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Fixing Chimney Leaks
A leaky chimney can lead to several costly problems and can significantly shorten the life of your chimney system. There are several possible places for a leak to start, which is why a leak is often hard to address without professional help. At New Buck Chimney Services, we have over twenty years of industry experience making us experts in leak location and troubleshooting. In our experience, the most common causes of leaks are:
- Damaged or Missing Chimney Caps – The chimney cap plays an invaluable role in keeping water, wind, and furry, feathered friends out of the chimney structure. The cap acts as a shield against direct wind, rain, and debris, while still allowing smoke and vapor to escape through the chimney. However, if the cap is improperly installed, inadequately sealed, damaged, or deteriorating, it cannot effectively do its job. In any of these scenarios, you are at risk of having a leaky chimney. However, with a well-installed, high-quality chimney cap, you can add décor to your chimney top, preserve the life of your flue liner and masonry, and keep your fireplace burning safely for years to come. Chimney caps, which are typically constructed of copper or stainless steel, come in a variety of styles, sizes, and shapes to fit every style of home. If you don’t have a chimney cap on your home, protect yourself from water damage or unwanted guests by having one installed today!
- Inadequate or Deteriorating Crowns – The crown is a layer of concrete that protects the chimney from water, wind, and other environmental elements. Crown installation is incredibly important, as the crown should be a precise thickness and a precise width to work well and last. If the crown is not made with enough overhang, it can end up pouring rain down into the masonry of the chimney, instead of encouraging it to run off of the home. This is a common source of leaks and can cause serious damage. Another way water can invade the home through the crown is when a crown is made too thin or is not well-maintained. In these situations, the crown can crack and crumble and water can enter through the crown directly.
- Deteriorating or Improperly Installed Flashing – Many times, leaks within the flashing can be mistaken as a problem with the roof. That’s because the flashing is a series of metal layers that marry the chimney with the roof. This particular area (no matter how well-sealed) is incredibly vulnerable to the elements when flashing fails. There are several possible reasons for flashing to fail, including:
- Improper installation – If the flashing is not fitted perfectly, there can be spaces left vulnerable to water damage. Every roof and chimney is different, which is why each flashing installation is a custom job. If the installer does not take the proper angles into account, there will inevitably be a problem within the flashing.
- Weather damage – Because flashing is completely unprotected from the elements, strong winds can pry it away from the home, rendering it incapable of protecting the chimney from water. If flashing is damaged by winds or debris, water can accumulate on the surface, creating holes and erosion within the flashing itself. As these holes develop, water eases its way into the chimney and can cause extensive damage. In addition to wind and rain, flashing can be affected by an earthquake. During an earthquake, the home shifts and settles and can cause a division between the layers of flashing. This shifting can also cause the flashing to pull away from the roof or chimney. To catch problems early on, it’s wise to have your flashing inspected after any major storm or earthquake.
- Animal tampering – Animals sometimes pull at, peck at, or meddle with flashing, which can cause holes or gaps where water can get in. Having your flashing regularly checked by a professional can help you locate these problems before they lead to extensive water damage.
- Cracks or Holes within the Masonry – Masonry that is improperly maintained or exposed to harsh weather can be a source of leaks within the chimney. As porous materials, brick and mortar absorb water, which can deteriorate them from the inside out. This is especially common when temperatures change drastically, causing the water within the brick to freeze and thaw repeatedly. This harsh water exposure can cause cracks, holes, and crumbling within the brick and mortar, allowing water to enter the chimney structure itself. The best way to protect your chimney from these types of leaks is to have your system professionally waterproofed.
Let New Buck Chimney Services help you locate and fix leak problems within your chimney system – contact us today or call 318-674-2825!
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Thanks for all the information Kevin! I’ll be in touch for a new fireplace liner probably next spring.
~ Molly A.