Many homeowners neglect their chimneys until it's too late. These brick structures look sturdy and durable, and people don't think about chimney masonry repair until they notice large cracks, or smoke appearing in places where it shouldn't be. A neglected chimney can cause health problems, collapse, or even set the whole building on fire. Experts chimney builders and repairers list seven warning signs that every homeowner should know.
1. Water Leaks
Do you see water pooling in or around your fireplace after a rain? Call the professionals immediately to perform a chimney water leak repair. There could be several reasons for this, starting with a damaged cap, but water is always an obvious sign of problems with your chimney. Excessive moisture leads to mold growth, water damage and can even collapse the masonry if given enough time. A well-maintained chimney shows no leaks even during periods of heavy rain.
2. Rancid Smell
Persistent foul smell usually appears if you use your chimney often. Burning wood creates a layer of tar called creosote that sticks to the interior of your fireplace and flue. Excessive build-up of creosote traps other toxic gases slowly releasing them into your home. Creosote itself is flammable and can cause a fire accident. Prudent homeowners should find the best chimney services in the area and set a regular chimney sweeping schedule. During the cleaning procedure experts may discover other problems and fix them in time, saving your money on expensive repairs.
3. Cracks in the Crown
The top of your chimney is called the crown. If it shows cracks or other damage, it can cause severe problems. Changing temperatures, water and ice getting into the cracks will lead to further deterioration and may affect the entire structure. Fixing just the crown is often easier and more affordable than performing crumbling brick chimney repair. You should get onto the roof and take a look at the chimney crown from time to time. If you can't or don't have time to do it yourself, call a professional for an inspection. Waterproofing the crown is an additional option you should consider. Otherwise, you are inviting a host of problems that include bug infestation and masonry damage.
4. Damaged Joints
When you are on the roof inspecting the chimney crown, take a look at the mortar joints as well. They are exposed to the elements and can show signs of wear and tear. If the damage is excessive, the mortar won't be able to hold the bricks together and can cause the upper part of your chimney to fall. Repairing chimney cracks requires expertise and sophisticated equipment. Let the professionals deal with the cracked mortar joints. It's also recommended to hire a certified technician to perform an annual inspection. The average homeowner may not notice the subtle signs of damage.
5. Spalling Bricks
Just like mortar, bricks can absorb water with time. Damaged bricks will leave flakes or mortar crumbs around the bottom of your chimney. You might even find a brick or two out of place. Repairing chimney bricks requires replacing damaged masonry and improving the structural integrity of your chimney. While many issues like water leaks, rust or flue liner shaling have internal causes, brick spalling is an external issue. It's fairly easy to spot. Even though you might have some DIY experience, it's better to leave the job of fixing a spalling brick chimney to certified professionals.
6. Shaling Tiles
Repairing brick chimneys isn't just limited to masonry. If you keep seeing little pieces of ceramic or tile shards in the fireplace, it's a sign that you have a problem with your flue liner. Intact flue liner protects your roof, floors, walls and ceiling from catching fire. Cracks in the liner can let to some of the sparks escaping and setting your house ablaze. Stop using the chimney and call the professionals right away to asses the damage and determine the course of action. Shaling flue liner is an extremely serious problem.
7. Old Age
You've bought an old house recently. Or maybe your fireplace wasn't inspected in ages. You have probably noticed white efflorescence on the chimney exterior, rust on the damper, or stains on the walls near your fireplace. These are all clear sign that your old chimney needs repair. If the last inspection date was years ago, get in touch with the professionals.
Contact 312masonry, INC if you need all kinds of chimney repair in Chicago done in time and on a budget.