Your chimney system is comprised of numerous parts, all of which are inspected by a chimney professional during your yearly chimney inspection and sweeping. To prevent major chimney system repairs, it is of paramount importance to make minor repairs as soon as problems arise. Some parts are in the line of fire more than others and are adversely affected by the heat, while other parts are exposed to the elements, thereby causing them to wear out faster. Either way, these parts need to be replaced at one point or another. Keep reading to get a better understanding of some of the more common chimney repairs encountered by our technicians and why it’s so vitally important that you have your chimney system inspected at least once a year.
Crumbling Mortar Needs Immediate Attention
The mortar used in the construction of your chimney is exposed to the elements on the outside and the heat from your firebox on the inside. This greatly speeds up the weathering process. As such, it’s fairly common for it to begin to crumble and fall away, leaving open areas between the bricks, which only exposes even more to these weathering agents. As you might guess, this leads to even more issues. The process for repairing your damaged mortar is known as repointing. During this process, the damaged, old and loose mortar on your chimney is removed from the joints between the bricks and replaced with new mortar or masonry repair caulk. Only a skilled professional should repoint a chimney, as the work requires an experienced hand.
Don’t Overlook Your Chimney’s Flashing
Chimneys are notorious for leaking, and the culprit is almost always the flashing, which lies at the point where the chimney rises above the roof. It keeps water out of the chimney, protecting both the flue and roof. Flashings are made from a variety of materials (aluminum, copper, steel, tin, etc.). You’ll want to have new chimney flashing installed is it’s missing, rusted through, falling out or completely covered with roofing tar (a common short-term fix that’s sure to be hiding bigger problems). Many homeowners also opt to have new flashing installed when having new shingles put on because they want it to last as long as the new roofing (anywhere from 25-40 years).
This Could Put a Damper on Things
The main purpose of a damper is to seal the chimney airtight when it’s not in use. Heat rises, and if the chimney isn’t sealed when the fireplace isn’t in use, all of the heat in the house goes up the chimney. Liken this to leaving your door open in the middle of winter. You wouldn’t do that, so why settle for a damper that doesn’t seal properly. There are two different types of dampers: top sealing and throat mount. Each type has its pros and cons; in a perfect world, you’d have one of each installed, as this would provide you with the best overall performance. Dampers are one part of your chimney that you shouldn’t leave to function inadequately.
And the Gases Flue Right Up the Chimney
According to the CSIA, problems in your chimney’s flue can present serious risks to your home and family, because it’s no longer able to perform its primary function: to safely contain and vent the products of combustion to the outside of your home. If your current liner was installed improperly or is deteriorating, it is highly recommended that you either have a new one installed by a licensed professional or, if possible, have your current liner repaired. There are several different relining options (clay, stainless steel, and cast-in place liners), depending on both the type of flue liner you currently have and the overall condition of your entire flue. Because of the critical job completed by your chimney liner, it is a critical part. Every chimney needs a working liner.
As you can see, a chimney technician’s job is far more labor intensive that one might think. Chimney systems are comprised of many parts that depend upon one another to function at peak levels. A problem with one part of the system can cause another part of the system to have to work harder to pick up the slack, thereby causing that overworked component to wear out at a much quicker rate. This can become a vicious cycle rather quickly if the initial problem isn’t addressed in a timely manner. The central theme here is clear: repairing minor problems in a timely manner will decrease the likelihood of them becoming major problems down the road. We encourage our customers to have annual chimney inspections and cleanings to help reduce the chances of chimney system surprises. Be proactive; give us a call today!