because of overexposure to moisture. Not only does this let water into the chimney, but it can also affect the structural stability of the chimney structure.

How to prevent chimney leaks

While it is impossible to keep your chimney away from water, it is possible to help prevent chimney leaks. One of the easiest – and most important – ways to prevent a chimney leak is by having regular sweepings and inspections. This annual maintenance allows minor chimney problems to be identified and repaired long before they create serious damage.

In addition to regular annual maintenance, masonry can also be waterproofed in order to prevent water damage. During the waterproofing process a specially designed water repellant is applied to the masonry; this allows the bricks and mortar to retain their semi-porous nature without letting water be absorbed by the masonry. Waterproofing may also be able to stop the deterioration process on chimneys with existing water damage.

If you have a chimney leak – no matter how small – don’t wait for the leak to get worse before calling a chimney sweep. Contact Mountain Man Fireplace & Chimney today to schedule an inspection; our certified technicians can find and repair the source of your chimney leak!

By Jake Johnson on June 21st, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment

3 Ways Water Ruins Your Chimney

 

We might start sounding like a broken record after a while, but the truth is the truth: Moisture is your chimney system’s worst enemy. Sure, we have to consider other potential chimney problems in providing proper chimney care, like fire hazards and proper draft. But when Mountain Man Fireplace and Chimney technicians are called out for chimney repairs, more often than not, the culprit behind that repair need is water.

How Water Damages Your Chimney

One potential result of excess water in your chimney is damage to your mortar joints.

One potential result of excess water in your chimney is damage to your mortar joints.

Here’s the thing about the various sources of chimney trouble: Most of them are either irregular, or relatively avoidable. Yes, a lightning strike could cause serious damage to your chimney, but those don’t happen frequently. Same goes for seismic events. And while a chimney fire is a serious concern, we can do a lot to make those far less probable, from sweeping your chimney every year to guiding you toward proper burning practices (like always and only burning seasoned or kiln-dried firewood).

Water, on the other hand, is consistent. Season after season, year after year, rain, snow, sleet and other forms of precipitation bear down on your chimney exterior, wearing at the masonry and the various components of your system. You can’t keep your chimney clear of moisture, but you can know how moisture attacks and damages your chimney, and learn what you can do to protect the system and avoid extensive damage.

3 Types Of Water Damage

Rust/Corrosion

Many components of your chimney system are made out of metal, including your chimney flashing and chimney cap. In pre-fabricated chimney systems, you’ll have a metal chimney chase installed at the top performing a job similar to that of a masonry chimney crown: diverting water away from the flue opening. Depending on what those components are made of, rust and corrosion could be a concern. Galvanized metal is a budget-friendly material, but it doesn’t stand up to the elements nearly as well as copper or stainless steel. Galvanized caps and covers can start to fail even in just a few years. Rust and corrosion are things we’ll look for during your chimney inspection, but if you see rust streaks on your chase cover or chimney cap or notice damage on your flashing in between inspections, call Mountain Man — those components likely need replacing.

Spalling

Spalling masonry is masonry that’s flaking, chipping or crumbling, and that can span from surface flaking on your chimney crown to bricks that look like their faces have popped clean off. And yes, water is your culprit here too. Water causes spalling often through the freeze/thaw cycle — moisture weaves its way into small imperfections like cracks, then the water freezes as the temperatures drop, and expanding ice breaks open the masonry from the inside. But the regular assault of rain and snow can just slowly wear at your masonry too, causing the surface to flake and crumble.

Mortar Joint Damage

Bricks will generally stay stronger longer than the mortar joints holding them together. So after years of being bombarded by precipitation, it’s common for mortar joints to recede or crack, allowing moisture to move toward the interior of your chimney, affecting other components (like rusting your throat damper or wearing down the mortar joints in your firebox). Leaks like these can also create a mold issue. Mold feeds on moisture, and if it starts growing in your chimney, it can contribute to health problems, from skin irritation to respiratory problems, for the people in your home

How To Keep Water From Ruining Your Chimney

Your chimney system was designed with components that protect it against water. Your chimney crown or chase cover usher rain away from the flue; flashing keeps water from intruding where your chimney meets the roofline; a chimney cap helps protect the flue opening from letting precipitation in. When Mountain Man technicians perform your annual chimney inspection, we check all of those components to ensure that they’re performing properly and effectively — and if they’re not, we can do the right repairs to change that. So keeping up with those inspection appointments: a big step toward keeping water from ruining your chimney.

