Leaky Chimney? Call Ozark Stove & Chimney
Let’s set the scene. The air is cool and breezy, and everyone is inside and home for the evening. It’s the perfect time to stack up some firewood, grab your kindling, strike a match, and start a cozy fire – the undefeated champion in enhancing the atmosphere.
Only, as you approach the hearth, you hear a faint dripping and find that water has begun to collect in your firebox. Unbeknownst to you, your chimney has suffered from a leak – and your evening plans have been foiled.
Not to worry. If you live in Southwest Missouri or Northwest Arkansas, you just have to call Ozark Stove & Chimney to schedule a chimney leak repair. We’ll come in, assess the damage, and get your leaky chimney patched up and ready to work as good as new.
Don’t let your leaky chimney ruin your perfect evening. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online, so you can get back to living your best (and coziest) life.
What Is the Most Common Cause of Chimney Leaks?
While it is hard to name with certainty the one most common cause of a chimney leak, there are a handful of common reasons your chimney might be leaking… and all of them are, not surprisingly, related – in one way or another – to water. Of all the potential circumstances, substances, materials, and compounds, water is the greatest threat to your chimney.
If you’re worried about your chimney sustaining leaks, here are some things to keep an eye out for:
- Missing or damaged chimney cap. Arguably the most important component of your chimney’s external structure, the chimney cap is meant to protect the vent opening within the chimney (the flue) so that rain, snow, animals, leaves, and other debris aren’t given direct and unobstructed access to your chimney.
- Damaged or poorly built chimney crown. If you notice that your chimney crown is beginning to deteriorate and crack, there is a chance that it was not constructed properly or with the appropriate materials to begin with. The function of this piece is not only to assist the cap in preventing water from falling into the chimney, but also to act as a barrier between the brick and mortar and the elements. In many (if not most) cases, the crown is meant to hang over the side walls of the chimney as an umbrella-like structure that directs water out and away. The same is true if your chimney is a prefab and built with a metal chase cover. If not treated or maintained properly, the material can rust and water can seep into the wood structure.
- Inadequate or run-down flashing. It might not seem like it, but those metallic shingle-like panels do a great deal in protecting against leaks and water damage. Placed strategically under the roof tiles closest to the base of the chimney, the flashing acts as a watertight seal, protecting the spot where your roof and chimney meet.
- Old, deteriorating brick and mortar. Bricks may be sturdy, but they are also porous, which means that, over time, they are susceptible to water permeation and eventual damage. If your chimney was not properly or effectively waterproofed, the bricks will absorb all the rain, snow, and moisture in the air and begin to break down from the inside out.
- Cracked or damaged flue liner. If something happens to your flue liner and it begins to crack or break down, your entire system could become compromised fast. Water is sneaky and can find its way inside many structures causing subtle decay and destruction – often where it is hardest to find.
It’s important to note that, for the most part, these issues can be avoided–or at the very least caught early on–if you get regular, annual chimney inspections. If you haven’t scheduled yours yet, give us a call to get on our books before we’re full! We always believe that it’s better to catch a problem before it even becomes one, and we’re happy to answer any and all questions you might have about your chimney and our services.
Is It Normal for a Chimney To Leak During Heavy Rain?
As much as we’d like to ease your conscience and assure you that it’s probably nothing if your chimney leaks in heavy rain… we can’t.
The truth of the matter is that, even during heavy rain, it is not, in fact, normal (or safe!) for any type of chimney (prefab/metal or brick masonry) to leak in any capacity. Even if it’s a one-off and the rain is torrential, a leaking chimney is cause for concern and demands immediate attention, especially before the issue continues and/or gets worse.
Think about it. A chimney is built and specifically designed to provide a streamlined exit for heat, smoke, exhaust, and other gases (from stoves, fireplaces, water heaters, and furnaces) out of the home. As such, without all the proper parts and pieces, a chimney is simply an open tube running from your floor(s) through your roof and to the open sky.
That being said, a chimney that is installed, maintained, and operating optimally, will have components in place to protect both the chimney system, as a whole, and the home, from naturally occurring events and changes in the weather. Unfortunately, if your chimney is leaking – even if it’s only when the rain is particularly heavy – it is vital that you schedule a time for one of our chimney sweeps to take a look and give you an idea of what to expect for chimney repairs.
Why (& How) Does Water Damage Chimneys?
As we mentioned, bricks are incredibly porous and, as a result, if not weather-treated properly, can absorb between a cup and a cup and a half of water, each.
To give context, a one and a half story home would require roughly 1,200 bricks to build a chimney. If each brick were to be completely saturated, the entire chimney would be holding around 150 gallons of water – the weight of which is over 1,100 pounds. It’s the equivalent of your chimney alone supporting the weight of four full-sized refrigerators. That is heavy. Thinking about it that way, it’s no wonder that, over time, a little rain can wreak a lot of havoc on a chimney system.
