Chimney Repairs are Common Due to Leaks & Wear Over Time

Chimneys are like so many other things in our busy lives: we tend to assume they will always work when we need them to. However, the elements alone are enough to cause damage over time to the mortar and structure of the appliance or some very annoying chimney leaks that can occur from damaged flashing. That’s why having a certified company to do your chimney repairs is extremely important.

Most chimney structures built today have a liner inserted to keep smoke from being released into your home. But there are still older chimney systems that do not have a liner, and the erosion in these chimneys does not come just from the outside. The smoke, creosote, critters, and debris all can damage the brick on the inside of the chimney.

It also doesn’t matter where you live in the US, as the changes in weather patterns over the last few decades have had a profound effect on the type of weather to expect. These changing elements can be a detriment to your chimney, from simple mortar joints that need repairing to wind and lightning damage that could require a complete rebuild.

#1 Reason Chimneys Need To Be Repaired

The number one reason chimneys will need repairs is water damage. A common water problem is rain water leaking in the chimney system. When the flashing has rusted or been torn by wind, water can easily leak from those areas. Water can also come through a rusted chase cover, a worn out damper or chimney cap and a cracked crown. One problem the homeowner might have is determining if the leak is coming from the roof or the chimney structure.

Having a certified technician familiar with leaking chimneys is a must to determine where the leaks are coming from. Because water runs to the lowest point, the chimney can be leaking and the water can show up elsewhere in the home. This is extremely frustrating and can normally be determined in one visit. We get called in from time to time by roofing companies to fix a chimney with a leak problem.

Another common issue is that bricks and mortar are porous, and will also expand and contract with temperature changes. So when you have rain and snow seep into brick and mortar then freeze, the brick is actually deteriorating and the process is called spalling.

Spalling causes the brick to break apart, or spall. While homeowners can experience spalling anywhere brick is found,you will often find it in basement walls but is most common in chimneys above the roof line.

The bad news is once you have spalled brick, it is almost impossible to repair. This is due to the fact that damaged bricks have to be cut out one by one and replaced. If there are a lot of spalled bricks, then it can be less intrusive and more cost effective to tear down and replace the chimney. Unfortunately, it’s an expensive and tedious process.

How to Prevent Spalling

If you live in an area where you believe spalling could be a problem, there are a few things you can do to prevent it in the first place:

  • Apply a breathable masonry sealant to all the brick from top to the bottom of the chimney. If you are not able to do this on your own, hire Environmental Chimney Service to do this for you. We use the best products available to waterproof the chimney appliance.
  • Make sure you have a drainage system to keep moisture away from any brick foundation. This not only includes the chimney but also your basement areas and any brick walls you may have.

If spalling is confined to just a few bricks and they look like they are in pretty good shape just leave them alone. They shouldn’t compromise the stability of a wall or a chimney. Of course, having a professional come out and take a look at them is always the best course. If you choose to just wait, keep a close eye on the bricks to make sure they don’t get any worse.

If it looks like the bricks are severely damaged, consult a professional. It is always best to think first about the safety of your home and family and get needed repairs completed as soon as possible.

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