9 Warning Signs that Chimney Repair is Needed
A functioning chimney and healthy flue lining are your first line of defense against structural damage and a house fire. It is also important for the efficiency & usefulness of your wood burning stove or top rated, quality gas fireplace. To protect your home and loved ones, it is important to address issues quickly when they arise. Luckily, even without the trained eye of a professional you can spot some of the warning signs that your chimney needs repaired.
If your chimney has one of these warning signs, it is important to contact a certified chimney technician for a full inspection to identify the extent of the issue and fix the problem before it progresses.
1. White Staining on the Chimney Exterior
You might think that the staining on the outside of your chimney, which is often white, is a superficial issue but it is actually the sign of a more serious problem. This staining is called “efflorescence.” It is a sign that excessive moisture is getting into your masonry. If the source of the problem is not addressed, your chimney can deteriorate rapidly. This moisture can also ruin walls, ceilings and floors in your home.
2. Rusted Damper or Firebox
Another sign that too much moisture is getting into your chimney is a rusted damper or rust on your firebox. If you notice that your damper is more difficult to operate or not sealing properly, you should check to see if it is rusted. A professional chimney technician will identify will need to do a thorough inspection to identify why there is so much moisture. If the source of the problem is a cracked chimney crown the flue lining may also begin to crack and the masonry of your chimney may be deteriorating.
3. Stained Wallpaper or Ceiling
Damage to ceilings and wallpaper around your chimney are an additional warning sign that too much moisture is getting into your chimney. Whether it is caused by a cracked chimney crown or has another source, it is wise to have a chimney professional determine and fix the problem before it leads to more costly repairs.
4. Cracked Chimney Crown
If you suspect that excess moisture is getting into your chimney, you can climb onto your roof and take a look at your chimney crown. Your chimney crown protects your chimney and flue lining from the outdoor elements. A damaged crown is the leading cause of excess moisture in chimney. When it is cracked, water is able to seep into the flue liner and masonry. It will need to be repaired before it causes shaling, spalling or deterioration to mortar joints.
5. Deteriorating Mortar Joints
While you are on the roof, you can also inspect the mortar joints around the top of your chimney. Deteriorating mortar joints are an indicator that water is getting into your masonry. The problem is caused by water thawing and freezing in cracks in the mortar, resulting in larger cracks that eventually break apart the mortar joints. If the mortar joints are not repaired, the chimney will eventually collapse.
6. Shaling Flue Liner
A healthy flue liner protects the combustible parts of your home (walls, ceilings, floors and roof) from catching fire from heat or sparks from the chimney. Over time, tile and ceramic flue liners can crack and flake, especially if excess moisture is seeping into the liner. This process is called “shaling.” It puts your home at risk of a house fire. If you notice flakes or shard of tile or ceramic in your hearth, it is a good indicator that your flue lining needs to be repaired or replaced. A full inspection of your chimney and liner is necessary to identify the cause of the shaling.
7. Galvanized Metal Chase Tops
Galvanized metal chase tops are structurally sound means of sealing the top of your chase but over time and due to a couple factors, may deteriorate to the point of replacement. If not properly cross-broken and with a drip, water can pool and slowly create a problem. Chimney caps are also commonly not raised high enough from the chase cover, allowing by-products of smoke and water vapor to build on the chase top repeatedly until rusting. Rusty chase tops are not only aesthetically unappealing, but may develop holes that allow water into your chase and home.
8. Spalling Bricks
When water enters natural stone, concrete and brick is can cause spalling. Spalling forces the surface of masonry to pop out, flake off or peel off. Salt deposits that push outward can also cause spalling. If you see chips or pieces of masonry around your chimney it is an indicator that spalling is occurring. Eventually, spalling will cause a chimney to crumble and collapse if it is not repaired.
9. Chimney Fire
The extreme heat produced by a chimney fire can crack your flue lining and put your home at risk of a larger fire in the future. After you have had a chimney fire, it is smart to have your chimney and flue liner inspected to ensure they do not need repairs before using your fireplace again.
By paying attention to the condition of your chimney can help you to prevent large repairs. It may even save your lives. If your chimney shows any of these warning signs, be sure to contact a professional chimney technician. Our technicians have the knowledge and training to restore the functionality of your chimney and help you protect your home against a house fire.