Your chimney is built to withstand unrelenting cold in the winter and extreme heat from the fires in your fireplace. Year after year, this kind of wear and tear takes a toll, and your chimney will eventually need to be repaired. Sometimes, you can see visible damage from the ground. Other times, however, the damage may go undetected and signs that the chimney needs chimney masonry repair will be missed.
Here are a few signs that your chimney needs to a chimney masonry repair:
“Spalling” occurs when water enters brick, natural stone or concrete and forces the surface of the masonry to pop out, peel off or flake off. The face of the brick has separated from the brick itself. It’s fairly simple to spot spalling, since you will find bits of masonry on the ground that have fallen from the chimney. Failing to repair spalling masonry will lead to the bricks continuing to crumble, leading to eventual destruction of the entire chimney structure.
Damaged Mortar Joints
To spot this, you may have to get on the roof and look at it. Damaged or failing mortar joints between the bricks or stones must be quickly repaired. The mortar may look sandy, or you may see visible cracks in it. With failing mortar joints, the chimney bricks or stones will become loose. Once the mortar joints begin to fail, more moisture will be able to seep into the structure. When water gets into even the smallest cracks in the masonry, the cracks get larger. Ignoring the problem can lead to chimney collapse.
Cracks in the Chimney Crown
While you are up on the roof, take a look at the chimney crown. The chimney crown is the cement layer covering most of the flue opening at the top of the chimney. The part of the chimney that is the first to deteriorate is the crown and the top two feet of the chimney, as these parts of the chimney are the most exposed to weather conditions. Chimney crowns should be replaced every 20 years, but a cracked chimney crown may necessitate a replacement sooner than that.
If the crown is cracked, moisture can get in. Water in the cracks will freeze and expand, causing more damage. Often, the crown can be repaired with a coating of a waterproof sealant. If the chimney crown is too damaged to simply seal the cracks, a partial or complete rebuilding is required to protect the chimney structure.
Worn Caulking Around the Flashing
Another area to look at while you’re on the roof is the caulking around the flashing where the chimney meets the roof can, as the caulking can wear away. A chimney mason should make sure that there is a watertight seal around the flashing.
Pieces of Masonry or Flue Tiles in Your Fireplace
If you see bits of masonry in your fireplace, it is a good bet that your flue is cracked or damaged. If not immediately repaired, you could have a fire. To detect a cracked flue liner, a professional chimney mason will use a special camera that is designed to identify problems in the flue which may not be otherwise visible.
With new construction, property owners are avoiding this problem by using stainless steel liners. These liners usually carry lifetime warranties.
Rust or Any Other Sign of Moisture in the Chimney or Fireplace
Any indication of moisture in your chimney or fireplace means something is wrong in the chimney. Rust in the firebox or on the damper is a good clue that there is too much moisture. If the damper is hard to operate, take a closer look at it for rust.
Moisture in the chimney will cause flue tiles to crack, allowing moisture to penetrate the chimney structure and cause deterioration. Moisture also allows an excessive amount of heat coming into contact with the building’s framing or other vulnerable surfaces, which can cause a fire.
Damaged Walls Inside Your Building Near the Chimney
Take a good look at the condition of the walls next to your chimney. If you see damage, it could be due to excess moisture in the chimney or heat exfiltrating through cracks in the flue liner. These issues should be addressed immediately, and certainly before using the fireplace again.
When a chimney is not properly constructed or it has separated from a supporting wall, the chimney can begin to lean. This is a dangerous condition which requires immediate professional attention.
Contact the Professionals at Waterproofing Caulking & Restoration LLC for more information
You should have your chimney inspected by an expert from Waterproofing Caulking & Restoration LLC. Make it part of your annual spring cleaning to be sure you have time to complete any needed repairs before winter returns. The experts at Waterproofing Caulking & Restoration can answer any of your questions about your chimney masonry and help you avoid expensive repairs later on. Contact them to schedule an appointment.