Spring is here, and in the chimney business that means lots of calls about leaking chimneys. Most leaking chimneys can be attributed to a few causes, so it is sensible to become acquainted with a few simple prevention steps.

1. Cover it up!

The simplest way to protect your chimney and your home is to install a chimney cap or cover on your flue. Most homes already have chimney caps installed, but plenty of homeowners miss this step and it's a crucial one. Chimney caps prevent animals from nesting in your flue, water from falling directly down your chimney, and water from soaking the interior of the bricks in the chimney.

2. Seal, baby, seal!

There are a couple different places on your chimney that can develop cracks that lead to leaks. What's the best way to deal with those problems? Seal away! The crown, the cement connector between the flue and the brick chimney, can develop cracks from water freezing and thawing throughout the year. These little cracks grow up into big cracks, which in turn grow into huge problems for you. The best way to prevent these from getting out of hand is to frequently check the cement cap and apply sealant to any cracks that start to develop.

Another spot that gets cracks pretty frequently is the flashing. Flashing is the metal and tar combination that seals the roof to the chimney, usually with folded aluminum panes that are sealed to the chimney and roof. The tar sealing the panes in can deteriorate, causing water to drip through the crack. New synthetic materials exist that are far superior to the tar used in older chimneys, so be sure to use a new material for your sealer.

The last spot that typically gets cracks that allow leakage is the brick of the chimney itself. Just like the crown, water and wind damage the brick over time and cause water to seep into the chimney, wreaking havoc on your home. Although the practice of waterproofing brick is pretty well-known, most homeowners don't realize that there are several different types of sealant and each fits different brick in different situations. Have a professional come do a Mortar Absorption Test to determine what sealing solution might work best.

3. Avoid Condensation Complications

A trickier place that homeowners don't think to look is the actual liner inside of the chimney. Many homes get their fireplaces upgraded from the original floor plan and don't compensate for the lower temperature, higher condensation producing flame and end up causing a lot of internal damage. Since it is pretty uncommon, homeowners also typically end up spending a boatload of money trying to diagnose the problem - to that end, make sure you're using a reputable professional whenever you do start working on your chimney.

Installing Roof Leak Barriers - Sealing in Chimneys

When working on sealing in chimneys, it can be a tough job, especially when you are dealing with a notorious leak source, one that is around a chimney on a home. The roof protection decking can settle and move separately from chimneys, making it even more difficult. Install leak barriers to accommodate this movement. Install Shingle-Mate or Deck Armor roof underlayment flush to the leaking chimney wall; install a full 36" of Weather Watch or Storm Guard leak barrier over the roof deck underlayment.

Run up the chimney sides 5", the leak barrier should run up the chimney in question up the sides a minimum of 5". Then, seal firmly into place by pressing the membrane, sealing in the chimney wall area, and seal to the Shingle-Mate or Deck Armor roof protection along the deck of the home. Completely cover crickets, the chimney crickets should also be completely covered with leak barriers as well. Install the shingles and the step-flashing over the leak barriers that were just installed on the roof.

To divert any leak water back out over the roof shingles at chimney front. Install Single-Mate or the Deck Armor roof decking underlayment, making sure it is flush to the chimney wall around the entire chimney. Then, install the shingles, making sure to trim them flush to the chimney front. Install the leak barrier of your choice 5" minimum up to the chimney front; install this over the non-exposed area of the shingles at chimney front at a 5" minimum.

Be certain to leave the shingle sealant exposed at this area under the chosen leak barrier protection that is being used on the area under also the roof deck protection above the chimney. Go up the chimney side's 5" minimum again and seal to all the areas by firmly pressing the membrane to the surface. This method will divert any water that enters past the flashing and shingles back out of the roof system itself over the shingles that are installed.

There are two instances where you would install either Weather Watch or Storm Guard leak barrier at the chimneys. Over the crickets of a home on the roof, making sure to abide by the chimney details that are set forth by code, and over the shingle method of sealing in a chimney. Making sure to go by these procedures will ensure your chimney on your home will be well protected against the weather elements.