How to Prevent and Identify Chimney Leaks
While fireplaces are cherished amenities providing cozy, warm fires in winter, chimneys are often ignored, though they are constantly exposed to harsh elements. The safe and proper operation of a fireplace depends upon the chimney and flue liner. Water is the biggest threat to chimneys. A homeowner can keep the home safer and chimney repair costs significantly lower by preventing water from causing chimney damage. It is also helpful to be able to identify warning signs that damage has already begun to occur.
How to protect chimneys from water damage
Water can enter the chimney system in a variety of ways. Masonry chimneys are built to keep water out, but the structure is still highly vulnerable. A cracked chimney crown, deteriorating flashing, and crumbling mortar are three of the causes of chimney damage caused by water. An annual chimney inspection is highly recommended by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). One of the benefits of a yearly inspection is that a chimney expert can check all components of your chimney and fireplace for signs that water damage has begun to occur. If water intrusion is detected early, the cost of repairs can be minimized.
Sometimes a chimney begins to deteriorate because it becomes inundated with water every time it rains, due to the position of the chimney on a steep rooftop. In such cases, a cricket can be built, to divert water away from the chimney. A cricket could potentially prevent acceleration of the deterioration of your chimney.
Waterproofing is a preventative measure that will also help to provide additional protection against water. At Chimney Saver Solutions, we recommend waterproofing with our formulas that are 100% vapor permeable. This means water is kept out and yet the chimney masonry can breathe.
How to identify warning signs of chimney water damage
Many times, chimney damage caused by water occurs in a very stealthy way. For instance, if water is leaking through the flashing, it is often detectable at first only by looking in the attic. The roof can be structurally damaged before a homeowner is aware there’s a leak. There are other times when you can see and identify evidence that water has entered the chimney system and is causing damage. The following are a few of the signs of water intrusion in the chimney and fireplace:
- White stains on your chimney indicate that efflorescence has occurred. Efflorescence is when there is salt content plus excess water in the masonry, and it travels through the masonry to the exterior, where mineral deposits are left, causing staining.
- Spalling occurs when water has entered the masonry and goes through cycles of freezing and thawing in winter. The masonry expands and contracts and eventually begins to break and flake off. If you see piles of masonry debris around your chimney, it means spalling is occurring.
- You may also hear dripping sounds coming from the chimney, though you may not see the water.
- If you see cracks in the exterior or interior masonry, it’s a sign that the masonry has been damaged by water.
- A cracked chimney crown may be evidence of water damage in the chimney.
- The mortar joints between the chimney masonry are no longer keeping moisture out if they are cracked and broken.
Contact Chimney Saver Solutions
Is your chimney in need of an inspection, or have you seen signs of chimney water damage? Contact the trained, certified chimney specialists at Chimney Saver Solutions today. Call 804-440-5000 for chimney services from the Richmond area’s most respected full service chimney company.