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Fireplace leak can be tricky repair

January 13, 2008|James Carey and Morris Carey | Associated Press

Question: Rain always comes through the concrete blocks of my fireplace, wetting the carpet. How can I fix this?

Answer: This moisture could be getting in where the chimney and roof connect. The water can easily trickle down to the floor and wet the carpet without showing up elsewhere.

One of the most common reasons for a leaking chimney is failed chimney-to-roof flashing. The chimney-to-roof flashing is designed to prevent water leakage where the chimney penetrates through the roofing material. The flashing is made of sheet metal and can rust over time. A tiny pinhole in the sheet metal flashing can result in a serious leak.

A roof can be dangerous to walk on. We suggest that you contact a sheet metal contractor or a roofing contractor to check out the problem.

Unsightly varnish could easily vanish

Question: I'm refinishing the stairs in my century-old home, and when I pulled up the carpet I found this black stuff underneath. I don't think it's paint. What could it be?

Answer: This could be one of two things. It could be shellac, which would be easily removed using alcohol. More likely though, the black substance is a varnish that was popular to use on wood in the era when your house was built.

This varnish is thin and doesn't penetrate the wood and will be easily cleaned with a mild paint remover.

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