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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    3

    Default Brick chimney leaking into fireplace

    We have a brick fireplace at the end of our family room. Outside the bricks start at ground level and rise upwards about 25 feet. Inside are two flues. One that has a metal liner inside the tile for the basement gas-fired water heater and the other a 13" square tile flue for the fireplace.

    Water leaks into my brick fireplace during an extended period of heavy rain. Water drips from the back of the lintel into the firebox area, and it also saturates the bricks that make up the interior fireplace surround. During a recent 24 hr drenching rain we collected about 10 gallons of water that had dripped into the firebox.

    After the surround bricks dry out (it can take a couple of weeks) they are coated with heavy salt deposits. There are also salt deposits on the exterior, chimney bricks, but they are lighter than the interior. The flue has a chimney cap (steel cover supported by a steel screen). The shed roof that abuts the chimney has a cricket against the chimney. The chimney flashing was redone when the roof was replaced 2 years ago and it looks to be well done and well sealed. Four years ago a mason repointed the bricks of the top, ca. 8 ft of the chimney, reset the top three courses, and replaced the mortar cap. The next year he came back and sealed some hairline cracks in the morter cap with silicone caulk.

    None of these things seem to have had any great effect. We're still having the problem. Yesterday I have a chimney repair company look at the chimney and they recommended treating the exterior bricks with a water repellant. They claimed that the water was being absorbed by the interior bricks and leaking into the flue.

    That doesn't make sense to me. I could see that the exterior bricks could absorb water, but don't see any reason why that water would want to seep out of the bricks and drip at a high rate into the firbox. It seems more likely that there is a leak in the top of the chimney near the mortar cap and the water is dripping down the chimney and into the fireplace. But the repair person looked at the mortar cap and claimed it was ok...and then went on to recommend a plastic sealant for it, as well???

    He did say that some of the mortar was missing from between the flue tiles. But that there was not enough to be of concern.

    Any suggestions? Water repellent seems, at best, like a bandaid. More likely it is a way for the chimney repair person to generate the highest profit in the least time. I'm looking to get the real problem corrected.

    By the way, I tried to use a hose to locate the problem, but didn't see a leak. In the rain it takes many hours for leaks to develop, and I can't afford to spend several hours at each spot waiting for a leak to develop before moving on to the next spot.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    SoCal
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    5,436

    Default Re: Brick chimney leaking into fireplace

    Somehow it's hard to believe that so much water sips thru the bricks.

    You will have to find the source of the water. I know it takes time and effort.

    If you don't, you will continue to receive inaccurate advice, assumptions and estimates. You can't solve a problem when you don't know where it is.

    This is what I would do: next time it rains, get up there to see what's going on. Or, get somebody at that moment to pinpoint the problem area for you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    3

    Default Re: Brick chimney leaking into fireplace

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    Somehow it's hard to believe that so much water sips thru the bricks.

    You will have to find the source of the water. I know it takes time and effort.

    If you don't, you will continue to receive inaccurate advice, assumptions and estimates. You can't solve a problem when you don't know where it is.

    This is what I would do: next time it rains, get up there to see what's going on. Or, get somebody at that moment to pinpoint the problem area for you.
    I was hoping I could hire someone with experience and skills for diagnosing the problem. It's a long way up there, and it got pretty slippery the first time I used the hose (can't imagine what it'd be like in the rain). Only thing worse than serious damage to my house would be serious damage to me!

    Seriously, any advice on finding a craftsperson who will do the job right? TOH seems to find them wherever they go. There have to be some in Central NJ. I've searched chimney repair, chimney rebuilder, chimney Mason, repair leaking brickwork, and so far got the people I described above and a bunch of chimnsy sweepers who also want to only spray waterproofing. Seems they'd rather make a quick $1000 that's pure profit, than work a little and maybe make 5x that.

    How can I find a good craftsperson?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,436

    Default Re: Brick chimney leaking into fireplace

    Finding a reliable contractor is like finding platinum. Usually you don't find one in the phone book, BBB, newspaper ads, flyers, etc.

    You find one from friends, neighbors, family - in other words, from word of mouth. I know it's very difficult to find one in NJ, where prices are the highest in the country. I also know that many homes in NJ are in critical condition as a result of high repair costs, severe weather and old age.

    But not solving a problem like a leak, usually leads to more serious problems.

    Keep looking, asking and talking to people and you'll find a trustworthy contractor. But do it soon, because NJ rain fall is measured by the meters and more is coming soon.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Brick chimney leaking into fireplace

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    Finding a reliable contractor is like finding platinum. Usually you don't find one in the phone book, BBB, newspaper ads, flyers, etc.

    You find one from friends, neighbors, family - in other words, from word of mouth. I know it's very difficult to find one in NJ, where prices are the highest in the country. I also know that many homes in NJ are in critical condition as a result of high repair costs, severe weather and old age.

    But not solving a problem like a leak, usually leads to more serious problems.

    Keep looking, asking and talking to people and you'll find a trustworthy contractor. But do it soon, because NJ rain fall is measured by the meters and more is coming soon.
    I'll keep looking. So far word of mouth has not been particularly fertile. But as you've said, have to keep trying. I guess one thing is that I can try the exterior water repellent and crown coating. I don't think it will hurt, and the crown coating might address what I think is the most likely cause...leaks in the mortar cap or between the mortar cap and the flue tile.

    Barry

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    1

    Unhappy Re: Brick chimney leaking into fireplace

    I too am looking for a solution.
    I had french drains installed at the inside perimeter of my home it cost me thousands. I had the landscapers dig up and put new drains to extend out to the yard. Again thousands. Then I had a mason come in and repoint and seal. Again thousands. My beautiful brick fireplace looks like heck not to mention the bluestone which is filling. Look for these people they are no where to be found. I even contacted their insurance company from the papers they left me. The insurance was not valid.
    I am sick about this.

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