Understanding the Factors That Cause Chimney Deterioration



The lifespan of chimneys vary depending on the type, and the frequency of use. It is fair to say one starts to deteriorate from the first time it is used. Over time, as you use it more often, and whether you keep it well maintained, will affect the rate of deterioration. Regular inspections can help to lengthen the life of a chimney, and without it, these factors will lead to more rapid breakdown.

Causes of Chimney Breakdown

Concrete is a strong material, but chimneys endure intense heat on the inside, and changing weather conditions on the outside. Factors which cause them to deteriorate faster are:

Corrosive components produced by fires can erode silicate hydrates which help to bond concrete. This weakens the surface and allows moisture to get in, leading to cracks and spalling.

Flue gases can seep into the space between the chimney shell and the liner causing corrosion. Heat can eventually cause the coating of the liner to start to break down. This will cause hot flue gases to seep through and reach the chimney shell.

Carbonation, which is a process that causes excessive amounts of carbon dioxide to come into contact with concrete. As the concrete weakens, this poses a danger to the steel that reinforces it. If it starts to rust, this can lead to sever structural problems in the chimney.

These effects usually take years to become obvious, but they can lead to costly chimney repairs. With regular inspections, a chimney sweep will know if there are any problems that need to be addressed.

The Effect of Weather

Chimneys are built to withstand different types of weather, but over time it will take its toll, especially with lax maintenance. Constant, heavy winds can cause damage to a chimney. When moisture gets trapped inside the mortar, and freezes in winter, it can cause cracks and spalling. If ignored, the repairs will be expensive. Driving rain can get into a chimney can cause rusting of metal components.

These factors do not need to take an early toll on the chimney, if there is regular maintenance. Consider a video inspection of the chimney’s interior. You will spend a bit more, but it will give the technician a better look at the state of the chimney. This will make it safer, and help to prevent further deterioration.

Fireplace Safety and Chimney Inspections in Drexel Hill

We have two CSIA Certified chimney sweeps standing by to assist you with your chimney needs. Give us a call at 610-626-2439 to schedule an appointment for a chimney inspection or cleaning. We provide chimney services throughout the Main Line region.

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