Weather forecasters are predicting an unusually strong El Nino winter. The system is expected to drop 40 percent more rain on the Sacramento area this winter. As you prepare your home and your family for a wetter-than-average winter, there are steps you should take to save your home from water damage caused by your chimney. While, of course, your chimney and fireplace structures can be damaged by water, a leaking chimney can cause expensive damage to your home, such as water-stained walls and chimneys, rotting woodwork, and a failing chimney structure.
Repair any failing masonry
If your chimney’s masonry components, such as the bricks, mortar, or chimney crown, are cracking or crumbling, that can let water leak into your chimney. If you are aware of any cracks in your chimney or chimney crown, they should, of course, be addressed immediately by a professional chimney mason. If you haven’t already had your annual chimney inspection, you should schedule that now, as your chimney sweep will be able to locate any cracks or crumbling masonry on your chimney.
Inspect your flashing
Failing flashing is a leading cause for chimney leaks, and preparing for a wet winter should include having your flashing inspected and repaired when needed! Flashing surrounds your chimney’s base, where it meets your roof. Over time, holes or cracks can form in metal flashing, and urethane calking can break down. Sometimes, roofers cut corners by using tar to flash a chimney, rather than the longer-lasting recommended sheet metal. If your chimney sits on a portion of your room that sees a lot of water runoff, an additional piece of tented sheet metal, called a cricket, can be placed on the roof to divert water away from the chimney’s base.
Install a chimney cap
The Chimney Safety Institute of America lists a chimney cap as the best way to protect your chimney from rainwater. Without a chimney cap, water can pour down your chimney’s flue, causing mold, wood rot, and drywall damage. Your chimney should already have a cap — if you have a prefabricated chimney, a chimney cap would have been required at installation — but metal chimney caps can rust and deteriorate over time. Make sure your chimney cap is in good working order before El Nino hits to avoid having rainwater run down your chimney’s walls!
Because of the porous nature of bricks and mortar, masonry chimneys are easily damaged by an excess of water. There is a way to fight that: ChimneySaver waterproofing coats a chimney’s masonry, keeping out 99.9 percent of water that comes in contact with a chimney while still allowing the gases produced by your fireplace or any water already trapped on the masonry to exit, as needed, through the chimney’s walls.
Consult your chimney sweep
When it comes to protecting your chimney from the damaging rainwater of the predicted El Nino, the best thing you can do is to have your chimney inspected, if you haven’t already. The certified chimney sweeps from A to Z Chimney Services will help you spot any vulnerabilities in your chimney that could allow water to leak into your home. When you know where your chimney is vulnerable, you can take steps to make it watertight!