What’s the most dangerous thing for your chimney? Most would think it’s fire damage, but in fact, it’s prolonged exposure to water. It’s a bigger risk than you’d think, as your chimney and roof are constantly exposed to water thanks to the elements. Chimney water damage can be a big headache.
Why Is Your Chimney Susceptible to Water Damage?
It sounds strange that you must watch out for water damage on your chimney. Why would it be a problem when the chimney is designed to withstand high temperatures and smoke? It’s thanks to the materials used in the construction of your chimney.
Bricks, stone, and mortar are all capable of absorbing water, and over time this is going to cause damage. These materials are porous, so water can make its way in no matter how well it was constructed. What causes problems, though, is that absorbed water during the colder months. If that water is left there and the temperatures drop, then, of course, it will freeze.
When that happens, you’ll see that the water will expand, breaking apart the materials and causing even more damage. As such, you want to be aware of the signs of water damage, so you can address them before they worsen.
The Consequences of Water Damage
If you don’t spot the signs of chimney water damage in time, then there can be several issues that arise in your chimney. These include:
- Chimney leaks: This is the most common issue you’ll get if you’re not addressing water damage in your chimney. The water will make its way into your home and cause various structural problems as the masonry is weakened. If this isn’t dealt with quickly, you’ll see it can be costly to fix.
- Weakened structure: As mentioned above, if water is allowed to get into the masonry and freeze over the winter, you’ll see that the masonry becomes weak and can start crumbling. The mortar will wear away, allowing bricks to crack and break. Again, this will be a costly repair.
- Mold issues: If water is in your chimney and can’t escape, it is an ideal place for mold to breed. If it gets inside your house, you’ll have to contend with the health issues it leads to. You’ll also see mold start to grow on the outside of the chimney structure too. That will affect the structural integrity of the chimney itself.
- Warped floorboards: As water comes in through the chimney, it will make its way down through the fireplace. That can lead to water damage to the floorboards around the fireplace, such as warping or cracking. It can also happen to the baseboards near the chimney too. If this happens, you’ll need to solve the water leak issue before fixing those floorboards.
- Stains on the walls: Speaking of interior damage, you may also see stains on the walls and ceiling near your chimney. If you see these, that’s a sign of something wrong with the chimney and that water is making its way in.
- Rusting fireplace metalwork: The metalwork around your chimney, such as the frame, damper, fireplace doors, and so on, may start to rust if there’s water making its way in. Again, you’ll need to take care of this, as that means there is water causing damage to the chimney and the fireplace.
What’s Causing the Water Leaking?
You’ve already seen that your chimney is vulnerable to water damage, but what is it that lets the water in? Several things can happen to your chimney that will start allowing for water damage. Your chimney cap and crown can both be responsible for water leaks. A damaged or missing cap won’t be able to keep water out of the chimney, and that allows bricks and mortar to start absorbing it.
If there are cracks in the crown, that will start allowing water in. When the mortar starts aging, you’ll often see that it starts crumbling too. That leaves gaps that allow water in and start causing issues. Keep an eye on the metal flashing around your chimney, too, as that will cause problems if it becomes damaged or needs replacing.
How to Avoid Water Damage
This is all worrying stuff, but it can be avoided by doing basic maintenance and inspection on your chimney. A lot of the inspections can be done while you inspect your roof for damage. Remember, the quicker you catch an issue, the easier it will be to put it right. Look for issues such as cracked or broken flashing, a missing chimney cap, or cracks and damage in general.
If you see any of these issues, you’ll need to speak to a professional immediately. They’ll be able to come out, check if water has got into your chimney, and repair your issues. When they do this, they’ll be able to help your chimney ward off the elements.
Will Insurance Cover Chimney Repair?
Can you get your insurers to cover the cost of repairs should you experience a leak in your chimney? It depends on what caused the damage. For example, if your chimney starts leaking and the culprit is poor maintenance, you won’t be able to get that repair covered. If an accident was out of your control, such as a storm, you might be able to claim on your insurance. Water can cause problems for your chimney, so you need to know what it can do and the signs.
The Bottom Line
If you’re maintaining your chimney, you’ll have much fewer issues because your chimney can keep the water out. Call your roofer today to book an inspection on your chimney, and they’ll look for any problems that need to be resolved. They can fix them for you and advise you on what you can do to prolong the life of your chimney.