3 Common Exterior Chimney Problems

Chimney exteriors are often neglected by homeowners who don’t realize how vulnerable the structure really is. Whether the fireplace is seldom used or whether it is fired up frequently throughout winter, the exterior portion of the chimney is subject to damage. The majority of chimney problems can be summed up in three words: Moisture, moisture, moisture! Check out three common exterior chimney problems below, all of which are associated with moisture.

Damaged Masonry

Damaged Chimney Masonry Bricks are extremely porous and keeping water out of the chimney system is essential. Once moisture works its way into masonry, the water expands and contracts during freeze and thaw cycles in winter. Such movement has a devastating effect on bricks. They begin to crack, and spalling also occurs, which is when the brick face breaks or pops off.

When bricks begin deteriorating due to moisture intrusion, repair is needed. Unless the affected bricks are removed and replaced with new bricks, the chimney structure will begin to lean and could eventually collapse.

Expired mortar is among the many ways water gets into the brickwork. Although bricks can last a century or more, mortar only lasts about a quarter of a century. It’s important to keep a close eye on the condition of the mortar. You could save a lot of money on repairs if the mortar alone is replaced through a process called tuck-pointing, as opposed to a teardown and rebuild of the chimney. The secret is to replace damaged mortar before water gets into the masonry.

Damaged or Faulty Chimney Flashing

Chimney flashing is the metal at the base of the chimney stack on your rooftop. Flashing is supposed to prevent water from entering the chimney and roof systems where the chimney and rooftop meet. Unfortunately, many homeowners end up with faulty flashing simply because the job is a difficult one to achieve and inexperienced brick masons may be assigned to do the work. This is one of the many reasons it’s advantageous to have a certified chimney sweep perform any and all work on chimneys.

When the flashing is installed incorrectly or when rust begins to develop, both of which are common occurrences, leaks occur. The roof is often damaged. When leaky flashing goes undetected, it is not unusual for wood in the rooftop structure to rot, resulting in extensive damage.

A Cracked Chimney Crown

Cracked chimney CrownThe various features of exterior chimneys work together with the primary goal of keeping moisture out of the chimney system, and the chimney crown is one of those features. The chimney crown prevents water from getting between the chimney liner and the chimney exterior. Over time, it’s common for chimney crowns to crack and deteriorate. Small cracks can sometimes be repaired, but the need for removal of a damaged chimney crown and replacement with a new one is even more common. If a damaged chimney crown goes undetected, the leaky chimney could become apparent when water stains begin to appear on interior walls and ceilings near the chimney.

Contact the Experts at Chimney Solutions

Has it been a year or more since you had your chimney inspected? If so, it’s very possible your exterior chimney has water damage of some kind or other issues requiring repair. The longer you put off chimney maintenance, the more costly any needed chimney repair will be. Call Chimney Solutions today at 770-771-5501.

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