leaking chimney bricks

Fix Leaky Chimneys

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
leaking chimney bricks
Use ChimneySaver water repellent to fix leaky chimneys

The source of water problems should always be treated as a process of elimination. There are innumerable points of entry for water into a home. Here in Cincinnati we get thousands of calls asking for my service technicians to come out and give their expert opinions on how to best fix  leaky chimneys. People will get leaks above their mantle, in their attic, on their ceilings, anywhere! Although any technician who comes out should check the integrity of the brick by looking for loose mortar joints, visible cracks, or other tell tale sign of water entry, he or she should also check the places where surfaces meet. The flashing, the joining of the chimney and the roof, is one such place.

If cracks are obvious in the brick, this may be one point of entry for water into any home. You can check to see if cracks are your issue by waiting for the interior to dry completely and begin spraying your chimney with water from the foundation up, gradually moving to see if, at a certain height on the chimney, moisture begins to appear in the home once more. If you come to diagnose your problem at a particular height on the chimney, you should seal the cracks with a brick sealant, repair any loose mortar joints between the brick, and apply a water repellent to the entire chimney.

Choosing the right water repellent is sometimes half the battle. Be sure that your water repellent will not trap vapors inside the brick, as this would only worsen your problem. Utilizing water repellents, like those manufactured by ChimneySaver, which form a semi permeable membrane over the brick is ideal. Such water repellents will allow vapors that naturally occur in small percentages in the brick to escape will still preventing new precipitation from entering the home.

If the brick on the chimney does not seem to necessarily be the issue,  your flashing may be at fault. ChimneySaver has an interesting product called FlashSeal, a flexible flashing sealant with an easy brush-on application, specially formulated to seal your flashing and prevent water entry. The membrane formed by this particular sealant is flexible so that it will not crack or cause damage to the roof or the flashing as the temperature of the roof and flashing increases and decreases. Such temperature changes cause the shingles and the flashing to expand and contract. Sealants must be flexible or else they will cause damage to the shifting particles of the roof.

One gallon of FlashSeal covers approximately 28 sq. ft. You must apply the product in temperatures that are above 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and apply it with a brush. FlashSeal easily and permanently adheres to asphalt shingles, metal flashing, brick, and other chimney and roofing materials. This product is another option in the process of elimination to diagnose exactly where water is penetrating your home.

Remember, the best way to fix leaky chimneys is to make sure the integrity of the chimney and flashing is intact, then apply a breathable water repellent to the brick and mortar joints. If you are trying to fix a leaky fireplace, water is most likely coming in from the chimney crown, brick and mortar or flashing. Check those areas first and you’ll most likely solve any other water leaks coming in and around your chimney or fireplace.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Why Is My New Chimney Cracking?

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

So, you’ve either built a new home or simply rebuilt your chimney, but now you see cracks. This can be disheartening, especially if you’ve just had the chimney replaced due to structural problems or similar cracks. There are many possible causes to these cracks, but is important to deal with these cracks before water can enter them and either erode away more brick or cause even more damage due to the freeze-thaw process that frequently occurs, especially through winter months.

Why did this even happen in the first place? Even if the chimney is brand new, using brand new brick and mortar, there are various reasons why a chimney would crack. It is important to distinguish between hairline cracks and long cracks that appear to just keep growing. After being laid, brick will shrink from UV exposure and the loss of small amounts of moisture present in brick. This may cause hairline cracks to appear, and although they are not of particular concern, you will want to consider sealing them with a crack sealant.

Conversely, long cracks, either vertical or horizontal, that are wider than what could be considered hairline are of an issue. These will need to be dealt with either by you or a professional. Sometimes the soil is not strong enough to support the extreme weight of a new chimney. Due to this fact the ground will shift. This is called “settling” and can cause cracks to form as the structure is bent ever so slightly this way and that. The settling process can be expected to stop eventually.

