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Old 12-19-2011, 05:00 PM   #1
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Roof Leak Near Chimney


I've developed a leak along the rafters on either side of the chimney. In heavy rains (as in 1-2 days), one side (the "windy" side) leaks more than a little bit (about 1-3 cups). The other side leaks a little (just some water runs and a few drops coming off the rafter). I would try to just live with it by putting a bucket under the leaks (since heavy rains come only 4-8 times a year), but the side with the heavier leak is a cathedral ceiling and the drywall is beginning to look a bit iffy.

When I went up on the roof, the flashing attached to the chimney looked OK overall, although there appeared to be some small breaks. I took off the flashing, and saw pretty good gaps (up to 3/8") between the flashing attached to the deck and the chimney (it was installed this way, as opposed to having deteriorated).

I'm thinking about filling the gap with 'Big Stretch' caulk, re-attaching the flashing, and sealing everything up on the outside with 'Through the Roof' caulk.

Notwithstanding that this may or may not work, is this a bad idea? I noticed there was no caulking under the flashing. I also noticed that, when I took off the flashing, there was moisture on the chimney side of the flashing, suggesting that some moisture was escaping. I'm concerned that if I seal up the gap, the moisture will be trapped and cause a new problem.

SOME ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND: I have a pretty flat roof (3:1), that's also pretty old (25+ years), but nevertheless is in OK shape (not great, but not yet ready to be replaced). It has a metal ridge vent. A while back (7-10 years?) someone put their foot through the roof near the chimney. I had a fairly reputable contractor replace the deck near the chimney, and re-shingle (two layers, as that was how the rest of the roof was done). On and off, I've had problems. At one point, the water was pooling on the roof and coming back under the shingles (a 3:1 roof will do that for you). I pretty much fixed that problem by coating the entire area in 'Through the Roof'. Now, this problem has cropped up.

Thoughts anyone? Your help would be greatly appreciated ...

Thanks,

Richard


P.S. - I have pics, but the files are pretty big. If you need them, I can try reducing their resolution so that they can be uploaded ... Richard

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Old 12-19-2011, 07:02 PM   #2
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Roof Leak Near Chimney


There are a number of very informed persons here, so we'll see what they have to say, but it sounds like you know enough about what is going on there to know that caulking under the flashing is not a viable solution. I was going to say that it's sort of like putting on a pair of snake boots while on the way to the hospital to be treated for a rattlesnake bite, but it's probably even less effective that that would be. In the mean time, you did not mention a cricket above the chimney, and I don't know, but suspect that is where you were referring to the ponding problem; can you elaborate? Also, yes, I am sure that some pictures might be helpful, particularly as it sounds like you have some flashing issues.

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Old 12-19-2011, 09:06 PM   #3
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Roof Leak Near Chimney


DexterII,

Thanks for getting back to me. Here's the basic view (all pictures are of the "heavy" leak -- windy -- side of the chimney):

Here's the view up the side of the chimney:

Here's a closer look at the flashing:

Here's a look at the gap between the flashing and the chimney:


I'm not sure what a "cricket" is, but someone "professional" looked at the chimney recently and said it was OK.

I've tried sealing the shingles around the chimney with 'Through the Roof' caulk, and I'd be surprised if water is coming in that way, but ...

With regards to the pooling, this occurred in a spot 2-3 feet down the roof from the chimney, and maybe 3 feet away, so I don't think that's a factor in this instance.

I realize that you're not enthusiastic about caulking, but is there any harm in it? BTW, I'm not looking for "perfect" -- anything that works without a complete redo is fine. At some point, we'll need to replace the roof, and I'm sure it'll be properly addressed then.

Thanks,

Richard

P.S. - looks like the picture insert didn't work so the pics are attached. Richard
Attached Thumbnails
Roof Leak Near Chimney-base-view.jpg   Roof Leak Near Chimney-view-up-side-chimney.jpg   Roof Leak Near Chimney-closeup-flashing.jpg   Roof Leak Near Chimney-view-flashing-gap.jpg  
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Old 12-20-2011, 05:47 AM   #4
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"I've tried sealing the shingles around the chimney with 'Through the Roof' caulk, and I'd be surprised if water is coming in that way, but ... That's dam up the step flashing which appears to be in good shape and cause a leak or two.


