I see a lot of problems with chimneys in my line of work. Delaware County is full of beautiful homes with lovely chimneys. Unfortunately some homeowners neglect their chimney due to infrequent or total lack of use. If you don’t use it, don’t worry about it, right? Not necessarily. It should still be occasionally inspected just to ensure that no wildlife has taken up residence, and that it will be safe for use if you ever decide to use it. Here are some of the most common chimney problems I see each year.
Several things may damage the flue and create a dangerous situation each time you light a fire. Cracked chimney liners allow carbon monoxide to enter the home. This puts your entire family at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure your carbon monoxide detector has fresh batteries at all times to minimize risk.
Damaged Chimney Caps
The purpose of a chimney cap is to protect the chimney from rain and wildlife. A damaged chimney cap allows small animals and birds free entry to the chimney so they can build nests or enter your home unannounced.
The damper is a very important part of your chimney’s anatomy. It helps control the amount of air flow from the fireplace through the chimney. A damper that blocks air flow and cannot be opened or adjusted, will allow smoke and dangerous gases to enter your home.
Masonry chimneys take a lot of damage from the elements. Each season brings an entirely new set of dangers. Concrete is very porous and collects water. During the winter months, any water that collects turns to ice and expands within the concrete. The continual freeze-thaw process creates cracks and will eventually cause degradation of the entire chimney.
Chimney flashing is the material, usually metal, that connects to both the chimney and the roof. It’s usually in an L shape to fit the area perfectly. Flashing protects your roof by directing water away from it and creating a watertight seal.
The chimney crown is the concrete that protects the top of the chimney. The slightly-sloping design directs water away from the chimney opening to help prevent water damage between the flue and masonry. Unfortunately when the crown becomes damaged, it allows water into the chimney and begins to erode the brick and mortar from the inside.
Chimney repairs should be made as soon as these problems have been identified. A once-yearly chimney inspection ensures that these problems do not go on indefinitely. Homeowners may notice cracks in the masonry, but it’s difficult to see damaged chimney caps, flues, or flashing from the ground. You must have someone with working knowledge of these items inspect and repair them as needed. If you’re in the Philadelphia area and would like to schedule a chimney inspection or cleaning call me at 610-626-2439.