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roof leaks around chimney - what to do?

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Joined: Mar 25 2005

We just paid $35,000 for a new torch down roof. It still leaks around the

I'm beginning to realize that the chimney is the problem, not the roof. I can see that the chimney crown may need replacing. The original design
does not project 2 inches from the chimney (as recommended). I see
that there should be a flashing under the chimney crown as well - I'm not
sure if there is one or not.

After last night's heavy rain, water penetrated through our ceiling where it meets the first beam after the chimney (on a low pitch roof).

I'm assuming that the roofer has flashed the base properly, but of course
this could be a problem also.

Has anyone solved the problem of leaking around the chimney - or do
you have any ideas about what could be the problem?


Joined: Aug 12 2004

Two things you can do. I'd do both.

1. I is to reflash the junction between the roof and brick/cinderblock. Aluminum flashing with Sikaflex. If you can't find Sikaflex, any construction glue made for flashing will do. The mating surfaces must be clean and ***DRY****

2. Paint the whole brickwork or cinderblock. From the roof junction to the whole top area right up to the flue. Use a compliant paint (stretches). This is the #1 cure for leaks you describe for Eichlers. Fill the cracks and remove'n replace loose grouting first. If moss growing, also remove that. The surface must be clean and ****DRY****. Several coats better than one thick coating. After a few years, renew it.

Joined: Mar 25 2003

I second painting the chimney, especially the cement at the very top. It tends to get damp and soak up water, transmitting it into the house. A waterproof paint will stop this from happening.



I'm curious to know what you think of your torch down (modified bitumen) roof. I'm considering going with one.


Joined: Mar 25 2005

Gosh I heard so many great things about this roof - it is the mercedes of all flat roofing, blah, blah, blah. It has only been on a month and I have this huge leak in my family room. The chimney expert was out and says
it is NOT the chimney. The roofer was SURE it was the chimney. I'm getting prepared for a legal suit.

The roofers wanted to do the roof in the winter and insisted this would be no problem. The first night they left a huge flat area covered with a tarp
and we had a severe rain which did approximately $10,000 worth of damage inside my house. Then the roofers fell through the roof twice. (I'm not making this up!!!) Then we went on vacation and they were to repair the drywall inside the house, and they not only did a poor job of this, they went on to create more damage.

I was up on the roof with the chimney expert and we found many, many
areas where the two top layers of roofing were separated and spongy. I
believe this is not right. So now I need to get an independent roofer in to
estimate the damage and cost to repair.

We got all of this for the low price of $40,000. The roof still leaks, even
more than it did before we got the new roof. We used a roofer recommended on one of the Home and Garden Channel programs called
Holmes on Homes. Anyone see that in California?

We had an offer on our house for a million dollars this week, but it would be a teardown. I'm very tempted to just take it.

Does this answer your question?

Joined: Jun 28 2003

Hello MCM,

Wow! What a nightmare you are having. Whenever I hear stories like yours, I shudder about doing *anything* to me home.

But, the situation where the roofer is blaming the chimney and chimney people are blaming the roofer, I would ask: did you have trouble with a leaking roof around the chimney BEFORE you had it re-roofed?

The keystone kops you had for roofers doesn't leave credence to their blaming the chimney.

Roofers should know how to handle chimneys -- chimnies aren't that rare.


Joined: Aug 28 2003

When we had our new roof put on the roofer caulked around the chimney--even so there was a minor leak--however they fixed it within a few days of notification. It is the roofer's responsibility to make sure the roof works. Chimney people don't do that.

Joined: Mar 2 2004

Since 'finger pointing' has not fixed your leak...what do you do??
If there are no openings where your $40,000 'Mercedes Class' roof tucks under the flashing around the chimney, and there are no openings in the flashing...
Do this...
Wrap the chimney with plastic and tape it securely. If your roof still leaks, it is not the chimney. Oh yeah, don't use the fireplace with your chimney covered with plastic, and, this is not how to fix a leaking chimney.
Sometimes a chimney may start to leak only after a very wet series of storms.
Maybe you should have patched your old roof and spent the $40,000 on a Mercedes. The 'down side' here might include a similar situation when the 'really nice salesman' sells you the 'Rolls Royce' of automobiles and you end up with a $40,000 Yugo.
You may need to hire a consultant, not a roofing company, to help you find out what is really happening and maybe prepare for a lawsuit.

Joined: Mar 25 2005

Thanks Randy. Funny you should mention the consultant. I contacted the
top roofing consultant in Canada, but I haven't heard back from them yet.
Today, I went up on the roof with a garden hose and poured water all around the chimney without actually touching the chimney and the chimney crown. The roof didn't leak????? Then I poured water on top of the chimney crown, and the roof still didn't leak?????

I started to think along the lines that you mentioned - that maybe it "is" the chimney, but that the crown needs to be totally saturated with water after a long rain before it leaks into the house??

The chimneys definitely leaked before. That tar and gravel roof (old roof)
on the flat section was not bad (although we had a bad moss problem there and removing it took much of the gravel away every year); but on the sloped portion the tar and gravel roof was not good on the edges. It
was really, really spongy, and 4 out of 5 roofers said we needed a new roof. Only one said maybe we should just repair it, but then he wasn't available to do it.

Joined: Mar 2 2004

Even a few drops can make your home very uncomfortable. Good luck

Joined: Mar 25 2005

Randy at Dura-Foam wrote:
Even a few drops can make your home very uncomfortable. Good luck

It's those drops I can't see that makes me the most uncomfortable - rotting away rafters without my knowing about it!

Joined: Sep 7 2009

Only after the heaviest windy rainstorm has our 7 year old tar and gravel junk roof began to seep water in front of chimney. The flashing needed to be touched up before winter , we knew this from ahome inspection, and we failed to apply the glass/cloth and sealing compouns for repair. So it is not the roof, it is not the chimney. it is the flashing in my opinion. Was there alot of wind when your chimney leaked?

we had a very wet stereo tv system this morning because we were silly enough to leave it on the fireplace ledge, in front of fireplace (unused) as we haven't redone the fireplace yet and have no way to secure flatscreen to bricks yet. ooops.

If one must wait for chimney to be DRY before patchng flashng, and its RAINING, and your redwood ceiling is dripping along 2 long boards in front of fireplace now, how do you do this?

Joined: Mar 23 2003

I had the same problem and the roofer told be it was the chimmey so i painted the chimmey and it still leak. I then chalked all the joints and it still leak. I finally got a big piece of flashing and wraped it around the chimmey and the leak stoped.

Joined: Nov 12 2007

It's not enough to just add flashing. The water is probably going in between the flashing and the chimney or roof. I had a similar problem last year where the caulk had started cracking between the flashing and chimney. You have to make sure there is a good seal.

My guess is that caulk, when exposed to hot sun will eventually turn brittle and crack. So I went to OSH and got a small can of Black Jack, which is a tar like substance. It's pretty thick and robust. So far it has kept the water out. But I plan on re-applying every couple of years.

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