How to Spot Chimney Water Damage

Did you know that rain can cause crucial damage to your chimney? Erosion is a natural process that happens over time, even to the structures on our houses, not to mention that mortar, the substance that bonds the bricks together in a chimney, is water soluble. If you’re a homeowner, you’re probably wondering how to tell if your chimney has already been affected by water. If so, here are some common ways that rain can cause chimney water damage.

Cracked Masonry

If you have a leak in your fireplace, it may be due to a crack in your chimney’s masonry. It’s important to have this taken care of as soon as possible, otherwise the issue can become worse. When masonry cracks aren’t taken care of, chimney repairs only become more expensive. Similarly, cracks in the chimney crown allow rainwater to leak into the flue lining.

Damaged Chimney Flue

Chimneys look strong, so it’s easy to forget they need maintenance just like the rest of your home. It’s important to schedule regular inspections in order to spot things like chimney water damage. Because the flue is on the inside of your chimney, it’s probably not something you’d ever notice on your own until it became a real issue. One sign there’s a problem is if thin tile shards begin to drop from the flue. As mortar joints age and deteriorate, they can allow moisture to seep into the chimney structure.

Rust or Moss

Rust is another red flag that chimney repairs are needed. Take note if you spot rust forming on the fireplace doors, the damper, or other accessories.

Or, is moss growing on the masonry? This can be another indication of chimney water damage. Moss will trap water and speed up the process of degradation.

Warped Flooring

Watch out for warped flooring and baseboards in the area surrounding your fireplace. In most cases, this is a clear sign of chimney water damage. Additionally, homeowners should look for efflorescence, a white, powdery mineral deposit that is left after water evaporates.

Other Water Sources

Other water sources are downspouts that terminate at the base of the chimney (or uphill of the chimney), as well as gutters that haven’t been  properly cleaned, or that are canted in the wrong direction. This allows roof water to flow into the chimney. On a rainy day, every homeowner should go outside and look at the flow of water in order to see where the moisture travels.

Schedule Today

To schedule an appointment with The Irish Sweep, call us at (510) 521-4088, or use this simple contact form by clicking here. Your safety is our number one priority. That’s why our team is taking special precautions during this time. We look forward to hearing from you.

CHIMNEY REPAIRS

The winter rains can cause a lot of damage and destruction. While your fireplace can keep you warm, it is also subject to harm during the cold season. An annual chimney inspection may uncover hidden water damage from these rains or obvious masonry repairs maybe noticeable. The summertime is an ideal time to make such fixes while the weather is good.

CHIMNEY INSPECTION

When we have a winter like the one we had with record rainfall, a chimney inspection is even more critical than ever. Add to this is the recent earthquakes. These combine to create a combination of scenarios where cracks may lead or have lead to water damage. Along with this, long winters also lead to higher use of chimneys which cause higher levels o buildup of creosote. This is your fireplaces enemy and can lead to safety hazards and corrosion.

Thus, the first thing you should do after a winter with high rain and cold spells is to schedule a chimney inspection before a new winter. This is a lot easier to do over the summer so you don’t have to try to schedule it in the middle of a cold spell. In addition, if repairs are needed, the rain won’t slow down the repair service.

CHIMNEY REPAIRS

As we discussed, a harsh winter makes chimney inspections even more important to identify chimney damage. Just like with most repairs, time can make the condition worse. Thus, it is imperative that you start repairs as soon as possible.

Since we are approaching Fall, the timing for repairs has become even more critical. It is a huge safety risk to have a damaged chimney or fireplace. Should you start a fire and your chimney is damaged, it could lead to even bigger problems like water seeping into parts of your home from winter rain or even a fire getting ignited.

REPLACING MASONRY

One are where damage may exist is the masonry. Most of the time, this can solved by replacing damaged masonry. It is critical to use the proper materials to fix it or you could damage the underlying integrity of the chimney.

OTHER REPAIRS

Some other areas that may need repairs are the flue, liner, firebox, or smoke chamber. Each of these poses its own hazards. Inspections can identify any harm so you can get it remedied quickly.

Call The Irish Sweep if you are uncertain of the damage or have chimney repairs you need done before the next set of winter storms.

