Asked on Feb 23, 2015

Moisture coming in around brick fireplace

Eva Hofman
by Eva Hofman
We have a brick fireplace and since the roof was redone (new shingles 2 years ago) we have moisture coming thorough the bricks and ceiling around the fireplace. Our roofer said it is coming through the brick and another contractor said it is coming from the flashing around the bricks on the roof. We have cauledk any fine line cracks in the bricks on the outside, have sealed the bricks with water sealer several times and are still getting moisture. See picture. Need help and suggestions on what to do.
  19 answers
  • Katie Lloyd Mansfield Katie Lloyd Mansfield on Feb 23, 2015
    If it didn't happen with your old roof, it seems like it has to be the new one. I would try another roofer.
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Feb 23, 2015
    Friend had moisture lifting drywall in his dining room instead of the brick like your home. The flashing around the chimney was not sealed properly. It's possible when you got the new roof, the roofers did a sloppy job on the chimney flashing.
  • Ashley Freeman Ashley Freeman on Feb 23, 2015
    I am not a roofer but was a real estate investor and have had many roofs redone, it is the flashing done incorrectly around the chimney. Get another roofer and take the old one to court for your money and damages.
  • Ashley Freeman Ashley Freeman on Feb 23, 2015
    See if you can pull that caulk off that you put on because all you did is redirect the water coming and and now your drywall is molding wherever you redirected it to.
  • Jane Jane on Feb 23, 2015
    call the roofer and tell them they didnt put the proper flashing around the fireplace. we had the same problem when we built our house and it took three different roofers to finally get it repaired correctly.
  • Eva Hofman Eva Hofman on Feb 23, 2015
    Thank you for all of the answers . Would like some more comments if possible.
  • Pete Wells Pete Wells on Feb 23, 2015
    Roofers traditionally do a lousy job with chimney flashings, call the roofer back until he fixes it! He owes this repair so don't pay him any more, you've already paid! Don't wait 'til later, or you may be paying 5,6 figures to repair this!
  • Suzanne Krall Suzanne Krall on Feb 23, 2015
    We had exactly the same problem and it had to be repaired through insurance. It is the flashing and the way it laps in with the roof. If it was not done correctly in the first place, no amount of caulk will fix the problem. It must be repaired by a quality roofer. Then, of course, the ceiling damage has to be cut out and re-done if it progresses the way ours did in the rainy season. As others have said. Do not wait. Have it taken care of now.
  • Barb Burnham Barb Burnham on Feb 23, 2015
    It's the roofer inadequate flashing-period, end of story. Real estate investor/flipper & licensed realtor. At 2 years it should certainly still be under warranty. I do agree to remove the caulking you did before they arrive because they can point to it, say you altered their work, making warranty invalid.
  • Eva Hofman Eva Hofman on Feb 23, 2015
    Thanks for the advice. Will get a hold of our roofer to have the flashing redone.
  • Debbie Kuhar Debbie Kuhar on Feb 24, 2015
    My house was built in the 60's and they used what is called a "norman Brike"..Norman brick is a 12 inche brick I believe. What size are these brick? Is mortor coming about from between the brick itself? Your chimmey looks like ours, I was told it was a bad mortor mix. Do you have other brick around you home that is cracking? I have a vary large chimmey. Knew it was in bad shape. But I said to my husband last summer that their was constant water puddles right under where the chimmey is. My husband climbed up and more brick is coming apart. Have you looked about the whole chimmey itself? WE are looking to have our chimmey r epointed this summer. Having to t ake all brick down and rebrick.over.
    • Eva Hofman Eva Hofman on Feb 24, 2015
      @Debbie Kuhar Our fireplace is very large and was built in the early 70's. Yes some of the brick edges have popped off we have found cracks in the mortor. Sounds like a big job to redo and take all brick down and rebrick. Thanks for your comment.
  • Debbie Kuhar Debbie Kuhar on Feb 25, 2015
    When I seen the white chalk on the brick, it looks like the outside wall of our chimmey. We had it repointed some 28 years ago and I hired the wrong contractor. I had alot of damage done to my yard by the roofers actually throwing the brick off my roof & breaking my powerlines. Had no electric for 10 hours. It cost me around $1,300.00 28 years ago. The mistake that I made as hiring a company that did not live within my county, I had to take him to court in my county, he did not show up. So, I had a hearing in his country & I got my money back. It took 2 years to fight the company. So hire someone within your county, You can check with comsumer protection & see if they have any complaints about the company. Im already getting ready to get estimates for this year. Do not have them talk you into having the brick stucko-ed. All it will do is hid the broken brick and water will get inbetween. 28 years ago, I did not have them tear down the whole chimmey. That is why I have to pay again to tear down the whole chimmey to get it done right. You will have to match the color or your brick also. That is an additional cost. Good luck
    • Eva Hofman Eva Hofman on Feb 25, 2015
      @Debbie Kuhar Thank for your advice. Hate the thought of tearing down the whole chimney .
  • Stacy | BlakeHillHouse Stacy | BlakeHillHouse on Feb 25, 2015
    I agree. It is definitely the flashing.
