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cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

1 edit

Chimney issues

A close friend called me the other day about a spot forming in her bathroom ceiling next to where her furnace chimney runs up through the house and roof. She had leaks previously around the chimney and has had several repairs done over they last couple of years. With some heavy storms that have come through the last couple of days, the ceiling felt wet and she also heard what sounded like water dripping inside her wall. I went over last night while it was raining hard and found the below in her attic.




Water running down the brick was present on 3 of the 4 sides with the worst spot being the lower corner that appears in the left of the picture. The 2x that's sistered next to the rafter next to the chimney is fairly damaged do to moisture, at least on the lower end.

The chimney sweep company that did the last repair ($500 for reflashing 1.5 years ago) also does some brickwork said the chimney needed rebuilt. They are not masons per se, they are chimney sweeps that do "masonry restoration". They are fairly well respected in the community and have been around for 40 years or so for what it's worth. However as with all contractors for this type of service, I'm always leery of the upselling of unneeded repairs.

It was dark and quite rainy last night so I couldn't take pictures from the outside or inspect the exposed brick. My friend sent the below this morning sort of showing the previous flashing work. It always concerns me when $500 repairs consisted of roof coating spread all over whatever was there for flashing. Maybe it's me, but I've always felt that if it's flashed properly that the coating isn't necessary...and that the coating is a bandaid until a proper repair can be made.






Now my questions:
1. It looks to me as if the flashing is the main issue pretty much all the way around. I haven't seen the flashing directly personally, but from the wet wood and the water marks on the bottom of the roof decking, it seems to be leaking more around there then what would just be coming in if water was leaking back behind the brick. Does this seem reasonable?

2. The house was built mid-50s. The brickwork below the roofline appear solid. No idea what the tile flue liner condition is but presume it's good. Approximate dimension of what's above the roof line is 16" x 16" x18 courses. If the chimney need need repointed or rebuilt, what would be an expected price range for repairs for a professional?

3. Instead of hiring a pro, is this something that can be reasonably done by the adventurous DIY (repoint and/or rebuilt from the roofline up). Price is definitely a concern. I've never done brick work of this type although it is on my list of things I'd like to do sometime in my life.

4. Instead of repointing or rebuilding, is it an option to take the chimney down inside the attic and transition there to a metal flue that then penetrates the ceiling, avoiding more expensive brick work? Or am I just trading similar costs?

5. Are there any other options to minimize cost? Pretty much anything is an option so maintaining the current appearance isn't a requirement.

Depending on what answers might be for the above, and what the condition of the bricks are when I take a look over the weekend, I hope that just redoing the flashing PROPERLY might be enough. I realize that's probably going to require replacing some shingles (20+ years old), putting down some new ice and water barrier, cleaning up multiple failed repairs, and properly flashing and counter flashing things.

If things are worse I'll post better pictures, drop back 10 yards, and punt.


PSWired

join:2006-03-26
Annapolis, MD
First, find out if the flashing or the brick is the cause of the leak. Take a hose up to the roof and run water down the roof just ahead of the chimney to test the interface between the roof and the chimney flashing. Next, run water along the joint between the brick and the flashing. Finally, soak the brick above the flashing thoroughly and continue to run water over it while someone monitors for leaks inside. Focus your efforts on the problem area found during your tests.

Hard to tell from pictures, but the chimney brickwork does look like it could use some attention. If there are cracks larger than 1/8" or so in the mortar, or if the mortar is washed out of joints, it probably needs to be repointed.

I had my chimney rebuilt a few years ago and the brick used was porous enough that heavy wind-driven rains would soak the brick and cause water to leak into the attic. Coating the brick with a sealant fixed that.

guppy_fish
Premium
join:2003-12-09
Lakeland, FL
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
reply to cdru
The flashing is messed up and it looks like the "repair" was a 1 gallon slob-job of plastic cement.

It needs to be re-flashed, which means some shingle removal, replace the lead skirt and proper mortar work, meaning the skirt/flashing should go a good inch into the mortar joint between the bricks.

Any reputable roofing company can do the job correctly, when you higher a chimney cleaner or other person without the skills, you get what you pay for

As for a DIY, how are your mortar , flashing and working with lead skills?


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
said by guppy_fish:

The flashing is messed up and it looks like the "repair" was a 1 gallon slob-job of plastic cement.

That's more or less what I thought looked like too from the ground.

said by guppy_fish:

As for a DIY, how are your mortar , flashing and working with lead skills?

