As a homeowner, it is important to schedule yearly professional chimney inspections. In addition, it is wise to keep a close eye on your chimney in-between inspections.  We recently received a call from a homeowner in Columbia, MD who noticed that her chimney was damaged.  Seeing the problem and getting her chimney repairs early saved her a lot of money.  Watch for these six problems, which typically indicate that your chimney needs repairs.

1. Damaged Mortar Joints

This is a problem may need to be seen from the rooftop in order to be noticed.  As as result, it may be best handled by a professional chimney sweep company.  A good repair technician will look for any kind of damage to the mortar joints between the masonry of the chimney. If there is damage, it needs to be repaired as soon as possible given the following:

  • Mortar joints that are damaged cause the bricks to suffer from exposure to moisture.
  • Moisture that enters small cracks can lead to larger cracks.
  • Freezing and thawing over the course of the winter speeds up this process.
  • Failure to repair damaged mortar could result in the chimney collapsing.

2. Rusted Damper or Firebox

Moisture in your chimney or fireplace is a clear sign that your chimney is not working properly. You can check for this problem by being vigilant for the following:

  • Checking to see if there is rust in the firebox or damper.
  • Another sign of rust and excess moisture in your chimney is if your damper becomes challenging to operate or doesn’t seem to be sealing correctly.
  • Rusting indicates that there is too much moisture in your chimney, which is a serious problem.  Rust can damage the chimney liner. Flue tiles can crack, and this cracking and deterioration in the flue lining can lead to a house fire.

3. Spalling Chimney Bricks

Spalling happens when water gets into brick, concrete, or natural stone and causes the masonry’s surface to either peel off or pop out. Salt is also known to cause spalling.  You can identify spalling by the observing bits of masonry coming off from the chimney. Without repairs, spalling can lead to more crumbling and, ultimately, the destruction of the chimney.

4. Shaling Flue Tiles

Shaling is another problem and sign of chimney damage that you should check for inside your fireplace:

  • Shaling can occur when your chimney liner is damaged.  Liner damage results in bits of tile from the chimney piling up at the bottom of the fireplace.
  • Shaling flue tiles are more easy to spot than cracked flue liners. Often, checking for cracked flue liners involves a professional chimney sweep using a special camera. The camera allows the chimney repair tech to identify potential problems in the flue that cannot be easily spotted by other means.
  • If you notice shaling or suspect cracked flue tiles, your chimney needs repairs.

5. Cracked Chimney Crown

The chimney crown is the top part of your chimney.  The crown serves a critical role in protecting the chimney structure from the elements.  As such, it is important that the chimney crown is kept in good condition. Checking for damage requires that you go to the rooftop or hire a professional chimney sweep. The following problems can occur if the chimney crown is damaged:

  • Water can get inside, freeze and thaw, and create bigger cracks.
  • Moisture can come into the space between the chimney and liner, which can lead to deterioration of the masonry.
  • Weatherproofing the chimney crown as well as the chimney is a helpful step you can take to guard against this problem.

6. Damage to Wallpaper

Damage to wallpaper that’s close to the chimney may be due to excess moisture in the chimney. If you notice this problem, make sure your chimney is inspected and repaired as soon as possible.

Being on the lookout for these issues and contacting a professional chimney sweep at the first sign of these problems can save you from your expensive

2 Replies to “6 Signs that you need chimney repair”

  1. Thank you for talking about all the possible ways a chimney can develop cracks and how to tell if it’s happening to your own chimney. The part about rusting, in particular, was very helpful since I could smell a very faint metallic smell every time I tried to test my current fireplace, leading me to think that there’s something wrong with the masonry. I’ll play it safe for now and wait till we get a masonry contractor to help us repair it so we don’t run into any fireplace accidents.

  2. It’s good to know that it’s best to have your chimney repaired if you have spalling chimney bricks that are probably caused by water or salt damage. We currently have this issue with the chimney in our vacation house. I will follow your advice and start looking for a chimney repair service nearby that could make our chimney look brand new again. Thank you.

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