Other times, an inadequate footer may be to blame. This slab of concrete is supporting an extreme weight. Your footer must be at least 12 inches thick and extend 15 inches in all directions on the sides of the base of the chimney. Steel bars should be placed 2 to 4 inches up from the bottom of the chimney in both directions for additional support. If the chimney is not placed on a sound foundation, then there can be little hope for a structurally sound chimney. If you suspect that the footer was not properly constructed, then the mason who installed the chimney may be to blame for your chimney woes.

Interestingly enough, mortar does not come to its full strength until it cures completely, a process that can take months in some cases. As the wind blows and the climate changes, the chimney can sway minutely this way and that. As the structure is bent, cracks can occur. The most sound chimney will encompass steel bars that help to keep the chimney as upright as possible, even during the strongest winds, to prevent the brick and mortar alike from shifting until the mortar has time to cure completely.

No matter the reason behind your cracks, they will only continue to worsen if they are not taken care of. It is imperative to waterproof your brick with a sealant that will not only protect the crack itself from water penetration and freeze-thaw damage, but also allow the brick beneath it to breathe. Certain crack sealants are better than others, and doing a bit of research prior to making a purchase will save you trouble in the future. If you hire a professional to help you out, make sure to inquire as to what type of sealant they will be using on your chimney. Taking the time to read reviews on products and coming to a working understanding of what type of chemicals the product is comprised of will let you rest knowing that your chimney has been taken care of with prime products.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

ChimneySaver Solvent Based Water Repellent

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Without a doubt, chimneys are the most susceptible masonry surface on your entire home to damage from water. Freeze-thaw damage is magnified since the chimney projects so high above the roof line. There is no shelter for the chimney, so taking steps to prevent damage before you are faced with pricey repairs is absolutely necessary. The Brick Industry Association states that chimneys require special attention and maintenance for such prevention, and ChimneySaver Solvent Base Water Repellent is formulated specifically to battle the elements chimneys face.

This water repellent has been used by professionals in the chimney business for almost twenty years due to its special formula. The aspect that sets apart this water repellent from the rest is the fact that it is a vapor permeable formula. It will not trap water vapors that are always present in the brick, like other sealants. If the water vapors are trapped inside the brick, as they expand and contract due to freezing and thawing, the face of the brick is likely to pop off or cracks will occur. The formula, although vapor permeable, will still fully protect the brick from water damage. According to ASTM tests run at the University of Wyoming, it reduces water penetration into the brick by 99.9%.

ChimneySaver Water Base Water Repellent is another version of ChimneySaver water repellent. This water repellent is specially formulated for brick that has never been treated by other sealants before. Although still effective on surfaces that have been previously treated, its formula is based with water and works to maximum efficiency on surfaces that have never been treated. The Solvent Base Water Repellent is recommended for surfaces that have been previously treated. Due to its mineral spirit base, it will effectively penetrate brick that has been treated in the past, although it will also work on brick that has never been treated at all. Either one of ChimneySaver’s Water Repellents are each formed specifically to prevent the deterioration of your brick on the chimney, meaning it is the most durable formula on the market.

Expect for the product to cover approximately 90-150 sq. ft. per gallon. It is available in 3, 5, 30, and 55 gallon containers giving you flexibility that matches the size of your project. You must apply ChimneySaver Solvent Base Water Repellent in temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and allow at least two hours of drying time. There must be a six hour window of time between application and any rainfall. The recommended application is with a pump sprayer, and cleanup is easy requiring only soap and water.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

ChimneySaver Water Based Water Repellent

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

ChimneySaver Water-Base Water Repellent has been in circulation by professionals for almost 20 years. This unique repellent is vapor permeable so it will not trap water vapors in the brick. Water repellents that trap the vapors in the brick actually cause spalling rather than preventing it. The Water-Base formula from ChimneySaver is specially formulated for chimneys that have never been treated with another waterproofing product. If you have used a different kind of water repellent previously on your chimney, we recommend using the Solvent-Base water repellent, with mineral spirits.

