Although it’s easy to overlook your chimney during roof maintenance, the chimney is an important part of the roof and has several key vulnerabilities. If you’re thinking of buying a house with a chimney, don’t let the chimney escape your notice (or your home inspector’s notice). Check for these six chimney problems.
1. Flashing Damage
Check the chimney flashing to make sure it’s all there and in good condition and that it’s free of dents, obvious hail damage, and other visible issues. Later, during the professional roofing inspection, your roofing contractor can check more closely to ensure that it’s installed correctly and not coming loose or suffering corrosion damage.
Roofing cement can be a sign of a problem. It could mean that the base of the chimney was leaking at some point and someone used roof cement to seal it. It could also mean the roof flashing is missing or damaged. Roof cement is a short-term solution, so this means you’ll have more leaks in the future.
2. No Cricket
Not every chimney needs a cricket. But for a wide chimney (generally over 36” horizontally), the lack of a cricket could be a problem. Water pooling on the uphill side of the chimney could cause masonry or stucco deterioration and damage the roof. Debris will tend to collect wherever water moves most slowly, and this can result in additional problems.
Pooling water is one of the surest ways to get a leak. Asphalt shingles are designed to shed water by working with gravity. But if gravity works against the shingles instead, by pulling water through them rather than down and away, leaks will eventually result. Be sure to check behind the chimney and see if it has a cricket or if water and debris collect there.
Pests living in a chimney aren’t just a problem for the chimney. Pigeons, for example, might nest in a chimney and can cause damage to other parts of the roof just by walking across it, and if they move from the chimney to the attic, they can cause a lot of roof damage on their way in.
In addition, many pests such as raccoons, bats, rodents, and birds can pose a health risk, so any pests in the chimney will have to go. Animal waste may attract insects and cause damage to roofing materials. Fortunately, you can keep pests out if you install the right kind of chimney cap.
4. Crumbling Mortar
The chimney’s brickwork and mortar won’t last forever. When they start to deteriorate, this can cause serious problems. The mortar is much more likely to disintegrate first, leading to a need for repairs such as tuck pointing.
Look at the brickwork and the mortar between the bricks. Are there any bricks missing? Does the mortar have a lot of cracks in it? If so, you’ll want to get an estimate on what repairs will cost before agreeing to buy the home. That way, you may be able to get the seller to agree to cover the costs of the repair.
5. Condensation or Water Damage
If you see evidence of water damage at the ceiling around the chimney inside the home, that’s a red flag. Roof and/or chimney leaks or condensation may cause significant water damage. Mold, termites, and rot can invade water-damaged areas of a home.
6. Storm Damage
Any damage to the chimney’s cover or cap can cause problems further down the line. Because they’re at the highest point of the chimney, the cap and cover are subject to the full force of any storm winds and can even be hit by flying debris. In some cases, the cap or cover may be cracked or even missing. With cracked or missing chimney caps or covers, water will get into the chimney top and cause interior damage.
Chimney problems can all be much larger problems than they look like at first glance. If you want to be extra sure the chimney is in great shape before buying the house, or if you’d like a quote for repairs, contact SUNVEK today.