Chimneys are often neglected, as people tend to think more about the roof than the chimney. This is particularly true if they don’t use it much. However, it’s important to maintain your chimney as needed and to make sure you keep it in good repair. Roofing services often offer this as one of their services, as it’s best to have expert roofers look at the chimney.
Regular inspections are a must, as is cleaning your chimney. However, you may need to do more extensive repairs from time to time, as well. How do you know when to do those? Watch for the following signs.
Signs Your Chimney Needs Repair
Just looking at your chimney isn’t always enough to tell you when it needs to be repaired. A proper inspection of the chimney should be part of your annual roofing inspection, but you may find that there is an issue before the inspection and it should be repaired immediately. Here are some signs that the chimney needs repair.
Failing Mortar Joints
This is a very important issue that needs to be addressed immediately. When the mortar joint begin to disintegrate, moisture can get into the chimney. This can result in small flaws becoming much larger and that could result in a chimney collapse.
The mortar is what holds the bricks of the chimney together. If water gets into even a small crack, it can then freeze during colder weather. As you know, freezing water expands and that makes the crack larger. It only takes a few of these cycles to destroy the mortar and cause it to fail.
Another moisture issue, spalling is when you end up with water getting into the stone or brick of the chimney. This can cause it to expand and separate the stone or brick from the chimney. You’ll notice pieces of masonry falling off the chimney when this happens. It can occur with nearly any type of masonry, so keep an eye on things after a wet season. If you notice spalling, you need to have it looked after immediately.
Moisture can also cause rust. Most chimneys don’t have a lot of metal in them, so the place to check is the firebox and the damper. These are both susceptible to rust, as they are metal. If you notice that the damper is getting harder to adjust or just won’t seal well, you should take a look at it and see if it’s rusted.
This is particularly dangerous since a cracked or rusted out flu will eventually result in the destruction of the flu lining. That could end up causing a fire in your home, as heat can seep through the chimney into areas it was never meant to be.
You can seal the metal to help prevent rust, but once it has eaten away at the metal, you may have no choice but to replace it. However, noticing the rust early on will give you a chance to repair it before you need to invest in a whole new firebox.
Check the walls near the chimney on every level fairly regularly. It’s a good idea to inspect after a big rain, as well. If there is extra moisture inside the chimney, it can show up as damage to the wallpaper or paint. You may notice discoloration or water damage. If this is evident, it means your chimney is no longer properly sealed and should not be used until you have repaired it.
Is your chimney looking a little different these days? If it is becoming discoloured, it’s likely because something is wrong. You should call in an expert to take a look. They will be able to diagnose the issue quickly and let you know what is necessary to repair it.
Often, discolouration is due to heat reaching areas it shouldn’t, or water damage. Either of these reasons means you’ll need to look into repairs. Again, leaving this will result in having a bigger problem to deal with later on.
Shaling is an issue when you have an older chimney with a tiled flue lining. You’ll notice that there are bits of tile falling down into the firebox or fireplace and this is a good indication that you need to inspect the interior of the chimney. You’ll probably want to switch to a stainless steel flue liner if you need to replace the interior.
Once you’ve noticed shaling, a professional should come out and look up the chimney with a camera that can be put far up inside the pipe. This will confirm where the damage is and how bad it is. You should also avoid using the chimney once you’ve spotted shaling, since the area around the chimney is no longer protected from the heat.
Cracks in the Chimney Crown
This will require you to actually be on the roof to inspect the chimney crown, so you may prefer to leave this up to a professional roofer. If you do venture up there, look for cracks or other damage to the crown that could cause the water to get into the chimney. This may be the biggest reason you have moisture inside the chimney and it can cause all the other problems on this list.
It’s best to inspect your chimney crown at least twice a year to ensure you catch any potential damage early on. This will let you repair it before you have bigger issues.
Chimney Pointing: Why You Need a Professional
Chimney pointing refers to the finish on your chimney, used between the stones or bricks that were used to build it. These are also referred to as mortar joints. The mortar is used to set the stones or bricks in place, but it is also meant to prevent water or moisture from seeping through to the inside of the chimney, while still allowing moisture to escape.
Since the chimney structure will shift over time, from settling in the home, as well as expansion and contraction due to temperature, it’s important that the mortar be somewhat flexible. This tends to be lacking in older homes, so if you own an older home with the original chimney, your structure may require repointing in order to function correctly.
Repointing really ought to be completed by a professional. This is due to the sensitive nature of the structure, particularly in older homes. The older mortar must be removed with great care and the new mortar applied correctly. If either of these steps is done poorly, you’ll have more problems sooner, rather than later.
Professional roofers or roofing contractors have the necessary experience to repoint your chimney properly so it will last many more years. If you do this early enough, the repairs will be minor and it will simply be a matter of pulling out the old mortar and putting in the new. Then you can enjoy your chimney for years to come.
Chimney Repair Cost
When you first notice that something is off with your chimney, the first thought you have is likely “How much will this cost?”
Remember that the longer you leave an issue, the more you have to repair in the long run. That ends up costing more. For example, it will cost more to replace your chimney crown than to simply repair it. The same goes for pointing. If you need to repoint the chimney, it will be cheaper than if you have to replace entire sections of brick.
The best way to find out how much your chimney repair will cost is to talk to roofing contractors and get a quote. They’ll be able to look at the exact problem and help you determine what type of repair is required. This will have a big impact on how much is charged. However, it’s always best to repair any chimney issues as soon as possible to avoid paying double or more in the future.
The biggest problem for chimney structures is moisture. If it can get into your chimney, you need to be aware of this and fix the problem. There are too many things that can go wrong if moisture gets inside your home and begins to cause cracks and rust. Pay attention to your home and you’ll often pick up problems before they become serious.
Have you noticed any of the above signs of chimney problems? If so, give us a call at AJ Donald Slaters to get a quote on your chimney repair. We’ll happily help you prevent any further problems.