It is important to remember that there is always a certain, small percentage of moisture present in masonry surfaces or concrete, and film-forming sealers use silicone to coat the brick complete, trapping those vapors inside and catalyzing the rate at which brick spall and crack when the vapors cannot escape. This is the opposite effect of what a protective water repellent should do. Film forming water repellents will contribute to the rate at which the brick or concrete on your chimney or other masonry project deteriorates and heighten freeze-thaw damage.

In contrast to these film-formers is the ChimneySaver Water Repellent products. Both the Water-Base and the Solvent-Base make it possible for vapors to escape, preventing the deterioration of the masonry surface. Per fallon, the ChimneySaver Water-Base Water Repellent covers between 90 and 150 sq. ft. depending on the thickness of each coat, and it is available in 3, 5, 30, and 55 gallon containers. When applying this product it is important to make sure that the temperature outside is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit so that it can cure properly, and you must allow six hours of drying time before a rainfall even though the product itself has a dry time of one to two hours. Very cold temperatures will reduce the efficiency of the stain. It is recommended to apply using a pump-sprayer, and soap and water is appropriate for clean up.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Used Brick and Your Chimney

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
Used Brick
Used brick are soft and may quickly deteriorate. If your masonry structure is made with used brick, it is more than likely that you will already know. If you do not, however, there are many tell tale signs that you do. Used brick are known in a positive light for their beauty. Their rustic aestheticism is incomparable to newer bricks made by more modern procedures. They are bricks recycled or salvaged from prior buildings or construction sites. Often times, used brick are the remnants of older buildings having been torn down to create more modern structures. Some characteristics of used brick include rounded edges, small chips, and a general “tumbled” feel.

Used brick can be from salmon pink to chalky orange to bright red. There are not any real color distinctions between new and used brick; their condition is the determining factor. Often their sizes are extremely irregular.

New brick will deteriorate in chunks or sections. Used brick, however, tend to deteriorate

Used Brick on the Chimney
This chimney was also formulated using used brick.

individually due to their differences in density throughout. Since their masses are not evenly distributed as is with new brick, made in a factory, one individual brick in the center of other perfectly fine bricks may start to crack and crumble.

The best maintenance tip I have for used after brick wall repair is to apply a deep penetrating water repellent once every few years. You also need to take care of any cracks or missing mortar joints immediately when caring for used brick. If you do not, the problem will quickly spiral out of control and hefty repairs may become necessary.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Help! I Need Brick Repair

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
Brick Repair
This chimney has missing mortar joints but the joints were irregularly thin to start out with.

Having been in business since 1981, I cannot begin to tell you how many customers calling for an ‘outer estimate,’ a visual inspection and written list of recommendations for chimneys which are deteriorating, spalling, falling, or have been damaged by some natural cause.

Often times, an estimator will give you estimates of varying amounts that correlate with different types of repairs and fixes. Although this process can be confusing at times, it is our policy to walk customers through the estimation and repair process.

When tackling moderately severe chimney damage (many brick are spalling, cracking, or falling out) it is frequently necessary to rebuild the outer “shell” of the chimney. In doing this, a mason takes off the exterior brick of the chimney down to a few courses (rows) of brick below the end of the existing damage and replaces those with new brick, new mortar, and a coat of water repellent.

Brick Repair
The faces of these brick are popping off due to freeze thaw damage.

This type of repair, the partial or (in very bad instances of spalling or cracking) total rebuilds, is most often the most expensive repair possible. A less expensive repair is an option available for budget repairs and small repairs. In situations where the damage is generally not widespread and minimal where it can be found, a cut and plug method can be used.

This method is the cutting out of damaged brick and replacing them with new bricks using new mortar. This type of repair usually carries a short or no warranty at all and is far less durable than a more extensive rebuild option. As with the rebuild repair, water repellent is applied to the brick once the repair has been completed and given ample time to cure.