Flashing with galvanized or aluminum no problem. No experience specifically with lead or mortar. Not saying that lead doesn't get used around here, but I see a lot more shiny surfaces than not on new construction.

guppy_fish
Premium
join:2003-12-09
Lakeland, FL
kudos:3
Reviews:
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reply to cdru
Your right, the preferred method is copper, as one can solder to seal. Aluminum / steel will react to the mortar and cause over time the material to fail.

Here is two articles found on the intertubes

»www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article···,00.html

Some good pictures on this one

»www.familyhandyman.com/DIY-Proje···View-All


Hall
Premium,MVM
join:2000-04-28
Germantown, OH
kudos:2
reply to cdru
Had a similar problem in our house. As we have a high-efficiency furnace not using the chimney and only the water heater, my brother removed the chimney down to a couple feet below the inside roof line and we added double-flue (??) vent pipe. That required a bit of plywood sheeting and shingles, but was easier to seal than a chimney. My house is 100 years old (built in 1913) and the chimney/flashing had been "repaired" more than once.


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
reply to cdru
I went over to my friends house last night and was able to get up on the roof. The chimney itself is solid although does need some attention. A few of the bricks have actual holes in them, as well as what appears to be holes in the mortar that are smooth as if it was eroded out over time (upper left corner in pic below). There's also a few cracks and a few bricks with some spalling that should be looked at. But all in all the masonry I think is in better condition then it looks...not the prettiest, but it's 60 years old too. It needs some attention, but IMHO I don't think a complete rebuilt is required. I guess I would want to talk with the mason to see if I'm missing something.




The previous work that I said was $500 was actually only $350 and most of that was for replacing the chimney crown. They did "reseal around the flashing" but I think that was akin to topping off your wiper fluid when you get an oil change. Not really the whole point of the visit.

We did the test PSWired suggested with the hose and were able to recreate the leak. Using the "rain" setting of the sprayer, it did not leak if water was only sprayed on the shingles, either beside the chimney, or above it and letting the water flow down and be diverted by the cricket. The only way to recreate it was to spray water on the upper piece of counter flashing on the side. The lower edge of this appears to have been pulled or bent out for some reason the bottom inch or so at the top edge. You could partially stick a finger underneath it. If water was sprayed on the lower counter flashing on the side, it wouldn't leak.

There were a few spots where the roofers coating wasn't very thick and the flashing had rusted, poking through slightly. I think the step flashing along the side in the pick below was either improperly done or has deteriorated. It leaked at one time and bandaids were put on that fixed it temporarily, but ultimately made the problem worse. There are multiple applications of roofers coating, as well as someone used a liberal amount of silicone caulk (sorta visible right along the roof-chimney edge) that doesn't look to actually be doing anything.




I think the best course of action is to just remove all the flashing and shingles with the coating and just do everything right.


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
reply to Hall
said by Hall:

Had a similar problem in our house. As we have a high-efficiency furnace not using the chimney and only the water heater, my brother removed the chimney down to a couple feet below the inside roof line and we added double-flue (??) vent pipe. That required a bit of plywood sheeting and shingles, but was easier to seal than a chimney. My house is 100 years old (built in 1913) and the chimney/flashing had been "repaired" more than once.

We talked about that too. Her furnace was put in back in 1990 and definitely isn't a high efficiency. Her water heater also used the same flue. I told her that if the quote to replace the chimney was enough, I'd seriously consider looking at getting a condensing furnace and some type of a direct vent water heater (which also is on borrowed time as it's well over 10 years old too) and just go out the side of the house, abandoning the chimney below the roof line and sealing off the roof. No point in fixing the chimney if the same money could pay for eliminating it.


stev32k
Premium
join:2000-04-27
Mobile, AL
kudos:1
Reviews:
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reply to cdru
I also had a problem with leaks around the chimney. The thing that finally fixed it (in addition to a good sealing job around the base) was a piece of 2X2 sheet metal angle placed next to the chimney on the up hill side and extending about 3" on either side. The run off is directed away from the base and away from the chimney itself. That was over 5 years ago and have not a problem since.


mityfowl
Premium
join:2000-11-06
Dallas, TX
said by stev32k:

I also had a problem with leaks around the chimney. The thing that finally fixed it (in addition to a good sealing job around the base) was a piece of 2X2 sheet metal angle placed next to the chimney on the up hill side and extending about 3" on either side. The run off is directed away from the base and away from the chimney itself. That was over 5 years ago and have not a problem since.

That's SOP on any flashing (job).