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Leaks - chimney flashing or roof?

Posted by dawnr (My Page) on
Fri, Nov 25, 11 at 10:30

The house is an antique cape, with full dormer in front . The roof is 22 yrs old and very swayed in front (when they dormered yrs ago they cut out some beams and the roof sags). Its a 200 yr old house - no attic, and center chimney which is hidden behind walls of second floor bedrooms,but is full exposed in living room below (wood ceilings, old post and beam. You can walk around the whole fireplace). I have had drips running down outside of fireplace (i can see this in living room). I assumed chimney flashing needed repair (4 yrs ago)and that water was coming in thru flashing and just dripping straight down outside of chimney. A roofer reflashed (someone from same company recommended chimney rebuild because said water can actaully come in from outside of chimney then work its way back to outside of the brick and drip down outside?. It seemed ok for a while then was dripping again. A second roofer last year said it wasnt done properly and he did some repair. Shame on me for not knowing exactly what he did. Its been leaking a lot now, all around brick. I just had chimney rebuilt this week from roofline up by a mason. It is flashed 6 inches under roofing shingles (this guy said previous flashing was not far enough under shingles, and that the two flues should stick up a bit over chimney. Mine previously were flat across. I do not have a metal cap on top, which he recommends). Job completed Tuesday. Wednesday we had ton of rain. Yesterday I see it leaking again down the brick in living room. Not as much as before, but leaking. I have no attic so cant look to see where its coming in unless I rip some sheet room down in one room (which is wet anyway and needs to be replaced). Called the mason - he is coming back and says water could be coming down flues and working its way to outside of brick (it is not lined all the way down). So thoughts? Could the water come down the middle and work its way to outside of brick and is dripping down outside of chimney/fireplace, or is it likely to be a roof leak that is working its way over to the center chimney and coming down the brick? If it was was a roof leaking in some other spot, wouldnt my bedroom ceilings be wet? (I have a wood ceiling in one room and sheetrock in another?). Do I have to replace the roof in order to find out? The mason is going to come back tomorrow and flood around the chimney with a hose to see if it starts running into the living room. He thinks though its coming thru center (opening at top) of chimney. Please - any recommendations? Anyone who has been on that roof says it looks fine.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Leaks - chimney flashing or roof?

"The mason is going to come back tomorrow and flood around the chimney with a hose to see if it starts running into the living room".

While he is doing that, if someone could be up in the attic if there is attic space in the area and take a look from in there, that could help as well.


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RE: Leaks - chimney flashing or roof?

The most recent word from the mason does make some sense. If water is entering the chimney from the top, running down the flue tile, then encountering the brick, it could run out, not through the brick itself but through the mortar joints between the brick. These joints would have deteriorated to a greater or less degree in any 200 year old chimney.

It's also possible that water is dripping down above the flashing. The flashing needs to extend far enough under the shigles, but also far enough up the chimney. The flashing should also be seated into a groove cut in the mortar, bent downward and caulked.

I'm also struck by having a lining at the top of the chimney, but not below. What holds it up? What's its purpose? If you actually use the chimney, its time to consider a full liner. Rain leaking in for years has no doubt caused considerable damage to the mortar and old bricks. A poured in place full liner may be your best solution.


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RE: Leaks - chimney flashing or roof?

There is no attic where I can look. I actaully am not sure about a liner. If i look in the fireplace thru damper, it is metal, but i cant tell how far up it goes. At the top are 2 clay (I guess) flues, which were replaced this week as part of rebuild. I use fireplace occasionally plus vent gas furnace out chimney so 2 flues. The chimney above roof as i said was just torn down and replaced this week. Mason said flashing is 6 inches under shingles plus of course I see it going up side of chimney and it looks cut in to chimney, as it should be. Whats the liklihood of a roof leak elsewhere and it travels along roof under shingles and makes its way down chimney? When mason is back, I will ask whether its fully lined. I guess no but dont know. So its 2 new clay flues, capped around them at angle (with cement i guess?), the flues stick up a little over the cement cap as they should, but no metal cap installed over whole thing.


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RE: Leaks - chimney flashing or roof?

"There is no attic where I can look."

Knee walls?


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RE: Leaks - chimney flashing or roof?

my bedroom has wood ceiling that follows roof line. Other bedroom has a dropped sheetrock celining. I guess I could break into it and take a look


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RE: Leaks - chimney flashing or roof?

If there are two flue tiles sticking out of the chimney top, I can't think of any way the chimney would not have two fully lined flues. There would be no way to support tiles just at the top and you would not have two separarte flues to accomodate the furnace and fireplace. What kind of condition the flue tiles are in is another question entirely.

6" under the shingles is not really very much at all, so water could indeed be running under and back toward the chimney, especially since the roof itself is "swayed". A second factor is the age of the roof. Unless they are very heavy duty, 22 years is about the life expectancy of asphalt shingles.

You really have two different if related issues: the condition of the roof itself and the condition of the chimney. Some chimney sweeps have video cameras they can lower down the chimney to check the interior. A roofing company can inspect the total roof. Potential expenses for sure, but continuing to try and deal unsuccessfully with the leakage is not a great option either.


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RE: Leaks - chimney flashing or roof?

how far should flashing go under the shingles? and yes, chimney must be lined in some manner.


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RE: Leaks - chimney flashing or roof?

"how far should flashing go under the shingles?"

What pitch roof?


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RE: Leaks - chimney flashing or roof?

brickeyee's question about the roof pitch is an important one, especially since a full dormer was added and there are other indications - the roof sags - that this modification to the original cape roof line was not done with the utmost care. IMHO, 6" is way to skimpy for all but the most steeply pitched roofs.

Some do frown on the practice, but I'd say it's pretty standard around here to cover the entire roof deck with an ice and water shield type product before re-shingling. This is another line of defense against leaks from any cause, but is no substitute for proper flashing. I'm not trying to sell you a new roof, but doing anything to one that is now 22 years old is likely to be a very temporary fix at best.


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