Your chimney is an important part of your home’s architecture all year round, but over the holidays, it takes on special importance. Your chimney and fireplace are symbols of your home’s warmth and family tradition. Of course, they are also Santa’s way into your home.

However, a chimney also deals with special stress during winter, from ice, snow and even your home’s heat. Chimneys are a common source of roof leaks, second only to skylights. Whether or not you use the fireplace to heat your home, keeping it in good condition is essential to protect your home from water. Plus, you don’t want Santa getting wet on his way down.

Learn about the stressor chimneys face, signs that yours isn’t doing so well, and whether you should get your leaking chimney fixed in winter.

Why Inspect Your Chimney?

Your chimney runs through each layer of your roof. So, if it leaks, the water can stream directly into your home, where it can do the most damage. Rain will find holes and gaps in chimney flashing quickly.

In the winter, other problems may occur. The heat from an uninsulated chimney can leak out into your attic space and roof. The roof is cold, and where hot and cold air mix, condensation occurs. This can cause water intrusion in your roof, attic and, when severe, into the rest of your home. You can get this problem whether you use your fireplace to heat your home or only use it for holiday ambiance.

Signs of Chimney Flashing Problems

  • All chimneys should have flashing around them. These thin pieces of metal redirect water away from the chimney and down the roof. If they were not installed properly, or have been damaged or rusted-out, they can allow a leak to happen. Your chimney should have:
  • Base flashing
  • A chimney cricket
  • Step flashing up both sides
  • Counter flashing installed into the bricks

If any piece is missing, the chimney is at a much greater risk of developing leaks.

Other signs that your chimney may need to be repaired include:

  • Rusted flashing
  • Bent or punctured flashing
  • Water inside of the chimney
  • Water stains on the walls near the chimney
  • Rusted fireplace parts
  • Damaged mortar joints
  • The sound of water near the chimney

Can You Get Your Chimney Fixed in Winter?

Your roofer should fix leaks as soon as they are discovered. However, getting chimney repair in the winter isn’t always easy. Some small or temporary fixes can be made in the winter without too much hassle. However, a chimney leak can cause damage to the rest of your roof, and a roof replacement in the winter can make your home uncomfortably cold for a day.

Whether or not you should get immediate repair depends on your specific circumstances. Work with a roofer you trust to make the best plan to resolve your chimney leak issues. Temporary fixes may be convenient, but they can also end up increasing the total cost of your repairs.

It’s best to get a full roof inspection in the fall to avoid having to replace your chimney or roof in the winter.