4 Common Causes of Chimney Damage
Everybody loves a roaring fireplace and the relaxed mood it sets on a chilly or ice-cold winter evening. But even with all the beauty a fireplace brings, there are some aspects of running one that aren’t particularly beautiful but are definitely necessary. One of these aspects is the maintenance of the chimney.
Even the sturdiest and most well-built chimneys will need It’s important to keep in mind that in most cases, only a trained inspector can spot damage to the chimney in its earliest stages and initiate the correct method for fixing it.
How do chimneys suffer damage? Here are four common causes.
A variety of “natural” occurrences can damage chimneys. These include heavy, snow-laden trees falling, extreme winds, lightning strikes, earthquakes and chimney fires.
As a chimney ages, the bricks and mortar can begin experiencing small cracks. Even if the cracks are tiny, they will still be big enough to let in water from rain or melting snow and ice. Once water is inside the system, the annual freeze-thaw cycles will create further, more extensive damage.
3. Years of use
Even without natural disasters and water infiltration, chimneys eventually begin to deteriorate after years of use. Damage from age usually starts small but can grow into a serious problem if left unattended.
4. Defects in workmanship
Chimneys that are built on-site, and to a lesser extent those built in a factory, can have structural issues because of faulty building processes. Fortunately, chimneys that are damaged from the day they’re built aren’t common, but the possibility of a faulty chimney is worth an inspection from a professional.
While creosote isn’t thought of as actual “damage,” it’s something that homeowners who use wood-burning fireplaces need to be aware of. Creosote is a smoke byproduct that clings to the inside of the chimney liner and can build up in great amounts over time. It is highly flammable and is the cause of the majority of chimney fires.
The chimney inspection
Chimneys (and fireplaces) should be inspected once a year. The average homeowner can do some inspection work on his or her own, such as looking for leaks and signs of moisture and spotting crumbling brick around the outside of the chimney or inside the firebox.
However, a professional chimney sweep is able to look a lot deeper into potential chimney damage and see things homeowners can’t. Certified technicians have equipment that allows them to inspect every square inch inside the chimney, and they have the experience to determine why the damage is happening and what to do about it.
A chimney inspection will include checking the flashing, the chimney cap, the damper, the chimney lining and the overall structural integrity of the chimney. This is the only way to ensure that any and all defects are found and that the necessary work is done to make the unit safe and strong.
Chimney Specialists of Highland, Wis., has served homeowners since 1977 with inspection, maintenance, cleaning and repair of all types of chimneys and fireplaces. If it’s time to have your chimney looked at by a pro, we’re standing by at (608) 929-4887.