10 Signs Your Chimney Needs Professional Help
Routine chimney maintenance ensures your fireplace runs efficiently and safely, and ignoring it can lead to devastating consequences, including fires and health hazards. Fortunately, your chimney gives clues alerting you there’s a problem, and here’s what to watch for.
Moisture does more damage to a chimney than anything else, especially if you live in a climate that undergoes a freeze/thaw cycle. Bricks and mortar are porous. When water seeps in, freezes, and thaws, it expands, causing cracks. Over time, the mortar joints deteriorate, and the bricks crumble.
Furthermore, if water gets into the chimney, it can cause mold and mildew to grow. If you notice increased mold growth, musty odors, rusting metal parts, or cracking bricks, you have a water problem and need a pro to inspect your chimney and fix it.
Your room shouldn’t fill up with smoke when using your fireplace, so if it does, it’s a sure sign you need professional help. The leading cause of a smoky fireplace is poor drafting, which can happen if the damper is closed or not working properly, the chimney is blocked, or there’s an issue with the air pressure. Smoke flowing back into the home instead of up the chimney is a health risk from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Poor Quality Fires
Do you struggle to keep your fire lit? Is there too much smoke and not enough heat? Using unseasoned firewood is the most common reason for poor fires, but it could also be an issue with the chimney. If the flue is obstructed, you won’t have a strong draft and end up with a fireplace that’s frustrating to use.
If your house smells like an ashtray, it could be your fireplace and chimney that are to blame. Unpleasant odors from your chimney are often caused by creosote buildup, which doesn’t just make your house stink; it could lead to a fire. Furthermore, if your house smells musty, you may have a mold problem growing in your chimney.
Chimney Liner Pieces in the Firebox
Clay chimney liners are the most popular but wear out quicker than other materials. Once damaged, you may see bits of clay in your firebox, so you must replace the flue liner. Failing to do this puts you at risk of a fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Deteriorating Mortar Joints
When a chimney’s mortar joints crack and deteriorate, it can cause your chimney to lean or collapse. Like all masonry materials, mortar joints are susceptible to water damage and corrosion.
How to Protect Your Chimney
Chimney repairs are expensive, so it’s best to be proactive to minimize damage and extend its lifespan, and here’s what the experts recommend.
The best thing you can do for your chimney is to schedule yearly cleaning, inspection, and maintenance by a certified chimney sweep. Regular inspection and upkeep allow you to stay on top of minor issues before they escalate into situations requiring major repairs or hazards.
Burn Seasoned Firewood
If you own a wood-burning fireplace, it’s essential only to burn seasoned firewood. Green or newly cut wood contains too much moisture, producing a smoky burn that produces excess creosote. Furthermore, avoid overloading your fireplace. Many think the more material they cram into the firebox, the better, but that’s not the case. Overloading the fireplace can cause overheating and puts extra wear and tear on your chimney.
Waterproof Your Chimney
Water is one of the greatest threats to your chimney’s longevity. Over time, water seeps into the masonry, causing cracks, brick spalling, and other damage. Ask your chimney professional about applying a waterproof product after routine cleaning and maintenance to protect it from the elements.
Install a Chimney Cap
A chimney cap is a protective covering on top of the chimney as a barrier to prevent debris, animals, and rainwater from getting into the flue. Caps also prevent downdrafts, which can hinder your fireplace’s performance.
Call Ye Olde Brit
Ye Olde Brit Chimney Sweep is your trusted local chimney and fireplace expert with over 30 years of experience. Our technicians are certified by the National Chimney Sweep Guild. We’re a full-service contractor specializing in chimney sweeping, repairs, rebuilds, repairs, inspections, and more. If your chimney’s not looking so hot, call to speak to one of our team members and schedule an appointment at 909–880–2120.