View Full Version : Chimney Leaks

Jerry Solomon
09-21-2003, 8:29 PM
During a heavy rain a couple of weeks ago, we noticed a substantial amount of water leaking into the hearth from above. This is a real brick fireplace with a brick chimney and a terra cotta flue as opposed to an insert with a stove pipe flue. Considering that the roof is 17 years old and has experienced two other leaks over the past year, we decided to have the roof replaced. A local roofer installed all new felt, 30 year dimensional shingles, and new step flashing at the chimney. HOWEVER, during a light-to-moderate rain today. I noticed a few water drops occasionally falling into the hearth. It's much less than before but again the rain was not nearly as heavy. I looked up the flue and saw what appeared to be a water stain running down the terra cotta flue from somewhere well above the roof line. Where is the most likely place to look for leaks? What is the best way to seal them? If I can't DIY the job, what type of craftsman would be best suited to repair the leak? The house is a single story ranch type on a slab in the deep south.

Tom Sweeney
09-21-2003, 9:33 PM
coming down the chimney itself? Maybe as easy as putting on a chimney cap. Seems kind of odd that it didn't always do it though?????

Kevin Gerstenecker
09-21-2003, 10:06 PM
Jerry, it is possible the Chimney stack above the roofline needs to be Tuckpointed? The water could be running down the brick and seeping thru a bad mortar joint, and then finding it's way into a seam in the tile flue liner. Just an idea, unless there is still a flashing problem, which seems unlikey after a new flashing job, but it could happen. Around these parts, there are chimney sweeps who are also trained in chimney repair. There are also some masonry contractors who specialize in Fireplace/Chimney construction and repair. Take a look yourself, and if you can find the leak and you are comfortable with the repair, do it yourself. However, you want the chimney to be a safe as possible to prevent an accidental fire, so be sure of the problem and solution. Another idea would to be get the garden hose out, and run a strong stream on an area of the chimney, and have someone look for water on the inside. You can concentrate on a small area at a time, and when you have eliminated that area, move on to the next. If you find a bad mortar joint, just dig out the bad mortar and tuckpoint it with fresh mortar, pretty easy job, providing you can safely get all the way around the brickwork. You may want to have the roofing contractor take a look as well, they could have missed something? Good luck, let us know what you find. :)

Jerry Solomon
09-21-2003, 10:14 PM
Tom - You may be right. Someone else had suggested problems with the cap. This chimney has a rather wide (at least 4 ft) rounded brick cap which covers the top of the flue. I guess the thing to do would be to gingerly climb up a LONG extension ladder or rent some scaffolding and examine the cap to see if I can see any places where rain could be entering. I would estimate that the top of the chimney is maybe 22-25 ft. above the ground. Thanks for the reply.

Jerry Solomon
09-22-2003, 10:03 AM
Kevin - Thanks for the advice. In looking up the flue from the hearth, I can see a water stain (when it's raining) coming from one of the joints in the flue liner some distance above the roof line (i.e. above the flashing). This may support your idea of ingress through a faulty mortar joint. The only problem is my wife's fear of having me very far up in the air. We recently had someone in our community die after a fall from his roof. So far she has forbidden me from climbing a 30 ft. extension ladder to inspect the chimney. The question is....SWMBO or not??? Seriously, I'm not as young as I once was and I've seen enough broken limbs to realize how fragile we really are. I may just take her advice and call a professional. In any event, it's nice to have a handle on where the problems could originate to be more informed when dealing with some I might call. Thanks again for the help.

Tom Sweeney
09-22-2003, 10:53 AM
The older I get the more shaky I get on tall ladders. Like Kevin said - call a chimney sweep from the phone book. They can usually either fix it or recommend someone that can.