Fall is a great time to get the fireplace ready for winter. Attending to those irritating chimney leaks is the best place to start. As this is not an area of the home which sees a lot of traffic or that gets used very often, chimneys require a thorough maintenance check once a year. Considering that a chimney leak could have numerous causes, it is helpful to understand the root of these problems.
Faulty Chimney Flashing
The part where the chimney and the roof of your house meet is sealed off with flashing. This material can be aluminium, steel copper or PVC. Each one is suitable for different climates, geographical areas and also for different classes of construction. The most popular form of flashing is aluminium, which can last more than 20 years in some cases. However, over time this material will start to deteriorate, and gaps will appear between the brickwork of the chimney and the actual flashing material.
A chimney leak can be fixed by attending to damaged flashing. It is best to clean any old leaves or other residues from the flashing; this might include scraping off any hardened cement. Next up, one should add a generous amount of roofing cement; one could fasten the flashing tight against the chimney by using masonry nails. Flashing with extensive deterioration should rather be replaced than risking further damage.
Brick and Mortar Damage
Both bricks and mortar are porous. This is a major cause of chimney leaks and should be attended to when doing maintenance. Another cause of water making its way down the chimney could be constant freeze and thawing action taking place during the cold winter. The first layer of the chimney might be perfectly built with a neat layer of bricks, while behind this layer one might find a conglomerate of mortar, cement and stone. While this is not a big problem, it could result in small cracks, allowing water to penetrate. Even in areas that are cold and damp, the bricks might retain water for a longer time and may eventually start leaking down the chimney.
Damaged mortar can be fixed by removing the old, crumbling pieces from the wall and replacing it with new mortar.
Damaged Chimney Crown
The crown is situated right at the top of the chimney and is usually put in place to protect the rest of the chimney; or simply put, to keep the weather out. Chimney crowns are likely the first part of the chimney to deteriorate, especially when built with the wrong materials. This usually starts with just a small crack, but weather corrosion will eventually cause the structure to break down. Cracks may also appear due to movement in the chimney or even due to settling from the time it was built. Damage like this can create an entry point for water to start dripping into the chimney and is best treated as soon as possible.
Small cracks can be treated with a specialty coating product available at most hardware stores. Once cracks become large, it is best to replace the entire crown. Either way, treating these cracks is highly recommended to prevent significant damage to the fireplace in your home.
Faulty Chimney Cap
If you don’t close the top of the chimney, you’ll get some unwanted items in your fireplace. The chimney cap is located right at the top of the chimney and can be purchased in various forms and finishes. This piece of equipment stops water, leaves, bugs and even birds from entering the chimney. A chimney cap is a very good investment to keep the chimney clear and also to prevent any blockages or even a backdraft which may occur at times.
Fireplaces are great assets to any home. If you find your fireplace or chimney is leaking, then it is best to do a few quick checks to see where the leak is located and to get a professional to attend to the issue.