Chimney Water Damage? 7 Warning Signs To Look For

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One area of your home that is particularly vulnerable to water damage is the chimney. Due to its location on the roof, the chimney is constantly exposed to water leaks.

As a result, it is important to be on the lookout for signs of water damage.

Most homeowners are unsure what to check when it comes to chimney water damage .

In fact, many people don’t even know that water damage is a common issue with chimneys. If the problem is not fixed early, you will end up spending thousands of dollars on chimney repairs as well as house repairs (plaster, wallpaper, ceiling etc.).

This blog post will discuss the signs of water damage in a chimney and how to fix the problem.

What happens if water gets in your chimney?

The part of the chimney that’s outside the roof is usually exposed to extreme weather. Water leaking into the chimney is one of the major problems homeowners deal with.

The part of the chimney above the roof is exposed to snow and rain  damage. If you don’t take measures like installing a chimney cap to protect it, there will be water damage.

Things that can cause water leaks in the chimney include a damaged crown, deteriorating brick and mortar and bad flashing. The following happens when water gets into your chimney:

  • It wreaks havoc on chimney components such as bricks. When moisture gets inside the bricks, it freezes and expands, causing spalling.
  • Deterioration of the chimney crown which means more water enters the chimney.
  • Damages the chimney flashing.
  • Water that gets inside the flue and reaches the fireplace mixes with soot creating a corrosive mixing with an unpleasant odor.
  • Increases the amount of moisture on the chimney and walls, which encourages mold growth.

What are the signs of water damage in a chimney?

Here are some common signs of water damage in your chimney:

1. Leaks or water stains

One of the obvious signs of water damage in a chimney is the presence of water stains.

These can range in color from light brown to dark black, and they are usually found on the ceiling, wall plaster, or wallpaper near the chimney.

Water stains may be accompanied by peeling paint or wallpaper, mold growth, and musty odors.

Puddles around the fireplace indicate that your chimney leaks water into the house.

2. Cracks or gaps in the mortar joints

This is a common sign of water leaking through your chimney. The chimney masonry is typically durable and can last for three decades.

But when exposed to water and snow, it starts to deteriorate and will require replacement.

During winter, water gets into the mortar joints and freezes. When it freezes, it expands leading to cracks and gaps.


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3. Efflorescence or brick discoloration stains

This can be anything from white spots to streaks or even entire sections that are a different color than the rest of the chimney.

How does this happen? When moisture gets into the cracks and gaps in the chimney masonry, it evaporates, leaving tiny mineral particles.

Sometimes, the discoloration may be accompanied by peeling paint or flaking bricks.

4. Rust on the damper or any other metal chimney components

The presence of moisture and oxygen brings about rusting. Chimney parts that can rust include the damper, flashing and chimney cap.

Rusting causes further deterioration of these components and exposes you to dangerous gasses like carbon monoxide.

If you notice rust on any of these components, get in touch with a certified chimney sweep to help you clean or replace them.

5. Mold or mildew growth

Water in the chimney creates a moisture-rich environment perfect for mold growth. Mold spores are known to cause asthma attacks and allergic reactions.

Also, mold’s unpleasant smell is irritating. Sealing damaged masonry and waterproofing your chimney are some ways to keep mold at bay.

Getting rid of the mold yourself is not always a good idea because of the health risks involved. Scheduling regular chimney inspections is the best way to prevent mold growth.

6. Water Condensation inside of the firebox

Water condensation in the firebox shows that water is leaking through the chimney.

When the moisture reaches the firebox, it means chimney components like the crown and flashing are damaged and need fixing or replacement.

Call a professional chimney sweep immediately for an inspection if you notice condensation inside the firebox.

7.    Peeling paint or wallpaper

When water leaks through the chimney, it doesn’t affect the chimney structure alone. The water gets into the walls and causes the wallpaper and paint to peel.

Identify the cause of the water leaks and act on it before the damages worsen.

Potential reasons why your chimney is causing water damage

There are several potential reasons your chimney could be causing water damage:

Bad chimney flashing

The chimney flashing is usually made of materials like copper and steel and it seals the space between the chimney and the roof, preventing water leaks.

Water gets through the gaps into the flue if the flashing starts deteriorating. You will know that the flashing is damaged if you see rust stains on it. Remember, poor installation of the chimney flashing can also cause water leaks.

To fix this problem, apply roofing cement, flashing sealant or caulk to the flashing. If it is badly damaged, a chimney sweep will help you install a new one.


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Uncovered chimney flue

The chimney flue needs to be covered to prevent the entry of water, snow and ice.

It also keeps out animals such as squirrels which can damage the chimney masonry. Fix the chimney cap if it’s broken or install one if it’s missing.

Damaged Chimney crown

The chimney crown is the concrete slab on top of the flue that protects the chimney from harsh weather and keeps debris away.

Moisture and temperature changes can damage the chimney and make it ineffective in keeping water out.

You can solve this problem by filling the gaps or replacing the crown. If you choose the latter, ensure you use the services of an experienced chimney sweep.

Rusted or damaged chimney chase

Chase covers in prefab chimneys can rust over time. When replacing the chase cover, use aluminum, stainless steel or copper to prevent future rust.

What Is the Typical Cost of Water Damage Repair Around a Chimney?

The cost of water damage repair around a chimney is anywhere from $160-$750. Remember, the actual price depends on the extent of the chimney water damage. Other things that influence the cost of repairs are the type of materials used and the damaged components of the chimney.

How to prevent chimney leaking water into house

  • Installing New Chimney Cap – A well-functioning chimney cap will keep away the water and prevent it from damaging the chimney masonry.
  • Applying water repellent – Waterproofing your chimney masonry prevents moisture from getting into your chimney.
  • Installing Chimney Cricket – The chimney cricket is a raised area on the roof next to the chimney that guides water away from the chimney. It’s usually installed as part of the chimney flashing. This component prevents the formation of pools of water after a downpour which can trickle down to the masonry and get inside the chimney.
  • Schedule Annual chimney inspectionYou can fix some of the chimney water issues yourself, but it’s wise to let an experienced chimney sweep inspect and provide appropriate solutions to these problems.


Many homeowners face chimney water leak problems and struggle to find the right ways to fix them. Use the above solutions to fix the chimney water damage issue you are dealing with.

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Thomas Green

Thomas has worked in the Chimney & Fireplace field for over 12 years. He is an expert in his trade and loves to help People with their needs. Thomas Write helpful articles so that homeowners can make the most informed decisions about their fireplace and chimney.