Leaky Wood Stove Chimney

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    LESLIE: Christine in Washington is on the line with a leaky chimney. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    CHRISTINE: I have a chimney that’s for a wood or a pellet stove. And the former owners put duct-taped cardboard in the opening. And it leaks when I have heavy rain and wind.

    TOM: I bet it does.

    CHRISTINE: Yeah. How do I close off the opening so it doesn’t leak?

    TOM: So, first of all, we’re talking about a wood-stove chimney that’s been sealed up with cardboard and duct taped. Does anyone think there’s something wrong with this picture? I mean just maybe, right?

    CHRISTINE: Yeah.

    TOM: So, are we still using the wood stove, Christine?

    CHRISTINE: No. It’s empty and I put a table and lamp under it.

    TOM: So you’re not using the wood stove at all. You don’t want to use it? Why not just take it out?

    CHRISTINE: There’s no wood stove there; it’s just an empty space. That’s why I put a table …

    TOM: Oh, OK. So the chimney is left over from the wood stove.


    TOM: Then take the chimney out.

    CHRISTINE: Oh, really?

    TOM: The chimney is a hole in your roof. If you’re not using it for the wood stove, then you don’t need it, right? There’s nothing else that uses the same chimney? Is it a metal pipe?

    CHRISTINE: Yeah. But the – inside the house, it’s part of the design of the living room. It looks like a space for a fireplace. So that’s why it’s all bricked in and that’s why I put a table and chair in it and made it sort of decorative.

    TOM: Right. But if you’re never going to use it. OK, I don’t really care what it looks like inside your house; I care about the penetration where it goes through the roof because that’s where the leak is. And your options are either to properly flash the chimney, whatever that takes – which is not going to include duct tape and cardboard, by the way – but to have it professionally flashed so that it seals the intersection between the roofing shingle and the chimney or vent pipe.

    But if you’re not using it, just remove it and you’re taking that headache away. You can patch the roof and you’ll never have to worry about leaks in that area again.

    CHRISTINE: Thank you very much.

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