Is your roof leaking? There are clear signs of a leak: ceiling and roof spots, peeling paint, the sound of a hidden drip. But still, are you sure it is your roof leaking? Especially if you notice water spots around your fireplace, the culprit may not be your roof at all. In fact, chimney leaks are a common enough occurrence when your chimney is made of brick or stone. Most home owners are careful to ensure regular roof maintenance and inspections, but they may not consider the need for regular maintenance of their chimneys. Failure to regular inspect and repair brick or stone chimneys can ultimately result in chimney leaks.
So what are some of the signs of a chimney leak, or how do you distinguish it from a roof leak. First of all, roof leaks will likely always have some obvious internal and external signs. Inside your home you may not be able to distinguish a roof from a chimney leak, but if you also notice buckling, curling, or missing shingles, you are likely suffering from a roof leak. On the other hand, external signs for a chimney leak are not so clear. It may be difficult, but if you notice cracking or crumbling along the top of your chimney, these are signs of damage that may indicate a chimney leak. Chimneys not only feature brick and solid stone components, but cement and other filler materials are used and they are more susceptible to damage than you may expect. Over time, your chimney will most likely require some repairs to ensure proper functioning.
During roof inspections, you should always ask your roofer to carefully inspect the chimney as well. While you will likely have to work with a professional masonry company for repairs, a qualified roofing contractor will notice the main signs of chimney damage. However, it may be worthwhile to consider regular chimney inspections along with your roofing inspections. A masonry company can also check roof flashing to isolate the source of a leak. They will douse the external portion of your chimney with water in an attempt to detect where the water is entering. The extent and severity of the damage will determine the type of repair needed.
In the case of minor damage, the existing flashing seal may be removed and replaced in one day.
However, if the brick or mortar of your chimney is damaged, a significant portion of the structure may need replacement. While not a major repair, replacing or restoring loose mortar with new material is somewhat more time consuming and repairs may be weather dependent. Ideally, you will want to contact your roofer or masonry company at the first signs of a leak. Usually, when damage is found early, repair and replacement is quicker and less expensive.