A water repellent (we like ChimneySaver Water Repellent) is a necessary step after the completion of any brick repair. Its cost is a small price to pay due to its immense ability to deflect water from eroding away your chimney’s lifetime. A good water repellent will not merely form a film over your brick (which winds up trapping water vapors and promoting the likelihood of spalling) but actually form a semi-permeable membrane around the surface of the brick that allows vapors to move freely but prevents the water droplets from entering. This step is essential to upholding the integrity of your chimney repair.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

My Brick is Cracked and Flaking!

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
Brick RepairBrick, especially older brick or brick that has never been treated with water repellent has a tendency to crack or flake off as a result of freeze thaw damage and general wear and tear. Although preventative maintenance can be performed routinely over the years to preserve the life of your masonry, cracks will occur despite the most thorough preventative measures.

Things may appear perfectly fine one season, and the very next you may begin to see pieces of brick cracking off of your chimney and landing on the roof or the ground surrounding the chimney. This is what is known as spalling, and is a red flag signaling repair has become necessary. A lot of spalling and cracking is a direct result of water damage. Any masonry repair completed absolutely must be waterproofed, seeing that water damage is the number one cause of chimney damage, period.

Because the chimney is suspended so high above the roof line, they are extremely susceptible to damage from the elements. Making Brick Repairthese cracks look less noticeable is an area of expertise perfected over our time in business. We use specialized tools to gently manipulate the crack area to be worked on. We will never beat on your wall with a sledge hammer as some other companies deem appropriate!

Sculpting mortar into these cracks and applying the proper stain is all a part of the process, but the key is really applying a water repellent to seal the effects of the repair and seal life into your bricks.

When it comes to protecting your chimney from spalling, cracking and deterioration, chimney waterproofing must be done with a quality water repellent such as Chimney Saver.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

ChimneySaver Water-Based Water Repellent

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Because chimneys extend so far above the roofline, they are especially prone to damage from the elements. Once brick start to crack or spall, the integrity of the chimney goes downhill pretty quickly. Preventative maintenance is crucial to lengthening the life of your chimney. Water is the main cause of most cracks in your chimney and is the cause of the face of your brick popping off and falling onto the roof. Prevent costly repairs of rebuilding the chimney or repairing brick by using a water repellent regularly.

ChimneySaver Water-Base Water Repellent has been in circulation by professionals for almost 20 years. This unique repellent is vapor permeable so it will not trap water vapors in the brick. Water repellents that trap the vapors in the brick actually cause spalling rather than preventing it. The Water-Base formula from ChimneySaver is specially formulated for chimneys that have never been treated with another waterproofing product. If you have used a different kind of water repellent previously on your chimney, we recommend using the Solvent-Base water repellent, with mineral spirits.

It is important to remember that there is always a certain, small percentage of moisture present in masonry surfaces or concrete, and film-forming sealers use silicone to coat the brick complete, trapping those vapors inside and catalyzing the rate at which brick spall and crack when the vapors cannot escape. This is the opposite effect of what a protective water repellent should do. Film forming water repellents will contribute to the rate at which the brick or concrete on your chimney or other masonry project deteriorates and heighten freeze-thaw damage.

In contrast to these film-formers is the ChimneySaver Water Repellent products. Both the Water-Base and the Solvent-Base make it possible for vapors to escape, preventing the deterioration of the masonry surface. Per gallon, the ChimneySaver Water-Base Water Repellent covers between 90 and 150 sq. ft. depending on the thickness of each coat, and it is available in 3 and 5 gallon containers. When applying this product it is important to make sure that the temperature outside is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit so that it can cure properly, and you must allow six hours of drying time before a rainfall even though the product itself has a dry time of one to two hours. Very cold temperatures will reduce the efficiency of this breathable water repellent. It is recommended to apply using a pump-sprayer, and soap and water is appropriate for clean up.

Read More
Leave a comment
Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb