Minor Chimney Repair For Leaks

Article that describes minor chimney repair for the homeowner who has a leaking chimney.

One of the most annoying things for a homeowner can be a roof that leaks when it rains. And one of the more common causes is a chimney that has been poorly sealed or has not been roofed around properly.

What to do? You can call a professional roofing company to repair it. Or, if you have some handyman skills and the desire to save money, the following instructions will help you do the repair yourself, if the repair is minor.

First, you need to have the proper tools and equipment. These include:

A good hammer or roofing hammer

A caulk gun and silicone caulk

A flat bar (a type of crowbar with a flat end)

A plastic trowel

One half gallon of "cold tar" (the hardware store can help you find this)

A good extension ladder

Now, I will go over the process step by step. First, place your ladder at the place where the edge of the roof is closest to the chimney. Make sure that it is on a firm spot and doesn't move. After climbing up to the chimney, inspect around the chimney, especially behind it and on both sides, since these are usually the weakest spots on a chimney.

If your chimney is located near the edge of your roof, and you have gutters that follow the roof line, you should keep your gutters cleaned out because gutters that are filled up cause water to back up onto the roof. This will leave standing water, which will find a leak or small crack near the chimney. Water will then fill this crack, and expand or contract with the temperature, causing the leak to grow until it becomes a problem.

If there are no gutters, or they are clean and dry, look at the sides of the chimney. You will notice 6 to 8 inch long pieces of metal called chimney flashing between the chimney and the shingles, or else a long piece of metal chimney flashing. The flashing is installed on top of the new layer of shingles by the roofing company when the house is built. When the brick masons build a chimney, they bend the metal onto one of the first row of bricks , then they place the masonary (bricks and mortar) on top of this metal.

Depending upon the climate where you live, the mortar expands and contracts, causing it to chip or loosen. This is where you will take your caulk gun and caulk, looking for cracks between the metal and the row of bricks on top of it. You place a medium sized "bead" of caulk (the width of the mortar joint) all the way around the chimney on the sides and the back. You start on one side, and work your way around the back, then down the other side. Leave the front of the chimney (the side that faces the ground) uncaulked. This side will also not have any metal flashing.

Next, lick your finger and run your wet finger around to flatten the bead of caulk. Wetting your finger will keep the caulk from sticking to it.

The next step involves inspecting where the roof shingles meet the metal flashing. You will be looking for cracks, loose or damaged shingles, or torn shingle edges, moss on your shingle (a sign of water damage). If there is moss on the shingle, scrape it off with your flat bar. Run a bead of caulk where the shingle meets the metal flashing, similar to the method you used before. This will seal this area against water seeping through.

If there are broken or cracked shingles, take the cold tar and your trowel, and after stirring the bucket of tar well with a stick or metal rod, apply it liberally the width of the trowel where the flashing and the shingle meet. Do this all the way around the flashing, about one inch thick. More than this will not improve the repair.

This is a simple method of sealing a chimney that leaks if there is no major repairs required.

If there are holes in the flashing or chunks of the masonary are missing, you can read more about major chimney repairs, or call a professional mason or roofing company to repair major damage.

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