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Common Chimney Problems

It is common that since you do not use your chimney everyday, you may not think about the repairs that come along with it.  The worst part is that if you let these repairs go without attention they could potentially worsen and cause damage to the chimney and to your home.

The first step is to have someone who is Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified.  You also want to make sure that they are someone that they are commonly recommended, so you know their work is always solid.  For chimney assistance, contact the professionals at Homestead Chimney Service today.

What can go wrong?

Being aware of the problems that will reveal themselves over the life of your chimney will help you be preventative and save money.

Being aware of the problems that will reveal themselves over the life of your chimney will help you be preventative and save money.

Even though you do not want to think about it, there are many things that can go wrong inside of your chimney that may look small and turn out to be big problems.  One of the main things is the water that can enter your home and cause mold to form.  If you live in an area that has extremely wet weather you will have to pay closer attention.  If your flashing becomes loose, cracked, or missing a professional may be able to caulk it is caught in time.  If not, it may need replacing.

Also, the bricks of the chimney can become cracked and a great place for water to collect.  Your technician will be able to examine the damage and figure out the proper way to fix it.  Lastly, they may suggest that you have a chimney cap installed to protect from water, animals, and debris.

After your chimney is fixed a water test it needed to see if any water is still absorbing into the unit, and if so you will probably be suggested to have it waterproofed.  Any experienced professional can do this in a day.  The sealant spray used will need at least six hours to dry so make sure you pick a day that has a dry forecast.

What happens if the repairs are not fixed?

Other than becoming a bigger issue in the chimney, the effects could eventually harm your entire home.  The mold that grows in the chimney can spread to the foundation of your home and the air you breathe.  Also, other broken parts or chimneys that have not been cleaned properly can start an unwanted fire. The best way to avoid these kinds of problems is to ensure regular maintenance to your chimney.

 

Do You Know the Life History of Your Chimney?

Clues to the life history of your chimney will be found in the age of your house, assuming it has its original chimney. Popularized in 18th Century in America, chimneys built in the mid-1700s rose well above the roof as a precaution. An unusually tall brick chimney towering over the back of the house might come from this period. Another clue would be the fact that the chimney is on the exterior of the home, built on the outside of an outer wall.

History of Your Chimney - South Georgia - Homestead Chimney Service

Deep fireplaces and sloped flues, designed to reach outside the house, marked this period. In the early 1800s, chimneys were brought inside the walls of American homes. With shallower, reflective fireplaces, came chimneys built on the inside of exterior walls, a style that persisted until the 1940s. Then, in the 50s, fireplaces again deepened and chimneys once again took their place on the outside wall of the house.

Pre-fabricated chimney systems arrived with pre-fabricated houses and metal chimneys became standard on homes built in the 70s and 80s. Typically hidden with siding or a brick facade,  these chimneys too were placed on the outside walls of the house. Built up an exterior wall like before, chimneys from this era terminate much closer to the roof-line than the earlier models.

Now that you know something about its birth, you can learn a lot about your chimney’s life by looking at its filled cracks and patched holes. Assuming it is fit and functioning well at this point, whatever difficulties your chimney has faced have been overcome. The mortar patches and caulked flashing, the newer firebrick and well sealed crown, all tell you that your chimney had the usual frailties but was well loved.

That shiny new stainless chimney cap can tell a story of its own; was it replaced because of wind, rust or just age? In addition, the chase cover may conceal the truth about your chimney, one-time home to both a bird and a ferret? If you live in the Southern United States, especially in Georgia, do not be surprised to learn that migrating chimney swifts once called your chimney home. As long as a chimney fire hasn’t been part of the past, your chimney’s life history is sure to be a long and storied one.

If you’d like to know more about what your home’s chimney has been through over the years, ask the chimney sweep the next time you get it inspected and swept. Who knows what you might discover?

Time to Think About Sealing Your Chimney Crown

A chimney crown, also called a chimney wash, is the top portion of a masonry chimney. The crown covers and seals the top of the chimney, extending from the flue liner to the edge of the chimney. Its downward slope directs water from the chimney flue to the edge of the crown itself. A masonry chimney usually has an inadequate crown if it’s made from a common mortar mixture.

Re-sealing a chimney crown - before and after

Re-sealing a chimney crown – before (left) and after (right)

A higher-quality crown is normally done by a chimney specialist who understands the type of mortar and concrete that is best for this tough job. The crown is formed or cast to provide an overhang that projects at least two inches beyond each side of the chimney. The chimney flue liner tile should project at least two inches above this crown. The crown needs to withstand abuse from weather elements without deteriorating, chipping, or cracking.

Sealing the chimney crown involves applying a flexible coating of acrylic to protect the crown from water infiltration. If a crown becomes cracked, water can enter the chimney and, as the crack widens over time, more water is permitted access. Eventually, the amount of water entering the chimney exceeds the amount that can evaporate and the deterioration process begins. If damage is caught early, the crown can be repaired and a masonry sealer can be applied to the chimney.

The rubber-like coating of the sealer fills in cracks in the crown. Since it is flexible, it can expand and contract with the chimney. It also directs water away from the top of the chimney, serving as an umbrella. This material can be applied to other exposed masonry surfaces to prevent water from entering through the chimney sides.

If your chimney crown has not been addressed, have a chimney inspection to identify whether sealing is necessary. A darkened upper masonry chimney, flaking and chipping of bricks, or dark mold on a stone chimney are typical indications that the area requires repair. Addressing damage before it becomes serious will save time and money.