A chimney leak can definitely be pretty scary. But there are things that you can do that will help mitigate the damage, minimize the cost, and help prevent future leaks. And we’re going to share those tips with you.
Determining how to tell your chimney is leaking is the best starting point for this. Many people assume that all chimney leaks show up as visible water in the fireplace or flue. Unfortunately that’s not always the case.
And because of the size and complexity of your chimney’s system, you probably won’t even recognize you have a leak until it’s too late and it has caused significant damage.
Luckily, you may be able to spot some key signs that indicate your chimney may be leaking, such as:
- You have water or condensation inside your firebox
- You can hear the water dripping in the chimney
- You have moisture, leaks, or water staining on walls or ceilings around your chimney
- You can smell musty or dank odors, especially after it rains
- You have cracked or spalled interior or exterior masonry
You should still have an inspection annually to get ahead of any potential water damage. Remember that the five signs listed may indicate that your chimney is leaking. But they may only present themselves when it’s too late.
What To Do
At this point, it depends. Some of this may not apply to you and your situation. But it’s always good to know for any future issues you may have.
Step 1: Stop the Water Damage
Once you discover a water leak in or around your chimney, the first thing you want to do is minimize the water damage as much as possible. You should move (or at least cover everything with plastic) to help prevent any water damage. This includes your furniture, electronics, or any other valuables.
Step 2: Contain the Water
If there’s water actively coming through your chimney, put a bucket or container under the leak to catch the water. Place a blanket or tarp or anything you have to help catch water that splashes onto the floor.
If you notice that paint around the leak is bubbling, that typically means it is holding water. So puncture the bubble to release the water into your bucket. If you cannot contain or control water from coming in, you need to call a licensed chimney contractor that offers 24-hour emergency chimney services.
Step 3: Remove the Water
Once you have the leak under control, thoroughly dry your carpet, furniture, wood, and anything else that was exposed to water. If you don’t clean this up, water can leave a stain and encourage mold to grow in your home.
If your carpet is soaked, you can pull it away from the padding and expose both sides of the rug and pad to air from a fan. If you can see extensive water damage, call a professional water extraction company.
Step 4: Call Your Insurance Agent
If you have a leak in your chimney, you should call your insurance agent. Each policy is different, and yours may not cover damage from a leaky chimney, but your agent will know. Give them a call as soon as possible and let them determine what is covered.
Step 5: Fix Your Leaky Chimney
Here are a few tips to help you choose the right contractor for the job:
- Get several quotes from different companies
- Make certain your contractor is licensed, insured, and will pull all the required permits
- Be sure your contractor agrees to locate and repair all wood and brick damage before fixing your chimney
- Ask your contractor to outline specific maintenance instructions for your new chimney
- Ask about the contractor’s guarantee and expected life of flashing, waterproofing, bricks, caps, etc.
Do not allow the work to begin until you’re comfortable with the contractor and that these requirements have been met.
Step 6: Prevent future chimney leaks
It’s easy to think that once you have the repairs completed your chimney shouldn’t have any problems. That’s true for a few years. But repairs, just like the original condition, naturally deteriorate. In order to help prevent future leaks and prolong the life of your chimney, it’s important for you to follow the following three tips.
- Have your chimney system inspected every year. Chimney technicians can give you the full run-down on the condition of your chimney.
- Replace your chimney waterproofing every few years or as needed. Waterproofing solution makes a huge difference in maintaining the life of your chimney. But it does lose its effectiveness after a few years. Inspections will tell you how well it’s holding up.
- Check your chimney’s flashing. Natural wear and tear of your chimney flashing is a very common cause of chimney leaks.
By choosing the right chimney company and taking time to properly maintain your chimney can help ensure that it performs well for years and years to come.