“Get a bucket, the Chimney is leaking”

“Oh my gosh, Honey the ceiling by the fireplace is leaking like crazy, get a bucket, NO…. get lots of buckets”

I get lots of water problem phone calls like this all during our rainy season. This is all through March and through July. This could be a sign of a leaking chimney. I found some interesting rain fall statistics for here in  Cincinnati. Did you know that our heaviest rainfall herein Cincinnati occurs during the month of May, with over 5 inches rainfall.

The month of June is 2nd and has over 4” of rain. The months of March, April, and July are darn close to tying at 3.86 rainfall. Cincinnati has on the average 132 days rain that brings us 42 “1/4 inches of rain For a little comparison of a few other cities Portland, OR has 39” and Seattle, WA comes in at about 38”. Atlanta comes in at 48 inches and Orlando Florida is just a touch over 53 inches.That is almost 41/2 feet of rain.

*My Job
 is to help identify where the water is making entry into the structure of a home. I want you to keep in mind, that there actually may be multiple points for water entry into the home.When addressing water problems use “ a systematic process for eliminating each possible points for unwanted water entry”

*It is my opinion that almost in all residential interior water problems are…One of (Three)   possibilities Area of concern.

Chase Pan is Reinstalled (New)

My 1st Area of concern is what I’ll refer to as the “Roof top area” Starting from the top of your roof it heir could be damaged or actually missing shingles.

There could also be water entry through popped nail holes on the wood decking where the shingles were once installed.

Did you know that just one little hole could allow gallons of water into your home?

There are a number of roof penetrations that may be problematic, such as those rubber boots around those short plumbing vent stacks, these could be cracked or worn out from the sun.

Roof vents are those square looking vents are required to exchange the air in our homes and attics. Whole house attic fans, Sky lights and window lintels flashings may need to be re-calked or replaced or weatherized.

DSCN1662There is metal valley flashing on the rooftop that can be found at every angle, rise or dimension of the rooftop shape.

There is term called Ice Damming this is where in the winter ice is collecting in the gutter and as it melts on those sunny after noon it refreezes as the sun goes down, but the problem here it that it starts to accumulate and backs-up under the shingle and now is again freezing and melting and then dripping into the attic, then down into the ceiling in your bedrooms or living room of your home.

R: 161 G: 255 B: 161 X:39852 Y: 0 S: 0 Zs: 0 Zp: 0 F: 666 I: 1 ImgVer:

A crickets this is a pyramid design that flush rainwater around the backside of a chimney and into the gutter. Then there is the chimney flashing this is a metal collar that fits around the chimney that may have rusted out or damage by raccoon working to pull it back as they are making entry into your attic or maybe tree branches may have been rubbing against it. Metal chimney flashing wraps round the shape of the chimneystack preventing rainwater entry that is running down the roof top shingles.

… Honeys get the buckets it is raining in the living room; all over new Flat screen TV !

My 2nd area of Concern Is what I’ll refer to as the Chimney Chase Area; this is the shape of the chimney. It could be made of wood framing or brick masonry. It really doesn’t make any difference if the water is coming into your house

.. Just Fix It , is what I hear the most!

-Starting at the top of the chimney, it maybe called by a number of names. Such as the crown, cap, crown wash, splay. If its made of metal it is refer to a as a metal chase cover.

-The Crown of the chimney must be watertight. .

One of the biggest problems we see, is that during the rapid construction days of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s that many of the masonry crowns were made of left over brick mortar that is a much softer material than the properly required harder concrete that is needed to protect the brick on the chimney masonry.

fixing a leaking chimney
This picture shows our team member fixing a leaking chimney

-Masonry tuck-pointing is the process of replacing damaged or worn out mortar joints from the bricks on both the chimney and any other masonry surface of your home. This is often a big problem that is found at the top the brick chimney. As well as what’s referred to as the corbels, which are hips or shaping on the outside of the chimney.

All of these damaged mortar joints need to be ground-out and filled back to prevent water from enters the home, We always want our work to blend in with the rest of the home as well as can be. We always use colored dye tints in our mortar. We do this so that our tuck-pointing work does not have that bright gray newly repaired look

July14 two chimneys 015

Again moisture is not your homes friend, as over hanging tree branches, and shrubs laying up against the house brick can bring big problem. The same is true as we watering our yards and shrubs in the summer, as well as repeated water sprinkling of the masonry brick surface over and over is very damaging.

My 3rd and final area of concern; is the internal working of the chimney flue system. The flue system is designed to move hot gases from the hot water heater and furnace. For every 100,000 BTU of natural gas used in your home it will generate about 1 gallon of water. Flashing water stained brickwork and cieling1a.jpgThis moisture has to go somewhere, either up the chimney or it will condensate and leak back down into your home. Your Chimney flue may have be improperly sized for a new furnace or hot water heater replacement.  It’s now possible for it to run out onto the basement floor.

If the chimney flue blocks this, it will also cause condensation water problems. You may ask what could case this blockage. It could be broken chimney flue liners or bird nesting blockage. This is why we always recommend a properly sized chimney cap along with a bird screening on every chimney top.


To sum all of this up , we have identified the chimney leaking water problems. I have offered you some reasonable solutions.

Now picture this with me, you have had a very busy day, your rather tired. It is 10:30 at night, you shut the TV off and you’re locking up the house. As you prepare to go upstairs to bed, then you hear that voice coming from upstairs saying.

… Honey hurry; get the buckets it is raining in our bedroom.  …. And it’s on your side of the bed ;(


If you want to know more check out another post from Ask the Chimney Sweep or check out this video 

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry. AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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