Chimney Water Problems – Don’t Call a Roofer!

Click above to watch a video on leaky chimney problems.

Chimney Leaks?

If you look up at your ceiling, above your fireplace and see water marks, I don’t recommend a roofer! Same if the plaster appears to be moist and the paint is popping off the ceiling above the same area. These observations are likely the product of chimney leaks!

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

I would suggest calling a chimney contractor who specializes in solving chimney leaks. When the
rainy season starts, we might get as many as 30 calls a day for serious water problems. We get so much backup that our midday callers won’t see our service men for a couple of days!

Many people think that we can work while it’s raining but we will not. This is due to the safety of our servicemen. Often we may only be able to tarp off the top of the chimney and hope to prevent some of the rain problems. We will come back later to complete our repairs.

Call around!

If cost of repairs is based on the severity of the problem, I feel it is a good idea to call a couple of contractors who offer free estimates. A chimney leak problem could be as minor as not having a chimney cap. We refer to this as a rain hood and we place it over the top of flue tiles.

Damaged Crowns

Damaged and cracked chimney crown washers need coating or replacement. Furthermore, missing mortar needs repointing and new and fresh mortar. You may have discovered these water problems when you observe sprawling brick phases laying on the roof shingles or at the base of the chimney.

Water Repellent

American Brick Institute recommends that all masonry surfaces should have water
repellent treatment. We recommend using a deep penetrating salifying or solvent based water repellent. These used to come with a 10 year warranty.

If the chimney crown cracks, it needs sealing or replacement to prevent further water from gathering and freezing as this is the cause of extensive masonry damage.


Regarding water leaking on prefab fireplaces, the metal chimney chase cover is often the culprit of the water entry. Many times these problems are first discovered because of the sound of the constant dripping on top of the metal firebox.

Therefore I highly recommend replacing these chase covers only with material made of stainless steel.


Many roofers have no training in identifying condensation of water leaks. These are often recognizable by white efflorescence chalking on the outside the bricks of the chimney. The condensation that occurs in the chimneys comes from the moisture and the gases liquefying and dripping back down onto the ceiling of the warm living space in the home.

Get a professional

I would not recommend that the average homeowner roof do their own water testing as this can cause serious roof damage. Caution must be taken during water testing. It is very easy to be tangled up with the garden hose on a slippery roof. Our water testing is well-documented and completed with a slow controlled water soaking on a very dry day. Therefore, we often position the servicemen inside the home on a walkie-talkie. This has proven to work extremely well for identifying the sources to the water entry into the home.

Water Testing

We start our water testing from the lowest point of the home slowly working our way from the foundation then up to the chimney, stopping to thoroughly soak the corbeling slopes, metal chimney flashing, the brick chase and finally, the chimney crown wash. In closing, we all know that water problems don’t seem to go away, they often just get bigger!

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.….Educational Videos….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 and affiliated sites.

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