Fireplaces and Chimneys
WHAT CAUSES CHIMNEY AND FIREPLACE LEAKS
Brick chimneys, stone chimneys and fireplaces what do they all have in common? Over time most require some type of maintenance to keep a water tight seal. Many homeowners at some point in time will find a water stain on or around the homes fireplace caused by leakage.
These types of chimneys, brick and stone consist of brick and stone held together with cement. Over time the mortar joints and the cement cap can develop cracks. These cracks allow water to run behind the best chimney flashing and into the walls of your home. Many chimneys will need to be pointed up and recapped by a qualified masonry contractor if these cracks begin to appear.
A brick chimney can cause leaks into the interior of a home in other ways. One of the most common is water from rains being absorbed into the brick and then showing up on the interior. Brick and mortar are naturally porous materials. They soak up a great deal of water, especially when driven by hard winds. It is possible for this water to then migrate to a home’s interior and cause damage to the drywall and framing. Also, water can be trapped inside the brick and mortar and then freeze. When the water freezes, it expands as ice can break down the mortar and brick. This can be prevented by proper sealing of your brick.
IMPORTANCE OF A PROPER CROWN
The mortar cap (or crown) on your chimney may not appear important from the ground, but it actually is critical in keeping your chimney sound and your house dry. When a cap crumbles or cracks, water can run down behind the masonry facing, bypassing the flashing where the chimney meets the roof. In fact, people often blame the chimney flashing for leaks when the water actually enters through the cap and travels between the flue times and the masonry facing. It usually appears as a wet spot in the ceiling or as a drip at the front of the fireplace.
WHY YOU NEED A CHIMNEY CAP
Keeps rain water from coming down your chimney. Rain water can damage many components of your chimney. Many times rain water can damage stainless steel liners, dampers and can even saturate mortar joints. Water can soak inside a chimney and produce mold and other non-pleasant results.
Keep animals out of your chimney flue. Many times animals can make a home inside your chimney. These animals include birds, raccoons and squirrels. Sometimes the animals cannot get out of the chimney and will die. This problem produces maggots, flies and usually results in a fairly nasty odor. A professionally installed chimney cap is sized for a custom fit to prevent animal intrusion.
Prevents wind induced downdrafts. Many times wind will blow in a certain direction and can cause downdrafts. If your fireplace is drafting smoke, wind may be blowing smoke back into your home. The flat portion of the top of a chimney cap is designed to prevent wind induced down drafts.
Spark arresting. Many time people refer to a chimney cap as a spark arrestor. This is a fancy term that tells you that your chimney cap can prevent many lit embers that travel up your chimney from landing on your roof. These embers can catch your roof on fire.
Keeps out leaves, branches and twigs which can lead to blockage.