How to Maintain your Chimney
Is your chimney ready for the big guy in the red suit to make his grand entrance? Don’t take the health of your masonry for granted. Ensure the structure is sound with this simple checklist, so your fireplace is safe to use this winter.
Stains or Discoloration
A white discoloration, also known as efflorescence, clearly indicates that that there is excess moisture in the masonry. Simply removing the stain will not solve this problem. You must get to the root of the problem and seal any leakage to avoid premature deterioration and other moisture related issues.
Rust on the firebox or damper is also a clear sign of excess moisture in your chimney. This can often cause your damper to have trouble sealing or operating properly. Rust can also indicate more serious damage, such as cracked flue tiles. If this is the case, consider hiring a professional chimney sweep to inspect the flue lining and ensure there isn’t a breach in the system that could lead to a fire hazard.
Damaged Mortar Joints
Deteriorating mortar joints expose the masonry to moisture and can accelerate chimney damage very quickly. When the weather is below freezing temperatures, this extra moisture can freeze in between masonry cracks, causing large fractures to develop. If the damaged mortar joints aren’t repaired quickly, the entire chimney can collapse.
Spalling or Shaling
Spalling is an exterior chimney issue that refers to the surface of the structure peeling or flaking off. This can happen when moisture enters the masonry and affects all styles, including brick, concrete and stone. If the spalling is not addressed by replacing the damaged masonry, the chimney will continue to crumble. Shaling happens inside the structure when thin slices of chimney tile collect in the fireplace. This indicates damage to the flue lining, which is essential to the safety of the chimney operation. To ensure your chimney is safe from these instances, it is important to have an annual chimney inspection done.
Another way to indicate chimney damage is to look at the walls and wallpaper near the chimney. If there is any visible damage, this usually indicates moisture in the chimney or flue. Repair as needed before you begin using your fireplace again.
Chimney Crown Damage
Damage to the crown of your chimney can be spotted by getting on your roof and conducting an inspection. If the crown is cracked, moisture can seep in and create larger cracks. That moisture can then get between the chimney and flue lining, causing spalling and shaling. Weatherproofing your chimney crown is the best way to defend your chimney against harsh weather conditions.