A lot of older homes have a brick chimney to ventilate the furnace or a fireplace. The brick chimney can be a major source of roof leaks if it isn’t well maintained.
A chimney should be inspected annually to see if the bricks are still in good condition and whether the stack is free from deposits. An inspection should also look around the base of the chimney to ensure the flashing is in good shape.
A chimney connected to an open fireplace should be cleaned regularly to prevent soot buildup and to keep out animal nests. If you find your fireplace has an odour, it’s probably from creosote deposits, a byproduct of burning wood. A good cleaning should solve the problem, otherwise baking soda or kitty litter set in the fireplace can absorb odours.
Even gas chimneys should be inspected because while gas is a clean fuel, the chimney can still be obstructed with a bird nest and other debris blocking the flue.
There are five main reasons for a chimney to leak:
- Rain is going into the top of the chimney because there’s no cover.
- There are cracks in the chimney crown.
- Chimney lacks a proper lining and causes condensation on interior walls.
- The chimney’s flashing is malfunctioning.
- Chimney bricks are deteriorating and causing leaks.
If your chimney is missing its cover, get a new one and the water problem is solved quickly.
A chimney crown is the cement part on top of the bricks around the flue liner. The purpose of the chimney crown is to keep the water out. If there are cracks, then water can get in. If not repaired, the cracks will only get larger as water seeps into the openings. The only way to repair this problem is to get masonry to build a new crown.
Most chimneys have liners and aren’t subject to condensation problems. But if you have an older chimney, constructed 120 years ago, even if it’s been converted to a gas fireplace, it might not have a liner. Install a liner and the problem is fixed.
Flashing is what seals off the brick structure from your roof. Flashing is often metal sheets bent around the base of the brick chimney where it meets roof shingles. There is no easy fix for this problem. You’ll have to reinstall a new saddle and flashing. This generally should be done when the roof is re-shingled as well.If your bricks and mortar are crumbling, you are probably facing replacing the bricks. Coating the bricks with a waterproofing material may just trap moisture inside the bricks and make the situation worse.
If you can’t figure out why your chimney is leaking, it’s time to call R.C. White Ltd. to find out your options.