Chimney Leaks & Water Leaks & Prevention
Water is the number 1 enemy of the structure of a chimney and it can cause many unwanted and costly damages. Thankfully, most chimney water leaks are easy to diagnose and rectify.
We will start at the top and work our way down to some potential reasons for water leaking through your fireplace or furnace chimney:
No rain cap or top mounted energy-saving damper : When you don’t have a rain cap or an improper one, that allows for water, snow and all other weather elements to simply pour down the flue, slowly destroying it. This can go unnoticed for years, unless you have your chimney inspected by a professional. But even with a chimney cap, you can get certain amounts of rain and snow down into your fireplace flue, simply if the wind drives it horizontally. The best way to stop weather penetration would be to put an energy-saving top-mounted damper on top of your flue or termination tile. These completely seal out all rain, snow and other unwanted elements; including squirrels, raccoons and birds.
Flues with no caps or top-mounted dampers allow for rain, snow, and all other weather elements to go directly into your fireplace, eventually causing damage.
A proper stainless steel cap will prevent most rain, snow and other elements from entering your chimney but not completely.
When an energy saving, top-mounted damper is in it’s closed position, it stops all weather elements and animals from entering the chimney.
Chimney Crown or Chimney Wash: This is the concrete that is poured on top of your bricks, it’s purpose is to protect the brick and mortar joints below it. When poured and formed correctly, these generally will last years – but; even they are not immune to Chicago weather. Eventually small cracks will form and as soon as that starts, it’s basically the beginning of the end – unless you have maintenance done to prevent any further cracking, pitting or deterioration. Some people use a simple caulk to try fixing this problem but it does not work for long and all it takes is one tiny spot to be missed for the attempt to be useless. Windy Chimney uses a tried and true method which is commonly known as Crown Coat and when this is applied correctly, you will have many more worry-free years. Read more about it in our products/crown coat section.
Cracks in this crown/wash have lead to the entire fireplace and furnace chimney needing to be rebuilt. With that top layer of protection is gone, everything below quickly falls too.
A properly poured concrete crown will overhang the chimney’s bricks, allowing for water to drip away from the brick and mortar, instead of on it. As an extra precaution or if your crown is not damaged beyond replacement, Crown Saver can be applied, protecting it from any further damage.
Chimney Flashing: Chimney flashings are the metal that should lay below the shingles of your roof and at the base of your chimney. See image below.
It’s job is to prevent water from getting in your home, roof or attic. Every chimney flashing needs a seal at the top of it, running the entire length. Many people use a cheap caulk which only has a span of 2-3 years. Once that caulk dries up and starts falling off, it allows for water penetration, that can ruin the lower parts of your fireplace or furnace chimney, your attic, your ceilings, walls – or anything else the water manages to reach. It’s normally a cheap, yet overlooked maintenance necessity.
Above are the main causes of water damage to both the chimney and the interior of the home. There are other causes such as an oversized liner which allow for furnace and water heater gases to cool and condensate, literally eating away at your chimney from the inside out. The best route to prevent costly repairs is to have a professional and experienced Windy Chimney technician come inspect all components of your chimney system.