Issues That Occur with A Faulty Chimney
While relaxing beside a warm and cozy fire, it’s often difficult for most homeowners to determine if there is a chimney problem, especially when everything appears to be working fine. Like a volcano beginning to erupt, there are typically warning signs of a potential chimney problem, such as a smokey fireplace, cracking bricks, and a rusting damper. Since these signs are a potential health and safety hazard, it’s critical to contact a qualified chimney professional as soon as possible to inspect the chimney.
When the chimney is operating normally, smoke and fumes are expelled up the flue. Noticing more smoke in the fireplace is a sign of a potential chimney problem that needs immediate attention. When smoke builds up in the chimney, it increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and other health issues. Some of the common causes of a smokey fireplace include a flue obstruction, closed damper, and a draft issue. Other matters like poor chimney or fireplace construction, improper flue size, and masonry and flue liner damage can also cause more smoke in your home. For your safety, it’s recommended that you don’t use the fireplace until you have a chimney inspection. The technician will determine the cause of the smoke and the necessary repairs to correct the problem.
Excessive Creosote Build-Up
Another possible issue that can occur with a damaged chimney is excessive creosote. A damaged chimney often has an insufficient draft. The lack of air circulation causes soot, ash, and creosote to build-up in the chimney, including the flue liner, damper, and other components. Creosote is of particular concern because it continues to accumulate with every burn. Unless it is removed with regular chimney sweeping, it hardens into a thick, dark, and tarry substance that is very flammable. The high temperatures of the fireplace or a hot ember can spark a chimney fire. It is the most common cause of house fires, especially during the winter. A chimney fire can cause considerable damage to the masonry and flue liner, increasing the risk of fire spreading to other areas of the home. Having a professional chimney sweep clean the chimney at least once annually will increase fireplace safety and heating efficiency.
Water leaks are another common problem with a faulty chimney. Weather conditions, including rain, sleet, snow, and even summer heat, can cause masonry cracks and gaps in the mortar joints to sprout around the chimney. These cracks typically begin as very tiny cracks and gradually grow into larger holes allowing water to leak inside the flue. Also, cracks in the chimney crown and flashing damage are other common sources for water leaks. Moisture has a devastating effect on the chimney. It softens the masonry, eventually causing bricks to chip, crumble, and even separate from the structure. Not only does water damage increase the risk of fire and carbon monoxide exposure, but it can also destabilize the chimney to the point of a partial or complete collapse. That’s why when you notice any masonry damage or water leaks, have a qualified chimney professional repair it as soon as possible. After chimney repairs are made, waterproofing can be done to protect it against future water damage.
Forgetting to close the damper when not using the fireplace, masonry damage, and flue liner cracks can allow moisture to penetrate the chimney. Once inside, water can cause the damper to rust. It can also damage the gasket preventing an airtight seal when the damper is closed, allowing more moisture to enter and damage the firebox.