6 Signs You May Need a New Chimney
When well-built and maintained, a chimney should last for many years. However, various types of damage can happen to a chimney that may shorten its lifespan. Minor damage can be repaired. In cases of major chimney damage, rebuilding a new chimney is often necessary.
Here are six signs to watch for that indicate the need for either chimney repair or a new chimney.
1. Leaning chimney
When a chimney begins to lean to one side, it means one of two things: either there is widespread damage within the chimney structure, or the chimney footing is seriously compromised. In either case, a chimney rebuild performed by a licensed chimney repair company is the best way to prevent a collapse and potential major damage to your roof and home.
2. Crumbling mortar joints
Decayed mortar that holds the bricks together is a problem that shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s the type of situation that keeps on getting worse instead of better and can lead to a collapsed chimney. Look for areas of crumbling on the roof, and see if you can spot open sections between any of the bricks.
3. Spalling bricks
Loose or spalling bricks can be caused by water damage (see below) or events such as earthquakes, lightning strikes, hail and other unexpected forces. Loose bricks compromise the chimney’s integrity and can cause a chimney to begin to lean and eventually collapse.
4. Water damage
When water gets into cracks or breaks anywhere within the chimney system, a cycle of ongoing damage is likely to begin. Water decays bricks and mortar; when water freezes in cracks, it expands and causes damage that’s often unseen. Signs of water infiltration include white staining on exterior bricks, water in the firebox, strong odors coming from the fireplace and damp sections of walls and the ceiling adjacent to the fireplace/chimney.
5. Small cracks in the masonry
They look harmless, but even the smallest cracks in the masonry of a chimney or its cement chimney crown at the top can lead to serious problems. Cracks tend to enlarge and allow water and moisture to get in. Events as described above can cause cracks, which should be dealt with as soon as they appear. For minor cracking, a waterproof sealant often is an effective solution.
6. Damage to chimney caps and chimney crowns
The chimney cap and the crown are in place to shield the chimney structure and interior flue from water and obstructions. A damaged cap gives water a clear path into the chimney and can also let in tree debris and nest-building small animals, both of which will obstruct the drafting of smoke. A broken chimney crown allows water to fall into the flue and start a decaying process in the bricks beneath it.
Assessing chimney damage
If you spot any signs of chimney damage, your first step is to secure the services of a licensed, certified chimney inspector. This individual has the tools and experience to understand exactly what’s happening and the extent of the damage. A recommendation can then be made on the best way to solve the problem.
Many chimney issues can be repaired. When the damage is widespread and severe, your safest move is to have all or part of the chimney rebuilt. Restoring a chimney this way can prevent a total chimney collapse, which can cause expensive damage to your roof and home and put people living in your home at risk.
Magic Mountain Chimney Sweeps of Frederick, MD, offers CSIA-certified chimney inspections, chimney repair and rebuilding and complete chimney cleaning services. We’re here to solve problems and keep your home and family safe. Call us today at (301) 695-6991.