What ways can water damage my chimney?
- The Freeze/Thaw Process. Water has several forms and, depending on the temperature fluctuations, even if it is trapped inside a brick, it has the ability to expand when the outside temperatures are below freezing. When this happens, the bricks of your chimney can shift, causing the mortar joints between them to loosen and gape. This not only harms the structural integrity of the brickwork and provides even more water an easy entrance to the inner walls, but also creates a perfect place for insects and other small creatures to squeeze through.
- Mold/Vegetation. Don’t forget also that dark, damp areas are the perfect breeding ground for various forms of vegetation like mold, algae, moss, etc. Depending on the area of your chimney that suffers from the water intrusion, it’s very possible that your surrounding ceiling and/or walls will suffer, too.
- Efflorescence. What about the white, chalky material that sometimes coats the outside of brick? This is called efflorescence and is the result of excessive water absorption pulling out the salts and minerals found within the brick and depositing them on the outer layer. While the appearance is displeasing enough, the result of untreated efflorescence is brickwork that begins to crumble and flake, weakening your masonry one piece at a time.
Do you have a prefab chimney?
Maybe you’ve gotten this far and are thinking,“I have a prefabricated chimney, so I don’t have to worry about all this water damage, leaky chimney stuff.” As much as we’d like to let you off the hook, we cannot. You do, in fact, have to at least be aware of potential chimney leaks to ensure that your chimney remains functional and in tip-top shape.
You might not have to worry about rain damaging your bricks, but you do have to worry about water damage to your woodwork and metal components. Prefab chimneys are a bit different from masonry when it comes to their parts and terminology, but the end result of water damage – whether to brick or to wood – is always an expensive pain.
Are Chimney Leaks Covered By Homeowner’s Insurance?
Sadly, the odds are that most chimney leak repair jobs will not be covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy. Unless you can prove the leak is due to excessive, aggravated weather conditions such as tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, etc., you will have to foot the bill yourself.
The reason for this is that most chimney leaks are preventable if homeowners are staying up to date on their chimney maintenance. As long as you have documentation of previous inspections, chimney cleanings, and other regular services, however, you should have no problem submitting a claim to your insurance if your chimney damage is, in fact, the direct result of an act of nature.
How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Leak Around a Chimney?
Without one of our professionally-trained chimney sweeps coming out to inspect and diagnose the exact cause of your chimney leak, it’s hard to say. Believe us, we’d love to give you a price range and tell you with utmost certainty that your leak repair service will cost anywhere between X dollars and Y dollars, but we just can’t. Every situation is different, and in order to provide our customers with exceptional, transparent service, we will never provide a quote until someone from our team has been to your home to evaluate the damage.
If you live in Greene County, Benton County, Newton County, or anywhere else in our wide service area, and are searching for leaky chimney repair services, look no further than Ozark Stove & Chimney. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online to learn more about our services and how we can help you.
What Are The Signs of a Leaking Chimney?
There are many things that can go unnoticed and cause harm to your chimney system. The one good thing about leaks is that you may have a better chance of knowing if/when something is wrong – and are thus able to get it fixed sooner rather than later.
However, this isn’t always true. And it’s important to note that, even with the following signs to keep watch for, the only way to know for sure that your chimney is leak-free and properly functioning is to have it inspected regularly.
You likely have a leak somewhere in your chimney system if you notice:
- Water leaking from (or pooling at the bottom of) your chimney
- Water stains on the ceiling/wall near your chimney system
- Mildew, mold, or other abnormal growth
- Damp, musty odors in or around your fireplace
- Rusting or corrosion of any metal parts
- Spalling, cracking, or flaking bricks
- Various discoloration, such as efflorescence
- Gaps in the mortar between bricks
- Soggy, rotten wooden parts
- Any sort of damage to/deterioration of the flue liner
- Buildup or clogs in the flue
If you spot any of the above issues, don’t wait to call us in. The sooner we can spot and address an issue, the better.
How Do I Stop My Chimney From Leaking?
Well, unfortunately, once it starts leaking, the only real way you can get it to stop is to have a professional come out and repair the leak. Any quick fixes or DIY solutions will likely just extend your issue – and could end up costing you more money in the long run.
If you notice any of the above signs – or others that could point to a leak – be sure to schedule a repair service right away. For the northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri areas, there is no one better than Ozark Stove & Chimney. Reach out to speak with someone from our team today.
Can I Prevent Chimney Leaks?
For the most part, yes. Regular inspections and annual maintenance will do a world of good when it comes to preventing all sorts of chimney issues and malfunctions. As will the following:
- Be sure your chimney is properly (and professionally) waterproofed. We’ll dive into the specifics a bit more later, but know that there is a lot that goes into the products and processes used to ensure your chimney has a barrier against moisture.