Another proactive step we can recommend is having Mountain Man techs apply a waterproofing sealant to your masonry. Waterproofing keeps excess moisture from being absorbed, and protects the masonry itself, helping to extend its service life. It’s a really worthwhile extra step that helps you avoid damage and leaks, and care for a beautiful part of your home.

If you have any questions about moisture damage to your chimney — or if you’d like to make an appointment with Mountain Man Fireplace & Chimney’s CSIA-certified technicians — just give us a cal

Keep the Water Out

Look Up: Preventing Leaks Can Start At The Top

Your chimney is a complex (and pretty remarkable) system, and every component plays an important role in its performance, safety and longevity. But when we get on the subject of understanding and preventing chimney leaks, it sometimes helps to start by looking up.

What do you need to do to ensure that your chimney stays dry? We have answers.

What do you need to do to ensure that your chimney stays dry? We have answers.

The top portion of your chimney, up above the roofline, tends to be both your chimney’s first line of defense against moisture intrusion and moisture damage and the most heavily bombarded part of your chimney — between rain, snow and baking sun. Making sure that all the parts of your chimney system that live above the roofline are in top shape goes a long way toward keeping chimney leaks at bay. And that’s something we want to help you do at Mountain Man Fireplace & Chimney, because chimney moisture damage is a serious, and seriously frustrating problem.

The Top Portion Of Your Chimney: A Breakdown

Chimney Caps

If you’re looking at your chimney from the street, the first thing you notice up at the very top should be a chimney cap. These are installed atop your flue opening, and their role is multifaceted: Chimney caps not only help to keep rain, snow and other forms of precipitation from diving right into your open flue, they also keep nesting animals out, which helps prevent a whole other kind of damage and annoyance.

If you don’t have a properly sized chimney cap at the top of your flue, that’s one big piece of prevention missing, and one big step closer to moisture problems in your chimney.

Chimney Crowns And Chase Covers

If you have a masonry chimney, you’ll have a masonry chimney crown built up top, right below where your chimney cap is installed. It’s in a tough spot — horizontal, in the direct line of sun and precipitation — and it does an important job, directing and diverting water away from your flue opening. Given all the stress your crown is under, it’s not uncommon for cracks to form. But once cracks do form, bigger trouble begins — moisture can make its way into small cracks, expanding as it freezes and more or less bursting the masonry apart from the inside. The longer it’s left uncorrected, the more damage occurs, and the more moisture gets a chance to make its way into the interior of your chimney and your home.

That’s part of why we’re so vocal about keeping up with your annual chimney inspections — if we’re checking your system closely each and every year, we’ll find those small cracks and make repairs before you’re left with a crumbled and spalling crown that needs to be completely rebuilt.

If you have a pre-fabricated or factory-built chimney system, you’ll have a chase around the upper portion of your chimney, topped with a chase cover that performs a role similar to a chimney crown. Chase covers are constructed with metal, so you’re not dealing with spalling masonry, but instead with the potential for rust and corrosion. Homeowners with galvanized metal chase covers most often have that problem — and rusty, corroded chase covers are a just about surefire contributor to a chimney leak.

If you notice rust streaks on your chase cover in between chimney inspections, give Mountain Man Fireplace & Chimney a call. We can replace the damaged cover with a new one, and talk to you about different options for materials, like stainless steel and copper, which are far more durable (and are beautiful, too).

Chimney Flashing

Where your chimney comes up through your roof, you have seams — the places where the horizontal roof butts up against your vertical chimney column. Seams in just about any context — from your chimney to your chinos — can mean vulnerability when care isn’t taken to strengthen them. So in a chimney, we install flashing all around the chimney, sealing off and carefully protecting those seams from moisture intrusion.

