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Question DetailsAsked on 2/20/2018

Water leaking under the fireplace..

Late last summer, we noticed rotted wood in the basement under the fireplace. Whenever we had heavy rain, water would drip underneath the fireplace near the rotted wood, into the basement. We sealed the joint between the foundation and bricks (ground level), encase it was a ground leak. We had the chimney cap replaced, and also had a guy come out to seal the mortar joints that had missing cement. The roof has been replaced in the past 10 years. We've even added a slope to drain water away. Cold air comes in through the rotted wood, and it looks like silt/dirt. We have a sump pump to drain water away from around the house. Any ideas where else the problem lies?

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Might take a detailed digging around, and maybe using a smoke generator to track where the cold air is coming from, but below are the possible sources i can think of - ignoring water from drains or water pipes or utilities since only happens during heavy rains, though I guess in some cases a backed-up (because of heavy rains) leaking sewer line or backing up leach field (if you have one) could be the source of the water.


Answers are keyed primarily to stone/brick chimney - not all apply to "ready set" type metal flue chimneys in wood chase

1) missing/rusted through chimney cap

2) if blowing during heavy rains, blow-in through cap screen, into flue and down chimney from there

3) missing/cracked crown grout (the dome of grout on top of stone/brick chimneys

4) leak at crown to liner interface

5) cracks in chimney mortar letting water in

6) missing/incorrect roof flashing at the chimney letting water in (commonly visible in ttic as water runs down outside of chimney)

7) roof leak which is making it to the chimney and running down it

8) missing/failed seals/flashing at chimney/siding interface, so water hitting siding is running into the chimney interface, then down chimney to basement

9) with ready-set type chimney, missing/leaking vent on outside of chase, or leak at chase/siding interface

10) surface water building up at foundation because ground does not slope away from the house or is too permeable, then getting in at foundation/chimney interface

11) cracked chimney or chimney foundation letting water in soil around foundation in

12) water getting into chimney per one of above means, then running out bottom of chimney like at ash pit or ash disposal door in firebox - inspect flue and fireboxes for rust.wetness

13) water coming in under foundation and popping up under chimney through joint between foundation and basement slab

14) groundwater popping up through crack in concrete slab - commonly has crack or joint at chimney foundation.


Because you not only have rot (which can spread) and dampness in the basement, but possibly a structural issue from the rotting wood if it is supporting the chimney, should be vigorously pusued and fixed. I would start with a well-rated and reviewed Chimney Sweep (your Search the List category).

Answered 8 months ago by LCD




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