Leaking Chimney- What To Do
Nobody likes when issues arise in your home. And it always seems to happen at the most inconvenient times. It is an amazing experience to be a homeowner but it does come with a lot of responsibilities. If you have been a homeowner for a while, you have likely had to repair a few things. Something I hadn’t ever thought I would need to worry about is my chimney. But of course, I was wrong! One day I noticed it was leaking water and it was a bit of a process to address.
Now that I have already been through it, I can help you! There are 5 main things you will want to do. Later in the article, we will also go over standard chimney care and warning signs to prevent future issues.
So first, what do you do if your chimney is leaking water?
- Find the source of the leak.
- Determine if the issue is caused by structural damage.
- Address any drainage problems.
- Check for cracks.
- Proceed to fix the problem.
This article is a guide on how to address and fix your chimney yourself. However, in some cases, it may be necessary to call in a professional. If you are unsure of what is causing the leak or if it is beyond your level of expertise, be sure to seek help. Let’s dive deeper into how you can assess and solve it yourself if possible!
Finding The Leak Source
The first step is to find the source of the leak. Sometimes this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Often, water will travel down the chimney and exit at the roof. If it’s raining or snowing heavily, this can make it more difficult to determine where the water is coming from. Here are a few tips for finding the exact spot of the leak:
- One way to help narrow it down is to inspect the chimney from the inside. Sometimes you can see water stains or evidence of water damage. If it is accessible, you can also check the roof for any damage that may be caused by the leak. If you can see anything, it’s a great indicator that you will need to repair some damage.
- Let the weather help! Since water is usually entering from the roof, often wind and rain can help point out where it may be leaking from on the exterior of your home.
- If you are unable to find the source from either inside or outside of the home, you can try using a water hose. Turn on the hose and direct it towards the chimney. If it is leaking, you will be able to see the water coming out. Be sure to have someone help you in case you need to stand on a ladder!
Check For Structural Damage
Once you have found the source of the leak, it is important to determine if the issue is caused by structural damage. There are a few common issues that may cause the leak. This type of damage can be more difficult and expensive to repair. If you find that the damage is due to a structural issue, you will need to call in a professional.
Some common signs/causes of structural damage are:
-Bricks that are missing, broken, or displaced
-Cracks in the chimney flue or liner
-Missing or damaged roof flashing
If you have found significant structural damage, you will want to take pictures and document it. This will help when you are working with a professional. Fix it as soon as possible as ignoring it will just create more excessive and expensive damage. If you didn’t find any structural damage, let’s move on to our next step.
Addressing Drainage Problems
If the issue is not caused by structural damage, it is likely that you have drainage problems. Poor drainage can cause water to enter the chimney and cause damage over time. There are a few things you can do to help address the drainage issue:
- Make sure your gutters are clear and free of debris. This will help ensure that water is diverted away from the home and chimney.
- Check for any roof leaks that may be contributing to the problem. If you find a leak, address it as soon as possible.
- Ensure that the “flashing” around your chimney is intact. This is an area of roofing that protects your chimney from water damage.
- Make sure there are no cracks in the mortar of the bricks on your chimney. If you find any, this will need to be addressed by a professional.
If you have done all of these things, but the leak persists, it may be a good idea to call a professional. While it is great to learn new skills and save yourself money with home repair. When it comes to water leakage, it’s a serious problem that needs to be fixed correctly.
Check For Cracks
If you have determined that the source of the leak is not structural damage or drainage problems, you may have cracks in the masonry. Masonry damage can be caused by a number of things such as weathering, thermal expansion, and contraction, and seismic activity.
If you have cracks in your masonry, you will want to address them as soon as possible. This is a more involved and expensive repair than some of the other things we have talked about. Oftentimes, it is necessary to replace the bricks that are damaged.
Solving The Problems
Hopefully, by now you have located the root of the problem. Now that you know where and why your chimney is leaking, you can fix it! If you find that the problem is caused by structural damage, you will need to call in a professional. If it is drainage or masonry damage, there are some things you can do yourself, but often times it is best to call a professional.
We will now go over a few things you can fix yourself. You can also usually find lots of tutorials online for fixing leaks yourself if you’re confident you can manage it.
How To Fix Drainage Issues
To fix a drainage issue in your chimney, you will need to address the source of the problem.
- Your gutters may be clogged, this will need to be cleared out.
- If there is a roof leak, the shingles will need to be fixed.
- When branches are overhanging your roof, they should be removed so that water can flow freely away from the home and chimney.
- Check the flashing around your chimney and make sure it is in good condition.
How To Fix Chimney Cracks
If you have determined that the cracks in your chimney are the source of the water leakage, you can fix them yourself. To do this, you will need to purchase a sealant specifically for masonry and chimneys. You can find these at most hardware stores.
- Clean the cracks using a wire brush
- Apply the sealant
- Smooth it over with a trowel and let it dry.
- You may need to do this multiple times in order to get a watertight seal.
If you have done these things and the leak continues or if there is structural damage, it is time to call a professional. They will likely be able to give you a price quote and a time frame of when it will be fixed.
Of course, the most important thing you can do is maintain your chimney so that it doesn’t experience damage in the first place! Whether you are in an older home or a new build, chimney care is important. Make sure to do these things to avoid leaks:
-Get your chimney cleaned and inspected every single year.
-If you are regularly using firewood, make sure you don’t leave any fires unattended or go to bed until they are completely out.
-Don’t burn trash in your fireplace.
-Make sure the damper is closed when the fireplace isn’t in use.
-Keep an eye on your roof for any damage and repair it as soon as possible.
-Keep an eye on your gutters and clear them regularly.
-Make sure the chimney cap is in good condition and properly installed.
What Are Early Warning Signs?
It is not always easy to tell when there is a problem with your chimney. Sometimes, water leakage can be gradual and you may not notice it until there is a lot of damage. Here are some early warning signs that you should look out for:
- Stains on the ceiling or walls near the chimney
- Mold or mildew
- Water dripping from the damper
- Rust on the metal parts of the chimney
- Sparks or smoke coming from the fireplace when it is not in use.
How Expensive Is Chimney Repair?
In most cases, the price of chimney repair is determined by the source of the problem. If it is due to a structural issue with your chimney, this will be quite expensive as masonry and roofing companies charge a premium for their services. If it is caused simply by drainage or deterioration of mortar joints, you may be able to fix it yourself or at least do some of the work. Again, you will likely be able to get a quote from a local company for repairs.
To conclude, if you are experiencing water leakage from your chimney, there are a few things you can do to try to fix it yourself. However, if the problem persists or is due to structural damage, it is time to call in a professional. They will be able to assess the situation and give you a price quote for repairs. Keep in mind that this problem is common in older homes that have not had regular maintenance. However, newer homes can experience this problem if the chimney was improperly constructed.