Chimney Repair

How Chimney Repair Can Save Homeowners Money

Chimneys are exposed to the elements, and that means they can take a beating over time. Having a well-maintained chimney can help prevent serious structural damage and save homeowners money in the long run. One of the most common issues is water penetration. This can lead to several problems. To learn more about chimney repair, visit Chimney Repair.

Chimney RepairMasonry chimneys are made of brick, mortar, concrete, and other materials. When constructed and cared for properly, these structures can last for decades before they begin to degrade. However, as usage and Mother Nature take their toll, a deteriorating masonry structure can become dangerous and require extensive and expensive repair work.

Masonry damage can result in structural problems, a chimney that no longer operates efficiently and a safety hazard for a home or commercial building. Many times, a damaged masonry chimney will need immediate repair work to prevent a fire from occurring or allowing poisonous carbon monoxide gas into the living space.

The most common type of masonry damage is water penetration and cracking. Brick, concrete, stone and other masonry materials are porous and can absorb large amounts of water that can then freeze during the winter and expand, causing a chimney to crack and crumble.

When a masonry chimney is damaged by water, it’s best to have the problem repaired by a professional mason before it gets worse. A mason can seal the damage and protect the chimney from future damage with a water-resistant masonry coating.

Chimney crowns, like little hats that cap the top of a chimney, often take the brunt of weathering. Especially in areas with cold winters, a cracked crown can lead to serious moisture issues that can damage the masonry structure and create an open-door policy for bugs and other critters. Chimneys with cracked crowns, spalling bricks and loose bricks also need masonry repairs as soon as possible.

Brick spalling occurs when the mortar between bricks begins to break down and disintegrate. Masons can often correct this by tuckpointing, which involves cutting out old mortar to a uniform depth and replacing it with new. This allows bricks to rub against each other, which can cause warping and rotting.

Loose bricks are another common masonry issue that needs to be addressed immediately. A mason can use a special mortar that bonds and hardens when exposed to heat to strengthen the bricks and keep them in place.

A cracked flue liner can be a serious problem that must be repaired immediately. When the flue tile lining cracks, smoke and other gases will leak into your home’s living spaces. This can create a fire hazard and make your chimney unsafe for use. A professional chimney sweep can repair or replace the flue lining as needed.

Most chimney experts recommend using a stainless steel chimney liner to ensure a durable, safe chimney that will last for years. Chimney liners can be made from clay tiles or metal. Chimney tiles crack easily due to deterioration and uneven heat distribution, while metal liners are designed to be strong, long-lasting, and resistant to high temperatures.

You can easily determine whether your flue lining is cracked by climbing onto the roof and shining a flashlight down the chimney. If you see shards of clay on the bottom of the chimney, this means one or more flue tiles are broken. These can be repaired by mortaring in replacement sections, but a more thorough chimney liner installation will be required if the broken pieces are deeper within the chimney.

If the entire chimney flue is cracked or damaged, a professional can install a new clay flue tile lining by lowering it down the chimney with a rope. This requires an assistant at the bottom of the chimney to help pull the liner into place and cement it in.

This method is less expensive than replacing the whole chimney flue, but it may not be effective if there are cracked or missing tiles closer to the fireplace. It is also not recommended for use with wood-burning fireplaces because the excessive amount of creosote that oozes off burning logs can damage the chimney.

In addition to allowing dangerous fumes into the living space of your home, a cracked chimney flue lining can pose a health threat by leaking carbon monoxide into your home. This toxic gas is colorless, odorless, non-irritating and tasteless, making it difficult to detect until the effects are severe. This can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, fatigue and even unconsciousness in victims who are not immediately helped. It is important to have your chimney regularly inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney sweep to avoid this hazard.

Many homeowners do not recognize when a chimney has serious problems like cracks, gaps, or spalling that require masonry repair. These conditions are not visible to the naked eye and often only a professional inspection will reveal them. Cracks, spalling, and broken flue tiles can allow flammable creosote and soot to escape the chimney flue and accumulate outside. This is dangerous because the flammable material could ignite and cause a chimney fire that threatens your home, family, and belongings.

A cracked chimney flue can also allow toxic carbon monoxide to leak into the home. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, tasteless, and odorless gas that can be deadly in high levels. It is a common problem with older fireplaces, wood stoves, and furnaces that are not properly vented.

Chimneys need to be able to draw air from the outside to replace the hot combustible gases that rise through the chimney during a fire. If the chimney does not have a way to draw this replacement air it can suffer from a condition known as chimney downdraft. The flammable gases that are burned in the fire do not rise far enough up the chimney to escape and the smoke falls back down into the fireplace and living room areas.

Over time the clay tile walls of a chimney can crack and crumble. This damage is caused by a combination of moisture from rain, melting snow, and freezing ice and water that seeps into the mortar joints. This water damage causes the bricks to warp and crack, and it can also cause the flue liner to deteriorate or break apart.

When the flue liner breaks down, it must be replaced. Many homeowners choose to use a stainless steel chimney liner that lasts longer than the traditional clay tile. This is a safer option and it can be installed by a qualified professional.

The lining is usually inserted into the chimney using an inflatable mold or “bladder.” It is placed in the chimney and filled with cement. The bladder is then surrounded by spacers and the mortar joint is caulked to prevent future water penetration.

When your chimney is not functioning properly, smoke can blow back into your living spaces, creating an unpleasant odor and irritating fumes. Fortunately, this is an easy and inexpensive problem to fix.

A common cause of fireplace smoke blowing back into the house is that the chimney is too short and not extending high enough above the roofline. This can be caused by a number of factors, including construction errors, improper installation, and a lack of regular maintenance.

If you notice smoke coming back into the room, have a chimney sweep inspect your fireplace and chimney for this issue. The chimney may need to be extended in order to achieve adequate height, and this is a relatively simple process that will greatly improve the function of your fireplace.

Another common cause of smoke issues is that the chimney is obstructed on the outside by a variety of items, such as animal nests, debris, and creosote. Creosote is a black, tar-like byproduct of wood combustion that can harden on the flue lining over time and lead to blockage. A chimney sweep can remove these obstructions to restore a proper draft and reduce your risk of chimney fire.

Chimneys that are too short can also suffer from a buildup of creosote, which can reduce the efficiency of your fireplace and allow heat and gas to escape into the attic and other combustible areas of your home. This can be dangerous for your family and pets, as well as damaging to your home and landscaping.

If you want to avoid the expense and hassle of a chimney extension, try a fireplace smoke chamber repair product like HeatShield. This ceramic/refractory sealant is designed to repair and strengthen the fireplace smoke chamber, which is the area above the fireplace and below the flue where the combustion byproducts gather. Over time, heat and acidic byproducts can erode the bricks and mortar of your smoke chamber, leading to structural damage and decreased efficiency. A HeatShield treatment is an affordable and effective way to repair your chimney’s smoke chamber and restore your fireplace’s ability to efficiently draw air and gases from the fire.