Masonry chimneys are known for offering years and years worth of warm and cozy fires when well-maintained, which why they’re such a hot commodity in the housing market. That said, even the sturdiest systems may encounter certain issues from time to time. And the most common chimney problems have to do with water leaks. In fact, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), water is the biggest enemy of masonry chimneys.
Fortunately, Ashbusters has been taking care of leaky chimneys in the Nashville area for over three decades! Our CSIA-certified chimney techs are experts at finding the origin of chimney leaks, repairing any necessary damage, replacing parts as needed, and then doing everything possible to ensure you don’t face the same problems again down the line.
Give us a call today for the care you deserve!
Signs of Chimney Leaks
When you have a water leak in your chimney, getting it taken care of it as soon as possible is imperative, as chimney damages will only worsen over time. We’ve got a few things to watch for to help ensure you spot the problem soon and reach out for help fast – rather than shell out big money for expensive repairs down the line.
- Discoloration: Oftentimes, discoloration on your masonry is a sign of water-related issues. It could mean vegetation is growing where it shouldn’t be or you might notice a white substance, known as efflorescence. Some will notice staining inside of their home, too, on their walls or ceiling surrounding the fireplace. Basically any discoloration on or around your chimney is a bad sign!
- Bad Odors: Notice some unpleasant odors coming from your fireplace? This usually means water has entered and mixed with your creosote, which leads to some pretty foul smells.
- Crumbling/Loose Bricks: Cracked, crumbled, loose, or missing bricks and mortar joints on the chimney is always indicative of water damage.
- Missing Chimney Cap: Did your chimney once have a cap that now seems to have disappeared? Call a sweep in as soon as you can! An uncapped chimney is a recipe for disaster. Not only will water enter through your chimney, but you’ll likely find yourself with animals and other debris entering, too.
- Standing Water: Are there pools of water in firebox after rainfall? This is a clear cut sign that water is entering from somewhere, and you’ll notice decay and deterioration before you know if things goes unaddressed.
And make sure your not mistaking a leaky roof for a leaking chimney! All too often, roofers are called when our experts are really best suited for the job. Even the roofers themselves will often recommend chimney inspections in these cases!
In the end, by simply keeping an open eye, you may be able to spot the issues at hand, after which you can call in a sweep ASAP.
What Causes Chimney Leaks?
So, now you know what to look for in terms of chimney leaks… but what causes these problems in the first place? The most common issues we notice stem from the following:
- An Improperly-Built Mortar Crown: It’s an unfortunate fact that many crowns weren’t built from the best materials to begin with. If yours was built from a mortar mix, then it’s very likely going to break down prematurely and a rebuild (made from a cement-based mixture) may be in order.
- A Damaged/Missing Chimney Cap: If you have a damaged chimney cap with cracks and chips, then rain, snow, and sleet will easily leak into your chimney from the top. And since both bricks and mortar are porous, water can be absorbed into your chimney walls and trigger gradual deterioration from within.
- Deteriorated Mortar Joints: When mortar joints age and erode, holes develop, and water is given another passageway through which to enter the chimney. Even if these imperfections are small, water can still seep into the joint, travel to a hole in the brick, and maneuver its way down the chimney – not good.
- Missing or Cracked Brickwork: Bricks are surprisingly absorbent, and if yours aren’t waterproofed, water will soak in and wreak havoc, and this damage tends to worsen in the wintertime. Talk with us about repairs and preventive maintenance before you eventually face a settlement or collapse.
- Rusted or Damaged Flashing: Your flashing is the metal sheeting that protects the area where your chimney meets your roof – a common place for water to penetrate your chimney. Even if it looks like it is securely covering the area, it only takes one tiny hole or crack for water to enter and cause damage.
- Winter Weather: Cold temperatures can be very hard on masonry materials. Since they’re naturally porous and easily absorb water, we often see something called the freeze/thaw process occur. This is what happens when the water trapped inside your bricks and mortar freezes, expands, and causes cracking. And it typically occurs multiple times per season, resulting in a lot of damage over time!
- Loose Shingles: This isn’t as common, but it happens. Damaged and/or loose roof shingles can sometimes leave perfect openings for water to enter and break down your chimney. In these cases, you will need to call a roofing expert to diagnose this problem and repair it by replacing the shingles. (After which, we can come and assess your chimney damage.)
How Can the Ashbusters Team Help?
How can our crew help you with any and all of your chimney leak-related issues? First things first, an inspection will be in order. Our CSIA-certified techs will need to get a thorough look inside your system, so we can uncover the true cause of the leak. Fortunately, our experts know the most common spots for chimney water leaks, so we should be able to quickly diagnose the source of the leak!
After we inspect your chimney, we will give you a fair and honest written estimate of the repairs you need to properly resolve the issues at hand. Our recommendations typically include preventive services like installing a chimney cap, repairing flashing, tuckpointing, and replacing brickwork.
And if you have any questions along the way, don’t hesitate to ask! We’re happy to do all we can to work with your schedule and budget.
My Chimney’s Back to Normal! Now What?
Once repairs are completed and any replacement parts are installed, we highly recommend having your chimney professionally waterproofed. This is one of the best ways to protect your brickwork, and our techs only use waterproofing formulas that are specifically made for chimneys. This means they’re 100% vapor permeable, won’t leave your system looking glossy or altered, and will always prevent water from rain, melted ice, and snow from soaking in – no matter what.
Trust in Our Qualified Experts Today
Here in the Nashville area, we’re not immune to heavy rainstorms in the spring and summer months. Unfortunately, these can have damaging impacts on your chimney and fireplace, and now that we’re approaching fall, getting rid of any and all of these issues is a must.
So, don’t wait to reach out! We look forward to speaking with you soon.