help! chimney cleanout filled with water

  • Thread starter grodenhiATgmailDOTcom
  • Start date

G

grodenhiATgmailDOTcom

Help!! We just had a huge rain storm here in the north east (over 4
inches since this morning). This afternoon we noticed a lot of water
coming out of the ash cleanout doors in the basement and making a mess.
After several hours of wet vacing the rain has let up and with that
the water soon stopped coming out the cleanout door. I finally was
able to open it and the water inside is about 3-5 inches deep and just
below the lip of the door (obviously the water level was higher
allowing water to pour through while the rain was heavy). The land
slopes AWAY from the house on the chimney (brick) side and I saw no
puddling outside the chimney. I could really use some expert opinions
here....

1.) Is the water likely coming from above (no chimney cap, or bad
flashing)?
2.) Is this ground water likely leaking through the chimney and polling
in the cleanout (I'd estimate the cleanout floor to be about 2-3 feet
below ground

We are having a chimney cleaning co. come to assess the situation, but
I'd also like to be armed with some knowledge before making any
decisions........

Thanks in advance!!!
 
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G

grodenhiATgmailDOTcom

We did get SOME water in the firebox (what we simply call the fireplace
right?, where the logs go?). This was a small puddle, although I doubt
anywhere near enough to have filled the ash clean out. If it was
flashing, would I also have ceiling damage in the room with the
fireplace, or would water run down the chimney wall inside the basement
(ie I'd see it streaming down the basement wall above the cleanouts).
Although, again, I'll have to diagnose that on a dry day with a hose.
You suggestion on cracked morter below or at ground level seems
plausible, is it possible the crack could be anywhere else on the
chimney or would the liner block water thus ruling that out? Would a
chimney cleaner co be the right person to diagnose such a problem (I'm
guessing yes) or should we call someone else? Thanks again for
responding!!
 
B

Bob M

We had a similar problem about a month ago. North Central Connecticut. Tons of
rain. We have no cover over the chimney, and the rain comes right down. In our
case, it seems that the Ash cleanout door had not been used for about 40 years
and was full to over the top of the door. It was a messy job to clean it out.
Dead birds, etc. I guess that normally the water sits at the bottom of the ash
box and evaporates due to the nearby heat. After cleaning it out we have had
even more torrential rain, but nothing has leaked out. Gotta make a note to
clean out the box again in 40 years. :)

On a separate item, I noticed water in the attic coming from the chimney. I
went up the ladder with some caulk thinking it was the flashing, but it turned
out to be the grout between the bricks was missing in many locations, letting
the water to go right through. I patched up the holes with some redi-mix
cement. Seems OK now.

Time to start building an Ark!
 
G

grodenhiATgmailDOTcom

The bottom of the clean out (or top of the ash, don't know how deep the
ash is) appears to be about 3-6 inches from the bottom of the cleanout
door in the basement. How deep should the clean out be? Again, we're
having a chinmey cleaner in to clean and cap the chimney as well as
asses the situation and hopefully provide a solution. We escaped any
water that storm about a month ago, but this one caught up with us :(.
 
B

Bob M

The bottom of the clean out (or top of the ash, don't know how deep the
ash is) appears to be about 3-6 inches from the bottom of the cleanout
door in the basement. How deep should the clean out be?
I don't know how deep it should be, I just cleaned it out to the bottom. I'd
guess maybe 6 inches. Ours was packed solid to above the door. If it went much
higher it would start blocking the flue. We had furnace guys come in regularly
to clean the furnace, but never had a chimney cleaner. Guess I thought the
furnace people would look at that ash box once in a while.
 
H

hallerb

Bob said:
I don't know how deep it should be, I just cleaned it out to the bottom. I'd
guess maybe 6 inches. Ours was packed solid to above the door. If it went much
higher it would start blocking the flue. We had furnace guys come in regularly
to clean the furnace, but never had a chimney cleaner. Guess I thought the
furnace people would look at that ash box once in a while.
no matter what the cause I would add a chimney cap metal cover so
animals birds and rain cant get inside.

my guess is the top of the chimney is cracked, did you have the home
inspected before buying?
 
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grodenhiATgmailDOTcom

We did have the home inspected but due to snow on the roof they could
not perform an inspection of the chimney from above. All they could do
was inspect it from inside the house (they said it needed to be
cleaned) and from the outside using binoculars (saying a couple bricks
on top needed repointing). I am having a chimney co. come to clean and
cap (was going to have this done anyway), and then inspect the chimney
for the source of water. Is this problem common? Easily diagnosed by
a pro?
 
H

hallerb

grodenhiATgmailDOTcom said:
We did have the home inspected but due to snow on the roof they could
not perform an inspection of the chimney from above. All they could do
was inspect it from inside the house (they said it needed to be
cleaned) and from the outside using binoculars (saying a couple bricks
on top needed repointing). I am having a chimney co. come to clean and
cap (was going to have this done anyway), and then inspect the chimney
for the source of water. Is this problem common? Easily diagnosed by
a pro?


What uses does the chimney do> furnace, hot water tank, woonburner?
others?

you need to have a interior camera inspection get a videotape!

how old is the house?
 
G

grodenhiATgmailDOTcom

The chimney is on the side of the house and has two flues, 1 for wood
burning fireplace, the other for oil boiler. It is a brick chimney
about 50 years old. The outside appears in very good shape (from
ground up anyhow).
 
H

hallerb

grodenhiATgmailDOTcom said:
The chimney is on the side of the house and has two flues, 1 for wood
burning fireplace, the other for oil boiler. It is a brick chimney
about 50 years old. The outside appears in very good shape (from
ground up anyhow).
Be certain its a lined chimney for future safety, camera inspection is
critical....

Most chimney troubles are in the part at or above roofline.
 
G

grodenhiATgmailDOTcom

The chimney is lined in both flues. I had a chimney co. come today and
after looking over the chimney they recommend a cleaning, cap, and some
kind of sealant spayed on the outside to stop water from absorbing
through the brick. While looking in the ash cleanout they noticed that
the brick was soaking wet, even above the highest point the water rose,
that's why they are recommened the sealant.
 
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G

grodenhiATgmailDOTcom

The outside of my chimney is in great shape (chimney guy, also a mason)
did a check of the general condition of the outside of the chimney and
found nothing that needed attention, in fact said it looked in perfect
shape. He did suggest that some of the water could be getting in below
grade, and if that's the case I should dig down to the bottom of the
chimney below grade (less than two feet for me) and seal with
foundation sealer, then back fill. I figure if the water still builds
up in the clean out after capping and sealing, than it must be coming
from underground, at which time I'll dig and seal. Of course we're
supposely going to get slammed again tomorrow afternoon/night :(. I
swear if we get another "100 year storm" or "record breaking rain
event" here in RI, I'm selling and moving to the desert.
 

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