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Clean Sweeps of Michigan's Blog

Storm Collars

When it comes to keeping your chimney in good condition, there are a number of parts and pieces that are all needed to work together. One such piece is the storm collar; while you may not recognize the name, storm collars are instrumental in preventing chimney leaks and interior moisture damage to your chimney and home.

What is a storm collar?

rusty storm collar - Ann Arbor MI - Clean Sweeps of Michigan

A storm collar is a flexible metal ring that is required any time a chimney passes through a roofline. Storm collars are not typically used in masonry chimneys; instead, they are most commonly used with stoves or prefabricated fireplaces that have a chimney pipe.

Storm collars are designed to fit around round chimney pipes just above the chimney flashing; they also feature screws or tabs that allow the storm collars to be tightened to fit your exact chimney. Because the upper edge of the storm collar is exposed, it is important that it is sealed to create a watertight barrier between the chimney and the storm collar.

The angled design of storm collars help keep water from rain, snow, and other moisture from seeping straight down the chimney pipe. Instead, moisture is directed away from the chimney and onto the roof where it can safely run off. While storm collars direct moisture away from the chimney pipe, chimney flashing is still needed in order to prevent any leaks. By sitting on top of the flashing, the collar and flashing work together to prevent leaks and water damage to your chimney and home.

When storm collars fail

One common cause of storm collars failing is the deterioration of the caulk or seal around the top of the collar. Not using the right kind of sealant is the primary cause of this kind of deterioration; storm collars need to be sealed with a high temperature sealant in order to withstand the heat of the chimney pipe. Using a regular, waterproof sealant or caulk may be able to keep moisture out, but typically cannot hold up against the heat of the chimney pipe.

Storm collars may also fail because of the metal they are made of. Galvanized metals rust more quickly; if you notice rust stains on your roof or walls near the chimney, the storm collar may have begun to deteriorate. Instead, choose a new chimney cap made of a durable metal such as stainless steel. While stainless steel collars are more expensive, they will last longer than galvanized models.

A chimney storm collar is an important part of keeping your chimney – and home – moisture and leak free. If you have a deteriorating storm collar or if your pipe chimney is missing a storm collar altogether, contact Clean Sweeps of Michigan today. Our highly trained staff of chimney experts can help you select and install the right storm collar for your home and chimney.

I Think my Chimney is Leaking!

I Think My Chimney Is Leaking - Ann Arbor MI - Clean Sweeps of MIIn addition to hearing a dripping sound, there are many signs that may indicate that your chimney is leaking. You may notice that your fireplace develops a musty smell, especially after rain or snow. You may also notice water in the firebox or drips on the walls or ceiling. You might even see that pieces of the brick, mortar, or masonry of your chimney are cracked, chipping, or falling apart. All of these are symptoms that your chimney has developed a leak.

Luckily, a leaky chimney or water damage does not have to mean your chimney is unusable. By identifying the source or the leak, stopping the water entry, and repairing any damage the water caused, your fireplace and chimney can continue to be enjoyed for years to come.

What causes chimneys to leak?

Because chimneys are complex structures with many different components, finding the source of a leak can sometimes be difficult. However, once you notice that your chimney is letting water in it is important to find and stop the leak as soon as possible to prevent costly or extensive damage.

One of the most common causes of water entry is an uncapped chimney or a damaged chimney cap. When there is nothing covering the entrance to the top of the flue water from rain, hail, sleet, and snow are all able to enter the chimney. Likewise, cracks or damage to the chimney crown can also cause leaking and water entry.

Another way that water can get in is if the chimney flashing has lost its watertight seal. The flashing, or the sealant that connects the chimney to the roof, can lose its seal due to age, damage, improper installation, or even the house structure settling. Flashing that was nailed in may even allow trace amounts of water in through the area surrounding the nail holes.

Can my leaky chimney be fixed?

Once the cause of the chimney leak has been identified, the cause of the leak as well as any damage the leaking has caused should be able to be repaired. For homes with a damaged or missing chimney cap, installing a new cap will protect your chimney from water entry as well as prevent animals or debris from falling into the flue. Chimney crowns can also be patched, sealed, or replaced to prevent water entry into your home.

If damaged or aging flashing is the cause of the leaking, it should be replaced as soon as possible. As flashing protects both the chimney and the roof from water entry, leaky flashing can also cause damage to the ceiling, framing, or roof below.

How to prevent a leaky chimney

One of the best ways to prevent water damage is by having your chimney inspected annually. A yearly chimney inspection  will alert you to any changes or damage to your fireplace system. These inspections often uncover small problems that can be quickly and inexpensively fixed before their turn into large and costly issues.

If you suspect that your chimney is leaking, the best thing you can do is call a certified chimney sweep to assess the condition of your chimney. At Clean Sweeps of Michigan we perform a 25 point leak inspection in order to find and fix the areas of water entry. Let our expert staff stop your leaking chimney today!

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