There’s truth in the saying “April showers bring May flowers,” but if you aren’t careful, those showers can also bring devastating leaks – especially when it comes to your chimney. The tips below will help you ensure that your roof and chimney are in the best possible condition so you can avoid potential leaks and the associated costly repairs.
Use a Chimney Cap
The best way to prevent leaks is to install a chimney cap or repair the one already in place. The chimney cap is designed to prevent rainwater from traveling straight down through the chimney and into the fireplace area, so it’s by far one of the most important components of the system. If you don’t have one, you should install one right away. Otherwise, a chimney cap check is included in your annual maintenance. You might also consider a top-sealing damper, which is located at the very top of the chimney and seals tight when closed thanks to a heavy-duty gasket.
Repair Your Masonry
Another of the most common causes of chimney-related leaks is relatively easy to see – cracked masonry. The masonry is the only thing separating the inside of your chimney (and therefore your home) from the elements. So, if it cracks, water can easily penetrate and enter the space between your chimney and liner. This can cause numerous issues, including not only mildew, but also more dangerous problems like black mold or significant rot. Never put off chimney masonry repairs; doing so could cost you tens of thousands of dollars in repairs.
Check and Repair Flashing at the Base
By and large, failed flashing is the cause of some of the most devastating chimney leaks of them all. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to repair your flashing, and it’s almost as easy to install new flashing if the need exists. Flashing consists of metal strips that cover the tiny gap between your chimney and your roof, and while it typically serves its purpose, it can become loose, crack, or split over time. One of the best ways to prevent this involves using a flashing sealant. Tar is the most popular, but a few companies make elastomeric sealants that last far longer.
Consider Waterproofing the Brick and Chimney Crown
Though the benefits of waterproofing your chimney are still up for debate, there is little doubt that it is beneficial for those living in especially rainy and windy climates, such as Chicago. Waterproofing stops rain, snow, ice, and meltwater from penetrating into the porous brick and concrete structures of your chimney, thus negating the possibility of leaks. Waterproofing can also help to prevent cracked and discolored masonry, but only if you purchase a quality product and hire a professional to apply it.
Though all these tips can go a long way toward protecting your home from the potential damage associated with chimney leaks, the absolute best thing you can do is have your chimney cleaned and inspected at least once per year. Trained professionals can spot potential problems before they allow for leaks, and this alone can save you hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars.