How to Prevent Chimney Leaks

Avoid Costly Chimney Leaks and Repairs by Taking Preventative Actions

Chimney LeaksWhen homeowners are faced with a leaking roof, they may immediately assume that the cause is related to the age/state of their shingles or perhaps an after-purchase addition such as a skylight or a satellite dish.  Unfortunately, a commonly overlooked source of a roof leak is the chimney, often due to issues with the masonry work or poor caulking done.

Since the chimney extends above the roof line, it is perhaps more susceptible to damage from severe or extreme weather conditions than virtually any other exterior area of the home.  However, because chimneys are typically associated with warmth and fireplaces rather than the protective nature of a roof, they may not receive the same attention as the shingles with respect to inspections and repairs.

There are fundamentally five common reasons why a chimney may leak and hence be in need of repairs.  These particular circumstances are identified here, along with some potential remedies by either the homeowner or a professional chimney repairs provider such as Avenue Road Roofing:

  • The lack of an appropriate cover or cap on the top of the chimney
    • Install a cover/cap inside the chimney opening
    • Ensure that it extends well above chimney for proper ventilation
    • Should also have wire-netting sides to block out birds/small pests
  • Cracks in the cement crown that covers the top of the bricks
    • If cracks are small/fine, seal with an appropriate crown coating
    • If cracks are larger, best to remove and rebuild the entire crown
  • Cracks in the masonry work (the bricks and mortar)
    • Waterproofing is an option (note – this process will be detailed below)
    • Repoint affected mortar and replace cracked, crumbling, loose bricks
  • Loose or inadequately caulked flashing around the base
    • Replace or re-secure the flashing (if required)
    • Remove all old caulking and reseal entire perimeter of the flashing
  • Lack of a proper liner (allowing condensation to collect inside chimney)
    • Install a liner if necessary (for older homes in particular), or
    • Upgrade the liner material based on the type of furnace currently installed or fireplace/wood stove usage patterns – these materials include:
      • Clay/ceramic tiles
      • Metal – stainless steel alloys or aluminum
      • Castable mortar/cement

From the standpoint of preventing chimney leaks, the action that may be most appealing to a do-it-yourself homeowner is that of waterproofing.  This option may be of particular interest in cases where a chimney does not require professional repairs or masonry work to address more significant cracks/damage and/or an existing leak issue.

The major steps to waterproofing a chimney would be as follows:

  • Determine surface area to be covered (for proper amount of water repellent)
  • Clean the outer surface with brick-and masonry-cleaner (allow drying time)
  • Seal minor cracks in the mortar with crack-and-joint sealant (allow to dry)
  • Cover surrounding area of the roof with canvas drop cloths (not plastic)
  • Apply masonry water repellent (sealers do not work well; they trap moisture)
  • Apply second coat of water repellent within 5 minutes (while first coat still wet)

Other specific points for homeowners to note when waterproofing their chimney include:

  • Apply coats liberally – repellent should run down wall about 6-8 inches
  • Consider using a pump-action garden sprayer with a fan-style nozzle
  • Start waterproofing from base of the masonry and gradually work up
  • Rub freshly-coated areas with soft bristle brush to facilitate absorption
  • Ensure that dry weather is in the forecast for the next 12 to 24 hours

Although waterproofing a chimney could be a do-it-yourself project, some homeowners may be hesitant about undertaking such a task or perhaps uncomfortable working on a pitched-roof surface.  In such instances, it would be advisable to utilize the services of a contractor that provides professional chimney repairs, such as Avenue Road Roofing.

Get Expert Chimney Inspections and Masonry Work from Avenue Road Roofing

While the chimney can be a principal source of water penetration/roof leaks, identifying the precise location of any issues may not be as overt as major cracks in the masonry work or the crown.  What may seem to be the root cause might actually be a symptom of a more significant yet less apparent problem.

Therefore, it may be very worthwhile for homeowners to call upon a contractor with extensive experience in performing chimney repairs, such as Avenue Road Roofing, to thoroughly inspect their chimney to identify any possible or existing issues that need immediate attention and/or repairs.

The chimney specialists from Avenue Road Roofing will provide an itemized summary of any/all potential or actual issues along with specific recommendations on preventative measures or necessary repairs relative to:

  • Covers and crowns
  • Masonry work
  • Flashing and liners
  • Efflorescence (whitish crystals on brick surface)
  • Structural issues

Click here for further information on the masonry work and services, including chimney repairs, provided by Avenue Road Roofing.

If you suspect that your chimney is leaking and is in need of professional inspection and repairs, call the masonry experts at Avenue Road Roofing today at 416-785-5129 or contact us to schedule this work as soon as possible.