Chimneys need to be inspected regularly. Any bricks that are cracked, crumbling, or moving out of place must be repaired.
Look for gaps in the mortar joints of your chimney’s masonry to spot problems that must be addressed promptly. Identifying issues quickly lets you keep the chimney in good shape before they worsen and become expensive problems.
A major cause of chimney leaks is poor water proofing. If your chimney doesn’t have a waterproof seal, it can become saturated with water during rainy weather. The bricks and mortar will absorb the moisture and eventually start to degrade. This will allow water to penetrate your home, damage rafters, ceiling joists, and wall framing. Leaking chimneys should be fixed immediately to avoid costly damage.
Chimneys exposed to a lot of rain should have regular waterproofing and repointing to protect the masonry and prevent leaking. Chimney professionals typically test for water leaks by pouring water in and around the chimney and checking for signs of dampness.
Rainwater can enter a chimney in many ways, but some ways are more obvious than others. Chimneys that are leaking during heavy rain may show water stains on ceilings or walls near the chimney. They will also have trouble igniting a fire due to the high amount of moisture in the masonry.
Another common way rain can enter a chimney is through the chimney crown. This structure sits atop the chimney and typically features a sloped surface designed to allow rainwater to run off it rather than into the flue. If a chimney crown becomes cracked, chipped, or corroded due to physical damage, it can interfere with the proper flow of rainwater and allow water to leak into the flue.
A deteriorating flue liner is another possible source of chimney leaks. The flue liner is made of either clay tile or concrete and is placed inside the chimney to separate combustible building materials from hot gasses. If the liner becomes damaged, it can let water into the chimney and expose your family to toxic carbon monoxide fumes.
A chimney stack can also be prone to leaking if it’s in the shade. Chimneys in the shade are less likely to dry after a rainstorm. This can cause the bricks to get soggy and can lead to a chimney leak. The water can damage rafters, ceiling joists, wall framing, and electrical wiring. If you’re noticing water spots on your ceiling or walls, it’s important to contact a professional chimney sweep right away.
Whether from natural wear and tear or from repeated freeze-thaw cycles, moisture causes a great deal of damage to masonry chimneys. One of the most common signs of moisture damage is white stains on the outside bricks, called efflorescence. This symptom is caused when water and salt seep through the brick and are deposited on the surface of the exterior brick. While it may seem harmless, efflorescence is actually a sign of a serious problem with the masonry structure and should be treated by a professional chimney company as soon as possible.
Another way to spot moisture problems in the masonry is by looking for crumbling or deteriorating mortar. These spaces between the bricks are filled with mortar, which is typically a mixture of cement and sand. If this mortar begins to deteriorate, it can make the bricks more absorbent and weaker. Mortar that is crumbling, even slightly, should be repaired immediately by a CSIA certified chimney technician.
When the deteriorated mortar is replaced, it creates a seal that stops moisture from entering the chimney and protecting the brick from damage. Without this protection, moisture can eat away at the brick and lead to serious structural damage. It is important to have any damaged mortar replaced as soon as it is spotted, as this can also protect other areas of the chimney from moisture damage.
Chimneys are built to last, but regular maintenance and inspections are still recommended to keep them in peak condition. When chimneys are regularly inspected and cleaned, any problems that arise can be fixed before they turn into major issues. A deteriorating or damaged chimney can not only be unsightly, but it can also present a fire hazard.
If you are looking for a contractor to repair your chimney, be sure to ask friends and neighbors for recommendations. This can help you avoid rogue traders that do not provide quality work. In addition, asking for recommendations can also help you to find a qualified chimney specialist that is local to your area. This is beneficial as it can reduce the cost of travel and labor and ensure that you are getting a quality service for your money.
If you have a chimney that has mortar joints that are cracking and crumbling, this is a serious problem. These cracks allow water, ice and snow to enter the chimney, which further damages the masonry and can lead to structural damage as well. It’s important to have these cracks repaired as soon as possible so they don’t get worse and put your family in danger.
If your chimney has cracked bricks or sections of mortar missing, a process called tuckpointing can be used to replace the damaged mortar. Tuckpointing involves brushing off loose or damaged bricks, grinding down the cracked areas and applying fresh mortar to the cracked joints. This can be done by hand, using a mortar raking tool or a hammer and chisel. The new mortar is mixed to match the surrounding chimney surface, and it can be painted to help it blend in.
Typically caused by expansion and contraction, cracks in chimneys occur when the cement-like material holding bricks together begins to deteriorate. These cracks are often exacerbated by freeze-thaw cycles that cause the masonry to expand and contract. When these cracks get wider and deeper, they become a major safety issue and require professional repair services.
The most common type of crack is located on the top of the chimney, called the chimney crown. This sloping section of the chimney serves to protect the masonry from water and to prevent rain or melting snow from pooling on the roof. The crown can also be prone to cracking due to its exposure to the elements.
This type of crack in the crown can be more difficult to diagnose and fix because it can be very difficult to see unless you are able to climb up on the roof. It is often best to call a chimney professional for this type of repair.
The deterioration of the masonry and the mortar joints can be exacerbated by the heat from fireplaces. If the chimney liner is not properly sized or installed and the bricks are heated too quickly, this can cause them to crack. When these cracks are not repaired, they can spread and weaken the entire chimney structure.
A chimney that is not functioning properly is not only at risk of a dangerous fire, but it can also blow soot, creosote and toxic gases back into living areas of the home. This can cause health problems including headache, fatigue and sneezing as well as carbon monoxide exposure which can be deadly. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to identify when the chimney needs repairs and prevent downdrafting from happening.
When the chimney is experiencing downdraft it is usually a sign that there are differences in air pressures between your house and the outside environment. This is especially common in multi-story homes with open attics or those that share a chimney stack with neighbors. The warm air that rises in your house will be replaced by cooler, denser air from the outside, which can cause a downdraft and obstruct the chimney flue. If this happens regularly, you can try closing doors and windows or using a chimney fan to help combat the negative pressure.
Chimney bricks are built to be strong and durable, but they can still suffer damage from a variety of factors over time. One of the most common problems is called spalling, which occurs when the top surface of the bricks begin to chip and crumble due to exposure to the elements. This damage can be a cosmetic problem, or it can lead to structural issues. Depending on the severity of the damage, a masonry sealant or mortar can be used to restore the appearance and protect the bricks from further damage.
Another type of chimney damage is cracks in the mortar that hold the bricks together. These cracks can allow smoke, carbon monoxide, and stray embers to leak into the living areas of the home. These cracks can be repaired by applying a mortar patch or by repointing the entire chimney stack.
The foundation of the chimney is important as it supports the entire structure. When the chimney foundation becomes damaged, it can affect the integrity of the entire system. Cracks in the chimney foundation can allow water to seep in, which can damage the chimney structure and lead to other serious problems. Repairing the chimney foundation can be a complicated task and can cost a significant amount of money.