HOW RAIN AFFECTS A CHIMNEY WITH NO CHIMNEY CAP

April showers bring May flowers, right? Well, they can also bring leaky chimneys! If you don’t have a chimney cap, you’re in for a wet time. You’ll start seeing symptoms of leaks during spring and summer, and even chimneys that’ve never had problems before can leak.

YOUR CHIMNEY WITHOUT A CHIMNEY CAP

Chimneys are complex structures and are always exposed to the weather. They aren’t designed to go without chimney caps, but not everyone knows this. Because chimneys are always exposed, rain water, leaves, feathers, and all sorts of things can fall into them and build up or cause damage.

The entrance of rain into your chimney may not sound very dramatic to you. But when the masonry and other components in your chimney degrade and lose stability, or lose fire proofness, it becomes dramatic. Wetness can cause spalling and crumbling brickwork, and things like leaves that fall into your chimney are a fire hazard.

WHY GET A CHIMNEY CAP?

The top reason is to prevent damage to your home. To prevent water coming in, part of a chimney cap acts like an umbrella, and a screen section prevents the debris from falling in or sparks from floating out.

Don’t worry about a chimney cap affecting your draft. If your chimney cap has sufficient clearance and you keep it clean, it will either not affect your chimney draft or improve it. When wind blows, the convex shape of the cap creates a slight vacuum at the top of the flue so your chimney should draw better with the cap in place. Some chimney caps are even specifically designed to improve chimney draft!

IF YOU SEE WATER COMING IN, IT COULD ALSO BE DUE TO:
FLASHING

If your chimney flashing starts to wear down, water can get in. Flashing is a tight strip inside your chimney that seals the seam between your roof and chimney to prevent water coming in. If the flashing is damaged or loses its seal due to age or wear and tear, water will get through the gaps. This can in turn water damage to the roof, chimney, ceilings and walls. Metal flashings are preferred over mastic flashings.

INCORRECT CHIMNEY CAP

Water can get in if the chimney cap doesn’t fit well. Without a chimney cap that fits, the fireplace and flue are completely exposed to water from the rain. An ill-fitting cap is barely better than no cap at all.

MASONRY DAMAGE

Because your chimney is directly exposed to rain, the masonry components will deteriorate over time. Water can cause bricks to spall and crack (letting in water), in addition to making your chimney look unkempt.

You may know your chimney is leaking because you see visible water in the flue or fireplace. But because of the complexity and size of many chimney systems, leaks can easily go undetected for a while. You might not even know there’s water damage until significant damage has already been done.

To prevent chimney leaks, it’s best if you call in a professional for annual chimney sweepings and inspections. We’ll be able to detect any damage so that you can get it fixed before the chimney starts to leak!

FLUE, WHAT IS IT?

FLUE:  Most people say to me, “Will you close the flue once you complete the cleaning process?”  What they are really asking me to do is to close the damper.

So what is the definition of the word flue?  The chimney Safety Institute of America defines this word as, “The passage in a chimney for conveying flue gases to the outside atmosphere.”

And Webster’s Dictionary defines this word as, “A channel or pipe in a chimney for carrying flame and smoke to the outer air.”

The inside of your chimney may contain one or more flues.  It depends upon the number of fireplaces or gas appliances are in the home.

SPOT THESE 4 SIGNS YOU NEED CHIMNEY MASONRY REPAIR

Chimney masonry repair helps to correct damage and restore the structure to the bricks and mortar of your chimney. While masonry repair is an essential task to keep your chimney safe, many homeowners don’t know how to recognize the signs that a chimney masonry repair is due. Here we look at 4 key signs that you need a chimney masonry repair.

Continue reading “SPOT THESE 4 SIGNS YOU NEED CHIMNEY MASONRY REPAIR”

CHIMNEY REPAIRS: 7 SIGNS TO LOOK FOR

Chimneys keep you warm and can provide a home with a beautiful focal point. However, they can hold hidden dangers and it’s important to regularly check for these signs. Failure to do so can lead to very expensive, dangerous, and preventable conditions.

Continue reading “CHIMNEY REPAIRS: 7 SIGNS TO LOOK FOR”