Is Mold Growing in Your Home’s Chimney?
A chimney is the last place that you might expect mold to thrive. Many homeowners do not realize how susceptible the chimney system is to water issues that can create the perfect environment for mold. Household mold flourishes in dark, damp, humid environments. Just like basements, crawl spaces, and ventilation ducts, chimneys are very vulnerable to moisture.
How does water get into a chimney?
The 3 most common reasons that water gets into a chimney system are:
• Poor ventilation – Your chimney system may not be venting properly because it is obstructed by extreme amounts of creosote or debris such as broken flue tiles, an animal nest, or leaves. Poor ventilation traps the condensation produced during the combustion process in the chimney and creates a moisture rich environment ideal for mold.
• Inadequate Waterproofing or a Broken Chimney Crown – Bricks and mortar are very absorbent. If your brick and mortar fireplace has not been treat with proper waterproof sealant or there are cracks in the crown, water can seep into the chimney through the masonry.
• A Leaking Chimney Cap or Chase Top – Whether you have a masonry fireplace with a chimney cap or a prefabricated fireplace with a chimney chase top, it is susceptible to leaks. Leaks can occur because of a hole or gash caused by a fallen branch, an extreme weather event or rust. Poor installation is another cause. If the wrong sized chimney cap or chase top was installed, or it was sealed improperly during the installation process, water can find its way into the chimney.
Any of these issues can lead to mold growth.
This is one of the reasons why we recommend that you regularly inspect your fireplace and chimney for signs of excess moisture and mold. The earlier you spot the signs, the easier it will be to fix the problem and remove any mold that is growing.
Is it safe to leave mold in a chimney?
The unpleasant musty smell and unsightly appearance of mold are not the only reasons it should be taken care of. Mold can cause health problems from mild allergic reactions like sneezing, itchy eyes or skin, and skin irritation to more serious issues like difficulty breathing, memory loss and even infertility.
Mold spreads by releasing spores into the air. Even non-toxic mold spores can aggravate allergies or cause an asthma attack when breathed in. Spores from toxic black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum, can cause serious health concerns when they are breathed in. Though most mold is non-toxic, there is a chance that toxic black mold could grow in your chimney. If you find mold in your home and have been experiencing symptoms of mold poisoning, you should visit your doctor. The symptoms of toxic mold poisoning include:
• Chronic fatigue
• Chronic coughing or sneezing
• Asthma attacks
• Labored breathing
• Persistent headaches
If mold is found in your chimney, it should be removed by a certified chimney technician or chimney specialist. If you try to tackle it as a DIY project, you could cause damage to the chimney system or your health. Chimney systems are more complex than many homeowners realize and cleaning one out well can be harder than you expect.
Certified chimney technicians like us have the training and experience to remove mold without damaging the chimney system or spreading the problem. We also have specialized equipment and cleaning solutions that help us to effectively remove mold. The price of investing in the right equipment and solutions yourself might cost you more in time and money than a professional cleaning.
What is the best way to check for mold and moisture in a chimney?
It is smart to make a habit of regularly inspecting your fireplace and chimney for signs of a water problem and mold.
To inspect your chimney, start with the fireplace.
Look closely at the walls and corners in the fireplace and answers these questions:
• Are the walls or corners of the firebox damp?
• Are there any water spots?
• Are there any dark spots that look like they might be mold instead of soot?
• Is there a strong, musty odor coming out of the fireplace or chimney?
Next, use a flashlight and mirror to look up the chimney.
• Do you see any dark spots that look like mold along the walls of the chimney?
• Does the top of the chimney look like it is blocked?
If you answered “Yes” to these questions, reach out to us at (608) 929-4887 to schedule a professional inspection! We serve the tri-state area of Wisconsin, Iowa & Illinois. Our certified techs can set your mind at ease and ensure your home is mold free. During our inspection, we will climb onto the roof to get a close look at the chimney cap or chase top and chimney crown to see if there is a leak. We may also run a camera down the chimney to get a close look at the flue lining or chimney walls for mold spots. If we find mold, you can expect us to thoroughly remove it and let you know how we can fix the problem that is causing it.