poorly maintained chimney cap

Signs Your Chimney Is Telling You

Maybe it’s time to get it repaired.

You can’t always tell by looking at it that your chimney isn’t safe and sound. There are, however, some visible signs that repair may be needed. In a masonry fireplace failing mortar joints can mean accelerated damage to the chimney, since being outside and exposed to all the elements, exposes the bricks to greater amounts of moisture.  When water gets into small cracks in the masonry, they can turn into large cracks, particularly as a result of freezing and thawing. Ultimately, if the problem isn’t addressed, the chimney could collapse. 

In a prefabricated fireplace rust is one clue that there is too much moisture, and you may see rust in the firebox or on the damper.  You’ll know to take a close look at the damper if it becomes difficult to operate or if it isn’t sealing properly.  It’s fairly simple to spot spalling, since bits of masonry fall from the chimney. The ultimate outcome of failing to repair spalling masonry is continued crumbling and eventual destruction of the structure. Thin slices of chimney tile can begin to pile up at the bottom of the chimney, if the liner is damaged. Cracked and shaling flue tiles are signs of a serious condition which, if not resolved, could result in a house fire. The flue lining of a chimney must be intact in order to safely use a fireplace. Many people today are switching to stainless steel liners, which usually carry lifetime warranties. It’s also important for the crown or chase cover to be in good condition, since it provides a first line of defense against outdoor elements. When the crown is cracked, water gets in and freezes and thaws, causing larger cracks. A damaged chimney crown allows moisture to seep between the chimney and the liner as well as into the chimney, which can cause shaling and spalling. A damaged chase cover can cause the same effect. Damaged wallpaper or ceiling in areas near the chimney, it could be because of excess moisture in the chimney. The cap is another problem that can be easily detected if your cap is rusted or crooked, this could allow water to seep in as well. On a prefabricated fireplace if you notice cracks in the refractory panels (panels that line the floor and walls of your unit) this is a sign of a potential house fire. Refractory panels are designed to keep the heat and fire in the fireplace and not allow it to flow out to adjoining structures such as wood beams.

There are some obvious problems with fireplaces, but there are so many more that are not visible to the eye or are not obvious, that is what a chimney sweep is for to detect and repair any potential dangers that may cause your home to go up in smoke. Don’t put yourself, your family or your pets at risk. Have a professional chimney sweep clean and inspect your fireplace before its next use. So, you can be sure that it is safe to burn in.