Wear and tear is all part of homeownership. Every appliance we own wears just a little more every single time it is used. How many times have you flipped on a light switch and you’re greeted only by a flash as the bulb blows? Or you get that nice hot bowl of soup out of the microwave only to find that it is still cold. The more we use our beloved appliances, the more quickly they wear out. The same is true with your chimney. There are actually several elements of a chimney that take excessive wear and tear over time and must be repaired or replaced. Let’s take a look at them now.
The Chimney Structure Itself
The chimney sticks out of the roof of the home several feet. Every single inch of that is exposed to all types of weather and takes damage from the elements. Even a properly sealed chimney slowly takes damage and must be resealed every few years. Here are some potentially dangerous issues to look for when you visually examine the exterior structure of your chimney.
Efflorescence or White Staining – This type of staining only occurs when salt particles in the masonry combine with water. Excess water inside the masonry makes its way to the exterior and brings these tiny salt crystals with it. The water evaporates and leaves the salt residue behind.
Excess moisture within the structure of the chimney maybe the direct result a few different things. Please be aware that when moisture is trapped in the masonry and the chimney goes through a freeze-thaw cycle, more damage is extremely likely. The freeze-thaw process often results in cracks throughout the masonry.
Crumbling Mortar – Cracks and crumbling are also direct results of age and the freeze-thaw process over time. The more damage that occurs, the more quickly the chimney needs attention. You can have the masonry tuckpointed – a process in which a mason can push mortar between the bricks in an attempt to strengthen the affected areas. This often helps keep serious damage at bay, but only for a short amount of time.
Black Staining – When the chimney isn’t functioning as intended, smoke may come into the home instead of up the chimney. This creates black stains on the area above the hearth, and it is very difficult to clean. This type of stain is doubly dangerous because it lets you know that smoke is entering your home instead of escaping through the chimney and it also means that carbon monoxide and other dangerous gases are likely entering your home as well.
If you notice any of these problems with your chimney, please call me at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service at 610-626-2439 to schedule a consultation. We’ll discuss the potential causes of the problems as well as the best course of action for each. We can also schedule your next chimney cleaning and inspection at the same time.