Fix Your Leaky Chimney Now
Chimney leaks are a common problem, but they’re more dangerous than people realize. Let’s look at why chimney leaks are dangerous, what causes them, how to spot them, and when is the best time to repair them.
Why Chimney Leaks Are Dangerous
Many people think masonry chimneys are impervious to weather, but that’s not true. Chimneys are constructed of various materials, including brick, mortar, concrete block, stone, and steel, all of which are adversely affected by water penetration. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America,
Masonry materials deteriorate even more rapidly when exposed to the freeze/thaw process, in which moisture penetrates the materials and periodically freezes and expands, causing undue stress. And depending on where you live, your chimney may be exposed to the freeze/thaw process for as many as six months or so.
The bottom line is that water is your chimney’s biggest enemy, and here are the most common types of damage it can cause.
Water penetration into your chimney’s brick and mortar components over time can cause cracks and disintegrate mortar joints. Once mortar joints become weak, it’s not uncommon for bricks to loosen and fall away, compromising your chimney’s structural integrity. Depending on the damage extent, you could look at thousands of dollars in repairs or a complete chimney rebuild.
When water enters the chimney, it can damage the flue liner. The flue liner protects the chimney and the home’s combustible materials from extreme temperatures and keeps your fireplace burning efficiently. If the liner is damaged, it opens you to the risk of a chimney fire. Beyond the fire risk, a damaged flue liner can cause toxic gases like carbon monoxide to leak into the home.
Next to a fire, the last thing a homeowner wants is water damage because it can cause explosive mold growth and significantly decrease the home’s value. However, more than mold, water penetration into the home can wreak havoc on flooring, walls, and ceilings and cause wood rot, all of which could require costly repairs.
How to Spot a Chimney Leak
The worst part about chimney leaks is that many homeowners don’t know there’s a problem until it’s too late. However, there are some telltale signs to watch for.
Stains on the ceiling or walls near the chimney are the most common sign there’s a leak. Look for stains that are circular and brown or yellow.
As mentioned, water in the home typically leads to mold growth, which can make your home smell musty. This odor is particularly strong after heavy rain.
Efflorescence is a white, powdery residue covering the chimney’s bricks. This residue is caused by excess water in the bricks that evaporate, leaving salt and mineral deposits behind.
The damper is a metal component that controls the fire’s airflow and prevents cold air from coming into the home when the fire’s not lit. The intense heat, creosote, and other contaminants can cause your damper to corrode, but so can water leaking from the chimney.
Flaking or Peeling Paint
Lastly, like water stains, if you notice flaking or peeling paint around the chimney, it’s usually a sign of water damage.
When is the Best Time to Repair Chimney Leaks?
Although you should repair chimney leaks as soon as you know there’s a problem, most experts agree that spring and summer are best, and here’s why.
The warm months are best for chimney repairs in general because warmer weather conditions make repairs easier. The dry heat is better if you have to cure and dry masonry materials, should you need repairs such as these.
Chimney contractors get busier as winter draws closer, which can make getting an appointment more difficult. Moreover, you may get more competitive pricing during the off-season than when contractors are booked solid.
Obviously, if your chimney or fireplace is a safety risk, it’s best to schedule repairs as soon as possible; however, if you can hold off until the warm weather arrives, you’ll be better off.
Call the Pros at Mercer County Chimney Service
Mercer County Chimney Service is the go-to chimney and fireplace contractor in Mercer County. Our technicians are licensed, insured, and certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America and National Fireplace Institute.
We’re a full-service chimney and fireplace company and can handle everything from repairs, waterproofing, rebuilding, cleaning, and installations.
Book your appointment now at 609-802-5288.