Chimneys are exposed to harsh weather year-round, and moisture damage is a major problem. When water seeps into brick and experiences repeated freeze and thaw cycles, it can destroy the structure.
Look for white spots on your chimney’s masonry. These are crystallized salt deposits known as efflorescence, and they indicate a humidity issue that requires immediate attention. Chimney Repair Charleston SC experts will make it easier for you.
Damaged Bricks And Mortar
The bricks and mortar that comprise a chimney’s outer walls take a beating from harsh weather conditions. Over time, the mortar joints can crack and break, and if left unrepaired they may allow moisture to penetrate the bricks and damage other parts of the structure. This moisture can also cause deterioration, which leads to spalling bricks. In many cases, a homeowner can repair eroding mortar joints by repointing the wall with fresh mortar. This process is called tuckpointing.
To tuckpoint, first chip away all the loose brick material that is sticking out from the mortar joint. Remove any damaged brick, but don’t throw it away; it can be used for future repairs. Then, mist the whole area with water so that it’s thoroughly damp. This helps the new mortar to adhere to the existing brick. Next, mix your mortar according to the manufacturer’s directions. If necessary, experiment with the pigments to find a color that closely matches your existing mortar. Then, use a pointing trowel to “butter” the bottom and both sides of the opening with about an inch of mortar.
After buttering the new brick, push it into place. Then, smooth it with the butt of the pointing trowel until it is flush with the surrounding bricks. When you’re finished, spray the entire area with water to help the mortar cure and keep it moist for a few days.
Your chimney’s flue liner carries smoke, gases, and other combustion products from your fireplace to the outdoors. If the liner is cracked or broken, it cannot do this job properly and can result in dangerous carbon monoxide leaks into your home. The flue lining can be repaired in several ways, including replacing the old one with a new, relined chimney system.
Your chimney’s flashing prevents rain or water from entering the interior of your chimney. Loose flashing can allow water to seep into the chimney, which can cause extensive, expensive damage over time. If your flashing is leaking, you can repair it with a flexible stainless steel liner or by installing a new sheet metal flashing.
A leaning chimney is a serious problem that needs immediate repair. It may be a result of foundation issues or it could simply be part of normal house-settling, but either way, it will need to be addressed before the situation gets worse. Chimneys aren’t very light structures, and when you have such a concentrated weight in a small area it’s easy for the structure to shift and even fall over.
The first thing that you should do if your chimney is beginning to lean is call a professional for an inspection and evaluation. The professional should be able to determine the cause of the tilt and make a plan for repairing the problem. You should also ask the professional about his or her experience in working on chimneys that are leaning. A long history of successful repairs is a good sign that the professional has the skills and tools needed to do a good job.
One of the most common causes for a chimney to tilt is because of problems with the footing. The footing is the concrete slab that supports the chimney, and it can crack or break if the soil underneath it becomes too loose. This is particularly likely in areas that have frequent freezing and thawing cycles. The footing can also crack if it was built with subpar materials or was poorly reinforced during construction.
Another common cause for a chimney to tilt is bad flashing on the roof. This type of flashing can allow water to penetrate the masonry and weaken it, and if the chimney is already leaning the added weight of the water will make the problem much worse.
Some homeowners may attempt to solve a leaning chimney by using a metal strap to shore up the structure. This type of solution is not only ineffective, but it can cause further damage by transferring more stress to the chimney’s foundation.
Cracked Or Loose Chimney Cap
The chimney cap is a metal chimney cover that keeps debris and pests out of your fireplace, as well as the flue. Chimney caps can also prevent moisture and creosote buildup, which helps reduce fire hazards. If you notice a crack, looseness, or other damage to your chimney cap, it’s important to have it repaired as soon as possible to prevent water leaks and other issues.
The Chimney Crown
The chimney crown is the masonry structure that forms the topmost section of your chimney. The crown has a slight slope so that rain and snow can be shed off of it instead of falling straight down onto the brick structure itself. If your chimney crown has a crack in it, moisture can seep into the mortar joints and deteriorate the bricks and masonry.
A cracked chimney crown will eventually cause costly water damage to your house. The moisture can rot the wood in your chimney and even cause the chimney to fall apart.
Cracks in your chimney crown may be difficult to spot, but if you notice that the mortar is crumbling or the bricks are spalling (peeling off), there is a problem. A chimney crown repair is a simple solution that can save you thousands of dollars in expensive water damage repairs.
If you have a cracked chimney crown, a professional can apply a high-heat chimney sealant to the surface to stop moisture and prevent further damage. It’s best to hire a professional for this project, as working on a roof can be dangerous. Use caution, wear proper safety equipment, and consider renting a fall-arrest harness at a home improvement or tool-rental outlet to protect yourself from a serious injury.
A leaking chimney is not only a fire hazard, but it can also let toxic carbon monoxide into your home. A damaged chimney liner should be repaired immediately to avoid dangerous leaking of this potentially deadly gas.
Chimneys, like roofs, take a beating from the elements all year round. Spring storms, summer lightning, and winter blizzards all take their toll. Age also plays a role as materials break down and crumble. Regardless of the reason, when any component of a chimney is damaged by water it needs repair right away.
Water Damage To The Home
Moisture entering a home through the chimney can cause significant, expensive problems that often go undetected until it is too late. Chimney leaks are a common problem that can lead to severe water damage in the ceiling and walls. This moisture can warp, crack, and discolor any wood in the house including paneling, drywall, and paint. It can also destroy plaster and rot the masonry of the chimney itself.
One of the major causes of water damage to a chimney is a gap between the flue liner and the chimney crown. This gap can be caused by a chimney cap or flashing that is loose and not properly installed. This gap allows rain and snow to seep inside the chimney and degrade the masonry. This is called spalling and if the chimney is not repaired soon enough it will need to be completely rebuilt.
Another source of chimney leaks is a cracked chimney crown. The chimney crown is the top layer of special mortar that forms a weatherproof seal at the very top of the chimney. If the crown is cracked or crumbling it can allow water to seep into the chimney itself and the house through the fireplace.
The best way to prevent moisture problems is with regular chimney inspections. These inspections can catch issues before they become serious and costly. A regular chimney maintenance routine can also help keep your chimney working at its best and reduce the build-up of creosote, a dangerous gas that can be produced by a poorly functioning chimney.