Masonry Chimney Maintenance: What You Need to Know
Traditional masonry chimneys aren’t built to last forever, and thanks to unavoidable rain and moisture, these structures can become damaged and unsafe faster than you would expect.
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA):
“All masonry chimney construction materials, except stone, will suffer accelerated deterioration as a result of prolonged contact with water.
Masonry materials deteriorate quickly when exposed to the freeze/thaw process, in which moisture that has penetrated the materials periodically freezes and expands causing undue stress.”
“Water in the chimney also causes rust in steel and cast iron, weakening or destroying the metal parts.”
These are just a few of the reasons that masonry chimney maintenance is so important. Fortunately, keeping your chimney in top working shape isn’t difficult when work is performed by CSIA-certified chimney specialists.
Here are some key tasks involved in properly maintaining your chimney.
Watch for signs of a leaky chimney
Often a leaky chimney will present obvious signs. When you see them, it’s time to have your chimney professionally inspected.
Water dripping into the firebox
Efflorescence (white staining) on the exterior chimney masonry
Strong, musty odors coming from the fireplace
Interior walls and ceiling that are damp to the touch or discolored
Areas of crumbling in the firebox or on the roof near the chimney – these are signs of deterioration that could be caused by or lead to a chimney leak
Annual chimney sweep services
Having your chimney cleaned once a year by a certified technician is the best way to prevent a dangerous chimney fire. Creosote, which is created when wood burns, clings to the inside of the chimney liner and builds up over time. This substance isn’t always easy to remove, but chimney experts have specialized scrapers, rotating brushes, solvents and vacuums to do a thorough job.
In addition to creosote, various debris can end up inside a chimney and create a drafting obstruction. Leaves and twigs from trees and the nests of small animals are common reasons smoke doesn’t draft well and fires are difficult to get started. Chimney blockages are of particular concern because they can cause smoke and deadly carbon monoxide to back up into the house. Having chimney obstructions removed will keep you and your family safe.
Annual chimney inspections
By having certified inspections once a year, you’ll be able to spot early chimney/fireplace damage and get it repaired before it becomes an expensive and dangerous problem. Basic chimney inspections cover:
Smoke chamber surfaces
In some cases, video technology is used to zero in on difficult-to-access areas.
Timely repair services
Licensed chimney repair technicians can handle any level of chimney repair and give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing the job was done safely and correctly.
Technicians can find and repair leaky chimneys, replace missing areas of brick and mortar, repair or replace chimney liners, install chimney caps and flashing, seal and repair cracks in chimney crowns and perform other vital services that keep your chimney safe and fully operational.
Northeastern Chimney of West Hartford, CT, provides CSIA-certified chimney sweep, inspection and repair services all year long. Learn more about how we can maintain your chimney for safety and performance by calling (860) 233-5770.