I realize that you're not enthusiastic about caulking, but is there any harm in it? BTW, I'm not looking for "perfect" -- anything that works without a complete redo is fine. At some point, we'll need to replace the roof, and I'm sure it'll be properly addressed then. It just directs water under the shingles instead of down the roof.

Your back pan is cut too close to the chimney and it relied on caulk because there are no 'Tinner's Wings' on it. Replace it and your leaks will stop. More here----http://www.albertsroofing.com/Chimney%20Repair.htm

NO, do not caulk the tops of the step flashing to the chimney. They'll quit correctly interacting with the shingles and start pulling away. Put the counter-flashing back on the chimney and recaulk it's top edge.
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Old 12-20-2011, 07:52 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinner666 View Post
"I've tried sealing the shingles around the chimney with 'Through the Roof' caulk, and I'd be surprised if water is coming in that way, but ... That's dam up the step flashing which appears to be in good shape and cause a leak or two.


I realize that you're not enthusiastic about caulking, but is there any harm in it? BTW, I'm not looking for "perfect" -- anything that works without a complete redo is fine. At some point, we'll need to replace the roof, and I'm sure it'll be properly addressed then. It just directs water under the shingles instead of down the roof.

Your back pan is cut too close to the chimney and it relied on caulk because there are no 'Tinner's Wings' on it. Replace it and your leaks will stop. More here----http://www.albertsroofing.com/Chimney%20Repair.htm

NO, do not caulk the tops of the step flashing to the chimney. They'll quit correctly interacting with the shingles and start pulling away. Put the counter-flashing back on the chimney and recaulk it's top edge.
Who made you the expert on metal work...

Just kidding. tiner knows his stuff backwards and forwards.
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:41 AM   #6
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What "tinner666" and "Windows on Wash" said!
Get the right sealant! (Caulk)

RF
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Old 12-20-2011, 12:23 PM   #7
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Roof Leak Near Chimney


Tinner,Thanks for your reply. Your link was really appreciated. I kinda follow what you're saying, but not entirely. Could you help me understand a bit more:

Quote:
Originally Posted by tinner666 View Post
"I've tried sealing the shingles around the chimney with 'Through the Roof' caulk, and I'd be surprised if water is coming in that way, but ... That's dam up the step flashing which appears to be in good shape and cause a leak or two.


--> My Question: When I caulked, I basically sealed the edges. I'm not clear on why that would "dam up the step flashing and cause a leak". I'm not disputing what your saying, only pleading a lack of understanding ...

I realize that you're not enthusiastic about caulking, but is there any harm in it? BTW, I'm not looking for "perfect" -- anything that works without a complete redo is fine. At some point, we'll need to replace the roof, and I'm sure it'll be properly addressed then. It just directs water under the shingles instead of down the roof.


--> My Question: I completely get that one wants to direct the water down the roof. From the link below that you provided, I can see how this should be done by design, rather than trying to seal things up with caulk. Having said that, again, I'm not following how caulk could direct water under the shingles. I could see where it might fail, allowing water to flow in and thus get under the shingles. Is that the idea that you have in mind?

Your back pan is cut too close to the chimney and it relied on caulk because there are no 'Tinner's Wings' on it. Replace it and your leaks will stop. More here----http://www.albertsroofing.com/Chimney%20Repair.htm

NO, do not caulk the tops of the step flashing to the chimney. They'll quit correctly interacting with the shingles and start pulling away. Put the counter-flashing back on the chimney and recaulk it's top edge


--> My Question: I think there are pseudo "Tinners Wings" in that the counter-flashing extends maybe 3/4" past the end of the chimney, but nowhere near the 4-5" I think you're recommending. While I realize this is not a professional approach, could I glue something to the last piece of flashing to extend the corner, ala your modified tinner wings? Also, I'm not sure what a back pan is. Is that the metal piece attached to the side of the chimney on the down side of the roof? Lastly, the leaks seem to be originating from the side of the chimney. Will changing out the back pan (assuming my definition above is correct) help with this leaking?
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Old 12-20-2011, 02:56 PM   #8
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"I could see where it might fail, allowing water to flow in and thus get under the shingles. Is that the idea that you have in mind?" Yes, and it never completely sels a place anyway. One void will get a nasty leak. Think of step flashing as a continuation of the shingle itself. It's just taking an upward turn. It won't leak any more that any shingle in the center of the roof. Nuff said.

"Also, I'm not sure what a back pan is. Is that the metal piece attached to the side of the chimney on the down side of the roof?" No. the back pan is the piece that crosses the rear of the chimney. It should run up the roof 18" to 30" as a rule. I make mine 16" wider than the chimney and then trim to fit. I leave plenty of metal showing too.
When the pan leaks at the corners, the leak(s) shows all along the chimney sides and below it. I still do them the old fashioned way which dates back to when there was NO caulk available. When ever the metal is cut close, unless it's copper and really soldered together, NOTHING BUT THE CAULK IS KEEPING THE WATER OUT. That is a failure waiting to happen. Ice and storm shield will hide the leak for some time, but it'll be there.


Lastly, the leaks seem to be originating from the side of the chimney. Will changing out the back pan (assuming my definition above is correct) help with this leaking? A new back pan, as I described it will mst likely get rid of the leaks. I don't see tinner's wings on the front corner. Is it also open? A new step flashing with wing will close that provided it goes under the bottommost step flashing already there, by at least 3", or more.

Last edited by tinner666; 12-21-2011 at 07:36 AM.
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Old 12-20-2011, 04:24 PM   #9
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Roof Leak Near Chimney


Tinner,

Thanks very much. I have a much better understanding now. One thing: is the back pan on the ridge side of the roof or the gutter side?

Thanks,

Richard


P.S. - Should I glue extentions on the last flashing or not? Thanks, Richard
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Old 12-20-2011, 05:32 PM   #10
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"One thing: is the back pan on the ridge side of the roof or the gutter side?"
Ridge side.


Componets:
1. Apron, termination flashing, head flashing... About 12"-18" wider than the chimney and covers the last shingle to reach and extend 6" +- above the lowest portion of the chimney. A vertical cut is made at each corner, about 1/8" out from the brick on each sie, to ensure metal to metal contact with with the apron and the first step flashing. Never cut tight to the brick!

2. Step flashing. First one may be cut longer than normal. Goes from the top of that 1st. shingle to at least 4" past the lowest corner, and ON TOP of the apron. Cut so there is 1/2" tall wing to guoide water well past the corner and folded around the corner. It sits in a small bed of cement at the corner only.
Steps go all the way to the top and past the top corner. Last one gets cut to conform with whatever material the back pan is going to sit on.
3. Back pan, or cricket. It extends past the corner as described before.
4. Counter-flashing which dresses the chimney and covers the top of all the other componets for a waterproof system. It's top edge gets turned in towards the mortar joints and is bent a minimum of 1/2" for a tight fit. More may be better, but it's decided on a case to case basis by the roofer. It can be held in place by lead wedges, or mortar nails. It's top edge gets mortared in place or caulked.



"It sits in a small bed of cement at the corner only." is what I said. It's not really a bed of cement. I put some where the step flashing and the vertical cut of the apron meet. It's not supposed to be needed, but I like a back-up plan. Properly folded, the tinner's wing will stop any wind blown rain from touching the corner.

Last edited by tinner666; 12-21-2011 at 07:39 AM.
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Old 12-20-2011, 05:33 PM   #11
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"Should I glue extentions on the last flashing or not?" Thanks

No.
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Old 12-20-2011, 05:49 PM   #12
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Uncut Back pan.

