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Your home is one of your most important investments – which is why regularly investing in proper maintenance is so vital. Unfortunately, one of the most overlooked areas of the home is your chimney. Many homeowners assume that their chimneys will last forever, but unfortunately there is one thing that will destroy your chimney if left unchecked. 

What is this enemy of the chimney? Water. And it can quickly turn this immovable brick and mortar centerpiece of your home into a crumbling disaster waiting to happen. The crew here at Top Hat & Tails have been helping homeowners defend their chimney against water damage for over 20 years. We can help spot leaks, repair damages, and seal your chimney so that water stays away.

Here are a few things you can look for and some actions we can help you take to keep your chimney looking great, working hard, and standing strong for the long haul.

Common Signs of Chimney Leaks

It’s essential to be aware of the signs of chimney leaks so that you can address any problems early – before they becomes a danger to your chimney and your home. The longer water penetrates your masonry and collects, the more potential dangers it brings with it. Here are a few things you can keep an eye out for:

  • gray chimney with damaged flashingWater Stains – If you see water stains on the walls or ceiling near your chimney, there’s a leak somewhere. These stains are often yellow or brown in color and can take many different shapes. They are a sure sign that water is where it is not supposed to be. If you have an attic that your chimney runs through, be sure to keep an eye out for stains up there as well.
  • Damp Smell – If your chimney smells damp or musty, it’s likely that water has seeped in. When water mixes with byproducts left on your chimney lining from burning, it can create unwanted odors. Water shouldn’t be inside your chimney, even apart from leaking. 
  • Rust – If you notice rust on your fireplace or any metal parts of your chimney, it’s an indication that water is getting in. The metal on your fireplace is meant to withstand the heat of a normal fireplace fire, but it isn’t built to resist water damage because water isn’t supposed to get to pool on it. If it is rusty, there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
  • Crumbling Mortar – If the mortar between the bricks of your chimney is crumbling, it’s a sign that water has been penetrating the masonry. This can be one of the most dangerous signs of a water leak as it can quickly lead to further damage to masonry and, if not taken care of, your home.

How Can Water Damage My Masonry?

Even though they seem solid, brick and mortar are very porous and able to collect and hold water much like a sponge that you cannot wring out. Over time, this can cause the bricks to crack, crumble, and deteriorate by kicking off something called the freeze/thaw process.

What is the freeze/thaw process?

As temperatures drop and water begins freezing, any moisture that has collected in your masonry will begin to expand. This causes the cracks and pores the water is in to open up further. When the temperatures warm up the water melts and more water is collected in the new space that has been made in the brick and mortar.

Eventually, the water freezes and expands again, cracks the pores open further, and when the water melts, more moisture is collected. And… the process continues until the cracking causes crumbling and visible deterioration and something is done to stop it.

Can I Stop Water Damage to My Chimney?

Fortunately water damage is not a foregone conclusion. There are a number of things you can do to stop water from entering your chimney and your home.

masonry chimney with rain falling on itFirst: If you suspect you have a chimney leak do not delay calling your professionals at Top Hat & Tails. We can help find the source of the leak and diagnose the extent of the problem and work with you to take steps in solving the issue.

Second: Get your masonry waterproofed. This process, when done right, keeps water from reaching your brick and mortar and protects it from the harmful freeze/thaw process.

Can I waterproof my chimney myself?

Waterproofing your chimney is an important part of chimney maintenance and, if done properly, will increase the safety and value of your chimney and your home. While it is possible to buy and purchase materials that claim to protect masonry from water damage, many of these products can cause more harm than good.

How so? Many of the products on the market are not vapor permeable. This means that it might keep water out, but it will not allow moisture already trapped in the brick and mortar to escape – which means moisture can collect between the brick and the coat of water protectant. When it is trapped and unable to escape, damage is accelerated.

Book With Our Experts Today

Top Hat & Tails uses the best materials available to professionals and can tailor their use to your chimneys specific needs. Our experience, knowledge, and training provides you with vapor permeable products that allows moisture out, but doesn’t let more get in.

Call Top Hat & Tails at 973-450-1947 or reach out online to schedule an inspection today. Yearly inspections will drastically decrease the risk of water damage. Our professionals at Top Hat & Tails are trained to assess the risks of water damage and can stop damage before it starts.

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