Is it time to take care of your roof again? Great, but before you make the call and bring in a team to inspect it, a professional roofer wants to let you in on a little secret: call someone first to check out the chimney before making any roof renewals.
Chimneys are some of the most difficult features in your entire household to maintain and repair. A lot of the times, people call in roofers either for scheduled repairs and cleanings, but completely lose sight of the fact that the chimney is also a big part of their roof. The guys at Shelton Roofing, who also offer a pretty good guide on everything you need to know about the most common roof problems, say that a lot of the times when they’re called in to replace a roof they often find the chimney in deplorable condition, from a cracked crown to leaks or even signs of water damage.
Even worse, sometimes they go to inspect a newly installed roof and notice that the chimney has some pretty big issues.
So, what’s the deal? First, we need to answer two main questions:
1. What Can Go Wrong with Your Chimney?
Well, a lot of things, but let’s focus on the four most common problems:
a. Flashing: if someone tells you your chimney is flashing, it means that the edges of your roof that protect the vulnerable spots for moisture have some problems. Chimneys need flashing because they are essentially a big hole in your rooftop. Holes tend to cause some degree of leakage, and the flashing is meant to put a stop to that.
Your chimney needs flashing near its shingles, sometimes even two sets of overlapping ones for extra protection. The flashing is sealed where it comes into contact with the shingles. If the flashing doesn’t work, you should fix it as soon as possible.
Why wouldn’t it work? Many problems, such as aging of the roof, or even weather conditions can weaken the flashing. Or, if you’re unlucky,it was just improperly installed from the start.
You can tell pretty easily if you have issues with the flashing; look for leaks at the corners of the chimney, a clear omen you should call a chimney doctor ASAP. It’s better not to do it yourself, especially if you have zero experience in these sort of things. Otherwise, you’re just going to have to do this all over again in a few months.
b. Crown Problems: the crown of the chimney is that top layer (usually made from cement or concrete) that seals the chimney opening (also called the flue). This part is most common for larger chimneys, but even small ones can have them as well.
Crown issues are serious issues, even though they’re not as common. Any cracks in the flue can allow moisture to seep directly into the chimney, so there’s a great sense of immediacy to fixing it. That’s usually done by removing and replacing the broken crown with a brand new one if there is considerable damage. If the breaks or cracks aren’t that big, it’s possible to seal and mortar them, though keep in mind it might just be a temporary solution.
c. Improper Covers: the chimney flue itself also requires a cover to protect it from the rain. If the cap is damaged, then that can make way for several other problems, such as leaks that can put out your fires, or even a blocked chimney.
Thankfully, you can avoid all of that by replacing the covers. Your regular chimney sweep should notify you if they notice anything wrong with them. Or, if you take care of cleaning the chimney yourself, you can easily spot any breaks in the cover. Remember to look for them once in a while.
2. Why Should You Always Fix the Chimney before the Roof?
Many people think that, since the chimney is technically a part of the roof, they can kill two birds with one stone and call one team to fix both of them. Well, that’s not exactly the case. It’s actually two separate processes, involving different skills. So, you shouldn’t rely on the people replacing your roof to take care of everything.
If you also have a chimney sweep taking care of regular maintenance, they might not be the right person to fix other issues either. Some states even have official regulations on this subject. For instance, Connecticut requires certain credentials for chimney repairs through its Consumer Protection Department which some sweeps do not have. They consider any repairs as home improvements rather than just maintenance, so they only allow certified people to conduct these repairs.
But even if your state doesn’t have these laws, consider hiring someone with more experience to fix your chimney. Though your sweep does a fantastic job cleaning it, that does not mean they also have the experience and know-how to make any serious repairs.
There’s also the Issue of Extra Costs for Nothing
Think about it for a second: Let’s say that you call in someone to install a new roof. It was time, and you needed some home improvement to enhance your home’s curb appeal and elevate your mood. The team that comes in does a good job but doesn’t exactly take a close look at the chimney. A few weeks in, you notice something’s wrong, and you call someone else to take a closer look.
Then, you’ll most likely have to make the necessary chimney repairs (which can be anything from a broken crown to a damaged flue or flashing issues), all on a brand new roof. The process itself might damage some of the new shingles, which will also have to be then repaired and replaced.
We’re not telling you these things to scare you. But there’s a reason why things are done in a particular order, and it’s a lot better to follow them accordingly than to pay the costs out of pocket later.
Any serious roofer won’t even consider beginning work on a new roof until the owner’s had the chimney inspected. But unfortunately, you can also find people who don’t let you in on this secret, for whatever reason. So, it’s up to you to stay informed and know how to handle this particular branch of your home improvement.
Summing it up
So, the main takeaway here is this: whenever you want to switch things up and install a new roof, have a professional look at the chimney first. We’re not the only ones saying it, either. Professional roofers recommend it too because even they don’t want you to make any major repairs on a brand new roof.
Cutting corners here can end up costing you a lot on unnecessary repairs that could have been avoided with a simple phone call. So make the call.