The 5 Most Common Chimney Issues
A chimney may look like a secure, low-maintenance structure, but looks can be deceiving. Chimneys are vulnerable to many different problems, and homeowners can cut repair costs and ensure chimney safety with routine inspections and needed maintenance. Five of the most common chimney issues are: creosote buildup, chimney obstruction, cracks in the flue, masonry deterioration, and a damaged chimney crown.
Creosote is a byproduct of wood fires. It is a highly flammable mixture of soot and a brown or black tar-like substance. Soot is a fine carbon powder. Creosote is deposited in the chimney every time there is a fire in the fireplace. When too much creosote builds up in the chimney lining, your home becomes increasingly vulnerable to a dangerous chimney fire. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends both annual chimney inspections and chimney cleanings. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (NFI) recommends that a chimney be cleaned when at least 1/8” of creosote has built up in the lining. Every year, dirty chimneys are the cause of thousands of house fires in the U.S.
Blockage in the chimney obstructs the draft, which can cause dangerous complications. When the toxic fumes from a fire can’t exit as they should, those dangerous gases can enter your home. Carbon monoxide is especially dangerous. These toxic fumes could enter your home because of a chimney obstruction, and you would be unable to detect its presence possibly until it’s too late. Carbon monoxide is known as the “Silent Killer” because it is odorless, tasteless, and invisible.
There are various possible causes of chimney obstructions, including: creosote buildup, birds’ nests, debris such as leaves and branches, and chimney deterioration.
3-Cracks in the Flue
The chimney lining provides critical protection, since it is the barrier between intense temperatures and combustible parts of a home. Chimney linings deteriorate over time. The process of time results in damage to the liner. A mix of creosote and water could accelerate the process of deterioration. A flue can be seriously damaged by a chimney fire. All it takes for a chimney lining to become dangerous is for the tiniest of cracks to develop. During chimney inspections, one of the tools that can be used is a camera that carefully inspects a chimney lining from top to bottom. It is usually most cost effective to have a stainless steel chimney lining installed, when a flue becomes damaged.
When moisture penetrates a chimney system, the masonry can begin to flake and pop off. Eventually, a neglected chimney will lean and perhaps even collapse. One of the reasons moisture invades the masonry is because the mortar needs to be replaced. The mortar only lasts about 25 years, on average. A procedure called “tuckpointing” can be done, which restores the structural integrity of a chimney by removing old mortar and replacing it with fresh mortar.
The chimney crown is at the top of the chimney, and it prevents moisture from getting between the outer wall of the chimney and the flue. The extreme conditions outdoors eventually cause the chimney crown to become damaged. Cracks should be repaired as quickly as possible, to prevent chimney damage. Oftentimes, a rebuild is necessary.
Have you scheduled your annual chimney inspection? Keeping up with chimney maintenance is the best way to avoid unexpected costs associated with repair. Contact us at Chimney Specialists Inc. today. Our toll-free number is 800-395-6660.