How to Keep Away Chimney Enemy #1: Moisture
A chimney can operate for many decades with no major problems if inspected annually and cleaned regularly. It is not uncommon, however, for moisture problems to arise. There is no greater threat to a chimney’s good condition and safe operation than the entrance of moisture. Evidence of moisture problems takes various forms but is also hard to spot, which is just one of many good reasons to schedule a yearly chimney inspection. Professional chimney technicians know where to look and what to look for. The sooner moisture problems are identified, the less expensive the needed repairs will likely be.
Deterioration of Mortar. Between the simple passage of time and wear and tear caused by water, the mortar between pieces of masonry will eventually become cracked and fail to keep moisture out of the chimney structure. One of the situations that can quickly wear away the mortar is when the drainage of water on the roof flows in a heavy stream onto the chimney. In this type of situation, we recommend having a “cricket” installed, which is a small roof-like structure that diverts water away from the chimney.
One of the results of damaged mortar is that the masonry can begin to lean, and a complete rebuild of the chimney can become necessary. The much less expensive option is, before too much deterioration of the chimney structure occurs, replace the mortar using a process called “tuckpointing.”
Spalling. When the mortar fails, the masonry is more prone to deterioration. When the water in the bricks freezes and thaws, there is a lot of movement in the brick that results in breakage. Spalling is when the brick surface breaks or flakes off. Broken bricks can’t necessarily uphold the chimney’s structural component, if there are many of them. Look for bits of broken brick around the chimney or on the ground below the chimney because they are a clear sign of moisture damage.
Damaged Flashing. The flashing is the sheet metal that provides waterproofing at the connection between the chimney and the roof, and it is prone to rust. In addition, flashing is sometimes installed incorrectly because of the difficulty of the task. Either issues can result in structural roof damage, leaking into the attic, and other problems.
Cracked Chimney Crown. The crown is the top part of the chimney. The concrete crown covers the top of the structure from the exterior sides of the chimney to the edges of the flue lining. It is not uncommon for the crown to crack, which allows moisture to get in between the chimney and the flue. The crown is the first line of defense against moisture and should be checked at least once a year.
No Chimney Cap. A chimney cap is installed at the very top of the chimney, and it serves several important purposes. Besides keeping animals out of the chimney and serving as a spark guard that can help prevent house fires, the chimney cap keeps rainwater from falling into the chimney and causing damage.
None of the moisture damage that occurs to chimneys is easily or quickly detected without close examination. Sometimes it even requires an expert eye to catch moisture issues early. Contact our chimney professionals for an inspection and to ensure that enemy number one isn’t causing damage to your chimney.
Chimney Solutions, Inc.
1155 McFarland 400 Drive, Alpharetta GA 30004
Office 770-255-1300 / Toll Free 877-697-9337