Chimney Care Company's Blog

Why is my chimney leaking?

This time of year, as snow piles on rooftops and chimneys get pelted with rain sleet and snow, many homeowners see concerning puddles of water within their fireboxes, water stains around their chimneys on ceilings and walls or rust forming on fireplace doors, dampers or grates. Seeing signs that your chimney is leaking can be both frustrating and terrifying. Water damage can be expensive to fix, but before you can work toward a repair, first you have to know why the chimney is leaking. Here are a few likely culprits.

What causes chimneys to leak?
What causes chimneys to leak?

Over time, water breaks down your chimney’s masonry, which can lead to chimney leaks. Masonry, including your chimney bricks or stones and the mortar that holds them together, is porous. It absorbs water every time it rains, snows or sleets. When temperatures drop, the water held inside your chimney masonry freezes and expands, which causes the masonry itself to crack or crumble away. The holes and cracks in your masonry can allow water to leak into the chimney itself, where it can cause water damage inside your chimney flue and in your firebox.

Failing or inadequate chimney crown

Every chimney should be topped with a sturdy chimney crown, constructed from high-quality concrete reinforced with rebar. Many chimney crowns are constructed hastily with the same mortar the mason used to build the chimney structure itself. These insufficient chimney crowns break down quickly, forming cracks that allow water to leak down into your chimney’s inner structure. Even well-constructed chimney crowns will break down over time, due to the freeze-thaw cycle, and a chimney crown that isn’t protecting your chimney from water and directing water away from your flue can cause serious water damage to your chimney and your home.

Faulty flashing

Often a “chimney leak” isn’t the chimney at all; it’s the chimney flashing. Flashing surrounds the base of your chimney, where it meets your rooftop. Sometimes flashing isn’t adequately built into the layers of the chimney and roof to form a tight seal, or flashing can crack and corrode over time. Faulty flashing allows water to drain in around the chimney. A chimney leak caused by faulty flashing often causes dark water marks on the ceiling around the chimney, or it can cause paint or wallpaper to pucker and peal. Fault chimney flashing can cause major damage in your home, as it gives water access to your home’s structure, which can lead to warping and rotting.

Missing chimney cap

Your chimney needs a chimney cap, a small metal roof-like structure that prevents water from rolling directly down your chimney flue. Without a chimney cap, water flows freely down your chimney when it precipitates. Water inside your chimney can cause water damage to flue tiles or the masonry within your chimney box, or it can cause your chimney damper, fireplace doors or fireplace grate to rust.

Nothing can be more intimidating to a homeowner than a leaky chimney because leaky chimneys can cause extensive water damage that can be very expensive to repair. If you notice signs of water leaking in, through or around your chimney, don’t wait to have it addressed — Call the Chimney Care Co. to schedule an appointment today!

Keeping Animals Out of Your Chimney

With warm spring days, animals are on the prowl! This means they’re making mischief and looking for places to nest. Many animals, from squirrels and raccoons to swallows and bats, are apt to wander into your chimney. While it may seem innocuous, animals or birds in your chimney can cause a host of problems. This is why it’s important to take measures to prevent animals from entering your chimney.

The problem with animals in your chimney.

Animals in your chimney can cause problems that range from a minor inconvenience to a major headache! Birds that nest in your chimney can rustle around and make a great deal of noise. However, when they fly off, a chimney sweeping should remove any evidence of their habitation. Animals like squirrels can build large nests that can completely block off your chimney opening. This renders your chimney unusable and poses a fire hazard. At a minimum, animals in your chimney can leave behind waste and debris. At worst, they can gain entry into your home, cause damage to your chimney, become aggressive or spread diseases.

While some animals might seek refuge in your chimney, others can accidentally wander in and become trapped. Few animals, such as squirrels and raccoons, can exit the chimney once the enter it. Trapped animals can make loud, panicked sounds within your chimney, disturbing your house. Should a trapped animal die, the corpse can fill your home with a horrible, putrid smell.

Preventing animals from entering your chimney.

With all of the problems animals and birds in the chimney can pose, whether inconvenient or downright dangerous, the goal of any homeowner should be to keep animals from entering the chimney and becoming a nuisance. There are two primary tools for keeping unwanted visitors from your chimney: Chimney caps and top-sealing chimney dampers.

Most chimney flues are covered with chimney caps to keep water from pouring down the inside of the chimney. Your chimney cap should be supported by a wire cage that prevents animals or birds from accessing the flue. Some top-sealing dampers can be used for a similar purpose: Top-sealing dampers completely seal off the flue opening when the chimney isn’t in use. In some models, the damper is fitted to the chimney with a collapsible metal cage. So, when the damper is open, the chimney flue is protected from animals, birds, and debris.

Don’t leave your chimney unprotected!

Once an animal enters your chimney, it must be professionally removed. Additionally, the chimney must be swept and inspected to make sure that no debris or damage remains behind. Prevent animals from becoming a problem in the first place! Call the Chimney Care Co. to schedule an appointment today. Have your chimney fitted with a chimney cap or top-sealing damper that will prevent birds and animals from entering your chimney.

Chimney caps: Is your chimney protected?

The top of your chimney opens to the outside, meaning it is fully exposed to all of the elements, debris and wandering animals. That is, unless your chimney is topped with a secure chimney cap in good repair.

About your chimney cap

Chimney-Caps-Is-Your-Chimney-Protected-Cincinnati-OH-Chimney-Care-Co-w800-h800Your chimney cap sits at the very top of your chimney. Usually attached by a metal cage, the chimney cap covers the opening of your chimney’s flue. Chimney caps come in all shapes and sizes and can be made from a variety of materials. Chimney caps serve a variety of functions.

Because they serve as a rooftop to your chimney, they prevent water from pouring down the walls of your flue and damaging your chimney liner, firebox, damper and chimney doors. Chimney caps play such a vital role in protecting your chimney system from water, the Chimney Safety Institute of America has dubbed them the cheapest and most effective way to protect your chimney from water damage.

Chimney caps also keep animals and debris out of your chimney. Without a chimney cap, leaves and branches can make their way into your flue, as can nesting animals or wayward birds. Blocked chimneys can cause many problems. They can force smoke and carbon monoxide back into your home. They can pose a fire risk. Animals that become trapped can cause an unpleasant smell and can require professional removal.

Chimney caps also can withstand high winds and help prevent strong bursts of wind from forcing their way down your chimney, chilling your home and potentially filling it with smoke. A chimney cap that is surrounded by fine wire mesh can help keep your rooftop safe. Without the mesh, burning embers can jump out of your flue and pose a fire hazard to your rooftop.

Determining whether you need a new chimney cap

Most chimney caps are made from copper or stainless steel. They are durable, and many come with lifetime warranties. Chimney caps can become disrupted or dislodged. Your chimney sweep should examine your chimney cap during your annual cleaning and inspection to make sure your chimney cap is free from any damage and firmly in place. You also may determine that you need a new chimney cap if you’ve noticed rust running down the sides of your chimney, or water or debris making its way into your flue.

If you need a new chimney cap, The Chimney Care Company can help. Our chimney experts can inspect your current chimney cap and chimney and provide you with your chimney cap options. We offer chimney caps in different metals, different sizes and different styles. You can choose a chimney cap that blends seamlessly into your chimney or one that adds style to your roofline. If you need a new chimney cap, or feel your chimney cap needs to be inspected, call us today!

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Chimney Care Company | 413 Wards Corner Road, Loveland, Ohio 45140