It’s that time of the year … you know, the season when a certain jolly old elf might be making his way down your chimney to spread joy throughout the house.
Unfortunately for a client of ours, it wasn’t Santa coming down his chimney, but rather water that was pooling above it – and spreading misery, not joy. Ho-ho-ho? No-no-no!
Today’s cautionary roof repair tale (with a happy ending) comes courtesy of a roof replacement project in Port Chester, New York, once a boat-building community that has been transformed into a hip foodie paradise.
This is a town we know well and are fond of. In fact, we’ve done several home renovation projects there, and this particular client was impressed with the work, and so came via a roofing referral from a neighbor. (You know we love that! Literal word of mouth is often much more reassuring to potential customers than online reviews – and we’re a roofing company ready to back that up.)
This homeowner had an “active” leaky roof, with water working its way down through the columns into the living room. He knew the water damage would get worse and worse over time, and it was time for new roofing anyway. What he didn’t know was the major source of his problem was the chimney.
As a roofing contractor, when we take on a job, we consider the entire roof, not just the shingles. And that initial review involves one of our thorough project managers, who makes sure every aspect of the structure above your head is checked over.
During this home evaluation, we discovered that chimney was retaining water. Millions of homes have a chimney, which of course radiates cozy warmth inside but also adds architectural character inside and out. But if your chimney leaks, your architectural integrity suffers.
We’ve talked with customers who didn’t even realize a chimney could be the culprit for a drainage issue. But it makes sense – anything on the outside of your home is open to damage from weather and debris, from the brick to the masonry to flashing. It could be wear-and-tear from the elements, or one violent wind burst, or a tree branch falling just right. We’ve seen it all.
The inside of your home could be compromised, too, if water begins to pool at the base of the chimney, or a critter decides to build a little home for itself right there.
What should you look for in the way of clues? Sometimes the issue can be recognized easily enough:
- Water near your fireplace after it rains
- Stains (often white) on the chimney
- The walls near the chimney show discoloration or seem damp
- The bricks around the chimney are starting to show cracks
Other times it’s not so obvious, so it’s good policy that have your roof inspected every so often, as to catch problems early that could be more costly and difficult to repair if unaddressed. Normally a homeowner would be looking to make sure the layer of shingles on the roof is squared away and in good working order. But don’t forget to take the chimney into account, too, as that can be a source of pain.
In any case, our inspection uncovered the problem, and the repair was added into the roofing cost for this replacement. The homeowner decided he wanted asphalt shingles for his new roof. Asphalt roofing is the most popular type of roofing material in the country and offers many cost-effective advantages per square foot when compared with other types of coverings.
We used GAF asphalt shingles here, and that part of the project was pretty routine. The out-of-the-ordinary part was fixing up the chimney area. We did this in two stages: a partial rebuild of the chimney itself, and the installation of an extra layer of protection for it.
The crew tore out some of the chimney that had water damage and did a fantastic job not only on the repair itself, but also matching the color so that it was a totally seamless fix. Anyone looking at the completed job would be hard-pressed to find were the old met the new, including the homeowner (much to his pleasure)!
The extra quality roof protection we added (beyond installing new regular flashing) was a chimney cricket, sometimes called a saddle. This is essentially a small peaked roof (or frame) installed at the base of the chimney stack that diverts water and debris to either side and off the roof. As such, the cricket will eliminate any chance of water retention or other types of buildup at the base of the stack, which is what initiated our client’s problem.
Luckily, the leak issues were caught early enough that we were able to address and fix as we did with just new shingles, flashing, some masonry magic, and a cricket. If the leaks had been allowed to continue, the project might have been a full-blown remodel.
And that wouldn’t have been good for a happy holiday. Instead, he can let it snow, let it snow, let it snow in confidence and in the toasty comfort of his watertight chimney!
If you are sizing up a home improvement project and need a roof consultation (or siding/windows) or have any other questions, feel free to give us a call today. We’re always ready to help.
City: Port Chester
Materials used (manufacturer): GAF
Materials used (type): Asphalt
Materials used (color): Barkwood
Project Cost: $20,000
Time to Complete: Two days