Chimney leaks can range from minor to extensive, but any amount of moisture entering your home is cause for concern. Moisture is the enemy when it comes to the materials that make up your home. If you happen to spot a leak – or if a professional finds a leak during an inspection – it’s important to fix it quickly. Otherwise, you may find yourself dealing with one of the more significant issues below.
Damage to Walls
As moisture enters your home through the chimney, if it gets into the walls, it can do some serious damage. Finishes like paneling, paint, drywall, sheetrock, and plaster are all susceptible to the effects of moisture. In some cases, the finishes could peel away, and in others, they could bubble up and chip off. In the case of paneling and drywall, rot could cause chunks of the walls to fall away. Unfortunately for many homeowners who do not schedule regular inspections, issues like these are the first signs of moisture damage.
Potentially Dangerous Mold
Mold needs one very important thing to grow and thrive, and that’s moisture. If a leak in your chimney allows moisture to enter your home, and if that moisture encounters porous surfaces – especially wood – it can trigger the growth of mold. Though some mold is more unsightly than dangerous, black mold can be a real problem. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that mold can be detrimental to your health, and if you have asthma, emphysema, or other health issues, it can be downright dangerous.
When excessive moisture builds up in wood or other materials over time, it can begin to cause rot. Though a single partially-rotted beam can be replaced easily, when an entire wall has been affected, the repairs can be extensive and expensive. In fact, failing to catch rot early on – and failing to repair it when it does occur – can cause severe structural damage to the point that your home is not safe to live in. Even worse, moist and rotted wood attracts a host of pests ranging from termites to ants and even rodents.
More Damage Than You Can See
For many homeowners, the first sign of a chimney leak occurs when they notice a wet spot on the ceiling near the fireplace. Though the spot may look rather small to the eye, and though it may seem as if repairs can wait for a week or two, this is not the case at all. For that water to reach the ceiling and leave a puddle, it must first saturate the materials above it, including everything from insulation and wooden beams in your attic to the attic floor/ceiling area. This is proof that the damage caused by moisture is never static; rather, there’s almost always more damage than you can see.
Failing to repair a chimney leak right away can have some devastating consequences like the ones shown above, so if you notice a leak of any kind, or even if you suspect a leak, it’s best to call a professional for repairs right away. Better still, make sure to have your chimney inspected at least once a year by a trained and certified chimney professional. The best way to fix any chimney leak is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.