When towns receive heavy rainfall, we typically notice an increase in demand for our services. Homeowners discover that their fireplace has water, which is a clear indicator that there is a leak in the chimney.
It is crucial that you find this problem before it snowballs and becomes a significant issue, which is expensive to repair. Remember, excess moisture is never a good thing in your household, because of all the damage it can cause over time.
There is also a chance of suffering from unknown leaks, which is extremely dangerous for your chimney in the long run. Below, you will all the information you need to know about chimney leaks so that you can make the right decision.
Signs Your Chimney Has a Leak
Most people think that the best way to determine a rupture in the chimney is to look for water in the fireplace. The problem is that you may not realize there is a leak until it is too late. In a lot of households, the complexity and size of the chimneys play a crucial role in how easy or difficult it is to detect a rupture.
Here are a handful of signs which indicate your chimney is suffering from a leak:
- A dank or musty odor in the fireplace, after it rains in your area.
- Ceilings or walls near the fireplace are damp or have stains on them.
- Formation of water droplets inside your firebox, due to condensation.
- You can hear water dripping inside the chimney.
Even if you don’t observe these symptoms in your household, there is still a chance of a leak being present in the chimney. You should ask a professional chimney repair company to take a look at this part of your house to identify potential problems.
Problems That Lead to Chimney Leaks
It is not common for homeowners to know why their chimney has a leak. So what are the factors that cause this problem? Given below is a list of issues that are responsible for causing leaks in your chimney:
Condensation Inside the Chimney
Although this is a rare problem, it is important to know about this issue. High levels of condensation inside the chimney results in leaks over time. Homeowners face this problem when they convert their wood fireplace to a gas fireplace. Unfortunately, some companies won’t fit it with the right liner, the primary reason why this issue occurs. Also, previous homeowners may not be aware that they need to make the necessary adjustments.
When you use gas as the primary source of fuel, the fumes contain moisture. Although the air goes up, there isn’t enough heat to force the moisture to exit the chimney. Due to the lack of an appropriate liner, the water will start to seep through the walls of the chimney.
Before you start using the fireplace after converting it into a gas burning variant, ask a CSIA certified professional chimney company to take a look. Only when you get the green light should you start operating it.
Damaged or Missing Chimney Crown
Known as the chimney wash, it is the first cement layer of the masonry. The role of the chimney crown is to prevent water from penetrating and damaging the materials below it. Also, it ensures there isn’t any gap between the outside of the chimney and the liner.
As time goes on, cracks will start to appear on the chimney crown. If left untreated, it will start to grow due to the expansion of water as it becomes colder. The reason for the formation of the cracks is constant exposure to water and fluctuation in temperature.
Fortunately, if the damage isn’t extensive, a professional chimney repair company only has to seal the cracks. However, if there is substantial deterioration in this area, you will have to replace this entire area.
Deterioration of flashing
Every chimney comes with a metal layer, designed to prevent the entry of water. Most of the time, it uses aluminum as the primary material, along with a sealant. However, the elements of nature kickstart the deterioration of the flashing, allowing debris and water to enter.
Another reason why this part of the chimney faces a problem is due to improper installation. Over time, due to rusting, the flashing loses its durability. Some professional companies tend to use nails to seal this part of the chimney. However, this isn’t an effective technique, and water can enter easily.
If there is a problem with the flashing, you need to repair it as soon as possible. Failure to do so puts your household in danger of suffering from significant water damage. The cost of fixing this problem is quite an expensive affair.
Lack of chimney cap
When you have a chimney, every professional company will ask you to install a cap. It is a vital accessory, which is responsible for preventing water from entering your fireplace. If you don’t have one, the rain will be able to enter your chimney directly, causing significant problems.
Also, when you don’t have a chimney cap, it is easy for birds and animals to enter. It increases the chances of suffering from a leak and a blockage. As a result, water will get into various parts of your chimney and freeze. Due to the sudden expansion, it can damage the mortar joints.
Even if you have a chimney cap, a heavy storm can blow it off. Improper installation or use of cheap materials limits the lifespan of this accessory.
Wear and tear of bricks and mortar
Bricks and mortar tend to be the most vulnerable portion of the chimney. It faces large amounts of stress, due to constant exposure to the elements of nature. As time goes on, the cement that holds the materials of your chimney will start to crack. It starts to spread to the bricks and water begins to enter your household.
If your chimney receives a lot of shade, it will take longer for the moisture to evaporate. The problem is that it will remain wet for extended periods. As a result, the bricks will absorb the moisture, which in turn will enter your household.
Also, if water is present in the chimney during the colder months, it will freeze. Due to the expansion of water, the number of cracks in the bricks and mortar will increase.
How to Prevent Chimney Leaks
As there are so many reasons which are responsible for chimney leaks, you want to know how you can take appropriate measures to prevent them. Here are a handful of ways you can stop water from entering your fireplace:
Ask a professional company to maintain the chimney
There is no reason for you to wait until it starts to rain, to find out whether your chimney has a leak or not. Contact a professional chimney maintenance and repair company to take a look at this part of your house at least once a year. Thanks to their expertise, they will be able to identify minor issues, before it becomes a significant problem.
Get a chimney cricket
If the location of the chimney is on the lower part of the roof, the chances of it suffering from a leak increases during heavy rains. The reason is this part of your house will be in the direction of water run-off.
You can avoid this problem by installing a chimney cricket, which deflects water and prevents it from entering your chimney. Also, if your chimney more than 30 inches in width, you need to get one installed as soon as possible.
Install a chimney cap
If there is no chimney cap or it is in bad shape, water can enter easily. Every time it rains, your fireplace will become wet. You can avoid this problem by installing a chimney cap on top of the crown. It also comes with a screen, which prevents birds and animals from entering your home.
However, during periods of high-speed winds, snow and rain can enter the flue without any difficulties. In this situation, you will still suffer from leaks, despite having a chimney cap. The best solution would be to get a top-sealing damper, which prevents the entry of water and snow. You only need to open it, when you are using the fireplace. If you want complete protection from water, install both a chimney cap and a top-sealing damper.
Waterproof the crown and bricks
As you already know, the crown becomes vulnerable over time, due to constant exposure to the various elements of nature. You can prevent leaks from occurring by waterproofing this part of your house. The professional chimney repair company will use a strong sealant to increase the lifespan of the crown.
Similarly, you need to take the same precautions when it comes to protecting the bricks of the chimney. Waterproofing will keep moisture out of these materials while allowing water vapor to escape from them.
It is a win-win situation and your chimney won’t have fungus or mildew stains. However, before you apply a waterproof coating, you should make sure there are no problems with the crown and bricks. If there is an issue, it defeats the purpose of using the waterproof coating.
Make sure you follow this guide to prevent chimney leaks from occurring in the future!