8 Clues that Your Chimney May Need Repairs
Using a fireplace safely is directly dependent upon having a chimney that is sound, able to keep out moisture, unobstructed, clean, and in overall good condition. Homeowners sometimes forget that a chimney needs maintenance and should be inspected. A damaged chimney can be a serious fire hazard and should be repaired as quickly as possible. How do you know if your chimney needs repair? The following are eight clues:
1- A Damaged Chimney Crown
You may need to climb on the roof to spot this clue; but if your chimney crown is cracked, there is probably damage that will only become more extensive and more costly to repair until the problem is fixed. The crown is an essential feature of the chimney structure because it provides the first line of defense against harsh outdoor elements. When a chimney crown is cracked, moisture can seep in and create bigger cracks. In addition, it’s a sign that water may be seeping between the flue lining and chimney, which can create shaling and spalling – see more about these signs of damage below.
One way to help protect a chimney crown and chimney from damage is to weatherproof it, a measure which also helps prevent, to an extent, all of the signs that a chimney may need repair.
2- Deteriorating Mortar Joints
Another problem you may need to visit the roof to discover is deteriorating mortar joints. It’s important that the mortar is in good condition; otherwise, the masonry is exposed to more moisture, which can cause the entire chimney to rapidly deteriorate. The added moisture causes the most harm during winter, when moisture inside the masonry can freeze and thaw, causing large cracks to develop. When damaged mortar isn’t addressed, chimneys tend to collapse, which requires even costlier repairs.
Bits of masonry breaking off of the outside of the chimney is caused by spalling. Moisture that gets into masonry can force the surface of the brick, stone, or concrete to pop out, flake off, or peel off. Spalling masonry should be replaced as soon as possible, to stop the crumbling process, which can obviously lead to chimney collapse.
Similar to spalling, shaling is when the inside of the flue tile begins breaking off, and you can see bits of chimney tile in the hearth. The flue lining must be in good condition for a fireplace to be used safely. Cracked flue tiles are an indication that heat from the chimney could enter parts of the home which are combustible, leading to a house fire. It can be difficult to determine whether a flue lining is in good shape. During recommended annual chimney cleaning and inspections,
our professional chimney sweeps use a special camera to closely examine the flue liner and make sure that there are no cracks or signs of crumbling.
Rust in the firebox and a rusted damper are both clear signs that excess moisture is making its way into the chimney. The moisture which causes rusting could also be causing safety hazards, such as deteriorating flue tiles. Since rust is a sign of a bigger problem, a professional chimney sweep should be contacted to examine the condition of the chimney, without delay.
6-White Staining of the Chimney Exterior (Efflorescence)
White staining on chimney masonry is called “efflorescence.” Removing the staining isn’t complicated, but cleaning it doesn’t solve the issue which causes the white residue. Efflorescence is a clear sign that there is excess moisture in the masonry. Premature deterioration of the chimney will likely occur, if the moisture problem isn’t resolved.
7- Damaged Wallpaper
A good clue that you probably have moisture in the chimney system is if the wallpaper on the walls near the chimney is damaged. Ruined wallpaper is usually a result of moisture in the chimney. Before continuing the use of the fireplace, call one of our professionals to locate and repair the source of the problem.
8- A Chimney Fire
Chimney fires are dangerous and a clear sign that the chimney is probably in serious need of cleaning. A few circumstances which can help you identify that there is a fire inside of your chimney include:
• Flames are leaping from the top of your chimney.
• There is a roaring sound like a train or an airplane flying nearby which can probably be heard even by your neighbors.
• Dark smoke billows from the chimney top.
• You may hear something that sounds like a loud sucking sound or pipes that are rattling.
Chimney fires can cause serious structural damage as well as house fires.
If you spot any of the above-mentioned clues that your chimney may need repair, contact our certified professionals. Even if you don’t see any signs of damage, it’s a good idea to get your chimney cleaned and inspected during spring or summer. That way, you could learn about damage in plenty of time to get needed repairs before winter.
Chimney Solutions, Inc.
1155 McFarland 400 Drive, Alpharetta GA 30004
Office 770-255-1300 / Toll Free 877-697-9337