Chimney Flashing Damage Can Cause Issues
Chimney flashing is the metal or other durable material that skirts the base of your exterior chimney to prevent water from rain and snow from seeping down into interior areas of your home. Because you can’t see it unless you’re up on the roof, chimney flashing can become damaged without you knowing about it.
Damaged flashing that doesn’t get addressed can lead to:
- Mold growth due to moisture collecting in wall boards, ceilings, beams, insulation and other materials that receive little or no air circulation
- Deterioration and rot to the above and other materials within your home
- Progressive damage to the chimney masonry below the roof
Water intrusion from chimney flashing that’s warped or rusted-out causes damage that, like with the flashing itself, isn’t always known right away.
How flashing is applied and how long it should last
Flashing is set in place, ideally by a licensed chimney technician, in two parts: first, an L-shaped section is placed over the gap between the chimney and roof and sealed in place. Next, a flat piece that covers the vertical parts of the L-section is installed.
When both sections are properly secured, chimney flashing should hold up well and protect against water infiltration for 25 to 40 years.
When installed incorrectly or made from inferior materials, the lifespan can be much shorter.
What causes flashing damage?
Anything up on your roof, particularly if it’s metal, is susceptible to the elements. Causes of damage to chimney flashing can include:
- Lightning strikes
- Age-related rust
- Intense heat, season after season
- Heavy winds
- Major hail storms
- Flashing made from inferior materials
- Flashing not properly secured during installation
Aside from faulty products and faulty installation, there isn’t a lot you can do about the various events that can damage chimney flashing. For this reason, annual inspections are critical so you can keep up with your flashing’s condition and make repairs/replacements when necessary.
Signs of flashing malfunction
If damaged flashing is ignored, you’ll eventually know about it. Here are some of the signals of water intrusion through flashing:
- Damp areas on the walls or ceiling near the fireplace
- Peeling paint
- Wall or ceiling discoloration
- Musty odors generally, and specifically in crawl spaces and attics
- Fireplace stones or bricks that feel damp to the touch
If you notice any of these signals – regardless of when your chimney was last inspected – contact a local chimney services provider for an inspection. A lot of interior, invisible damage may have already been done, but there’s no pointing in allowing the problem to keep getting worse.
Your chimney technician will perform an inspection and closely examine your flashing and other areas of your chimney/fireplace system. The above signs may not be flashing-related, so your tech will want to determine the specific cause of the problem.
After a thorough inspection, you’ll know exactly what’s happening and exactly what type of repairs are needed. Most chimney service inspectors can perform all types of repair work related to chimney leaks.
Fire N’ Stone of Tilton, NH, can help with all chimney leak problems including leaks from damaged flashing. Our CSIA-certified technicians perform thorough chimney inspections and can make the necessary repairs to stop the cycle of water damage.
Speak with a Lakes Region chimney expert today at (603) 293-4040.