Common Problems With Masonry Chimneys
A well-built masonry chimney will give you decades of safe, efficient service – if it was properly built and is properly maintained. But even the best chimneys eventually need some restoration work to keep them running. When this work becomes necessary, here are some things you should know.
Chimney restoration isn’t a do-it-yourself project
You may be able to fix a number of things around your house, but unless you have specific skills in masonry, brick work, venting and fire safety, your chimney isn’t one of them.
Homeowners have experienced major – and dangerous – chimney problems after hiring an inexperienced worker for chimney restoration and maintenance or attempting to do it themselves.
7 causes of chimney problems
Using the wrong mortar
Crumbing mortar is common in older brick chimneys. However, most mortar made and used today is much harder than mortar produced many years ago and is more suitable to be used with today’s harder bricks.
Using new mortar formulations with old bricks can cause crumbling when expansions happen within the masonry. Licensed chimney technicians will keep from making this mortar mistake.
Improperly installed flashing
Flashing is the material that wraps the base of your exterior chimney and protects the gap between it and the roof. Typically installed with an L-shaped piece covered by a flat piece to shield the top gap, improperly applied flashing will allow water to seep down into unseen areas of the home.
This leakage can lead to the rotting of building materials, chimney masonry damage and mold growth, leading to expensive repairs.
Poor brick repair
Bricks can show various signs of damage from cracking and crumbling to white staining, which happens when water leeches salts out of the bricks. Simply replacing bricks will not always solve the underlying problem.
Professional chimney technicians draw upon years of training and hands-on experience to inspect chimney problems before starting any work. This way, they can discover exactly what’s causing the “surface” symptoms.
Trained masons are able to keep bricks in perfect alignment as they restore sections of a masonry chimney. This is critical, because bricks that are misaligned will weaken the entire chimney structure, leading to more expensive repairs.
Failure to keep the flue clean
Older chimneys that have been neglected are fire hazards. If used regularly, a chimney will collect huge amounts of flammable creosote, which is responsible for most chimney fires in the U.S. each year. Experts recommend that active chimneys should be cleaned once a year by a CSIA-certified chimney sweep.
Failure to schedule chimney inspections
You can look at your chimney and spot certain problems. Other problems are hidden and will not be apparent to the average homeowner. Licensed chimney inspectors have the experience and equipment to thoroughly inspect a chimney and detect the earliest signs of damage, leaks and general malfunction. Most fire-safety organizations recommend annual chimney inspections.
Poor component repair and installation
A chimney has a number of critical components including the chimney cap, concrete chimney crown, chimney liner, damper, flashing and others. Untrained individuals often install or repair the chimney components in a way that doesn’t really solve the problem they were trying to solve and may lead to serious damage down the line.
Your job in chimney maintenance and repair
For most homeowners, their part in keeping the chimney safe and in excellent working condition involves simply watching for obvious signs of problems and then contacting a chimney professional. It’s always best to leave the work to individuals with the right training.
Chimney Solutions of Alpharetta, GA, provides complete chimney repair, restoration and rebuilding services along with licensed chimney inspections and CSIA-certified chimney sweeping. Get results you’ll be happy with by calling us today at (770) 255-1300.