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Discussion Starter #1
Hi. This is my first post and I don't even know if this is a proper question for the site - but here goes.

I inherited my father's 50 year old house with a leaking fieldstone fireplace/chimney which I remember leaking even when I was a kid. I am now 63. The leak(s) down the fireplace - which is a 12 foot wide fieldstone are now like waterfalls and I am desperate for help. I want and need to sell this home and can't do that until I fix this leak.

I have had a local roofer/chimney company do several things now to try to fix this leak. There has been some degree of success, but with the torential rainfall we had about a month ago, the problem was the same, even though I had a month of no leaks before that.

I should say I am in the Greendale, Wisconsin area.
The last thing we did after that torrential rainfall was to replace the flashing.
Yesterday there was a steady rain all day, but it wasn't torential.

When I finally looked at the fireplace, there was, sadly, a leak coming in from the top right-hand corner of the fireplace which abutts the wall facing north; the firplace runs north to south. For the first time in 50 years, there was a leak on the backside of the firplace, though the ceiling abutting that side of the fireplace has been affected and is pealing, though no leak.

My first question is, can anyone suggest a local company to inspect and/or work on this? I am not certain what to make of the work this current company is doing. I have now taken much info off this site, but I can't go up on the roof and would like someone to inspect the work they did on the chimney for me.

I know I also need to get a complete list from this current company as to what exactly, including materials and process, have they been using. I have nothing in writing. I only know that they didn't use copper for the new flashing, but I am not certain what they did use. I am about to ask for a complete list.

Lastly, I should add that I have not been charged anything yet for any of the work and the owner said he wouldn't charge for anything until this is fixed, which makes me trust him, though I am beginning to have my doubts. Thanks for any suggestions!
 

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Roofmaster
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Chimney

Hi Kathy,

I am sorry for your troubles. While it is nice of your current contractor to not charge you, it is also pretty obvious that they are in over their head. Also, it is not just the type of materials you use, it is how they use them.

One thing is obvious: This chimney was never flashed right in the first place.
The original mason should have set sheet lead counter-flashing in the mortar joints of the chimney when he laid it up. The reason I say lead is because you need the malleability of this material when using field stone, because you are not working with straight mortar joints like you are with brick masonry. The counter-flashing skirts down over the vertical leg of the base flashing, which is installed by the roofing contractor. The base flashing is basically metal broken in an L shape, with the lower portion attached to the roof deck only. It is best made of Lead coated copper, but copper can also be used. Lead coated is good because you don't get green streaks from copper oxide.

The reason that the base flashing cannot be directly attached to the counter flashing is because the chimney has to move independently of the roof deck. When you start a fire, the chimney expands.

You have given us very little information to go on. I can help you, but you need to offer the following:

1. Roof Type (Slate, Asphalt Shingle, etc)
2. Location of chimney: (Ridge, Valley, Gable end, etc)

Pictures: Upload some pictures of your chimney.

I suspect that your condition will require some pretty extensive work to fix properly, but you are of the age (I am 66) where you understand that you don't get anything done right nowadays cheap.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
info on my chimney

Thanks so much for your reply. My answer is given to the best of my ability. I can answer your 2 questions, but I have to find a way to send pictures as I don't have a digital camera. I am going to ask some other folks to help with this.

So, question 1: It is an asphalt roof, newly replaced in 2010.
Question 2: This is more difficult and I think I have to draw a descriptive picture.

The chimney is about 10 feet across. The fireplace is about 2 feet longer.

The chimney is on the downside of one side of the roof. By that I mean, the house faces south and the roof line runs east and west. The chimney is on the west side of the roof line. I don't know how that fits into your choices.

There is a valley, but it is about 6-7 feet from the bottom of the chimney and the chimney doesn't sit into it. The valley was created in the early 90's by an addition to the house and the fireplace did leak before that time. I lived out-of-state for 9 years and I don't know what, if anything, my father might have done to correct the leaking fireplace. I should say that my memory is that it always leaked (as I remember) to some extent, though it was pretty minor. I think it's only in the last 10 years or so that the problem has grown.

My observation since I returned to Greendale in 1995 is that the fireplace leaked depending on the strength and direction of the rain. It didn't always leak if the rain was mild. Due to low rainfalls, it has been more difficult to guage.