- Ensure your chimney cap is properly fitted and sealed. Regardless of whether your chimney is made of brick with a clay liner, wood casing with a metal liner, or anything in between, it is imperative that the opening be completely and properly sealed off. Chimney caps are an essential investment in protecting your chimney from water and other intrusion. We always recommend you consult a chimney industry professional to ensure that the size, type, fit, and materials are durable and resistant to rust and corrosion.
- Check that your crown (or chase cover) is in good condition. Many masonry chimney crowns are improperly constructed from leftover mortar after the bricks have been laid. This material is susceptible to water damage and, much like the way it deteriorates in the joints between bricks, a thin layer on the top of a chimney will do the same. A proper masonry crown should be created using concrete poured into a form and appears as a thick slab on the top of the chimney. Alternatively, a metal chase cover could be used in lieu of the concrete crown – this is the standard “crown” in prefab chimney models.
- Investigate your flashing. Make sure that your flashing is up to snuff and has not suffered from any corrosion or deterioration. It might not seem like much, but flashing plays a big role in directing water away from your chimney.
- Look into a chimney cricket. Especially helpful if your roof is particularly steep or your chimney is more than 30 inches wide, a chimney cricket is a structure that looks like a little pup tent on the back of the chimney and helps deflect water away from the chimney. If you’re not sure if you need one or if your system would benefit from one, ask your chimney tech when they come out to repair the leak.
- Keep an eye out for damaged bricks or outer paneling. If you notice that any of your bricks or external parts of your chimney are starting to look weather-worn (even if there are no other signs of a chimney leak), it’s best to get it repaired right away.
- Examine your flue liner. Despite its precarious placement in the innermost cavity of your chimney, a healthy, non-damaged flue liner is vital for proper and suitable operation of your system. Any cracks, gaps, or separations can let water leak into the chimney flue.
What Is Waterproofing & How Does It Help With Chimney Leaks?
Waterproofing is a must when it comes to preserving the integrity of any chimney. Just as you would prepare the rest of your home for varying weather conditions, your chimney is no different. For a masonry chimney, it is important that the waterproofing repellent is vapor-permeable. This means that, as it alters the chemistry of the pores in the brick to repel moisture instead of absorb it, it also ensures the chimney is still able to breathe and allows trapped moisture to evaporate.
Keep in mind that waterproofing is just as important if your chimney is a prefab model instead of brick one. The materials might not be as inherently porous and permeable as brick, but it still requires a layer of protection against rain, snow, humidity, and any other moisture tempted to hang around your chimney.
Waterproofing does a great deal with regard to protection against chimney leaks. Even if your cap is the proper size and was installed correctly, your crown is meticulously maintained, and your brickwork is immaculate – with no crevices, cracks, and crumbling in the bricks or mortar – water will still find a way in eventually.
Certainly, your chimney interacts with exceptionally hot vapors and toxic gases and must be able to breathe (hence why we never suggest painting or sealing a chimney), but without any sort of water repellent, the system is bound to degrade rather quickly.
Fortunately, here at Ozark Stove & Chimney, we utilize the best waterproofing agents on the market to ensure your chimney is effectively protected from it all, without sacrificing its breathability in the process. Give us a call to learn more about what we can do for you today!
Is a Leaky Chimney Dangerous?
You might be able to guess the answer, but yes – a leaky chimney can be quite dangerous, even if your fireplace or other chimney unit is scarcely used. Not only can concealed water damage lead to mold and other fungal or vegetation growth (both within the structure itself and any surrounding areas into which the water has leaked), but it also opens the door for a host of other dangers. Carbon monoxide poisoning, chimney-caused house fires, expensive house repairs, and more can all be the result of a seemingly benign leaky chimney.
Remember that most all chimney leaks are preventable, so once yours is repaired, the best way to protect your chimney, home, and, most importantly, your family, is to prioritize your chimney’s upkeep. Just because it is mostly “out of sight,” doesn’t mean it should be “out of mind.” We understand that chimney maintenance is rarely in the forefront of people’s thoughts, but we urge customers throughout our service area to prioritize it always. Choose us for all your chimney questions, concerns, and care.
Give Us a Call & Get Your Leaky Chimney Fixed Today
When you sit down to light a fire on a chilly evening, the last thing you want to worry about is all that could possibly go wrong–especially the dreaded (and incessant) dripping water soaking your perfectly primed firewood. With service now in Greene County, MO, Benton County, AR, and countless areas and counties surrounding, we look forward to working with you and making your home everything you’ve dreamed of.
Give us a call at 417-201-6585 or schedule a service online. We can’t wait to hear from you.