Chimney Fires and 3 More Pathways To Chimney Damage
Even when scheduling a chimney inspection, homeowners rarely expect to learn that chimney repairs are needed. What, apparently, has not become a well-known reality is that chimneys are highly vulnerable structures. Maintenance is essential because destruction of the masonry can occur when upkeep is neglected. Deterioration is not immediately obvious in chimneys, which often further complicates a layperson’s understanding. The following are four major factors that lead to a need for chimney repairs, whether immediately or gradually.
Chimney Fires & Other Sudden Occurrences
Chimney fires usually start because creosote or some other type of debris in the chimney catches fire. In cases where layers of flammable creosote line the walls of a chimney, a chimney fire can be fueled for an extended period, often resulting in the destruction of the chimney liner and a highly dangerous house fire.
Other events that can immediately result in chimney damage are lightning strikes and major storms with high winds that can cause trees and other debris to damage the masonry.
Bricks are highly porous, and chimneys are built with features designed to prevent moisture from being absorbed into the masonry structure. These features include the chimney crown, flashing, and mortar, all of which are prone to deterioration over time. When the chimney crown cracks, for example, moisture gets between the chimney exterior and the flue lining. The problem with moisture intrusion has to do with freezing weather. If there is moisture inside masonry, the water freezes and thaws in winter, which creates the movement of expanding and contracting. This slowly destroys the masonry, which ultimately leads to a leaning or collapsed chimney, unless repairs are made. A sign of moisture in masonry is spalling, which is when the brick face pops or flakes off, leaving debris around the chimney exterior.
Whether you have a masonry fireplace with a brick chimney or a prefabricated fireplace that came with a manufactured chimney pipe, faulty installation can cause problems.
Professional installation is essential for prefab fireplaces. In fact, insurance coverage can be nullified from do-it-yourself installation of a hearth appliance. If a solid fuel heating appliance is incorrectly installed, a wide range of problems can occur, including a chimney that is installed too near combustible materials, resulting in a house fire.
The potential problems built into masonry chimneys are numerous. Inoperative dampers, unparged smoke chambers, open mortar joints, incorrect chimney height, and a total lack of the required chimney liner are all potential problems requiring masonry repair or installation of a new chimney liner.
Basic Wear and Tear
Chimney exteriors are subjected to all the extremes in weather, and it takes a toll on the masonry. Some chimneys may wear out more quickly than others because, for example, rainwater from the roof flows in torrents directly against the chimney stack. Lack of chimney maintenance in itself leads to heightened effects of wear and tear. For example, if deteriorating mortar is caught early, a cost-cutting procedure called “tuckpointing” could fix the problem without the necessity of a masonry rebuild.
Contact Chimney Specialists Inc.
The chimney experts at Chimney Specialists Inc. have been providing trusted chimney services since 1977. We specialize in hearth product sales as well as chimney repair, chimney maintenance, and masonry repair. If you need chimney repair or if it is time to schedule a chimney inspection, give us a call today. The contact information is below.
Chimney Specialists Inc.
869 Main Street, Highland, WI
Dubuque Fireplace & Patio
925 Century Drive, Dubuque, Iowa