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Mount Pleasant Roofing: Article About Diagnosing Roof Leaks Around Chimneys

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Everyone loves a nice roaring fire to stave off the cold from time to time, but nobody likes it when the ceilings around their chimneys start dripping water. Here's the lowdown on why such problems occur and some tips on how to correct them.

Chimneys, stovepipes and other protrusions usually exit the roof through holes in the underlayment and slope layers. Although these planes are cut to fit, there's no such thing as a perfect match, and the gap can expand as the roof undergoes thermal contraction during colder weather. Any ice dams that form may also allow water to enter at a faster rate.

Due to this combination of factors, some Mount Pleasant roofing eventually begins to leak around chimneys, and because these fixtures go through the attic and ceiling as well, the water can travel all the way down into the interior of your home. If this occurs, your insulation may become wet, and your building's energy efficiency could decrease as a result.

Many home designers hope to prevent these problems by placing chimneys in the center of the house so that they exit the roof at the highest point. Water naturally follows the path of least resistance, so using gravity to divert moisture away from gaps is an effective method of leak prevention. Combined with properly installed flashing and other materials, good chimney design can prevent a large majority of potential leaks.

Unfortunately, this concept won't do you any good if your home already has a chimney at the low edge of a roof.

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In these cases, the water follows gravity right down to any gap around your chimney, and from there, it can easily enter your attic or living spaces. Short of renovating your entire home, however, there are a few things that roofers can do to correct this serious design flaw.

In many cases, you'll be fine if you simply have new flashing installed. Flashing is an impermeable solid liner that surrounds gaps at the valleys of roofs or around chimneys and attic windows. It can prevent serious leakage, and it lasts for years.

Some homeowners whose buildings are routinely subjected to high-level wind and rain go for a saddle instead. These tiny peaks are custom made just like the rest of your roof, and they include their own rafters, framing and venting. They raise the slope of the roof before it descends to the edge of the chimney, ensuring that water has to flow around the sides instead of straight towards the joint.

Because saddle fixes usually include flashing, additional shingles and roofing tar, they're generally more effective solutions. They allow homeowners to enjoy their chimneys without worrying about whether water is getting into the attic or the ceiling below, making them great low-cost installs for those who don't want to shell out for water-damage restorations after the fact.

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