Having a fireplace inside your home is always a nice thing, especially when the weather outside is frightful. But, having a fireplace comes with a price. Though not everyone experiences problems with their chimneys, homeowners should be aware of potential problems with chimney flashing. But first, let’s look at the basics.
What is chimney flashing?
Chimney flashing is a sheet of metal installed around the area where the chimney meets the roof. Flashing ensures that the connection between the chimney and roof is watertight. Though these metals last for some time, they do have an expiration date that varies by wear.
How is chimney flashing installed?
Chimney flashing consists of two metal panels. The base flashing is installed underneath the shingles and bent in an L-shape upward against the brick chimney. Be sure your roofing contractor checks for breaks, cracks, or holes before moving forward. Once the first metal panel is installed, the second piece of flashing is set in place. We call this counter flashing. This counter flashing is bent down over the base flashing and embedded into a chimney mortar joint. This panel seals the top portion of the base flashing.
Installation of chimney flashing can be challenging and that is why we recommend you enlist the help of a professional roofer.
How to check for leaks around my chimney
Leaks from your chimney are not always so easily detected, but they can cause major structural damage if not taken care of readily. When moisture enters your roof it can penetrate your attic and possibly the ceiling area. Consistent moisture is known to cause wood rot, roof damage, attic issues, and drywall damage around the ceilings. If you notice any obvious issues, use safety precautions when accessing your attic or roof to check for leaks.
When to repair or replace your chimney flashing
Now that you know what chimney flashing is, how it is installed, and how to check for leaks, when do you know when to repair or replace it? Since weather can be brutal on your chimney flashing, you will need to replace flashing that is missing or eroded. If you are having shingles repaired or replaced on your roof, it is always a good time to check on the flashing. Even though most flashing is made from durable metals, older chimney flashing might be rusted. Replace it if you notice this issue. And, for older homes, since chimneys are not attached to the frame of your house, settling can cause a disconnect and shifts which open your home to leaks.
- During your initial inspection, you’ll notice if the flashing has just pulled away from the chimney or is rusted or eroded in certain areas. If the flashing has pulled away but is still in fair condition, consider doing the repair yourself.
- If the flashing is badly rusted or eroded, it will need to be replaced. Flashing installation involves removing and replacing shingles and securing flashing to the roof using specialized tools. We recommend calling a professional if your flashing needs a total replacement.
What materials do I need to repair my chimney flashing?
- Roofing cement
- Masonry nails or screws
- Putty knife
How do I repair my chimney flashing?
Begin by clearing out any leaves or debris that may have gotten between the flashing and the chimney. Then, use your chisel and hammer to remove old, hardened roofing cement from the brick so the flashing will lay as flat as possible on the chimney. Remove as much as you can. Generously apply roofing cement between the flashing and chimney. As you put pressure on the flashing and new cement, use your masonry nails or screws to reinforce the flashing to the brick and cover exposed heads with roofing cement. Once the flashing is flush with the chimney, applying more roofing cement to the top edge of the flashing. Smooth out this layer using a putty knife.
Roofing can be a tricky business, but it shouldn’t be hard. Be certain that your roofing contractor is licensed and insured with plenty of positive reviews. For all of your roofing needs, call us for a free quote.