Before you purchase a home with a chimney or install it yourself, look at the common causes of chimney leaks and how to prevent them to ensure your chimney remains in pristine condition. A chimney adds class, elegance, and sophistication to any home. But the upkeep requires a lot of work, and you should prepare yourself for annual maintenance and the need for some repairs. While if a chimney is made correctly, it can last many years, a poorly built one can deteriorate rather quickly.

How To Find Damage

Before we get into the different kinds of damages that can happen to your chimney, let’s take a look at how we can find them. Signs that you have a chimney leak include the sounds of water dripping in the flue, musty odors, water stains around the chimney, condensation, or cracks in the masonry. Any time you notice these signs, seek professional help from a chimney sweep in Eugene, Oregon, or another local service near you.

Lack of a Chimney Cap

A chimney cap is a mechanism that goes on the very top of your chimney to keep water, animals, and other detritus out. If there is no cap at the top, whenever it rains, this allows the rainfall to go directly down your chimney and into your home. If the chimney were to get backed up, it would billow toxic carbon monoxide poisons back into your home, becoming detrimental to anyone living there.

How To Prevent It

Installing a cap is one of the best things you can do for your chimney. If your home had an older chimney when you bought it, check on the cap. Galvanized metal was the typical material used in the 1900s, and it can rust and crack more easily over time. Instead, use stainless steel, copper, or aluminum to prevent rusting.

Always check the chimney and chimney cap before purchasing a home. Replace any old materials right away to streamline the prevention of leaks. If you are building a new home, always install a chimney cap over the flue once you finish, stopping water damage right away.

Chimney Crown Damage

The chimney’s crown uses mortar that holds the topmost layer of bricks in place. This also prevents water from getting in between the flue pipe and the brickwork. Over time, this material can crack, producing the perfect path for water to trickle down into your chimney. If you live in a climate that experiences extreme differences in temperature and thawing, you’ll likely see problems with cracks.

How To Prevent It

Check the seal along the mortar of the crown to look for evidence of cracking. Doing this regularly keeps you up to date with the structural health of your chimney. The slightest bit of water can do enormous damage, even if you try everything in your power to prevent cracking from happening.

Inside Condensation

In rare cases, your chimney could have leaks due to condensation. Often, this happens when someone converts a wood-burning chimney into a gas-burning one. When you do this, you need to install a liner in the flue. The fumes gas stoves create when they burn can produce moisture that sticks to the surrounding walls.

How To Prevent It

You can easily prevent this from happening by properly installing the correct liner. An improper fit will not solve the problem and could make it worse by trapping the moisture in the brick. Consult with the local services if you cannot install the new liner yourself.

Improper Chimney Flashing

The chimney flashing is the spot on your roof where the chimney protrudes. This gap needs to be fitted with a waterproof sealant to redirect the water to fall off the roof instead of into the chimney. Flashing is usually done with tar or aluminum that can erode over time, reopening the crack between the two.

Many times, your home is still settling onto its foundation as well. When this happens, it can loosen the flashing and produce extra holes in the roof.

How To Prevent It

You can prevent this mishap by waterproofing with a suitable material. Polysiloxane waterproofing agents are the best bet for proper sealants. When you are doing your annual chimney checks, make sure to look at the roof.

Brick and Mortar Damage

The bricks and mortar of your home experience exposure to weather conditions daily and are the most susceptible to damage. When freezing temperatures thaw, the bricks and mortar will expand and undergo excessive exposure. Any cracks in the joints threaten your chimney’s structural integrity and need to be fixed right away.

While the bricks can last many, many years, the mortar cannot, and you’ll need to replace it from time to time. Remember to always choose the right waterproofing material.

How To Prevent It

Whenever you notice cracks in the mortar, consider tuckpointing or repointing to fix the structural damage to the chimney. If you do live in extreme weather conditions, check on the outside of the chimney from time to time to prevent leaks from happening quickly.

Bonus: Leaking Roof

Your chimney won’t always be the culprit of leaking water. You may have holes in your roof that connect to spaces like your attic, where your chimney also connects. Water can seep into those holes and then travel through the attic toward your chimney. Never try to repair a soggy roof by yourself unless you are a professional in the business.

Other Preventions To Try

While the best solution is to contact your local chimney repair services, there are a few other tricks you can use to ensure your chimney stays in good condition. Inspect your chimney on a regular basis to catch problems early on. If your chimney is well-maintained, then you will rarely see issues.

If you think you found a cheaper alternative as a solution, think again—that can actually cost you more money in the long run. Lastly, if you’re installing a brand-new chimney, make sure you do the job right the first time to avoid any hiccups and headaches down the road.

It’s easy to spot the causes of chimney leaks and prevent them if you find them in time. Overall, if you keep your home and chimney structure intact, you will see very few problems in the future. Some leaks are easier to fix and won’t require professional help, but always seek it if you are unsure what to do.

5 Causes of Chimney Leaks & How To Prevent Them