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Magic Sweep Blog

How to Know if You Have a Leaky Chimney

Many homeowners may not recognize a problem with the chimney before there is substantial damage behind the scenes. Most homeowners don’t know the signs of a problem and the majority of the chimney system is out of sight. Many issues with the chimney system are only recognizable while a fire is lit. If you have a chimney leak, it may go days, weeks, or months unnoticed.

Obvious Signs of a Chimney Leak

By the time there are visible and obvious signs of a chimney leak, it’s impossible to know what type of hidden damage has occurred. If you find there are signs of a leak, call a chimney professional right away.

Dripping – If you hear or see dripping in the chimney system, there is likely a leak that has gone on long enough to cause damage.

Stains – Water stains can occur on the masonry and can show up in a variety of colors. White stains on the outside masonry is a result of efflorescence in which water passes through the masonry and leaves behind minerals on the outside. On the inside of the fireplace, water stains may be darkened parts of the brick or even green stains due to mold.

Leaks – A leak in any part of the house likely points to a chimney leak. If the chimney allows water in, it can run through floors and walls several rooms away before forming a leak. If you experience a leak, your first call should be to a chimney professional. A general contractor will most likely fix the damage without properly checking the chimney.

Not-so-Obvious Signs of a Chimney Leak

It is difficult, but if you know your system and understand how the chimney works, you can recognize a problem with the chimney system before there is serious damage. Pay attention to signs there is a problem.

A Drop in Efficiency – A drop in efficiency, whether sudden or gradual, is a problem. You have a problem if your fireplace isn’t burning as hot as it was, if it’s using more fuel than usual, or is more difficult to light or to keep burning. Determining that problem may be difficult, so try troubleshooting. If it doesn’t resolve your issue, it’s time to call a professional.

Odors – Odors can be so gradual that you don’t notice the change. If your fireplace begins to smell of mildew or mold, then you most likely have a serious chimney leak. This smell may be very obvious when the fire isn’t lit. The fireplace’s usage masks the smell of mildew and mold.

Smoky Fireplace – A smoky fireplace is also caused by a drop in efficiency. If your smoky chimney isn’t resolved by troubleshooting, you may have a leaky chimney.

Water Damage

A leaky chimney not only causes water damage to the chimney system, but also causes damage to the rest of the home, including walls, building materials, and more. This type of damage is 100 percent preventable.

Call Magic Sweep today at 757-523-2400 or request an appointment online.

Repairing Chimney Leaks

A chimney leak is the last thing any homeowner wants to experience. It doesn’t only affect your chimney! A chimney leak can cause damage to other parts of your home because the water runs through the hidden portions of your home. For this reason you should always assume a leak is caused from the chimney, no matter how far it may be from the chimney itself.

Chimney leaks also cause damage to supports, walls, ceilings, and wall coverings near the chimney, along with a host of extensive damage to the chimney itself.

Water and Your Masonry Chimney

Masonry is constructed of multiple materials, all of which are adversely affected by moisture. If water is allowed to penetrate your chimney, it can destroy your masonry from the inside out, causing rust, stains, deterioration, weakening, decreased efficiency, and increased fire risk. The best way to prevent water penetration and damage to your chimney is to have it inspected annually and waterproofed by a professional. The average homeowner won’t notice a leak until a problem is visible. By this point there can be substantial damage behind-the-scenes. A professional will see a problem before it causes damage.

Diagnostics and Repair

An inexperienced chimney sweep might repair the damage that makes your chimney a hazard, but a certified chimney sweep will repair the damage, diagnose the problem, and prevent it from reoccurring.

Common Causes of Chimney Leaks

Magic Sweep sees chimney leaks often, and year round. Common causes include a missing or damaged chimney cap and damaged or missing chimney flashing. These two components are vitally important to prevent water penetration. Magic Sweep technicians are trained and experienced in installing chimney caps and flashing to prevent leaks.

Common Chimney Leak Damage

  • Spalling
    A chimney leak during the winter can be especially damaging to your masonry because of the freeze/thaw affect. The water penetrates the masonry, freezes, expands, then melts, moves further into the masonry, and repeats the cycle. This causes spalling, cracking and crumbling masonry. It can be repaired through a process called tuck pointing in which a chimney sweep removes the bricks, replaces mortar and each brick. It is a tedious job because the new mortar should match the old in consistency, color, and strength.
  • Liner Deterioration
    When moisture mingles with soot, it is corrosive and can damage the chimney liner quickly. In this case a certified chimney sweep can reline the chimney. Magic Sweep can fix your chimney liner damage using HeatShield® cerfractory technology. When we reline your chimney with HeatShield®, we restore your liner instead of replacing it completely, saving you time and money.
  • Structural Damage
    Our chimney experts are certified masons who can rebuild and repair your damaged chimney. Your firebox, hearth, and chimney can all be affected by a chimney leak, and once the leak is repaired, the masonry should be repaired. Only a certified chimney sweep specializes in the construction and repair of a masonry chimney.

When you experience a chimney leak, it can be your worst nightmare. Magic Sweep can help restore the fireplace of your dreams by repairing and waterproofing your chimney. Call Magic Sweep today at 757-523-2400.

Common Questions About Chimney Water Damage

Common Questions About Chimney Water Damage

Chimney LeakWith the stress of the holidays past us, we commonly think that we have a year before we have any more stress ahead.  However, this can change in a blink when we notice our chimneys leaking water.  You’re problem may not even be that major, but you panic.  Never fear!  The professionals at Magic Sweep can help you with any problems that you may have, related to chimneys of course.

What does water do to the chimney?

Water is so good for us, why is it not beneficial to our chimneys?   The thing is, water can be detrimental to your entire home.  Mold can begin to grow in as little as 24-48 hours and can be sometimes hard to determine since it is all colors and sizes.  When water gets into your chimney through a crack or flue gap it can begin to mold.  This mold over a period of time can then spread throughout the chimney and into the entire foundation of your home.  When this happens your air quality is also under attack and anyone with breathing problems can begin to feel serious health issues.

How is the water getting in?

Mold can be used using a special cleaner by an experienced professional.  You should not try to remove it yourself because you could miss a portion or harm yourself with the chemicals in the cleaner.  Much of the mold in a chimney is started in a crack from rainwater.  To determine is you have any cracks you can do a controlled water test where you spray portions of a chimney at a time to see what part of the chimney is letting in water and then examine.  Also, damaged flashing can lead to water seeping inside.  A chimney technician cannot only tell if this is the problem, but replace the flashing if it is the case.

How do you prevent water for future problems?

Unfortunately, there is no 100 percent effective method to making sure water cannot enter the chimney.  However, you can do preventative maintenance.  As mentioned, having your chimney cleaned will remove mold but also prepare you for waterproofing.  There should be at least 24 hours of dry time between the cleaning and the actual waterproofing.  It is simple so don’t worry.  A special repellent is applied to the outside of the chimney to create a coating and then as it dries it will create your seal.  Sometimes, multiple coats may be required and you should always pick a dry day as it takes at least 6 hours to dry.