How to Tell if You Need a New Chimney
Do you know how to tell if you need a new chimney? That may seem like a strange question, especially if you are aware that these typically sturdy structures can last a century and more. But chimneys do sometimes need to be replaced, and that often has to do with problems involving a chimney’s number one enemy, which is water. It is not always obvious that a new chimney may be needed, or you may not be sure what to look for as a clue. The following is information about destruction caused by moisture as well as signs that you may need a new chimney.
Why Water is Enemy #1
Water is the biggest enemy of a masonry chimney because of what happens when moisture enters into bricks. During winter, water inside bricks freezes and thaws, which causes the water to expand and contract. Meanwhile, the movement created by the freezing water also creates movement in the bricks. Masonry bricks deteriorate bit by bit until the chimney structure begins to lean, and it could collapse entirely.
One sign of water damage is spalling, which means that tiny bits of broken brick are deposited around your chimney and/or on the ground below. You could see bits of masonry inside your fireplace, as well. Efflorescence is another clue that you have water damage. Efflorescence is white staining that results from water containing salt. It travels through the bricks and then deposited on the chimney exterior.
Missing Chimney Cap
The first line of defense in the quest to protect a chimney from moisture is a chimney cap. Without a chimney cap, water, rain, and snow fall directly into the chimney flue. If you do not have a chimney cap, it is important to schedule a chimney inspection. If you live in Richmond VA or in the surrounding area, call Chimney Saver Solutions. All of our chimney sweeps are certified experts that you can depend on to give you an accurate assessment of the condition of your chimney.
Without a chimney cap, there is a very real chance that water damage has occurred, whether in your chimney flue or on the exterior masonry. It’s possible that enough damage has occurred that a partial or completely new chimney is needed.
A chimney cap may be an accessory, but chimney experts consider them to be essential components of any chimney. You can have a simple chimney cap that sits atop your flue pipe. If the chimney cap has mesh, it will keep out water and also keep animals out and burning embers in.
A full-width chimney cap is a better option because it covers and provides protection to the chimney crown, in addition to being a more aesthetically pleasing addition.
A Cracked Crown
Chimney crowns are highly vulnerable to cracking and deteriorating, which allows moisture to get into the chimney system. Chimney crowns keep water from falling between the flue and the chimney exterior. With a full-width chimney cap, you keep water out and provide a greater level of protection to your entire chimney, which can save you money on the cost of chimney repairs and maintenance.
If there is damage to your chimney crown that has gone undetected, the result could be that a new chimney needs to be built because of extensive moisture intrusion.
It’s sometimes necessary to be on the roof to identify chimney crown damage. This is another reason annual chimney inspections are important. There are risks involved with climbing onto a roof, and you can avoid taking that risk yourself by contacting professional chimney sweeps. During an inspection, all aspects of a chimney are checked, depending on the type of inspection that you scheduled. For instance, a Level 2 chimney inspection includes a video of the entire inside of the chimney flue from top to bottom.
Chimney cracks can be caused by moisture, but they are often caused by a foundation shift or mechanical damage, such as installing an antenna on the chimney structure. Chimneys can also be damaged as a result of being struck by lightning. A cracked chimney goes back to the problem of moisture because the cracks allow moisture inside the structure. A cracked chimney, however, is also a structural type of damage. A new chimney may be necessary.
Contact Chimney Saver Solutions
The friendly experts at Chimney Saver Solutions are qualified and able to answer any questions you may have about your chimney and any repairs that may be needed. We are masonry experts and can help you with a new chimney, whether a partial or complete new chimney rebuild. We also provide chimney cleaning, chimney maintenance, hearth installations, and all of the chimney services you may need. Give us a call today at 804-440-5000.