Handling Leaky Chimneys: Inspection and Repair Tips

Your chimney could be leaking for a number of reasons. The age and condition of your home and roof are often contributing factors. Chimneys, just like roofing material can take a beating from the elements.

So, who do you call, Marin area roofing company or a masonry company? That will depend on the type of leak.

A masonry chimney is designed to last decades. If your home is under 50 years-old and the chimney hasn’t been knocked around by tree branches or hit by lightning, the leak probably isn’t from broken or saturated bricks.

Exposed cracked or missing mortar, on the other hand, might be the culprit. If your home is relatively new, a leaky chimney is often the result of a damaged chimney cover or flashing that is faulty or weak.

Why Does Your Chimney Leak and How to Repair it

In rarer cases, the improper installation of a gas fireplace insert to an existing chimney can also cause problems. Marin and other Bay Area counties have strong restrictions about woodburning stoves and fireplaces.

The “no-burn day” restrictions are based on the air quality and occur most frequently during the winter months when you want to use a fireplace.

Naturally, each year, more homeowners look for alternatives to convert their fireplaces and still use them for heat and ambiance. However, if a gas insert is not installed correctly which includes proper drafting and venting, excess acid and condensation can happen within the flue.

It is that resulting hydrochloric acid which can erode the chimney liner and damage sections of the masonry inside the flue. That can eventually cause the seeping of moisture, damaging the wood and sheetrock around the chimney.

What Is the First Step?

Your first step is to get a professional onto the roof for an inspection. Climbing onto your own roof, even if you have someone to hold the ladder can be risky. A roofer can make an assessment.

You’ll want to have the flashing replaced if it is:

  • Bent or separated from the surface of the roof
  • Rusted through
  • Missing in sections
  • Covered in roofing tar

California building code R1003.20, requires that a chimney 30 inches wide or wider have a chimney cricket, installed on the backside of your chimney for proper drainage.

A chimney cricket isn’t that cute little Disney grasshopper with a hat and cane. It is a sloped backing made of wood or metal to divert rainwater away from the chimney and is incorporating into the chimney flashing.

If the chimney itself is damaged, with cracked or missing mortar, a roofer may be able to replace the mortar.

If the chimney itself is damaged, with cracked or missing mortar, a roofer may be able to replace the mortar. But if the bricks are broken or loose, you may want to consult a masonry professional.

All the hot, dry weather may be putting your roof out of sight and out of mind. Don’t be fooled. Even extreme heat takes its toll on your roof.

Scheduling an inspection now might prove to be just the right time. Catch small problems before they cause more expensive damage. A roofer can always take a hose to a suspect area and see if water is seeping in or pooling in places that can cause damage during the winter rains.

One of our professional roofers will be happy to schedule an inspection. Contact us today.