The Top 4 Chimney Killers
Chimneys are designed to last for decades, but they can fail without proper maintenance. When a chimney fails, it can become a serious safety risk. Using a fireplace with a damaged chimney increases the risk of a chimney fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Even if it is not in use, it could become a structural hazard or breeding ground for toxic black mold. You can prevent these risks and more by protecting your home from the top 4 chimney killers.
#1 – Neglect
Neglect is the leading cause of chimney failure. You increase the risk that minor damage will turn into a major problem if you allow years to pass between chimney inspections. Minor chimney damage—like broken flue tiles from a small chimney fire or a cracked crown—often goes unnoticed. If these problems aren’t fixed quickly, they can lead to bigger problems that are expensive to repair. Skipping an annual chimney cleaning or relying on chimney cleaning logs can result in a dangerous chimney fire sparked by large creosote deposits. This is why both the National Fire Protection Association and Chimney Safety Institute of America recommend an annual chimney cleaning and inspection.
#2 – Water
When water gets into a chimney system it can cause extensive damage. Water deteriorates masonry. One of the main ways that it does this is spalling. When water that has seeped into the masonry freezes and thaws, it creates cracks and breaks in the bricks and mortar. This is known as spalling. If the damage is not repaired, it can destroy the structural integrity of the chimney. Water can also warp and damage the flue lining causing cracks and breaks that might allow sparks from the fire and carbon monoxide to escape into your home. A chimney leak that allows excess moisture into the flue can create a breeding ground for toxic black mold.
There are many steps that you can take to prevent water from damaging your chimney. Having the masonry sealed with a waterproofing agent is one of the best ways to prevent spalling. Installing a chimney cap will protect the flue from water damage and mold by stopping rain and snow from falling down the chimney. An inspection of the chimney crown and flashing will ensure that both of those components are doing their job keeping water out.
#3 – Severe Weather
Chimneys are vulnerable to damage from heavy storms, earthquakes and tornadoes. High winds can rip off a chimney cap. A strong storm or tornado could cause a large branch or tree limb to damage the chimney. An earthquake could cause the masonry to crack or break. It is a smart practice to visually inspect the outside of your chimney after severe weather. If you notice signs of damage, contact a professional to setup an inspection right away! Repairing the damage quickly will prevent it from getting worse or causing additional issues.
#4 – Amateur Work
DIY chimney cleanings and unprofessional chimney liner installations are a couple of types of amateur work that could damage your chimney or create a safety risk. It is extremely important to use the correct types of cleaners and materials when working with chimneys. It is equally important to have the training and experience to understand local and federal chimney safety codes along with thorough knowledge of different chimney systems. An inexperienced handyman or homeowner could significantly shorten the life of your chimney. Professional chimney sweeps are certified through both classroom and field training to ensure they have comprehensive knowledge of chimney care. We recommend reading the customer reviews and checking out the credentials of any chimney expert you consider to ensure your home’s safety is in qualified hands.
If your chimney is due for an inspection or in need of repairs, give us a call! All of our chimney sweeps are National Fireplace Institute (NFI) certified technicians. We provide full-service installation, maintenance and repair of all fireplaces and chimneys for the tri-state area of Southwest Wisconsin, North Illinois and East Iowa.