What You Need To Know About Chimney Repairs
Many people who own a fireplace become lax when it comes to chimney repairs, which puts them in danger of paying for expensive chimney repairs down the road.
Constant exposure to the elements and heavy usage during the winter cause wear and tear, leading to the loss of the chimney’s structural integrity and putting you at risk of a chimney fire.
This post looks at chimney construction, the damage that can happen, and what repairs you may need to keep your fireplace and chimney running efficiently and your home safe.
Anatomy of a Masonry Chimney
When we think about chimney construction, we think about bricks and mortar, but a good masonry chimney is more complex than that. Masonry chimneys are built from brick and mortar and are typically installed when a home is being built.
Before diving into the types of damage masonry chimneys suffer, let’s look at each part.
A chimney crown is a concrete slab sitting on top of the chimney to prevent water from seeping into the bricks and mortar joints and pouring down into the flue.
The flue is the chamber where smoke and gasses vent out of the fireplace into the atmosphere. Depending on your fireplace and chimney setup, you may have more than one flue, like when you use a stove and fireplace connected to the same chimney.
Also called a chimney cap, this piece prevents embers from floating onto the roof and rodents and birds from getting into the chimney where they build their nests. Chimney caps also stop rain from going down into the flue.
These components are made from durable materials, but nothing lasts forever, and when exposed to the weather year after year, they can quickly fall into disrepair.
What Causes Chimney Damage?
Masonry materials are porous, which means they absorb water easily. Once water gets into the bricks, concrete, and mortar joints, it freezes during winter and expands, causing tiny cracks to form.
These cracks worsen every freeze/thaw cycle and lead to deterioration like spalling bricks, loose joints, and interior water damage.
Most chimneys have flue liners made from clay or metal. The average lifespan of a flue liner is between 20 and 50 years. The excessive temperature of the hot air flowing up the chimney eventually causes flue liners to crack or warp, exposing your home’s combustible materials to the heat and putting you at risk of a fire.
Masonry materials aren’t the only chimney component susceptible to damage; metal chimney caps rust and gets damaged by falling debris.
Chimney deterioration isn’t just aesthetically displeasing; it can lead to water seeping into your home or a chimney fire.
Signs You Need Chimney Repair
Now that you know what causes chimney problems and how quickly they can escalate, let’s look at how to spot these issues so you can call a professional contractor for repairs.
If the cracks that happen during the freeze/thaw cycles get out of control, it causes the mortar joints and the bricks to loosen. It’s a good habit to look over your chimney every spring to assess the state of the masonry and determine whether it needs repairing. Or better yet, call a professional chimney service for an annual inspection.
Water in the Firebox
Water in your firebox could mean your chimney cap is damaged, or you have compromised brickwork that’s allowing water to seep in. If your chimney cap is in good shape and you have water in the firebox, call a contractor for an inspection as soon as possible because there’s a high chance you have water damage elsewhere in the house.
Spalling is another consequence of moisture seeping into the bricks and is evident by brick flaking or crumbling. Like other forms of masonry damage, spalling isn’t just a cosmetic problem; if ignored, it could compromise the chimney’s structure causing it to lean or break down.
Average Chimney Repair Cost
With the cost of everything going up, it’s natural to want to save money wherever you can. Depending on the nature and extent of the damage, chimney repair can range from $1,000 to $5,000. And, if you need a complete chimney rebuild, it can cost upwards of $10,000. As you can see, it’s not cheap to repair your chimney, which is why it’s best to deal with these problems before they get out of hand by scheduling yearly chimney and fireplace inspections and maintenance from a trained professional.
Mercer County Chimney Service is a full-service chimney sweep, maintenance, and repair company serving Hamilton, NJ, and Mercer County residents. Our certified technicians will check your chimney and fireplace for potential problems and recommend the necessary repairs to keep you and your family safe and your fireplace and chimney efficient. We’re certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fireplace Institute, and a National Chimney Sweep Guild member.
Call us at 609-802-5288 or fill out our convenient online form to book an appointment.