The masonry chimney adds a lot of character to a home. It also adds a good deal of maintenance to the yearly schedule. You have to have it inspected, repaired as needed, and cleaned on a regular basis based on how often it is used. Today we’re going to go over a few everyday things that can cause chimney damage. These are things that most people don’t consider harmful in most instances. Your chimney, however, can disagree.
A brick or stone chimney is held together with mortar. Mortar is porous and so are brick and some types of stone. This means that they soak in water every time it rains or snows. The water usually has the chance to evaporate during the summer, but some of it may become trapped within the structure of the chimney. The water freezes and expands during the winter months. The freeze-thaw cycle creates cracks in the masonry that can lead to serious damage or even collapse.
You can prevent water damage by applying a waterproofing agent to the chimney every few years. We recommend ChimneySaver products because they are cost effective and easy to apply. You can apply them as part of a DIY home improvement and maintenance schedule or hire us to apply them if you’re uncomfortable climbing onto the roof or simply don’t have the time.
Everyday winds aren’t necessarily very damaging to the chimney. It’s a strong structure with metal parts such as chimney caps and flashing securely attached. Strong winds like those that accompany the usual summertime thunderstorms can bash debris into your chimney and cause serious damage. Always be on the lookout for bent or missing flashing or chimney caps, and other damage to the chimney.
You can usually spot wind damage with a regular visual inspection. Most homeowners subconsciously scan their home every time they return home from work or running errands. This is always a good idea for your safety as well as to keep an eye on potential issues with your home. If you notice that the chimney is tilted, cracked, the chimney cap is damaged or missing, or some other problem with your home – you call in a professional to repair it.
Ivy and Climbing Vines
Many homeowners love the look of climbing vines on the chimney, and ivy is an all-time favorite. Climbing vines on their own aren’t terribly damaging as long as the chimney is in good repair and inspected regularly. A chimney with spalling brick or otherwise weakened masonry is at risk for continued damage if the vine’s roots push past the damage and continue to flake away at the structure of the chimney.
Chimneys built before 1930 are at higher risk for damage because the lime based mortar used until that point is weaker and more susceptible to erosion. Portland cement wasn’t used in the construction of homes and chimneys until 1930, it’s much more durable than its lime based counterpart.
Give me a call at 610-626-2439 if you’re still considering planting a climbing vine near your chimney. They are beautiful and lend a certain amount of charm to the home. Climbing vines can be planted and allowed to grow as long as you’re sure your chimney is free of existing damage. One of the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps here at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service can inspect your chimney to make sure the masonry is up to the task of allowing a climbing vine to thrive.