Water entry diagnosis requires a Level 2 chimney inspection per the NFPA 211 standard
(with an internal camera scan of the flue) to determine point of water entry and possible damage caused by water.
Water entry and all types of chimneys can be a complex issue. Many times chimney contractors will only treat the symptoms, instead of the real causes. There is a distinct difference between making a band aid repair verses performing repairs with permanent solutions. Water entry and moisture intrusion are responsible for damage to masonry components. When mixed with certain combustion byproducts and residue, conditions are made exponentially worse. It is vital to keep water out of all chimney systems.
At Ryan and Son, we believe strongly in the permanent solution philosophy. This creates a better result for us as the contractor and you as the homeowner. We do this by always starting with a comprehensive exam of the chimney system, a Level II inspection.
The Level II inspection is part of the minimum national standard for chimneys. This gives us an understanding of the complex issues surrounding water intrusion, entry and damage related to water.
There are many aspects of the Level II inspection, and for the purpose of understanding water entry, the exterior portions covered by the inspection are as follows:
Chimney Caps: Uncapped chimneys or chimneys that are improperly capped may allow water entry during times of inclement weather. This may lead to damage to internal components of the system (also inspected as part of the scope of Level II).
Crowns/Splays/Mortar Caps: All of these terms refer to the tops of masonry chimney structures and are all correct terms, depending on your chimneys. These areas are common locations of damage that allow water to enter the structure. Water entry from this area of the chimney may cause numerous internal issues and also prevent in different manners and locations in the chimney.
Chase Covers (wood chases for factory built fireplaces and chimneys). If you have a manufactured fireplace, you may have a chase cover. This is a metal pan that covers the top of the wood structure. Commonly , materials used in original construction in this area begin to rust. Rust then leads to holes in the cover and subsequent water entry. Water entry in factory built fireplaces will significantly reduce the expected life of the fireplace and chimney
Shoulders/Side splays/ washes: The areas where some chimneys change shape - and are commonly responsible for water entry and internal damage to lower portions of the internal components of a fireplace system. These areas often have moss and algae growth and this can be seen from ground level on masonry chimneys.
BRICK/MORTAR/STONE/STUCCO: The exterior portions of a chimney may be suspect to water absorption and are often part of water and moisture intrusion. This is often part of a greater understanding of where moisture comes from when it presents internally, and, often missed by treaters of symptoms.
BELOW GRADE: Fireplaces and chimney system that exist partly below grade may show signs of moisture entry due to their locations.
The best way to address water entry issues is to inspect the chimney for the purpose of offering only permanent solutions. In the end, we have found that this creates a "fix it once" scenario and limits further damage, aggravation and costly repairs down the road.
Copyright 2018 William F Ryan IV
Efflorescence staining on interior material
Heavy efflorescence and damage
Heavy moss growth on the chimney shoulder
Heavy staining on face brick
Heavy water intrusion in fireplace with damage
Internal damage from water exposure
Long term water intrusion in fireplace
Tar is not an acceptable fix for leaking flashing
Water damage to steel lintel and adjacent brick
Water damage to stucco finish