Apron at the fron corner. ( Different chimney) Notice the nail location. It will ever be exposed. The vertical portion of the apron is a combined 1/4" wider than the chimney.

Slightly out of order. How the back pan is detailed to it's outer 8" end. Cut and folded like this, it draws the water out to the end, and the folded flap is technically lower that the highest brick so the water would have to go uphill and over 6"+ to even think of leaking.
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Old 12-22-2011, 06:42 PM   #13
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Frank,

Thanks for the info and pics. I now have a much better understanding of the parts, and how they fit together.

BTW, I take it that 'apron / termination flashing / head flashing' all refer to the same thing: the flashing on the gutter side of the chimney. Is this correct?

From your most recent description, I think I know how the leak occurred. When I took off the counter-flashing, I noticed that the mortar just below the top edge of the counter-flashing was cut back from the brick face. I wondered why. Now I understand is that the counter-flashing should have been bent back into that void and appropriately secured.

The question now is how to put back the counter-flashing. One option is to replace it entirely, and put it back "properly". Two things make me hesitate to take this approach. First, I deliberately didn't remove the counter-flashing entirely -- it's still attached at the back pan and for about a foot below that. I didn't remove it entirely out of concern for having to redo the connection to the back pan. Secondly, I'm not sure I have the skills or tools to fashion a new counter-flashing.

A second alternative is to put the counter-flashing back as I found it. This approach clearly has its quite evident flaws, but it will probably get me through the winter, and maybe beyond.

A third alternative (and the one I'm leaning towards) is a slight variation on the second one. And, to forewarn you, it's more than a bit hokey. What I'm thinking of doing is creating a second "backup" counter-flashing under the original aluminum one. To do this, I'd use Sikabond (a waterproof glue for masonry) to attach a narrow strip of plastic sheeting just below the aluminum one and hanging loosely over the step flashing. Thus, when the caulk seal fails (as we know it will do), hopefully a leak still won't occur. Since the backup is under the aluminum, it won't be exposed to the elements, and thus shouldn't deteriorate too much.

Your thoughts? Perhaps you have another alternative? Again, as I mentioned previously, I'm trying to tide myself over til the roof is replaced, which isn't within the year but not decades either ...

If I put counter-flashing back as it was originally done, I have some questions. First, when I removed the counter-flashing, I couldn't get the nails out, so I made a small cut in the counter-flashing at each nail point, and worked the flashing out from underneath them. Should I remove the old nails, or just leave them in? If I should remove them, any suggestions on how to get them out (they're sunken to the face of the brick, and pulling them out with pliers didn't work for me)? Finally, what nails should I use to put the counter-flashing back? I have 1" fluted hardend concrete nails, 1" round plastic cap roofing nails (it's tough to see the flashing from below so I'm OK with the appearance of these), 1.75" hot dipped galvanized R/S neo roofing nails, and 1.25" electro galvanized roofing nails.

Your help is very definitely appreciated!

Richard


P.S. - Hopefully I'm not violating any rules by asking this question: do you do work in the Washington, D.C. metro area (Maryland side)? Richard
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Old 12-23-2011, 05:32 AM   #14
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"BTW, I take it that 'apron / termination flashing / head flashing' all refer to the same thing: the flashing on the gutter side of the chimney. Is this correct?" Yes.

To get you through the winter, pull or break off the existing nails. Chip off the existing caulk. Put some sealant. a thin bead, behind where the top edge of the counter-flashing fits, and renail it with fluted nails. If the 1" won't work, go up a size. Caulk the counter-flashing and any holes.

Counter-flashing is supposed to be installed in much smaller pieces to prevent loosening issues. Long pieces tend to flex as the warm up and loosen and crack the caulk. Triangles work best.

You could start at the bottom and wrap the first piece 4" around the corner and install new pieces until you get to where you have to cut the existing loose and tuck your last triangle under/behind whatever you leave on near the top. It would be better than renailing the existing.
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Old 12-23-2011, 05:36 AM   #15
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I seldom travel. I have a huge workload here already.

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