Nothing looks quite as quaint as smoke swirling from a chimney on a cold day. The smell of a fire in the fireplace, wood-burning, and warming the house creates this charming image and feel.
When your chimney begins to fail you, though, the dream of a fire in the fireplace can quickly turn into the nightmare of a home on fire. You can protect your home from fire by maintaining your chimney and chimney flashing.
Keep reading to learn more about chimney flashing and how to know if you need to have yours replaced.
What Is Chimney Flashing?
To understand chimney flashing, you must first understand flashing in general. Roof flashing is a thin metal piece attached to your roof. It helps direct water away from seams on your roof and toward the edge of the roof, where gutters can catch the moisture and direct it away from your home.
Thus, chimney flashing is a type of roof flashing. It creates a seal between your chimney and your roof, so water does not penetrate the seam. Instead, precipitation will run down the outside of your chimney, unto the flashing, and then unto the roof.
Chimneys have three different types of flashing.
- Base Flashing: The base flashing lies at the chimney base, following the perimeter of the chimney base and guarding the roof against water.
- Step Flashing: This L-shaped metal likes under your shingles. It follows the brick of your chimney.
- Cap or Counter Flashing: The cap flashing covers the step flashing. A contractor will embed the flashing into a groove they have cut into your chimney brickwork.
These three types of flashing work together to protect your chimney and, ultimately, your home.
Why Is Chimney Flashing Important?
Flashing combined with caulk protects the inside of your home from unwanted moisture. However, if your flashing begins to leak, the water will penetrate through the roof and into your walls. It could cause water damage, mold, and ultimately structural problems if left untreated.
Thus, damaged flashing can lead to health problems. If you do not detect the mold that moisture causes, you will begin to breathe in the mold spores and experience health problems. Fatigue, headaches, nausea, and dizziness indicate possible mold exposure.
Furthermore, unwanted moisture caused by faulty flashing will penetrate mortar joints in the bricks of your chimney. As a result, your chimney’s structure will begin to crumble eventually due to brittle mortar.
Signs of Chimney Flashing Damage
To know if you need new chimney flashing, you’ll need to take a trip up to your roof. Then, examine it carefully to see if you have any weather-related damage.
If you’re unsure what to look for or suspect damage, call a chimney expert. Chimney contractors and specialists will know without prejudice if it’s time to replace the flashing or the entire chimney.
Here are the basics that indicate you need new flashing.
If you’re living in a home that’s more than twenty years old, have your chimney inspected regularly. Time wears on chimneys and can cause problems.
If you’ve had a recent weather event with high winds, hail, or ice, have your flashing inspected. A combination of age and weather can lead to curled or damaged flashing.
If you begin to notice moisture in the walls near your chimney, you may have had a subpar installation. Unfortunately, not every contractor understands how to install a chimney or chimney flashing. If you’ve recently had your roof reshingled and are experiencing troubles around your chimney, bring a chimney expert in to examine the roofer’s work.
Signs of Bad Flashing
A chimney, appropriately installed, should last up to 30 years. However, the environment of your home will determine the lifespan of your roof and chimney. For example, extreme weather conditions shorten a roof and chimney’s lifespan.
Here are the basic signs that your flashing is failing you:
- Gaps in the caulk around your flashing
- Rust or water stains on your ceilings or the walls near the chimney
- Sounds of water dripping
- Signs of water dripping, like puddles near your chimney
- Discolored bricks on your chimney
- Local critters making themselves at home in your home/chimney
All of these indicate that your flashing may be failing you. Bring in an expert to examine your firebox and chimney cap as well. If your chimney begins to fail, you have a real hazard on your hands.
You’re going to want to use your chimney once winter sets in, but you cannot, in good conscience, use a compromised chimney. You have a fire hazard on your hands.
So, examine the area carefully with all your senses.
You should also have your chimney inspected annually. Proper chimney inspections will determine the amount of creosote in the chimney and if you need a chimney cap. These small things will protect you from a chimney fire.
Expected Repair Costs
A roofing expert will give you the appropriate estimate for fixing your flashing. Sometimes the contractor will only need caulk, roofing cement, or a sealant. If the flashing hasn’t warped or flared, your cost will be between $150 to $400, depending on how big your chimney is.
If the contractor has to replace your flashing, then you should expect a cost of $750 to $1,450. But, of course, larger chimneys with expensive roofing will ultimately cost more.
Repair Chimney Flashing Today
If your chimney flashing is showing signs of wear and tear, take care of it immediately. It’s a small thing that you can easily forget until its failure leads to much bigger problems. Caring for your chimney will keep your home and its contents safe and healthy.
Do you need a new chimney or chimney flashing? Contact Dick’s Roof Repair for a free estimate today. We have the expertise and the skill to make your chimney safe, functional, and beautiful once again.