Although you can easily hire someone to repair your chimney, knowing when repairs are necessary isn’t always easy, especially for total novices. However, even if you’re a homeowner who is also a newcomer to chimney construction, you should know when to reach out for help. While preventable, some problems can get costly if you don’t address them quickly enough.
Our detailed guide below will show you how to spot the common signs your chimney may need repair. Read these common signs so you can swiftly fix damages before they turn for the worse.
Foul or Smokey Smell
Creosote is a common byproduct of wood combustion, so the more frequently you use the fireplace, the quicker creosote will cling to the flue liner. As a result, if you’re smelling a foul or smokey odor indoors, it’s likely an excessive buildup of creosote. Unfortunately, this material does more than create bad smells.
Toxic gases emanating from a wood fire need a clear chimney to escape safely, but creosote can block those gases from escaping, hindering indoor air quality in the process. Plus, the more creosote you have in the chimney flue, the more likely you are to accidentally start a house fire.
As you’ll learn below, many chimney problems relate to issues you don’t immediately see because they occur in the flue. Thanks to professional chimney sweeps, finding someone who can routinely clean a chimney flue is a simple and beneficial step for homeowners.
Although some chimney issues are interior, others are easy to spot with a visual inspection. For instance, your masonry’s appearance is one of the most common signs your chimney may need repair. Despite looking and feeling tough, your chimney masonry absorbs moisture, which is a hazard that can cause many different problems at home, including mold growth.
When your chimney bricks soak up too much water, they can begin to chip or move out of place. Anytime you see mortar chunks lying around the chimney or bricks starting to slide out of place, it’s time to find an expert to assist.
Don’t worry; this isn’t a task you must tackle DIY style. Homeowners experiencing many chimney issues such as masonry damage can reach out to professional chimney repair services in their area to find a suitable solution.
Another visible issue you can spot outside is cracking crowns. As you might presume from the name, the crown rests atop the chimney, so they’re not hard to locate. This component isn’t just there for looks, as it also provides the necessary protection against the elements.
As we mentioned above, water damage can cause significant issues in your masonry. Unfortunately, one of the ways the water gets there is when the protective crown has cracks.
Thankfully, another commonality crown cracks share with masonry damage is the solution. Seek a local professional with chimney crown expertise so you can prevent this damage from spreading to more parts of the home. Additionally, your local expert might have the ability to waterproof your crown, so don’t forget to inquire about defensive options to prevent cracks from striking sooner than later.
Worn Mortar Joints
A chimney requires the help of mortar joints to hold all its bricks together. Unfortunately, your mortar joints are susceptible to moisture damage like the masonry itself.
This is another situation where professional inspections help because water damage indoors can stem from various problems. If you have a sharp eye for mortar joint integrity, reach out to an expert for help when you notice signs of damage.
Moisture seeping into the chimney cracks is especially troubling when encountering temperature fluctuations. When water seeps into the chimney, it can expand and contract as the temperature drops and increases, which puts stress on the masonry, causing cracks to develop.
Interior Wall Damage
Speaking of water damage, it won’t stop at your chimney when you don’t fix the problem. In other words, if you don’t swiftly repair mortar joint or masonry damage, the water can leak into other areas around the chimney, such as the walls.
So, if you notice that the wall or ceiling around your chimney is discoloring due to water damage, it’s most likely a chimney leak. However, water seeping into your walls doesn’t mean there is no solution.
As with the issues above, reach out to an expert to find out where that leak is coming from so you can find a solution before the damage gets worse. For example, water soaking into the walls can cause structural damage and mold growth, neither of which are safe, comfortable situations.
Your fireplace should look welcoming and warm, just like the atmosphere that it creates when you burn some wood on a cold evening. So, if you see rust appearing in the damper or firebox, you shouldn’t assume that’s a normal occurrence. It is a common occurrence, but it’s not “normal” in the sense that you should let it happen.
If you see rust forming in the fireplace, it means water is leaking from somewhere. Most likely, you have cracks forming inside the chimney, but hiring a chimney inspector is the only way you’ll really figure out what’s really going on.
Suffice it to say, the elements are your chimney’s greatest enemy. That said, as we’ll delve deeper into below, scheduling routine inspections will help you keep that enemy from consistently causing costly damages.
It’s Been a Long Time
Luckily, there is a way to know your chimney’s status without enduring the side effects above: routine inspections. Thus, among the most common signs your chimney may need repair is your last inspection date.
When you own a fireplace and chimney, annual inspections from a trained professional will help you identify potential problems, such as creosote buildup, before they cause more substantial safety risks. Given the technical nature of this project, it’s a good idea to spend time finding a chimney repair and inspection service.
Factors such as how many years they have in the business and what previous customers say online are just a few ways to figure out a chimney company’s quality. Plus, if you know someone with a chimney, you can always ask them for a helpful suggestion. Now that you know how to identify common chimney problems, you can provide some useful tips yourself, too.