Just like the rest of your home’s exterior, your chimney is susceptible to damage that, when left unaddressed, can lead to more extensive issues and costly repairs down the line. Fortunately for those in the San Antonio area, the certified chimney sweeps here at Wolfman Chimney & Fireplace have the knowledge and expertise to help identify potential issues early on, then work with you to develop a proactive care plan for repairing them.
One frequent challenge we see homeowners face is a chimney that isn’t well sealed. From water damage to increased risk of fire, issues of this nature can put your home and your family at risk. But fear not, sealing a leaky chimney is easier than you might think. Let’s take a deeper look at what could be causing your leaky chimney and the steps you can take to help fix it.
Understanding Your Chimney
A chimney is an important part of any home with a fireplace or wood stove. It allows smoke and gases to escape, while also providing an efficient source of heat. However, chimneys are also vulnerable to leaks, which can cause water damage and even pose a fire hazard. If you’ve noticed water stains on your ceiling or on the walls near your chimney, or if you’ve seen water dripping down your chimney flue, it’s likely that you have a leaky chimney.
But don’t worry, sealing a leaky chimney is a straightforward process that can easily be handled by one of Wolfman’s certified chimney technicians.
What Causes a Leaky Chimney? What Can Be Done About It?
When it comes to any sort of chimney repair, it is important to understand and identify the cause of the issue to ensure that the repairs are done right the first time. With a leaky chimney, finding the source of the leak is imperative for preventing any future issues once repairs are made. Chimney leaks can typically be related back to one of the following:
Missing or Damaged Chimney Cap
Your chimney’s flue, quite literally, is a direct opening to the sky. This means that if your chimney flue exhaust does not have a cover or cap, it is basically providing easy access for water, birds, animals, or other debris to enter your chimney, fireplace or wood stove, and, ultimately, your home. If your home has a chimney cap and you are dealing with a leaky chimney, then damage to the liner could result. Replacing a low-quality cap with custom-fitted, reliably-built one is the best defense when it comes to preventing water damage.
Chimney Crown Damage
The crown of your chimney is the cement covering at the top of it. The crown helps to keep rain and snow (rare here in San Antonio, but it does happen) away from the flue, and it funnels the moisture away from the outside of your chimney, as well. The sole purpose of your chimney’s crown is to keep water out, so any cracks in the bricks or cement could lead to water making its way into your chimney.
Chimney crowns are susceptible to cracks that can occur from the shifting or settling of your foundation, shrinking concrete as it dries after initial installation, poor construction/installation, and damage that occurs when the concrete expands and contracts from absorbing water in conjunction with the changing temperatures outside. Chimney crown damage can typically be spot repaired, but if the damage is extensive, a new crown may have to be poured and built on site.
Condensation from Outside
When you have a fire, gases and fumes are emitted that carry moisture in them. If your chimney doesn’t have a liner, or if your liner is damaged or defective, this moisture can be absorbed by the masonry of your chimney, leading to an array of potential issues for your masonry and home. Waterproofing and applying a water repellant to your chimney masonry helps to prevent moisture absorption.
Issues With Chimney Flashing
Chimney flashing is what helps create a waterproof seal where your chimney meets your roof. It’s typically made of aluminum, copper, lead, or vinyl and you should be able to see it when looking at your chimney. Flashing that is damaged or cracked allows water to reach your chimney and roof structure, which can result in damage both inside and outside of your home. Replacing and repairing your chimney flashing helps reinforce it against water infiltration.
Both bricks and mortar absorb water just like your chimney crown, so when that moisture causes your chimney bricks to expand and contract, they are susceptible to cracks and crumbling. Cracked and crumbling bricks allow more moisture into your chimney and home leading to further damage. The moisture that bricks absorb and hang on to can also seep into your walls causing damage before the cracks even happen. Tuckpointing can be used to repair cracked and crumbling bricks and mortar, after which the chimney can be waterproofed for added protection.
If you find yourself with a chimney leak and none of the above issues seem to be your problem, then chances are the leak is due to something else in your home like a roof leak from damaged shingles. These type of leaks may require enlisting the help of other certified professionals, like your roofing company.
How Do I Know if My Chimney Is Leaking?
One of the best ways to stay ahead of the game on a leaky chimney is to have one of the certified chimney sweeps at Wolfman Chimney inspect your chimney and fireplace on an annual basis. This allows us to be proactive when it comes to spotting potential leaks and addressing them sooner rather than later. In between annual inspections, you can be on the lookout for these signs of a potential chimney leak:
- Visible damage, like cracks or crumbling to bricks and mortar
- Cracks or gaps in the chimney flashing
- Damage to your chimney liner
- Water pooling in your firebox
- Moisture or dampness on the walls and ceiling near your chimney
- Musty odors or a campfire-like smell
- Water staining on walls and ceilings
- A damper that doesn’t open or close properly
I Have a Leaky Chimney… Now What?
If you suspect that you have a leaky chimney, fear not, because as the saying goes, “For every problem, there is a solution.” We are confident that Wolfman Chimney & Fireplace has the right solution to get your chimney back in prime condition. We know that, as a homeowner, you may want to tackle your leaky chimney on your own… however, when it comes to repairing a leaky chimney, it is best to leave that to the professionals to ensure that all safety measures are taken and that the repairs are done correctly the first time.
Our CSIA certified chimney sweeps have extensive knowledge and experience in chimney repairs, restoration, and waterproofing. Call us today to learn more about what we can do for you and other residents of Bexar County, Travis County, Williamson County, and the rest of the San Antonio area.
Dial 830-620-9130 or schedule online today.