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Is your Chimney Trying to Tell you Something? Signs and Causes of Chimney Water Damage

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

As homeowners, we often forget that the tallest point of our home is the most vulnerable to the elements. And when it comes to your chimney, rain, snow, and ice can be a major problem. Water damage can compromise your chimney’s structural integrity, cause mold growth, and create other serious problems. Knowing the signs and causes of chimney water damage can help you address it before it becomes a serious and costly issue.

Signs of Water Damage

Water leaks can appear in many different forms, both on the interior and exterior of your home and chimney. The most common include:

  1. Peeling wallpaper, water stains, discoloration, visible leaks and moisture on the walls or ceilings around your chimney.

  2. A musty odor from your fireplace — especially after heavy rains.

  3. Water or condensation inside your fireplace.

  4. The presence of thin tile shards from the flue liner inside the firebox.

  5. Problems with the interior or exterior masonry such as cracks or spalling, and missing mortar.

  6. Efflorescence, a white chalky residue on your chimney’s surface.

  7. Rust or decay on your chimney’s metal components, including the damper, fireplace doors, and frames.

What Causes Chimney Leaks?

Wet weather and high winds cause wear and tear on your chimney. Overtime, materials break down, and water gets inside. The most common causes of chimney leaks include:

  • A Damaged or Missing Chimney Cap A damaged or missing chimney cap can’t keep out rain, sleet and snow.

  • Poorly Installed or Damaged Metal Flashing – Improperly installed or damaged flashing won’t be able to hold a waterproof seal between your chimney and roof.

  • Cracked Chimney Crown Cracks in your chimney crown allow water to leak into the flue lining.

  • Damaged or Spalling Brickwork – Eventually all masonry chimneys start to crack, especially when regular maintenance is neglected.

  • Deteriorated Mortar Joints As brick masonry chimneys crack, the mortar joints start to deteriorate. When bricks lack proper mortar, rain water, snow, and other bad weather will eat away at your chimney, causing it to crumble over time.

Fixing and Preventing Future Damage

Before you repair any chimney damage, identify its root cause by scheduling a professional inspection. After assessing your chimney, your technician may advise you to:

  • Repair or replace flashing or sealant around the chimney.

  • Install a new chimney cap.

  • Repair or replace damaged mortar or metal components of the chimney.

  • Repair damaged masonry.

  • Apply waterproof sealant to your chimney’s exterior.

Benefits of Annual Inspections and Routine Maintenance

Rain, snow, hail, wind, and temperature changes are constantly in motion, causing deterioration to your chimney. That’s why it’s important to have your chimney checked each year. An annual cleaning and inspection will ensure your chimney system and its components are working properly, and identify small problems before they become larger issues.

Chimney Inspection, Cleaning, Maintenance and Repair in NH and MA

By being aware of the signs of chimney water damage and taking steps to fix it, you will increase the lifespan of your chimney, ensuring it operates safely and efficiently for years to come. When was the last time you had your chimney cleaned and inspected? Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our CCP-certified chimney professionals.

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