7 Signs Your Chimney Is In Need of Repairs
Many people make the mistake of taking their chimney for granted; they assume that the structure is a worry-free part of the house. Problems do arise, however, and a chimney in need of repair should be tended to as soon as possible. A damaged chimney is a serious fire hazard. The following are seven obvious signs that a chimney may be damaged.
1-Efflorescence or White Staining
White discoloration on a chimney is called efflorescence. While it’s fairly simple to remove the staining, cleaning it doesn’t solve the moisture problem which causes the white residue. Efflorescence is a clear indication of excess moisture in the masonry. If it isn’t dealt with, premature deterioration of the chimney will likely occur, in addition to other potential problems related to moisture.
There shouldn’t be rust on your firebox or damper; but if there is, it’s a clear sign that there is excess moisture in your chimney. You may not notice rust on the damper readily; but if it doesn’t seal well or operate properly, it could be because it’s rusting.
If there’s enough moisture in your chimney to cause visible signs of rusting, there could also possibly be serious damage, such as cracked flue tiles. It’s important to get the help of a professional chimney sweep, who can use a special camera to inspect the flue lining and ensure there isn’t a breach in the chimney system which could ultimately cause a house fire.
3-Deteriorating Mortar Joints
Damaged mortar joints between chimney masonry should be repaired quickly. When the mortar deteriorates, the masonry is exposed to more moisture, which accelerates the deterioration of the entire chimney. In freezing weather, the added moisture can freeze inside cracks in the masonry. When moisture thaws and freezes in bricks, rocks, and cement, larger cracks can develop. The entire chimney could collapse, if the damaged mortar isn’t repaired.
If you start to see thin slices of chimney tile collecting in the fireplace, it’s a good indication that the flue is damaged. The flue lining is essential to the safe operation of a fireplace and chimney. Because of this fact, an annual chimney inspection is important. Professional chimney sweeps can closely analyze your flue lining and spot problems that would otherwise go undetected. For example, if the tiles are cracked but not crumbling, you probably won’t see visible signs of a breach in the chimney system.
Spalling is an issue which occurs to the outside of the chimney and can be detected because you see bits of masonry around the bottom of the structure. When moisture enters masonry, it can force the surface of the brick, concrete, or stone to peel off, pop out, or flake off. It’s essential to replace damaged masonry to prevent continued crumbling and eventual destruction of the chimney.
Wallpaper on the walls near your chimney can provide another visible sign of chimney damage. If the wallpaper is damaged, it is usually a result of moisture in the chimney. Repairs to the chimney or flue should be made as needed, before continuing the use of the fireplace.
7-Chimney Crown Damage
As with damaged mortar joints, it will be necessary to go on your roof to spot damage to the chimney crown. The crown is an important part of the chimney structure, providing a first line of defense against harsh weather conditions. If the crown is cracked, moisture could seep in and create larger cracks. A damaged crown means that water can seep between the chimney and the flue lining, which could cause spalling and shaling.
The best defense against this type of damage is to weatherproof the chimney crown.
Contact our professionals if you notice any of the above-mentioned signs of chimney damage. But if you don’t see any “red flags,” we encourage you to schedule your annual chimney cleaning and inspection in the spring or summer, anyway, so that there is plenty of time to make needed repairs that you may not readily see the need for. Fall and winter are fine times to get a chimney inspection, as well; the important thing is to schedule a cleaning and inspection at least once every year.
Northeastern Chimney, Inc
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110