    • Eva Hofman Eva Hofman on Feb 25, 2015
      @Stacy@BlakeHillHouse Thanks. We are going to redo the flashing first and hope that will solve the problems.
  • Tpup Tpup on Jun 29, 2016
    I had this problem and I wished it was the flashing! It turned out that the chimney had pulled slightly away from the house. If there has been any movement, even tiny, tiny amounts, it could have opened it up to water.
    • Galen W. Yoder Galen W. Yoder on Aug 08, 2016
      Not sure how long you've lived in your house, or how old your house is, but the pulling away you mentioned could have happened during the earthquake, back in the early-mid 90s, Lots of chimney damage occurred in the area when that hit--it was a 5, or 5.5 on the rictor, and the epicenter was in Mt Angel!
  • Debbie Kuhar Debbie Kuhar on Jul 01, 2016
    I had this chimmey rebuilt about 30 years ago and boy, did I hire the wrong contractor. Had to throw them off the job and had to go to court, took 2 yrs to get my money back. But we had it rebuilt over again over 2 years ago and it looks good. They just knocked the old brick down as far as the gutters. I do not know if it was the brick that was used or it can possibly be the motor mix from what I can see on your picture, I also had other places were the brick was crumbling, had new mortor out into those brick also. I have a big house & i'm in my 60's. It's expensive, but worth it if I decide to sell the house. Have you had anyone look at it to give you an explanation on why this is happening?
  • Galen W. Yoder Galen W. Yoder on Aug 06, 2016
    Your photo only shows the interior, but I 1st ahaa moment was your mention of the roof being replaced 2 yrs ago! Did the roofers use the original flashing that was installed with the construction of the chimney, (probably so). When the roof is torn off for replacement, not many roofers or dyirs take the time and caution to be careful and not damage that flashing. Sometimes the flashing --particularly Galvanized metal becomes rotted from time, being embedded in the mortar--(Galvanized metal and cement products!!! not a good combination!) You said it's a large chimney, Does it have a Cricket behind it on the high side of the roof, or does the water come down off the higher portion of the roof to just a trough type flashing where it is supposed to magically decide it wants to go left or right around this sudden barricade of brick wall!? Have you looked in the attic around the chimney, at the rafters,framing,and sub-sheathing to see if you can see any moisture staining on the wood. Not always an easy detection, so have a small broom to get rid of the cobwebs, and a good lite to look for the stains caused by the moisture on the wood---if your not sure what your looking for on dried wood, look at another rafter close by and note the grain patterns and compare, this should help you actually narrow down the location of the leakage. Stay away from the "Great Idea" of using globs & globs of caulking, or roof tar to try to seal it until you have actually found the Source of the leak,--- Sometimes you will have to wait until a good rain until you actually find the leak. Just another thought, is the chimney close to a valley on the roof?, is there some other vent, or vent pipe above the location of the chimney, never automatically assume it is leaking where you think it is leaking without actually confirmation-(Visual )-is best! There are methods of "Counter Flashing " the chimney that will not only stop the leak, but will actually make the chimney look better, and your roof too! It is used in conjunction with your existing flashing that is probably beat up or damaged, and it may require re- flashing the shingles with "Tin shingles", but" Most" of the time, having a qualified, individual doing the process is not very difficult--I didn't say inexpensive!, But it shouldn't be to bad! If the chimney is wider than 24"s, you should consider having a cricket installed also. If you can't find any information about the counter flashing method from either a roofer, or mason, I normally try to keep up on this site and I could probably describe a few options, or how to approach the task--Tools, protection,safety, Etc!!
  • Debbie Kuhar Debbie Kuhar on Aug 07, 2016
    We are not the original owner of our home, the man we bought the house from, plus the years that we have lived in this house, makes the house at least 50 years old. I do not know if the problem comes from t he brick itself or if it is in the cement mix, but that white around the brick is salt, which will deteriate the brick over a period of time. We had the brick torn down to the gutter & added new brick from there. This is the second summer since we have the chimney rebuilt & we no longer have the problem.
  • Galen W. Yoder Galen W. Yoder on Aug 08, 2016
    When I initially looked at your posted photo, it didn't dawn on me that it is going through a vaulted ceiling, thus making it virtually impossible to view anything from the attic space as I had previously mentioned, sorry! It does however look as though it is not just running down the brick when it leaks, it gets wet enough that it is wicking into the surrounding sheetrock. Normally, the wood framing materials have an air gap, (not actually touching the brick), but the insulation and sheet-rock probably are making contact--once they become wet, either product will hold the water and it will take time for it to dry out. If it has leaked for a prolonged period of time this could develop into a rot problem and also destroy the strength of the sheet-rock. Is there a possibility that you could post a photo of the outside of the chimney where the flashing,the chimney cap, and the area above the chimney is shown?
  • Debbie Kuhar Debbie Kuhar on Aug 09, 2016
    What type of shape is the chimmey in itself? I know my neighbor has a white flashing at the bottom of her chimmey. Looks like it's made of vinal. Is there a gutter on the side of the house?