Help!! We just had a huge rain storm here in the north east (over 4
inches since this morning). This afternoon we noticed a lot of water
coming out of the ash cleanout doors in the basement and making a mess.
After several hours of wet vacing the rain has let up and with that
the water soon stopped coming out the cleanout door. I finally was
able to open it and the water inside is about 3-5 inches deep and just
below the lip of the door (obviously the water level was higher
allowing water to pour through while the rain was heavy). The land
slopes AWAY from the house on the chimney (brick) side and I saw no
puddling outside the chimney. I could really use some expert opinions
1.) Is the water likely coming from above (no chimney cap, or bad
2.) Is this ground water likely leaking through the chimney and polling
in the cleanout (I'd estimate the cleanout floor to be about 2-3 feet
We are having a chimney cleaning co. come to assess the situation, but
I'd also like to be armed with some knowledge before making any
Thanks in advance!!!
1. That sounds like too much water to be captured by an open chimney at the
top. Besides, you would see the water in the fire box first before it ran
into the cleanout.
Bad flashing could allow roof runoff to run down the side of the chimney
between the house and brick to a spot where it drains into the cleanout. A
garden hose on a dry day can diagnose this.
2. My bet is on a broken mortar joint at or just below the outside ground
level allowing a direct passage for water to enter the cleanout.
Wait for the chimny cleanout and inspection, they should find it. Use a
company that can do camera inspections as the crack may not be in an exposed
We did get SOME water in the firebox (what we simply call the fireplace
right?, where the logs go?). This was a small puddle, although I doubt
anywhere near enough to have filled the ash clean out. If it was
flashing, would I also have ceiling damage in the room with the
fireplace, or would water run down the chimney wall inside the basement
(ie I'd see it streaming down the basement wall above the cleanouts).
Although, again, I'll have to diagnose that on a dry day with a hose.
You suggestion on cracked morter below or at ground level seems
plausible, is it possible the crack could be anywhere else on the
chimney or would the liner block water thus ruling that out? Would a
chimney cleaner co be the right person to diagnose such a problem (I'm
guessing yes) or should we call someone else? Thanks again for
The bottom of the clean out (or top of the ash, don't know how deep the
ash is) appears to be about 3-6 inches from the bottom of the cleanout
door in the basement. How deep should the clean out be? Again, we're
having a chinmey cleaner in to clean and cap the chimney as well as
asses the situation and hopefully provide a solution. We escaped any
water that storm about a month ago, but this one caught up with us :(.
Bob M wrote:
I don't know how deep it should be, I just cleaned it out to the bottom. I'd
guess maybe 6 inches. Ours was packed solid to above the door. If it went much
higher it would start blocking the flue. We had furnace guys come in regularly
to clean the furnace, but never had a chimney cleaner. Guess I thought the
furnace people would look at that ash box once in a while.
Remove "not" for return address.
We did have the home inspected but due to snow on the roof they could
not perform an inspection of the chimney from above. All they could do
was inspect it from inside the house (they said it needed to be
cleaned) and from the outside using binoculars (saying a couple bricks
on top needed repointing). I am having a chimney co. come to clean and
cap (was going to have this done anyway), and then inspect the chimney
for the source of water. Is this problem common? Easily diagnosed by
The chimney is on the side of the house and has two flues, 1 for wood
burning fireplace, the other for oil boiler. It is a brick chimney
about 50 years old. The outside appears in very good shape (from
ground up anyhow).
The chimney is lined in both flues. I had a chimney co. come today and
after looking over the chimney they recommend a cleaning, cap, and some
kind of sealant spayed on the outside to stop water from absorbing
through the brick. While looking in the ash cleanout they noticed that
the brick was soaking wet, even above the highest point the water rose,
that's why they are recommened the sealant.
Sounds like more water than could be accounted for by absorption but give it
a try and see what happens next. Sounds mainly like a nuisance than an
imminent threat to your house.
I was dissapointed by my last chimney cleaner who identified a bunch of
problems but then could not give me a quote to fix it because he was not
also a mason, just a cleaner. Now I need to pay another guy for either a
quote or another cleaning where he can do a comprehensive quote. (cleaning
is only $15 more than a quote fee and it has been a year and my roommate
does like to burn paper so it is OK in the end)
In my case, there is so much missing mortar and cracked brick, they want to
tear it down to the sholder and build it back up. Supposedly cheaper than
repointing yards of mortar joint (plus there is apparently a point dictated
by code where you are not supposed to repair but rebuild). Fortunately I
have a 1 story ranch.
The outside of my chimney is in great shape (chimney guy, also a mason)
did a check of the general condition of the outside of the chimney and
found nothing that needed attention, in fact said it looked in perfect
shape. He did suggest that some of the water could be getting in below
grade, and if that's the case I should dig down to the bottom of the
chimney below grade (less than two feet for me) and seal with
foundation sealer, then back fill. I figure if the water still builds
up in the clean out after capping and sealing, than it must be coming
from underground, at which time I'll dig and seal. Of course we're
supposely going to get slammed again tomorrow afternoon/night :(. I
swear if we get another "100 year storm" or "record breaking rain
event" here in RI, I'm selling and moving to the desert.
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