The Importance of Chimney Protection

chimney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk about chimneys, masonry chimneys to be specific. At the top of the chimney there is intended to be a concrete top, called a “chimney cap” or “wash cap”.  The purpose of these caps it to allow water to drain over the top of the chimney, thus preventing it water from getting down into the masonry itself, which can cause significant damage. The issue of water flowing into the masonry is of particular concern when temperatures drop and the water freezes, as this can cause the chimney to heave, damaging the chimney and/or flue liner. Therefore, in order to protect the chimney from this kind of damage it is important to have a good chimney or wash cap, and to ensure that it is mortared at the seams to prevent leaking.

Above, you can see two photos of chimneys. In one of the photos, the chimney has a concrete wash cap and the mortar joints are sealed. In the other photo the chimney does not have a wash cap, and you can clearly see that the bricks have worn mortar joints, and some of the bricks themselves have shifted. To further complicate matters, the flue is not shown in this photo because the top of the flue is broken and now missing.  In this case, the flue did not have a flue cover. The purpose of a flue cover is to protect the flue from water leaking in, which can cause damage, as well as to prevent rodents or birds from entering the flue and nesting there. All chimney flues should have a proper cap that is high enough for good drafting, and screened to prevent animal entry.

 

Can New Roofs Leak?

Leaking Roof

 

 

 

The picture you see here is over a roof that was recently
installed on a house. The owners of the house believed that they had the roof
properly installed, and that everything was done to complete the installation.
They believed that since the roof was brand new, there could not possibly be
problems with the roof.  At the same
time, the owners of this house started to notice that when it was raining there
was water leaking into their house, and they were unable to determine where that
water was coming in. When they found themselves unable to solve the mystery,
our company was called in to do an inspection of the roof.

While inspecting the roof, we discovered that the chimney
had a brand new flashing done in conjunction with the roof installation. New
chimney flashings, if not installed properly, can be just as bad as a worn out
flashing, or even as bad as a worn out roof! As you can see in the related
photo, the upper edge of the flashing is resting against tar paper, and neither
the tar paper nor the flashing are secured into the chimney itself. This set up
leaves the top edge open to water, which drains down behind it and into the
house. In the words of a fellow inspector, “it’s like tucking your rain pants
into your rain boots, causing the water to leak into your boots and fill them
up.” Obviously no one walks around with rain gear tucked into their boots, and similarly
no one should have a chimney flashing and roof set up the way that we see in
this picture.

What can we learn from this? Perhaps the most important
lesson to take away is that even with a brand new roof installation, it makes
sense and is important to have an inspection done of the roof before the
warranty runs out. After all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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