Chimney leak


J

Jun

Mayday... need some advice. I've been experiencing some kind of
chimney leak and the roofers can't seem to fix the darn thing. I live in
a roughly 19 year old condo in PA. These are two story buildings, one
condo per story. I'm on the second floor and above me is the attic. The
chimney is a box running up the side of the building and it has two exits...
one for my fireplace and one for the downstairs fireplace. Recently we
had our roofs replaced and at the same time they painted or replaced
the chimney caps. Ever since then I've had some kind of leak when it
rains, and the story is the same everytime...

During the initial hour or so of rain, even if it is a very hard rain, there is
no sign or sound of a leak. Then I start to hear dripping sounds coming
from within the chimney. The dripping sounds continue for an hour or so
beyond when it stops raining. Water seems to be dripping onto metal
in two general areas... 1) in the chimney at the level of my ceiling, and
2) onto metal in the vicinity of my fireplace. The only signs of water are
in two places... a) on top of the firebox or whatever it is called (I can just
stick my fingers up in there and feel that the top is wet), and b) under the
fireplace (I can peer into a gap at the bottom of the fireplace and see
some water seeping in). Initially alot of water came in (gallons), but after
several repair attempts my guess is that we're down to a few cups or so.
It is hard to tell because I think now virtually all of the water is falling
somewhere behind or to the side of the firebox and only a tiny bit seeps
in underneath. FWIW, some small amount of water has appeared in the
same places around the downstairs unit's fireplace also.

Does anyone know anything about fireplace/chimney construction and
can hazard a guess as to what might be going on? My uneducated
guess is that water is dripping onto a metal firestop near the vicinity of
my ceiling, then from there dripping onto metal around the firebox. The
thing that kinda confuses me is that there is a good delay before it starts
dripping and then it continues to drip long after it has stopped raining.
Can water pool in the cap? Once water is in the chimney, could it then
get down to both fireplaces or would the fact that both are affected
suggest there are similar problems with both caps? Any advice
appreciated. Before I ping the associate again I wouldn't mind having
some sense of what is going on. Thanks in advance.
 
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M

m Ransley

Hire another roofer for his opinion or get the inspector out if you
pulled a permit. Most likely flashing was not done right or redone at
all, if this guy is good he will fix it free but be prepared to pay your
35 to see judge judy.
 
M

marson

it can be hard enough figuring out where a leak is coming from if you
are up there, let alone from a 1000 miles away. i'd suspect the cap,
but who knows. they say the squeaky wheel gets the grease....start
squeakin'!
 
N

nailshooter41

marson wrote:

<<it can be hard enough figuring out where a leak is coming from if you

are up there, let alone from a 1000 miles away. i'd suspect the cap,
but who knows. they say the squeaky wheel gets the grease....start
squeakin'! >>

Amen! I fix a lot of these for a living, and no one but an idiot would
give you a solution from their computer.

You did not say what kind of cap. You did not say what the chimney is
made of (stone, brick, wood) or if it was a site built fireplace or a
sheetmetal "Heatilator" type assembly.

Stone fireplaces usually have masonry caps. These have to be renewed
every few years, but can go as long as 20 if correctly installed.
Stone and brick work can develop cracks that can leak, or can just be
small enough to seep. Wood chimneys often leak at siding cracks or
where nails have popped, or at the cap which is typically sheetmetal.

That all being said, most of the leaks I fix are at the base flashing.
this is the flashing at the bottom of the chimney where it connectsl to
your roof.

Robert
 
V

vic.choy

i agree with Robert...

most the time, the culprit is improper flashing around the chimney-roof
transition. assuming you have pitched roof, you might have to get new
chimney saddle and step flashings under some new shingles in the
immediate area. smothering the area with roofing compound might work...
for a bit.

vic
 
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J

Jun

marson wrote:

<<it can be hard enough figuring out where a leak is coming from if you

are up there, let alone from a 1000 miles away. i'd suspect the cap,
but who knows. they say the squeaky wheel gets the grease....start
squeakin'! >>

Amen! I fix a lot of these for a living, and no one but an idiot would
give you a solution from their computer.

You did not say what kind of cap. You did not say what the chimney is
made of (stone, brick, wood) or if it was a site built fireplace or a
sheetmetal "Heatilator" type assembly. []
Thanks for the replies, I'll jump in here. I understand how difficult it is
to comment on this kind of issue from afar, but I thought I would try.
I was up late last night, frustrated by all the noise, and thought I'd raise
the question. Now that it is daylight I can provide a couple of pics.
These units are moderately cheap wood construction with vinyl siding.
The roof touches the chimney on just one side. The fireplaces are
original... sheetmetal boxes of sorts with some firebrick faced inserts.

http://home.comcast.net/~jun_jun/Chimney.jpg

http://home.comcast.net/~jun_jun/Fireplace.jpg
Note: white paper towels used to wick water off the top of the
firebox and into buckets. No water getting into log area via flue.

http://home.comcast.net/~jun_jun/OtherChimney.jpg
Note: Different single cap chimney on a unit that hasn't had its shingles
replaced, meant to give sense of how chimneys join our roofs. Mine
isn't centered at roof peak like that.

The main thing I wanted to confirm is that there should be zero water
seeping into the space under the firebox or pooling on top of the
firebox. I'm under the impression that a tiny bit of water coming down
the flu and into the log area via the flue might be OK if there was alot of
wind, but I'm not seeing that at all.

It sounds as though the two main areas of interest would be the caps
and where the roofline joins with the chimney. I didn't know whether
the fact that the dripping continues for an hour or so beyond when the
rain stops suggests one place or other. As someone suggested, the
association interfaces with the roofers and takes care of everything.
So far everyone has been cool and responsive. It is just that the leak
remains and so I'm curious as well as fishing for anything which might
help zero in on the culprit and help me provide a more informative
trouble report. It anyone has anything more to add, thanks in advance.
 
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T

tmurf.1

No amount of water penetration is acceptable. If you don'e stop this
soon your fireplace will rust out if it has not started already. Raise
some hell.
 

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