I have been considering, given my total lack of knowledge about these things, hiring someone to act as a "general contractor" on my behalf. It is clear to me, given the extensive damage that could (and is being done) that I need someone who knows something about this and can get on the roof and talk it out with whoever is doing the "fixing," of this very difficult problem. I have some money to work with, but there is much more that needs to be done to this home to bring it up to "saleable" condition and I could run out of cash on this problem alone.

I am also considering renting an infrared camera to see if the actual entry point of water can be found. Does that sound like something worth doing? It is obvious to me that water is, as it always does, seeking its lowest point, which is why it continues to come in at the very corners of the walls, but the actual leak is probably coming in from someplace else.

Sorry for running on. I am quite overwhelmed by this issue. This is a big house (3,300 ft.) with big, expensive problems. Again, I thank you for any help you can give. I will work on the pictures, but I have no way of doing it myself.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
corostrection to my p

Sorry, but the chimney sits on the NORTH side of the roof, not the west side as I stated above.
 

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Roofmaster
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Chimney

Hi Kathy,

From what you are telling me you could need some or all of the following:

1. A large cricket at the back of the chimney to divert the water to both sides.

2. Re-parging of the top of the chimney with epoxy-based cement to get some slope up there. Once you re-parge the top, you can have them coat it with an acrylic coating.

3. Proper cutting in of a counter flashing into the masonry joints between the field stones.

You MAY have to coat the whole chimney with a clear sealer, but in most cases this is not recommended, because freeze thaw can cause a lot of problems in masonry.

If you want to send me your address I will try to look at your roof via satellite. my email is [email protected]
 

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Infrared

Oh I forgot to address your IR statement. I own two IR cameras and have done hundreds of projects with them. The quick answer is no, it would not be worth it.

AN infrared camera is a tool. Unless you know what you are looking at, its really not worth it, especially in a situation like this.
 

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I forgot to mention

Oh by the way,

Is the company that is now working on the roof the one that put the roof on?

It sounds like they are amenable to correct your problems if they knew what

to do.
 

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Roofmaster
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What Happened?

Where did you go? Hope all is well.

JA
 

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Discussion Starter #11
This is a response to your #9 post, which I somehow missed. I did send you an email, which I hope you received, but I will say that the company currently working on the chimney did not replace the roof. I have tried to call the people that did replace it - because they replaced the flashing for the chimney at that time - but they seem to be out of business.
Thank you for your referral. I may ask that person to come do an inspection and advise me as to follow-up with current company. The company owner stopped by the house unannounced the other day because I had sent him an email about the fireplace still leaking - though not alot. He is coming back soon to spray water at the chimney to try to figure out where the leak is coming from - though he did look at the chimney with 2 other people and told me he thinks he found the problem(s).
Again, thank you so much for your input and the referral. I have plumbing problems I am also trying to address with my plumber and that is taking up much time/effort so I have pulled into that mess at the same time. I am out of my league, but I know enough to ask for help (eventually) and hope I can get to the bottom of this leaking chimney. I don't want to see this house structurally damaged. That is my main concern.
 

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You MAY have to coat the whole chimney with a clear sealer, but in most cases this is not recommended, because freeze thaw can cause a lot of problems in masonry.
Water repellent vs. Brick sealer is a big big huge difference. I would not take the advice of applying any type of sealer on the brick. That may trap any moisture behind the brick and cause further problems. What you want to do is apply a water repellent...not a sealer.

I had a mystery leak into a 1st floor bay window only during wind driven rains. At first my worst thought was that the brick veneer was screwed up somehow. I had a local company that does brick restoration come in and he showed be a Rhilem Tube test to demonstrate how the brick can absorb water.

Here is an excellent video demonstrating a Rhilem Tube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFurv7A42tM


After learning that brick veneer--mortar joints and bricks--can absorb water, I had a water repellent made by Prosoco called Siloxane WB concentrate applied by to entire front brick veneer of the house. After the application, water beads off of the brick veneer as water woul off the hood of a newly waxed car.

http://www.prosoco.com/Products/8258...6-57731831a3c9

The Prosoco product will not impair the natural breathing characteristics of treated surfaces.

 

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Hi Kathy -

I am also local (Waukesha) and if you want another opinion, I can come and take a look. I see a lot of problems with the stone chimneys.

