Updated: May 6
I can’t think of many people that don’t love having a fireplace. Fireplaces are great features in the home but they are notorious for generating leaks on the roof. In this post, I’m going to share one of the most common reasons why chimneys leak, and how simple preventative maintenance can help keep your chimney leak free for many years.
Steep slope roof systems like the shingle, tile, and metal roofs we find on our typical Florida homes are designed to shed water as quickly as possible. When it rains, the water runs down the slope of your roof until it makes its way off the roof into a gutter, or over your drip edge which is a type of metal flashing designed to keep water away from your home. Whenever there is an obstacle that prevents water from flowing downward, this can create an opportunity for a leak to occur. The most common obstacles on our Florida roofs are roof vents, pipe vents, skylights, and chimneys. All these features create an abrupt change of slope on your roof which can trap water on the up-slope side.
Chimneys can be one of the most leak prone roof penetrations because of their size. When chimneys are installed, a simple design feature called a chimney cricket (not to be confused with Jiminy Cricket) helps to divert water around the upslope side of a chimney so that water, leaves, and other debris do not accumulate behind the chimney. The picture below illustrates the function of a chimney cricket.
Chimneys greater than 30 inches wide require a chimney cricket. Unfortunately, many of the homes that I inspect are missing this particularly important feature. Below is an example of a chimney that is significantly wider than 30 inches where a chimney cricket was not installed.
Over time, leaves and other debris accumulate behind the chimney because they cannot be diverted around the chimney with strong water flow when it rains. This debris holds moisture behind the chimney and ultimately leads to leaks. This moisture can also damage the brick and mortar structure, or wood frame structure around the chimney generating wood rot.
So what to do:
If you suspect that your chimney is holding water and debris, or you think you have an active leak, contact a licensed roofing professional for an inspection. At Endless Summer Roofing Co. we offer free roofing inspections.
If your chimney is greater than 30” wide, a chimney cricket can be installed behind your chimney depending on the age and condition of your roof system. Installing a chimney cricket does not have to involve a complete re-roof if matching shingle colors are available and your shingles are pliable enough to be removed without damage.
If installing a chimney cricket is not an option, ask your licensed roofing professional about regularly scheduled preventative maintenance. Blowing off the debris regularly, visually inspecting, and ensuring that all vulnerable areas are sealed can help keep your roof intact for many years to come, even without a chimney cricket. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) recommends regular roof maintenance at least twice yearly. At Endless Summer Roofing Co. we offer a preventative maintenance program designed to help keep your roof in good serviceable condition for as long as possible.