Chimney Leakage Problems? What to do with a Leaky Chimney

close up of chimney with chimney flashing around it on roof
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close up of chimney with chimney flashing around it on roof

Having a fireplace is great-having a leaking chimney is not. If you’re having problems with water seeping through on a chimney wall—that’s a sign of a chimney leaking problem.

Chimneys require maintenance to fix if they’re leaking.

Your chimney is constantly exposed to the elements. This exposure really takes a toll on your chimney system including the:

Wear and tear will cause cracks and crevices to form. Over time, you’ll see gaps along the caulk used to seal the seam between the flashing and chimney. 

This causes the seal to separate from one or both surfaces.

This is bad.

Causes of Chimney Leakage

Chimneys leak for several reasons. The most common are:

The wear and tear from weather and condensation on the metal flashing and leaking bricks can all cause chimney leaks when it rains.

In a lot of cases, you can actually repair the flashing rather than replace it altogether. However, significant damage could require a complete replacement.

There are many things that can cause your flashing to leak; likewise, there are many ways that you can fix this problem.

A damaged chimney crown will let water get into the chimney flue and cause even more damage to your home.

How to Know if Your Chimney Flashing is Leaking

A chimney leak doesn’t have to be difficult to repair, but leaving them untouched for too long can lead to significant and dangerous structural damage. Chimney leakage can allow water to seep into not only your chimney and fireplace but also your attic and ceiling.

These leaks can also cause roof and drywall damage through wood rot.

If you were unaware of a flashing leak and start to see signs of water damage in your ceiling or attic, it might be time to have an inspection on your chimney, as it may be the cause. Otherwise, there are alternative ways that you can regularly check for leaks.

One sure-fire method is to run a hose around the area where your chimney and roof meet. After running the water for a few minutes, check the inside of the chimney for signs of water or moisture.

Scheduling annual inspections can also help you identify any chimney flashing leaks. This is the preferred method, as you should have your chimney inspected annually anyway to locate or prevent additional problems.

A cracked chimney crown, the effects of weather, wear and condensation on the metal flashing, and leaking bricks can all cause leaky flashing.

In a lot of cases, you can actually repair the flashing rather than replace it altogether. However, significant damage could require a complete replacement.

When to Replace Your Chimney Flashing

Of course, as soon as you notice a chimney leak or signs of water damage, you should contact a professional about having your flashing inspected and replaced.

If you haven’t noticed any signs of a leak, you may still consider replacing your flashing during convenient times. Your flashing comes into direct contact with water frequently since it’s exposed outdoors, so it’s bound to take on typical rust and corrosion.

If you’re having other forms of work done on your roof, you might consider replacing your flashing while you’re at it. For example, if you are having shingles replaced or repaired, that would be an ideal time to check the flashing and possibly replace it.

You should have your flashing inspected annually to detect any problems as soon as possible. An inspector may recommend you replace the flashing if they find any of the following:

  • Flashing is missing
  • Flashing is rusted through
  • Flashing is falling out
  • Flashing is covered with roofing tar
  • Flashing has visibly separated from the chimney

In the above cases, it’s likely that you will have to do a full replacement.

How to Replace Chimney Flashing

Replacing or repairing your chimney flashing is best done by a professional. Doing so on your own can be extremely dangerous and can lead to a greater chance of user error.

The first step to replacing your chimney flashing is to make sure you have a safe and secure attachment to your roof. This is critical, as a fall could lead to serious injury.

After you are secured on the roof, remove the shingles surrounding the chimney flashing. At this point, you’ll be replacing the step flashing and following up with weaving the singles and flashing back in.

Finally, you will install the counter flashing, sealing everything off with caulk to ensure there are no cracks and crevices for leaks.

Installing a Chimney Cricket

Many roofs implement the use of a chimney cricket to help with water flow. This additional structure is a special kind of flashing that diverts the water to prevent it from pooling on your roof. It sits at the back of your chimney, forming a pointed ridge for water to slide down.

You can have a chimney cricket installed using either wooden pieces or metal. This process will also involve using caulk and sealants to ensure water doesn’t get trapped underneath.

Can You Use Sealant on a Leaky Chimney?

For small cracks and leaks, you can use various sealants as a temporary fix for a chimney leak.

It’s important to note the emphasis on the word temporary.

Cracks and leaks can quickly grow, and a waterproofing sealant can only last so long.

In the case of damage to your flashing or leaks, you should always contact a professional for a chimney inspection, repair, replacements, or advice.

Professionals to Help with Chimney Leak Repair

Above all else, it’s critical to get professional help when something goes wrong with your chimney in any way.

Priddy Chimney Sweeps has been in serving customers since 1982 and has the experience, expertise, and chimney repair services necessary to keep your chimney up and running.

Most people call a chimney sweep at the first sign of trouble, but it’s important to know that you should also call for regular inspections and routine maintenance. Book an appointment online today or call us with any questions or concerns you might have.

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