It is not always obvious that your chimney needs repairs made. However, there are some visible signs that every homeowner with a chimney should be aware of to avoid fire hazards and a lot of damage. Below are some areas of your chimney and fireplace you should pay close attention to in order to avoid dangerous and costly chimney damages.
More than likely you will have to climb onto your roof to inspect them, 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. This is due to water creeping into the small cracks in the masonry, and as it freezes and thaws, the cracks expand. If this is not caught, it could result in a collapsed chimney.
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.
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. This can be easily spotted wherever the masonry is flaking off of the chimney. If not repaired it could ultimately result in the destruction of the structure, and the only way to repair the problem is to replace the bad brick with a good one.
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.
Cracked Chimney Crown
To spot this, you will have to head to the rooftop and inspect the cement at the top of the chimney that covers the brick. 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. Like previous areas this can result in too much moisture buildup inside the chimney. 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.