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Mistakes in Brick Chimney Restorations

The fireplace and chimney are some of the most charming features of any older or historic home in Richmond, Virginia. Since it was the primary source of heating at the time, a fireplace can be found in practically every room. However, fireplaces can’t operate safely or efficiently without a working chimney. The chimney is a vital structure for venting smoke and fumes out of the home and reducing fire risk. If your chimney has extensive masonry damage, restoring it to its original glory will preserve the home’s historic appearance and allow you to operate the fireplace safely. Here are a few common mistakes to avoid in brick chimney restorations.

chimney efflorescence, richmond vaIgnoring Brick Efflorescence

If you see any white stains across the masonry, your bricks have efflorescence. It occurs when moisture penetrates deep within the masonry, drawing the salts to the surface. It is often the first sign that the bricks are absorbing moisture.  When restoring brick chimneys, careful consideration must be made to minimize efflorescence to protect the structure’s integrity.

Failing to Inspect and Repair Masonry Damage

When restoring older or historic chimneys, it is vital to inspect for any signs of masonry damage, especially if you notice any stains on the surface.  Other signs to look for include chipped, cracked, or spalling bricks, loose or missing bricks, and gaps in the mortar joints. You need to understand the cause of the masonry damage so that proper repairs can be made to prevent its reoccurrence after restoration.

Choosing the Wrong Restoration Materials

When the chimney was initially built, the brick and mortar used over a century ago are much different than they are today. Today, brick masonry is more robust with more heat-resistant properties, and mortar is more durable. However, you can’t mix and match mortar types. It will not be structurally sound. Therefore, when restoring a historic chimney, you must use the correct mortar that is suitable for the brickwork of the period.

Improper Flashing Installation

Improper installation is a common cause of flashing problems. Flashing is the sheet metal that seals the gap where the chimney and roof meet to prevent water intrusion and is typically sealed with tar. Flashing must be installed in a particular fashion; otherwise, it could fail during the next storm, and water will leak through the gaps and damage the masonry. The chimney may also separate from the roof.

Overlooking the Chimney Cap

The chimney cap is installed at the top of a masonry chimney to help keep water, small animals, and debris from entering the flue. Since this is often the chimney’s first line of defense against water intrusion and preventing flue obstructions, it must be installed correctly. Otherwise, a small gust of wind could loosen it or blow it off the chimney, exposing the flue and fireplace to outside elements.

Waterproofing Before Making Masonry Repairs

Someone who isn’t a trained chimney technician may not realize that you must make masonry repairs such as tuckpointing or rebuilding before waterproofing the chimney. While waterproofing will protect the masonry from moisture, it will not stop any existing water damage from continuing to degrade bricks and mortar.  Therefore, apply a water-based, breathable water repellent designed for masonry chimneys after all of the repairs and restoration are complete.

chimney restoration project, henrico vaChimney Restoration Services in Richmond

Chimney restoration requires the skills and tools of trained chimney professionals that specialize in chimney rebuilding and restoration like the experienced pros at Chimney Saver Solutions. Our professionals use quality materials and advanced techniques that will completely restore your older or historic chimney to its original beauty that will not only improve the look and appearance of your home but may increase its value too.

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