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Be Sure a Leaky Chimney isn’t Damaging Your Home!

Prevent Chimney LeaksA properly constructed masonry chimney can easily last a century or more. But all the while, the chimney is vulnerable to moisture. When water damages a home, the source of the problem is often a leaky chimney or one of its various components. What’s worse is that the damage often goes undetected for so long that that the repairs needed are expensive and could even include a complete chimney rebuild. Information about leaky chimneys and the effects they can have on your home follows.

Water and Chimneys Don’t Mix

Chimneys are exposed to all the harsh outdoor elements, and moisture does the most damage. As a proper chimney is built, each exterior feature contributes to the important task of keeping moisture out of the masonry. Inside masonry, moisture expands and contracts during freeze and thaw cycles, which causes the masonry to crack, break, and flake off. Unless the damage is repaired, the entire structure could collapse.

The following are examples of safeguards against water, though all can and often do fail and need repair or replacement:

Chimney Crown

The chimney crown is at the very top of a masonry chimney, and it extends over the chimney stack beneath, to help keep water from flowing down the sides of the chimney. The crown also keeps water from getting between the exterior wall and the chimney flue. The material used to make a chimney crown is poured concrete. Though concrete is durable, it doesn’t last as long as the chimney itself. Cracks and other types of deterioration frequently develop. If the damaged crown isn’t detected and repaired, the chimney masonry could be become seriously damaged by exposure to moisture.

Rusted Flashing

The metal flashing at the base of a chimney stack is there to ensure a watertight seal between the chimney and the roof. There are two reasons the flashing is frequently the source of a chimney leak. First, the metal can rust. Just one rusty nail can expose the roof to prolonged damage. Secondly, it’s difficult to correctly install flashing. When the flashing fails, its often because the top portion of the flashing doesn’t have the required waterproof seal against the chimney.


The mortar between bricks or stone in a masonry chimney only lasts 25 years at most. Over time, mortar begins to deteriorate; and as it does, it fails to protect the masonry from water intrusion. A procedure called “tuckpointing” can be done, to remove worn mortar and replace it with fresh mortar. If the damage goes too far, however, a chimney rebuild is unavoidable.

Types of Damage Caused by a Leaky Chimney

Other kinds of damage are caused by a leaky chimney, besides damaged masonry. The following are a few more examples of damage to a home caused by a chimney leak:

  • The wooden supports of the roof can soften and rot.
  • If water seeps down throughout the home, home supports surrounding the chimney can rot or become warped. The entire structure of the home can be weakened.
  • Mold growth naturally goes along with any type of water leakage. The damage it causes is unsightly and, worse, a health threat for the family.
  • Walls, floors, ceilings, and décor can all be damaged by a chimney leak.

Prevent Leaky ChimneyHow to Prevent Chimney Leaks

The best way to avoid damage caused by chimney leaks is to schedule annual chimney inspections and make chimney repairs, as needed. The experienced chimney experts at Chimney Specialists, Inc., are National Fireplace Institute (NFI)-certified. Since 1977, the chimney sweeps at Chimney Specialists have reliably provided on-time, quality, non-disruptive services. Call 608-929-4887 locally or 800-395-6660 toll-free today for the best chimney services in and around Highland, Wisconsin.

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