It is not always obvious that your chimney needs repairs made. If you have noticed your chimney working less efficiently, it may be time to look for some repairs. Looking for these signs could help you avoid fire hazards and a lot of damage. Below are some signs to look out for on your masonry and inside the fireplace.
Masonry damages are a sure sign that you are in need of repair. There are many different ways masonry can be damaged. Usually the damage can be pinpointed to one of three main causes: improper construction, water leaks or a natural disaster. These can cause damage to the brick, mortar, and the crown.
Damaged, Deteriorated, or Missing Mortar Joints
More than likely you will have to climb onto your roof to inspect for this, but damaged mortar joints between the chimney masonry should be dealt with quickly. If the mortar joints are failing this could speed up the damage to other areas of the chimney due to a larger amount of moisture exposure to the brick.These cracks are created from water entering, freezing and then thawing again inside the brick.
To repair damaged mortar, a technique called repointing is used. Repointing is a cost-effective repair process that involves removing damaged mortar and replacing it with fresh mortar. While this may seem simple, only an experienced mason should be trusted. Matching the style and strength of the current mortar is necessary for a well done job and is not an easy process.
Spalling happens when water enters brick, stone, or concrete and forces the surface of the masonry to pop out, peel off, or flake off. This can also sometimes be caused by salt. Spalling can be easily spotted wherever the masonry is flaking off of the chimney.
If not repaired these damages could ultimately result in the destruction of the structure. The only way to repair the problem is to replace the bad brick with a good one. A certified technician can make your brickwork look as good as new. While inserting new bricks may seem easy enough, this process can actually be quite time-consuming. The sweep must consider when your home was built and what style of brick is needed, and how to match the color of your mortar is an intricate process!
Cracked Chimney Crown
The chimney crown is the first line of defense against outside elements. When cracks are present, water can seep into them and freeze leading to larger cracks in the future. As is the case with other cracks, a cracked crown will allow water entry into the interior of the system.
The good news is that it is easy to detect chimney crown problems early on and to prevent eventual shaling, the crown should be weatherproofed as well as the rest of the chimney. If caught in time, chimney crown cracks can be easily repaired. If not, a new complete crown may need to be built.
More than just your crown can crack. Be sure to inspect your crown along with the flue, brickwork, and more for any signs of damage, so you can call in back-up as soon as possible. The flue directs all of the smoke and toxins out of your home and the exterior of your chimney is what keeps the structure strong. Don’t let either of these damages remain!
Depending on where the cracks are, a certified technician may need to use a number of different techniques such as repointing, brick replacement or a flue relining.
Rusted Damper or Firebox
When moisture is present in a chimney, it is a clear sign that the chimney is not operating as it should. Rust is always a clear sign that too much moisture is present in the chimney, and this can be seen on the firebox or the damper. If the damper becomes difficult to operate or is not sealing correctly, this is a sign to take a closer look.
Moisture in a chimney should be dealt with quickly. The rusting can lead to the flue tiles to crack, and subsequently, this could lead to too much heat allowed in wrong areas, which could turn into a house fire.
Shaling Flue Tiles
In order for a fireplace to be safe to use, the flue lining inside the chimney must be intact. If a chimney liner is cracked, it can amount to multiple thin slices of chimney tile at the bottom of the chimney. This is another serious condition that can result in a house fire if not resolved. To avoid this problem, many people are now switching to stainless steel liners, which usually come with lifetime warranties.
Got damage? Not only can we point out the damages, but we can repair them too! Our team is full of expert masonry contractors, who are trained to spot dangerous masonry problems and fix them. Call us today to schedule an appointment!
Resources: High’s Chimney Service, Sweepy Stories, Portland Chimney Sweep and Masonry, Smoke Signals, Northeastern Chimney, Strictly Chimneys, InspectAPedia®, How Stuff Works