Spotting the Most Common Chimney Problems
Around the fireplace is a favorite gathering place for families, but sometimes people forget that the out-of-sight chimney needs to be carefully maintained. There are actually several problems that people typically have with chimneys, and some of them give no obvious hints that something is wrong. When those problems are neglected, repair can become very expensive. Not only that, but chimney problems can lead to house fires. It’s best to be aware of potential problems and keep the chimney well maintained. The following are among the most common chimney problems.
Leaky Flashing. The chimney flashing can be a real trouble spot. First of all, installation is tricky. Because it requires a certain amount of skill to create a watertight seal, it’s not unusual for a repair job on leaky flashing to be done incorrectly. What happens is that either due to poor installation, rusting around nails, or the passage of time, water gets through the flashing to the unprotected part of the roof. Partly because the flashing problem goes undetected, the result is often that there is extensive damage to the attic ceiling and sometimes structural damage to the roof. Repairs on damage caused by leaky flashing can be expensive. We recommend periodically doing a visual check of the chimney area in the attic, in case of flashing leaks.
Chimney Obstruction. There are many different causes of chimney obstructions, and a blocked chimney can be very dangerous. The chimney can’t operate properly if there is an obstruction, which means that deadly carbon monoxide fumes can enter the home. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer because it can’t be detected without the help of a carbon monoxide detector – it is odorless and invisible. If a buildup of creosote is the cause of the blockage, one of the dangers is a chimney fire, which can lead to a house fire. Fire departments report that many house fires are started every year because a fire is lit in a fireplace when the chimney is blocked. The danger of chimney obstructions is one of the reasons annual chimney inspections are recommended by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Damaged Chimney Liner. The importance of having a sound chimney liner cannot be overstated. The liner protects combustible parts of the home from the heat in the chimney. Chimney liners don’t last as long as the chimney masonry. They deteriorate over time, and deterioration can be accelerated by different conditions in the chimney. For instance, if there is a lot of creosote in the chimney and moisture, too, the mix can cause added wear and tear to the liner. If there is even a small crack in the liner, the home is vulnerable to catching fire. It often requires special equipment to identify a damaged liner, which is another reason to schedule annual chimney inspections.
Cracked Chimney Crown. Chimney crowns are very much out of sight because they are at the top of masonry chimneys and seal the chimney from the outer edge to the edge of the flue liner. The mortar mix used to make chimney crowns is often subject to cracking and chipping, which results in further erosion due to moisture getting in through the cracks. If caught early, it’s possible to repair a damaged chimney crown. Complete rebuilds are sometimes necessary, however. We recommend waterproofing the crown, to help keep damaging moisture out of the chimney system.
Before the next time you light a cozy fire in your fireplace, you may want to consider whether your chimney has any of these common problems. Getting them fixed early on can save money on repair costs and could even prevent a house fire. Call our chimney professionals for an inspection today.
Chimney Solutions, Inc.
1155 McFarland 400 Drive, Alpharetta GA 30004
Office 770-255-1300 / Toll Free 877-697-9337