If you detect smoke or unpleasant odors inside of your home, your chimney lining could be damaged and toxic fumes leaking in, endangering both you and your health. A damaged chimney allows toxins into your house and compromises its air quality putting your health at risk.
Chimney sweeps recommend scheduling regular inspections to detect problems early and make repairs before they worsen. A leaky chimney can have devastating repercussions for living areas and walls in your house.
Cracks or Holes in the Mortar Joints
One of the first signs that something is amiss in your chimney system is watermarks on the ceiling and walls near your fireplace, signalling moisture seepage from it. Chimneys were not built to withstand excessive moisture accumulation over time and this moisture seepage can become dangerous over time if left unchecked. For your own safety and that of those living nearby, contact a chimney repair professional immediately to make sure the leak hasn’t reached into wood framing of your home and caused serious structural damage.
Cracked or holey mortar joints are another telltale sign that your chimney needs repairs. These joints connect bricks, holding them together with moisture-retaining mortar. Damaged joints expose more moisture into your chimney structure, increasing damage. Tuckpointing may be needed in this instance.
Creosote is an innocuous byproduct of combustion that can build up inside your chimney lining and become dangerous – this is when a chimney sweep should inspect your system to identify if excess creosote exists within. If they discover excessive creosote build-up in your system it could indicate repairs are required to clear away this potentially flammable byproduct from combustion.
Pools of Water
If there are pools of water accumulating around your fireplace, this is an indication of a chimney leak. Water entering the masonry can be particularly detrimental as it causes bricks to expand and contract unevenly and causes further deterioration and rot; left untreated it could even leak into other parts of your home.
Moisture damage can also cause masonry to crumble or spall. If bits of bricks start dropping off your chimney, this is an indicator that professional inspection is necessary – failing which could result in carbon monoxide poisoning which could leave you sick or dead.
Search for signs of rust on the firebox and damper to indicate too much moisture has entered. Rust could also indicate damage to either the chimney lining or crown; should this occur, contact a professional who can assess and advise accordingly.
Chimney crowns are intended to shield the walls of your fireplace from rain and snow, but they may fail in their task if the mortar joints crack, or the crown itself comes undone. Chimney service companies specialize in detecting even minute flaws in chimney crowns so that repairs can be made before any worsening occurs.
Rebuilding crowns depends on the severity of damage. For minor cracks, sealants can help stop water entering through cracks that develop over time and worsening them over time. In more serious cases, bond patching or full crown rebuild may be necessary to repair them properly.
Moisture damage in wallpaper or paint could be the result of a defective chimney crown. Rust spots on chimney brickwork indicate water entering via cracked crowns. As water freezes and thaws it could potentially put your house at risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Over time, if your flue tiles crack or fall out completely, a rebuild may become necessary for your chimney. This issue could arise for various reasons such as heat fluctuations causing expansion/contraction patterns in tiles to change unevenly; over time this weakening process causes them to weaken further until they fail completely or crack completely.
Cracked crowns can pose another major risk to the integrity of your chimney structure. As part of its function as a first line of defense against environmental elements, their cracks allow water to seep into it between the chimney and its liner or into it directly and cause bricks to crumble or break apart due to excessive moisture entering through cracks in their structure.
As well as these obvious indicators, it’s also wise to keep an eye out for rust in any metal elements of your fireplace – this could indicate that it may be leaking and cause further damage to your home.