4 Ways Chimneys Can Be Damaged
Unlike some other fixtures and units in your home, chimneys normally don’t suffer damage because of anything you do to them directly. But chimney problems happen all the time, and they’re not the kind of thing you want to just try to “live with.” Here are the four most common ways chimneys can be damaged.
First – how do you know there is chimney damage?
A chimney can be working improperly or in some way damaged for a while before homeowners notice. If you’re doing your own inspection, things to watch for include moisture or bits and pieces of brick and mortar in the firebox. A visual inspection of the outside of the chimney from the roof may turn up faded areas of brick or some level of decomposition of the structure.
In these cases, you need to call out a certified chimney sweep to assess the problem and give recommendations on how to resolve it.
Four common causes of chimney damage
1. Badly built. Not often, but occasionally, a chimney will be constructed with defects built in. This is most often the case with brick-and-mortar chimneys built on-site as opposed to pre-fab models. Problems can include open mortar joints, smoke chambers that are unparged, improperly installed dampers, defects in the liner and many others.
2. Age. Nothing lasts forever, even sturdy chimneys made of solid materials and built with outstanding workmanship. Bricks and mortar eventually deteriorate due to all the temperature shifts they experience in the course of many years. Cracking, which will let water into the system, usually is the first sign of a chimney damaged from age.
3. Water and moisture. As just mentioned, a compromised chimney structure will allow water from rain and melting snow to penetrate the bricks and begin causing all kinds of damage. The big danger in moisture damage is that the homeowner often isn’t aware of it until a serious – and expensive – problem exists.
4. Unexpected catastrophes. These include things like being struck by lightning, a falling tree, gale-force winds, an earthquake and the like. A catastrophe also can include a chimney fire, after which the chimney will likely need to be rebuilt.
What happens during a chimney inspection
The solution to all types of chimney damage is to have your chimney and fireplace inspected on an annual basis. A trained technician can see things you can’t see, thanks to both experience and the right equipment for the job.
A complete chimney inspection will include evaluating the condition of the bricks and mortar, checking the chimney cap and flashing, inspecting the damper, firebox and liner, and a thorough cleaning. Cleaning is important for all types of fireplace systems but is especially critical when the fireplace burns wood.
If you suspect you have chimney damage or just want to begin a routine of regular checks to prevent a serious problem down the line, Chimney Solutions of Alpharetta, Ga., is standing by to help. Call (770) 691-6707 and let us tell you what all our chimney inspections include.