Why is the chimney dripping?

Anytime you hear dripping in the house – and it’s not coming from a sink – there’s good reason to be concerned. Water is rarely a friend to home interiors, unless there’s a cleaning process involved.

Chimneys are sometimes a source of dripping water, especially after a heavy rainstorm. Chimney leaks can also occur at the end of winter when accumulated snow and ice melts.

These types of leaks are especially common in “prefab” chimneys. Instead of brick or masonry construction, prefab chimneys are frame built on-site of wood. A fireplace insert is installed, and the exterior is finished with vinyl or aluminum siding, cedar boards or T1-11 plywood. You can easily identify a prefab chimney because its exterior materials match the rest of the house.

The source of leaks in prefab chimneys usually starts at the top, and can often be traced back to original construction. Improper flashing around the chimney cap is a common problem. The reason is that different work crews often build the chimney, and don’t necessarily communicate with each other. Often the work is done haphazardly, with poor attention to detail or simply using bad materials.

In other cases, a sheet metal worker might have accommodated different pipes protruding from the roof – fireplace, hot water heater, exhaust – by creating a “gift box cover.” Holes are cut in the sheet metal for the different pipes, and gaps around the holes filled with caulk.

Well, caulk doesn’t last forever. When it breaks down, water gets in. A drip starts.

The solution isn’t rocket science – more common sense, really – but one that we at Connor Remodeling & Design, Inc have perfected.

We start by fabricating a new sheet metal cap for the chimney. But instead of just having holes for protruding pipes, the cap has a protective sleeve for each one. At the top of each sleeve, an angled overlapping brim piece is soldered on to provide cover from the elements. The effect is similar to putting a hat on one’s head. The protection is complete, and immediate.

It’s a solution that’s guaranteed to last longer than caulk. In all likelihood, it will last the lifetime of your home.

Even better, it will eliminate one source of dripping. We don’t want you to have any, of course. But if you do, rest assured it won’t be the chimney you’re hearing.

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