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How to Fix a Roof Leak Around a Chimney
How to Fix a Roof Leak Around Chimney: A Comprehensive Guide | Universal Roofing & Exteriors

How to Fix a Roof Leak Around a Chimney

Roof leaks can pose serious problems to a home’s integrity, potentially leading to water damage, mold growth, and structural issues. One common source of such leaks is the area around the chimney. This is particularly vulnerable to breaches due to the intersection of various roofing materials and the chimney itself, which can create gaps and cracks over time. Repairing a leak around a chimney is a critical maintenance task that can protect a home from costly damage.

Pinpointing the exact source of a roof leak around a chimney can be challenging as water can travel far from the point of entry before it becomes visible indoors. Cracked or degraded chimney flashing, broken shingles, or compromised seals are often to blame. Homeowners must address these issues promptly to prevent further water intrusion. Regular inspection and maintenance can identify potential leaks early before they cause significant damage.

When tackling a roof leak, it is essential to have the right tools and materials on hand. One must ensure that safety measures are in place and understand the basic structure of roof and chimney intersections. Repairing chimney-related roof leaks typically involves sealing gaps, replacing flashing, and repairing shingles, with each step requiring careful attention to detail. Although some homeowners may attempt this as a DIY project, professional assistance is advised, especially for complex or higher-risk situations.

Assessing the Issue

In addressing a roof leak around a chimney, a thorough inspection to identify probable causes is pivotal. Early detection and diagnosis can prevent extensive water damage and costly repairs.

Initial Inspection

During the initial inspection, one ought to carefully examine the chimney exterior, roof, and attic space. It’s essential to look for signs of water infiltration such as dampness, mold spots, or odors. In the attic, inspect for any water damage, especially on the underside of the roof decking and rafters near the chimney.

Chimney Exterior:

  • Check for cracks in the chimney crown, missing mortar, or loose flashing.
  • Inspect for broken or missing chimney caps which can allow water entry.


  • Seek out damaged or missing shingles around the chimney.
  • Verify that the flashing is intact and properly sealed.


  • Look for signs of water staining or wood rot on the structure.
  • Detect any musty odors or visible mold growth indicating moisture issues.

Identifying Common Causes

Identifying the common causes of roof leaks around a chimney involves pinpointing specific problematic areas. Typically, issues such as faulty flashing, deteriorated shingles, or structural damage contribute to chimney leaks.

  • Flashing Problems: Defective, corroded, or improperly installed flashing is a frequent culprit. One should check the step flashing, counter flashing, and the apron for any defects.
  • Shingle Damage: Aging or damaged shingles can fail to redirect water, leading to potential leaks.
  • Structural Decay: Weather exposure can cause the chimney structure to break down, resulting in gaps where water can seep through.

By methodically inspecting these areas, the exact cause of a chimney-related roof leak can be determined, allowing for effective repairs.

Photo of the roof

Preparing for Repair

Before addressing a roof leak around a chimney, it is crucial to prioritize safety and have all the appropriate tools and materials on hand. This will ensure the repair process is smooth and efficient.

Safety Precautions

Safety Equipment: Users should wear gloves and goggles to protect their hands and eyes. Utilize an extension ladder to reach the roof safely. Having secure footing is essential for stability. A safety harness is recommended to prevent falls, especially on steep roofs.

Clearing Debris: Start by cleaning the area around the chimney. Remove any debris, such as leaves or dirt, to have a clear work area. This not only aids in identifying the leak more accurately but also prevents accidents.

Gathering Tools and Materials

Listed below are the essential tools and materials necessary for repairing a roof leak around a chimney:

Essential ToolsEssential Materials
LadderFlashing tape
Safety harnessSealant
DrillRoofing cement
HammerMasonry screws
Caulk gunRoof sealant
BucketRoofing nails
Garden hose (optional)

Roof and Chimney Repair: Ensure the availability of a hammer, drill, chisel, and caulk gun for removing old fixtures and applying new materials. Masonry screws and fasteners are needed to secure the chimney flashing, while flashing tape, sealant, roofing cement, and roofing nails ensure a watertight seal.

Before beginning, verify each tool and material is ready and within reach. This avoids disruptions during the repair process, allowing for a methodical approach to fixing the leak.

Executing the Repair

Properly executing the repair of a roof leak around a chimney is critical. It involves three main steps: fixing flashing and sealant, securing loose elements, and replacing damaged materials to ensure a watertight seal.

Fixing Flashing and Sealant

Inspect the chimney flashing, which is the metal strip that connects the chimney to the roof. Look for gaps, cracks, or a loose sealant. To address these issues:

  1. Remove old sealant using a utility knife and a wire brush.
  2. Cut a new piece of metal flashing or step flashing to fit.
  3. Apply a fresh bead of high-quality roofing cement beneath the flashing edges.
  4. Secure the flashing with masonry nails or screws, ensuring it is leak-proof.

Securing Loose Elements

Loose bricks or mortar can contribute to a chimney leak. To fix these problems:

  • Reattach loose shingles with roofing nails.
  • Repoint brick or mortar gaps with fresh mortar.
  • Ensure no condensation is present, as it can loosen materials over time.

Make sure any loose components are reaffixed firmly to prevent rainwater and snow from causing further damage.

Replacing Damaged Materials

Damaged flashing or chimney liner can exacerbate leaks. Address these areas by:

  • Removing damaged masonry and filling in with matched materials.
  • Taking out damaged flashing and installing new aluminum flashing or a cricket if needed.

Inspect the surrounding roof sheathing for water damage, replacing any compromised sections to maintain the structural integrity of the roof.

Finalizing the Job

Once the repair is completed, it’s crucial to ensure that the fix is effective and the workspace is left clean. This involves thorough testing and meticulous cleanup to prevent any future issues.

Conducting Water Tests

Inspection: A comprehensive inspection should be conducted by the roofing contractor to confirm that all new leak-proof flashing is correctly installed.

Testing Process: Utilizing a garden hose, gently simulate rainfall around the chimney area to test the integrity of the repairs.

  • Begin by wetting the chimney gradually from bottom to top.
  • Observe carefully for any signs of water penetration in the attic, around the fireplace opening, and on ceilings or drywall that previously exhibited staining.

Cleaning the Work Area

Remove Debris: All residual materials and debris should be removed from the roof and gutters to maintain proper drainage and prevent ice damming.

Site Cleanliness: A professional roofer will ensure that the work area is left in a clean and tidy state, which may include:

  • Sweeping up debris and dust on the roof and around the area.
  • Disposal of any old flashing or materials replaced during the repair process.

If the leak is extensive, then it is better to call a professional roofer instead of attempting the job yourself. A professional roofing company prioritizes both the quality of the repair and the condition in which they leave the client’s property. Contact Universal Roofing & Exteriors for professional assistance.

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