I know Homesealed and have spoke with him many times. Hopefully he can give you the proper solution.
+1

ParagonEx...I haven't seen you around that much lately and totally forgot about you.

Kathy...you have two fantastic resources right there in your backyard.

You are better off than a whole bunch of other folks right there.
 

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Water repellent vs. Brick sealer is a big big huge difference. I would not take the advice of applying any type of sealer on the brick. That may trap any moisture behind the brick and cause further problems. What you want to do is apply a water repellent...not a sealer.

I had a mystery leak into a 1st floor bay window only during wind driven rains. At first my worst thought was that the brick veneer was screwed up somehow. I had a local company that does brick restoration come in and he showed be a Rhilem Tube test to demonstrate how the brick can absorb water.

Here is an excellent video demonstrating a Rhilem Tube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFurv7A42tM


After learning that brick veneer--mortar joints and bricks--can absorb water, I had a water repellent made by Prosoco called Siloxane WB concentrate applied by to entire front brick veneer of the house. After the application, water beads off of the brick veneer as water woul off the hood of a newly waxed car.

http://www.prosoco.com/Products/8258...6-57731831a3c9

The Prosoco product will not impair the natural breathing characteristics of treated surfaces.

We to use the Siloxane PD in many of these applications. Good stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Hi. I in no way want to appear to be unappreciative of the resources made available to me. I am going back right now to reply to other posts to begin to get other opinions. I can only say that I am completely overwhelmed by the issues I am now facing and am often trying to put resources together on those other issues.
I can only thank everyone for all advice given. I certainly wish I would have found this site before I had taken earlier actions.
As mentioned, I am also trying to deal with plumbing issues which may or may not be as problematic as the chimney/fireplace, but may in fact turn out to also be hugely expensive.
Thanks again. KB
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Hi.
I would be happy to have you come take a look. Oddly, I haven't heard from the fellow who came to the house day before yesterday. Today is a lovely, sunny day quite appropriate for sending the hose up on the roof to spray down the chimney and I would have thought he would have called me to do this today.

I would be quite happy if you could come by to look at the chimney/fireplace and give advice. Right now I am not working (am self-employed) and am flexible.

What I need you to do is let me know the cost (being a very small business person) for your time and effort. In saying this, I only want to let you know that I don't expect this valuable information for nothing. I sincerely appreciate the value of time, especially since you don't know me.

Let me know when you could come out and I will be here with check in hand.
 

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To Hammerlane

Hi There.

I believe that Kathy has a field stone chimney, not brick. It is common knowledge that brick, block, and mortar take on water. That is why a properly designed brick veneer wall is water managed, not water proof. The last thing that you want to do in most cases is to put a water resistant sealer on brick masonry. Here is why:

Wind blown rain is driven at the brick veneer under pressure. In a water managed system, the water wicks through the brick and minute voids in the mortar to the back of the brick. It then runs down the back of the brick, hits a through wall flashing, and weeps out.

Once the rain stops and the sun comes out the wall dries out through evaporation. If there is a thin clear coating on the wall, it prohibits evaporation, and water condenses right behind the coating. If freezing conditions occur, the face of the brick will blow out at about a 1/4 inch deep.

This is why I said in my last post that clear coating is the last thing to consider.

I have not seen her chimney, but we know that it is field stone, and we know it is very wide. 10 feet wide. She also said that it has leaked ever since she can remember. It is very possible that the chimney has no cricket or chimney back behind it, That it does not have a proper counter-flashing set in the mortar joints between stones, or the base flashing was not done correctly.

I honestly have not seen any residential roofing contractor properly flash a masonry chimney in a long time, except on the roofs that I designed. Most of them actually cut a piece of metal in stair step fashion to match the mortar joints, attach it with cut, or case hardened nails or rarely, Zamac hit anchors, then they caulk the top with sealant. This is wrong.

More info is needed. Hopefully I can get it before somebody with a roller, brush, spray gun, or caulking gun messes up her chimney.
 

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The last thing that you want to do in most cases is to put a water resistant sealer on brick masonry...... If there is a thin clear coating on the wall, it prohibits evaporation, and water condenses right behind the coating.

I agree. Do not seal the brick. Water repellent vs. Brick sealer is a big big huge difference. The Prosoco product will not impair the natural breathing characteristics of treated surfaces.
 

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