Types of Chimney Repairs You Need to Address Right Away
Your fireplace and chimney will provide years of warmth and enjoyment. After the winter season, it’s easy to forget about the chimney until the cold weather returns. However, chimney problems can occur at any time. It can be difficult for homeowners to determine when repairs are needed, especially if it has been some time since their last inspection or cleaning. While some chimney problems are relatively minor, these types of chimney repairs require immediate attention.
The creosote residue that sticks to the flue liner and interior masonry during the combustion of wood and gas fuels turns into a dark, tarry, and flammable substance if it is not appropriately removed. Fire departments around the country respond to over 20,000 residential fires annually. The overwhelming cause is excessive creosote in an unswept chimney. A small chimney fire that goes unnoticed can still damage the masonry and flue liner. Creosote is often difficult to spot without regular chimney cleanings, but black soot around the fireplace, drafting problems, and dark smoke are signs of excessive creosote. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), more than 1/8” of creosote is hazardous and should be removed.
Anytime there is water leaking in the chimney or fireplace requires immediate attention no matter how big or small the leak. Bricks and mortar are sturdy materials used in chimney construction, but they are also porous. A water leak can occur in any part of the structure, but it is often due to damaged flashing, broken or missing chimney cap, crack in the chimney crown, and masonry damage. Moisture intrusion causes metal components to rust, reduces heating efficiency, and compromises the chimney’s structural integrity. It can also increase indoor air pollution, potentially exposing the living space to toxic carbon monoxide fumes.
Years of exposure to wet and wintry weather can cause bricks to crack or chip and erode the mortar leaving gaps in the mortar joints. Without immediate attention, entire bricks can loosen and separate from the chimney affecting its structural integrity. It can also cause drafting problems and allow smoke and fumes to penetrate the living space creating dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Minor damage is easily repairable with a process known as tuckpointing. It restores the damaged bricks and mortar with a durable compound that is expertly color-matched to the chimney’s unaffected areas. More extensive damage may require a complete or partial chimney rebuild.
Flue Liner Cracks
The flue liner protects the interior masonry and helps prevent the high heat in a fireplace from transferring to combustible construction materials. Normal wear and tear, creosote, and moisture can crack or damage the flue liner increasing the risk of a fire hazard. Some of the gases created during combustion stick to the flue liner on its way up the flue. When the residues mix with oxygen and moisture, it causes corrosion that accelerates the deterioration of the flue liner. A damaged or cracked flue liner needs immediate repair or replacement.
Damper Doesn’t Close or Open Completely
The damper is a metal device regulating airflow while using the fireplace and prevents heat loss after the fire burns out. When the damper doesn’t open or close properly due to warping, corrosion, or a faulty gasket, it needs immediate repair or replacement. A damper that doesn’t shut completely is like an open window. It can allow water to leak into the chimney and damage the firebox.
The best way to minimize expensive repairs is to schedule a chimney inspection and cleaning annually. It enables the chimney sweep to spot chimney problems before they become more costly repairs. It also ensures that your fireplace and chimney are safe for use.