Since its role in leak prevention is so important, damaged flashing is a big deal — if pieces of flashing tear or come off in a storm, or corrode over time, the likelihood of ending up with a leak certainly isn’t low. If there’s a problem with your flashing, Mountain Man technicians can do the careful, custom work required to getting it back in shape.

If you have any questions about your chimney, from its design and function to the best ways to protect it (and your home), we’re always glad to help. Call Mountain Man Fireplace & Chimney!

 

When is a Chimney Not a Chimney?

Part Two of ‘Why is MY Chimney Leaking?’  

There are quite a number of ambiguous and even confusing terms used in the hearth industry.  Among them is the very basic word ‘chimney’.  If what looks like a chimney and sticks up out of your roof is covered with siding or stucco, it’s probably actually a ‘chase’.  The chase is the framed box and it’s the metal pipe inside that is the chimney.  But all this does is lead to the same questions we answered last month – why is my chimney leaking?  Or my chase or whatever you want to call it?!?!?

In order to safeguard performance and all who live in your home, you must take steps to waterproof your chimney.

In order to safeguard performance and all who live in your home, you must take steps to waterproof your chimney.

Water leaking into your home is a hassle and it can be difficult to locate the source.  Whether you’re venting a fireplace, a stove or even a furnace; the fundamentals of investigating a leak on are the same with a chase as with a chimney:  start at the top and work down to the roofline.  Usually the chase is covered by a sheet metal cover that was fabricated for that specific chase – it looks like an upside down cake pan.  In order to keep it from leaking, the ‘chase cover’ needs to be properly supported and sized for whatever chimneys pass through it.  A properly installed chase cover consists of four components:  the underlying framing and plywood to support it, the cover itself – it should have 4” sides and a drip edge, the chimney collar – the transition from flat to round, and the storm collar – the hat brim-shaped strip of metal that fits around the outer wall of the chimney above the chimney collar.

If water leaks into the chase cover from the top, it typically runs down the outside of the pipe until it reaches something to absorb it.  That can be the ceiling, the top of a freestanding stove or even the walls on the front of a fireplace.  It’s also common for water leaking into the chase to eventually create rust on the top of a built-in fireplace, causing a serious deficiency in the ability of the fireplace to protect the surrounding combustible material.

Because the chase is built very similarly to a standard wall, the sides of a conventional chase are the easiest to evaluate during a leaky chimney diagnosis.  Like anywhere else on your home, water can enter through gaps and/or splits in the siding, cracks in the stucco, and even through holes made by animals.  A comprehensive chimney inspection will include an evaluation of all four sides of the chase.

Where the chase meets the roofline can be the most complicated region of a leaking chimney to diagnose.  Every roof-chimney interface should have an overlapping system that includes both flashing and counter-flashing.  The flashing starts under the roofing materials and runs up alongside the chimney.  The counter-flashing starts out with a ‘cut’ into the side of the chimney and then overlaps the flashing to create a barrier to water intrusion.  Unfortunately, a huge percentage of homes in our community have chimneys that are flashed improperly.  We often see chimneys where the counter-flashing is just placed along the chimney and ‘sealed’ with some type of goop.  WRONG!  Chimneys like these need significant repairs to keep the water out of your home.

To correctly diagnose and fix a leaking chimney/chase, we evaluate the entire chimney/chase as a system: top (cap and cover), middle (siding and/or stucco) and bottom (flashing and counter-flashing).  If any of the three sections is leaking, then the chimney has a potential for water to enter the home.  Our standardized 20-point inspection process is designed to locate the source of leaks and allow us to create a repair program for stopping the water penetration into your home.

To schedule a fireplace/chimney sweeping and/or inspection – call us today at Mountain Man Fireplace and Chimney, Inc – (303) 679.1601 / 838.3882 or electronically at office@MtnManChimney.com.  Semper Fi!