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CMoorhead 01-07-2009 09:00 AM

Persistent Leak - Chimney or Roof?
We have had a persistent leak around our chimney for the three years we've lived in our house. Before we moved in we had a new roof installed, so we figured it was the chimney's fault. So we had a new cap put on, had it re-pointed. Nothing stopped it. We had the flashing redone and re-sealed a number of times. Still, the leak persisted.

So then we had another new roof put on. The roofers found problems with the first roof around the chimney (a gap between the plywood and the chimney), so we figured we were all set. But today, the exact same leak has come back.

When the leak occurs, the chimney brick in the attic is soaked and drips onto our ceiling.

Another bit of info - apparently, this is a common leak in the houses on our street. All were built around the same time - 60 years ago. Don't know if that helps, but I figured I'd throw it in.

Can water soak through brick? Or is this water coming from another dimension?

Thanks for your help!

AaronB 01-07-2009 09:15 AM

Got any pics? Preferrably while the chimney is wet inside, as well as rooftop pics. This would help greatly.

Leah Frances 01-07-2009 09:27 AM

Are you getting any efflorescence on the brick? That's usually a good indicator when water is moving through brick.

kgphoto 01-07-2009 01:06 PM

Pictures of the outside of the chimney where it meets the roof and flashing on all sides will probably tell the story. Let's also see the chimney cap.

Yes water can go through the bricks, but that would not normally be the case. More then likely the flashing is done improperly and the cricket is missing in the back.

The gap in the plywood is nothing, in fact it is required to some extent.

Tom Struble 01-07-2009 01:22 PM

i had a problem once where warm attic air was condensing on the back side of the flashing

CMoorhead 01-07-2009 06:44 PM

2 Attachment(s)
I've got no roof top pics, but here is what the chimney is doing right now:

The first pic shows how the leak presents - the brick is all soaked, except for that dry portion in the bottom right of the photo.

In the second pic, this is sort of a cubby hole in the chimney - no sure of its purpose. But water comes in and just drips onto the ceiling from there, leading to the most damage...

DUDE! 01-07-2009 06:52 PM

just a suggestion, when I was looking for my water leak around the chimney, I went up in the attic on a sunny day, turned off my flashlight and there was the light of day right next to the chimney, did same thing at my son's house to find daylight around the flashing, and hopefully the sourse of his roof leak., as a side note, was talking to someone had a new roof installed year before, had a leak, told him before working on the brick, to take a look with lights off, his roofer had failed to flash around the chimney.

AaronB 01-07-2009 08:12 PM

Some rooftop pics and a closeup of the top of the flashing, the flashing at the rear of the chimney (with the shingles lifted to expose the roofing procedures), the top of the chimney, and of the brick would be better to get an accurate assessment.

AaronB 01-07-2009 08:14 PM

Im especially interested in the upper corner to see which layers were installed and if they left out a critical piece of step flashing that wraps around and gets sealed to the pan in back.

Baron 01-07-2009 08:39 PM

It is usually the flashing installed poorly however mortar and bricks can be porous to a degree, some more than others and they can get saturated, but usually weep more than leak.

First insure the top of the chimney is water tight to the flue tiles and pitched nicely away to shed water.

Observe to see if the clay tiles are mortared neatly on the inside.

Make sure the cap is adequate to shed water.

Then its on to the flashing.

I usually ice shield around a chimney and lay it up the chimney an inch or two when I can, making sure to overlap the bottom piece over the back of the shingle below. every shingle needs to be place so flashing adequately sheds water over it. Sometimes it works out odd with the lead flashing so care to get the sequence right helps.

Make sure the lead flashing is cut in deep enough at the mortar joints and the mortar is tight at that point especially or cut in some new lead. A very small hole at a busy joint can leak worse than it shows. So any crack is suspect around chimneys.

The back of a chimney and the corners are crucial to a good job and a crick is the wisest thing to install behind a broad chimney if not all chimneys where possible. Tar should not be all over the face of the lead or the seams. If tar is used it should be used to prevent water backing up when the physical ability of the flashing being installed is showing a limitation in its overlap, but I almost never use it or need to use it when the flashing is done with care and mated into the shingles properly.

If the mortar and brick are suspect you could stucco the exterior of the chimney with a water proof stucco such as fiberglass reinforced stucco used for parging, however you would have to really like that look.

CMoorhead 01-08-2009 05:45 AM

Wow - thanks for all the info so far. As soon as I have roof top pics, I'll post them. But this is all good stuff to know...

skenn8 01-10-2011 05:05 PM

Same problem
I have the same exact problem. I live in massachusetts and the first picture posted was exactly the same as my chimney after a long duration rain storm. I had roofers up on my roof for a couple of days re-flashing around the chimney and installing a cricket (proper term?) on the back of my chimney. I have gone up into my attic during rain storms and i can actually see the water dripping from the mortar in the bricks. some of the mortar sticks out a bit and touches some of the joists to the roof. This causes the wood to suck up the water and thus let it travel to other areas. They also sprayed a breathable sealant over the entire chimney.

After the roofers "fixed" the issue and stated to me that they could almost guarantee there would be no water leaking from the repairs they did, well the next long duration storm, 4+ inches of rain, same thing happened, though not as bad.

I guess my next move is to get a mason or chimney guy to look at the chimney for other faulty areas. The chimney "seems" in decent shape to me but that means nothing. I feel as though I am just throwing my money in the trash trying to locate the problem. Any ideas from anyone out there? Anything would be super appreciated . Thanks

Michael Thomas 01-10-2011 05:21 PM


Does the leak happen year-round?

skenn8 01-12-2011 08:00 PM

NOt sure who you are replying to, but the specific times I have had the leak are February, March(worst) and most recently Early December (not as bad). All cold months. I have not had any issue at all during the warmer months even with 2-3 inch thunderstorms.
They seem to be long, persistent, heavy rain storms in cold months.

Michael Thomas 01-13-2011 05:23 AM


Do you ever have these problems during dry winter weather?

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