Do you know what the #1 cause of chimney damage is, by far? Here’s a hint: it’s not creosote, it’s not age, and it’s not chimney fires.
Correct answer? Water.
All chimneys are in a constant state of deterioration. Different from other structures, this one is sticking up out of your home, getting weathered on all sides 24 hours a day. Nothing else in your home faces wear and tear like this (not even the exterior walls), so it makes sense that chimneys can sometimes deteriorate quite rapidly. And when water gets into the chimney structure, it acts fast.
This is why, the sooner you address water damage, the better! …but how can you tell if you have a water problem you should be concerned about?
Identifying Water Damage in Your Chimney
- Listen. A lot of times, homeowners can hear a dripping sound in their chimneys, but they can’t actually see any water. Typically, this means water is dripping on the damper or the metal firebox.
- Look. There are visible signs of water damage to keep an eye out for like streaking on the back of the fireplace or a white film on the brick. From the outside of your home, look for discoloration or rust stains throughout the chimney. Other visible signs of water damage are missing chunks of mortar, or you might notice pieces of brick laying on your patio, driveway, or roof. You’ll want to check for cracks periodically. Cracks require immediate action and only get worse if they aren’t filled or repaired, which can lead to structural and safety issues.
- Follow your nose. Sometimes you can’t hear or see water in your chimney, but you can smell it. If your chimney smells bad after a big rain, this means water is getting into the chimney and mixing with the creosote.
And if your water damage is caused by the flashing, the sheet metal installed at the base of your chimney where it exits the roof, you may notice other visible signs of water damage including:
- water stains on your ceiling and walls close to the chimney
- water dripping right along the front face of the fireplace, near the front brick
- buckled shingles that are no longer flat and tight up near the flashing
- flashing that has pulled away from the chimney
Preventing Water Damage
So, what can be done to prevent or slow down water damage?
- Invest in a Chimney Cap: This is the most economical way to prevent water leaks in chimneys. Without a professionally installed cap at the top of your chimney, you’ll simply have an open hole on your roof where rain, ice, and snow can easily enter your home.
- Have Flashing Professionally Installed: Your flashing protects one of the most vulnerable spots for water leaks. Sometimes, homeowners wrongly assume a roofer should handle flashing-related issues, but the truth is that it’s just not their specialty. (And more often than not, we find bad work done on chimneys by roofing companies.)
- Book Your Annual Inspection: Annual inspections are vital to spotting issues early on and getting them under control. Many opt to skip over this recommended maintenance, only to find out down the line that some serious issues were neglected! Minimize your risk of carbon monoxide leaks, smoke exposure, fire hazards, and more each burning season by getting your annual inspection booked early.
- Schedule Repairs ASAP: Almost all chimney damage starts small, but even the smallest cracks can grow into bigger (and more costly) issues down the line… and they’re sure to invite other problems around your chimney, too! Make sure to have all cracks filled, broken parts replaced, and damaged repaired ASAP.
- Have Waterproofing Services Completed: As we’ve noted, water can cause significant damage to masonry chimneys, and this deterioration is often accelerated during the winter because of freeze/thaw cycles. After we repair your damaged masonry, we can apply waterproofing formulas that are 100% vapor permeable and specifically made for chimneys. And all of our waterproofing services even come with a 10-year guarantee!
How Ashbusters Can Help You
For over three decades, Ashbusters has been providing the Nashville area with superior professional chimney maintenance, repair, and installation services. We know the best ways to keep water out of your masonry chimney, and we would love to be there for you through it all.
So, what can we offer you?
First things first, we offer a wide variety of chimney caps made from stainless steel and copper, all of which come in different sizes and shapes. We can help you find the best cap for your chimney and professionally install it so that it fits perfectly for years to come!
You can also count on us to install your new flashing. We take precise measurements of your system, guaranteeing the metal sheetings are custom-sized to fit around your chimney. We also provide flashing repair services if yours has been damaged by strong wind storms or curious woodland animals. Without a good flashing system in place, your risk of chimney water leaks greatly increase!
Finally, count on us for waterproofing services. Many wonder about tackling this job themselves, but the fact is that most store-bought products won’t do the job as well. Also, painting your chimney is definitely not the route to take, as this will trap any pre-absorbed moisture in. Leave it to us, so that it gets done right and your system stays protected for the long haul.
Real Life Stories… We’ve Seen it All!
As chimney professionals with decades of experience, we’ve seen some pretty bad chimney leaks. Call us in for care right away before you face some of the following real-life scenarios we’ve come across:
- Chimney damage getting so bad that the chimney needs to be completely torn down and rebuilt.
- The wooden chimney chase of a prefab fireplace rotting all the way through and become a haven for termites. (In these scenarios, we have to pull everything out, and redo it all from the bottom up.)
- Brick chimneys that are spalling so badly repairs aren’t even possible, forcing us to start over from the ground up.
- Homeowners calling roofers when a sweep was better suited.
In once specific case, a roofer came out and said that he fixed the issue for the homeowner. This customer had gas logs and slept on a couch beside the fireplace. After getting sick (and, frankly, close to death), we were called, only to discover the roofer tried to stop the leak by putting shingles over the top of the fireplace flue. Every time this customer burned the gas logs, they were breathing in carbon monoxide and suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. It took them about a year to recover.
In the end, it’s imperative to know how to identify chimney water damage, how to repair it, and what steps you should take to prevent it down the line. Ready to schedule maintenance with us? Our certified, experienced, and friendly crew is committed to putting your safety first!
Call or reach out online to schedule your appointment today.