A chimney with missing mortar and no chimney cap.

Spring showers can expose winter damage in the shape of a chimney leak in your home. Unfortunately, chimney leaks are commonplace, especially in Michigan where the weather can be a brisk 20 degrees one day and a beautiful 60 and sunny the next. These temperature fluctuations are hard on us but imagine what they may do to your chimney.  

Chimneys are constructed from tough and durable materials. This construction does not mean they are free from wear and tear. Your chimney may rise above your roofline and get exposed to wind, rain, snow, ice, heat, and thawing. The elements will cause weak points.  

In this article, Kearns Brothers will cover the signs of a leaking chimney, what to look for, and who to call! For nearly 40 years, Kearns Brothers have been the go-to home exterior company in southeast Michigan. If you notice a chimney leak, give us a call for a complimentary inspection.  

What to Look for with a Chimney Leak  

Chimney leaks may appear in several diverse ways due to the wear of various parts of your chimney. You may experience the following if you have an active chimney leak.  

  • Water stains or leaks on the walls or ceiling  

  • Musty fireplace smell. The odor may be more noticeable after a heavy rain  

  • A leak inside the chimney  

  • Condensation inside the chimney  

  • Cracks in the masonry of the chimney. It may be on the inside or outside  

If your chimney is experiencing any of these symptoms, call a professional to inspect your chimney immediately. Prolonging a chimney leak will only lead to additional damage to your home and will be a costlier repair the longer you wait.  

My Chimney Leaks in Heavy Rain  

Your chimney bears the brunt of all types of weather. It rises out of your roof and right into the elements. There are several places where a leak can spring with your chimney. We recommend using a trusted expert to assess and address all chimney issues. Use well-respected review sites, like Angi, Google, and Nextdoor to look at the quality of work.  

Chimney Flashing Leaks  

Flashing is a common place where leaks can start 

What is Chimney Flashing?  

Chimney flashing is a piece of thin metal that is installed where your roof and chimney meet. The flashing is put there to help create a waterproof seal to stop water from accessing your chimney and roof. It will move water away from the chimney and direct it toward your gutter system.  

Chimney flashing can develop a leak when your chimney settles. The settling motion can cause the flashing to pull away slightly from the chimney and create an opening for a leak to form. Flashing can also rust and wear out. Additionally, the caulking used to seal the flashing may wear out over time and create another place for a chimney leak.  

Cracks in Chimney Cap May Cause Leaks  

Your chimney cap rests on the top of your chimney. A chimney cap typically has mesh sides made of metal and a metal sheet covering the top. It acts as a shield to prevent rain from getting into the chimney and prevents animals from getting down inside your chimney and causing problems with nests. Additionally, it helps contain hot embers when you are using the fireplace.  

Rain and moisture can enter the chimney if the cap is compromised. The moisture may cause damage to the bricks and mortar.  

Chase Cover is Rusted Through  

Your chimney chase cover is a metal cover that is meant to protect the top of your chimney from rain, snow, and ice. It is also known as a top pan. The chimney chase cover is usually found with wood-framed chimneys that are constructed of wood, vinyl, aluminum, or brick siding. If the metal has rusted through, it will allow water to penetrate your home 

Damaged Chimney Crown  

The chimney crown is the white part on the top of your chimney. It is a watertight surface that prevents water and moisture from penetrating the chimney. Your chimney crown may develop cracks or degrade due to exposure to the elements. When cracks and wear are present during the freeze/ thaw cycle, the damage can become larger due to water expanding when it freezes 

Masonry Leaks  

Brick and stone, untreated, are porous. Because it is porous, it absorbs water and moisture it can be damaged. When a cold snap occurs, a saturated chimney will start to develop cracks 

Mortar joints can be a cause of leaks as well. If the mortar mix is too heavy with sand, the mortar may absorb more water. A waterproofing product needs to be applied to the chimney every 5-10 years.  

Mortar joints may need to be tuck-pointed. A mortar joint should last roughly 25 – 30 years under the best conditions 

Do All Chimneys Leak?  

Chimney leaks are common. Developing a regular inspection/ maintenance cadence will help you be ahead of potential wear to your chimney. Do not wait for chimney problems to form. Scheduling regular inspections will prove to be invaluable 

What to Do If You Have a Chimney Leak  

If you notice a wet ceiling or interior masonry. Take a quick picture of where the leak is happening. Your chimney may dry out and pointing out where the leak is happening could be valuable to your roofer. If you can show exactly where the leak is occurring, it will give your roofer clues into where the point of entry may be.  

Second, start the clean-up process. You may need buckets, towels, to move furniture, and more. It all depends on the severity of the chimney leak 

Lastly, call a trusted roofing company for a free consultation. There is a chance that the leak is roof related. You may need to find a chimney expert for an inspection if it is outside your roofer's scope of work. However, some roofing companies, like Kearns Brothers, offer chimney services 

What Causes a Chimney Leak?  

With caps, pans, mortar, and flashing all being leak culprits, you must ask; what causes a chimney leak?  

  • Weather  

Rain, snow, ice, heat, and freeze cycle can break down the toughest materials. A small crack will easily expand once it has water/ ice inside of it 

  • Construction/ Waterproofing  

Inadequate construction or worn-out waterproofing can allow moisture into your chimney 

  • Age of the Chimney  

Homes creak, shift, and settle. This is no different for your chimney. The shifting of your chimney can expose opportunities for moisture to enter your home and create a chimney leak 

  • Can a Woodpecker Damage a Chimney?  

A woodpecker may poke holes in the wood around your chimney. Typically, it is not the masonry where they peck. However, holes in the wood will create an opening for moisture to enter 

How to Stop a Chimney Leak  

Kearns Brothers recommend regular chimney inspections to stay ahead of any wear and tear to your chimney. Life happens and it is easy to forget to schedule routine check-ups. If you are experiencing a chimney leak, find a roofing contractor to help determine the cause of the leak and get it repaired quickly 

Waterproofing Your Chimney  

There are waterproofing products on the market that are sold to the public for the DIY audience. However, there are products available to businesses that sometimes carry a warranty. If your chimney is hard to access, contact a trusted professional for the application of the waterproofing agent 

Chimney Crown Repair  

Your chimney crown will crack. Regular inspections will head off any small cracks and allow repairs to happen preemptively rather than as a necessity 

Chimney Cap Replacement  

Your cap may be broken, missing, or the wrong size altogether. A professional will ensure that you have the right cap for your chimney.  

Chimney Flashing Replacement  

Flashing replacement should be left to a professional. When replacing, the old flashing is removed, and new flashing is applied. This may require intricate cuts and adding caulking 

Chimney Leak Repair Near Me  

Kearns Brothers have served southeast Michigan for 30 + years. In that time, we have helped countless homeowners solve and repair their chimney issues. All our inspections are free, and our award-winning team will be happy to serve you