Chris' Corner: Issues with the flashing around a chimney? Repair it properly!

Issues with the flashing around a chimney? Repair it properly!


I have seen many instances of "quick fixes" and do-it-yourself" repairs  around chimneys.  Jay Markanich, a home inspector and active rain blogger from Bristow, VA, explains the proper way to install flashing around a chimney using a step flashing and a counter flashing.  If you have an issue with your chimney flashing, or if you have a leak, this is worth the read...


When you see something for the first time, you can wonder about it and understand it in the same moment.  When I showed this to my client the other day, and his Realtor Justin Dibbs, it was looked at for the oddity it is, but the big question remains.


This is just one aspect of a fireplace chimney where it bisects the roof.

Lifting things up and looking around I simply couldn't find any evidence of flashing.

Best practice, instead of this mortar parging, would have two types of flashing.  A step flashing, against the brick work, under each shingle, would prevent water from getting into the cavity between the chimney and roof sheathing.  And over the step flashing would be a counter flashing, sealing things up so no water can get anywhere.

This is an older house.  Was this chimney original, or added later?  And was it every flashed?  Is this parging, which extends up three or four feet, what was done at the outset?

Certainly it has been added to over the years.  There are depths of cracking, where one appears to be over another.  And at the bottom is a later of additional flashing, almost a counter flash (!), which itself is coming loose.  The decorative, cake icing, bead of caulking all around the bottom, and very thick, is certainly pretty.  BUT THAT BEAD INDICATES THAT SOMEBODY KNOWS THIS IS A PROBLEM AND IS TRYING TO SOLVE IT WITH MINIMAL EFFORT.

All said, this is a mess.   The roof sheathing is sagging around the chimney, indicating the likelihood of rot.  This is not visible from inside.  There is moisture inside in the ceiling all around the fireplace not far below.  The flue has not been taken care of.  There is a newer flue cap on top of the chimney, but still, the evidence of moisture inside the flue is present. 

This chimney is a problem.  But you already knew that.

My recommendation:  sometimes you see something weird and can be impressed.  But when things are done in ways that simply are not correct and unprofessional, you know it will be a problem.  The real issue for the buyer is to try to determine what to do about it.  Or even if anything can be done at all.  The seller may not be interested in caring about it anymore!



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia

Chris Smith CSSBB
          Sales Representative

Interested in Buying or Selling Real Estate?

  ph: 1.866.936.3500

Chay Realty Inc.,

Comment balloon 1 commentChris Smith • July 12 2011 02:42PM


Mechanical flashing and not tar is the only way to keep moisture out. You are correct.

Posted by Paul Lesieur (203kloanmn) over 9 years ago