Chimney system maintenance and repairs are like death and taxes—they’re inevitable. Making those minor repairs as soon as issues arise will help you prevent (or at least postpone) major chimney system repairs. Some parts are exposed to the elements more than others and are adversely affected by them, while other parts are exposed to the heat of your fires, thereby causing them to wear out faster. Either way you cut it, these parts will inevitably need to be replaced at one point or another. Most homeowners never think about chimney maintenance until something goes wrong. Unfortunately, ignoring your chimney can cost you big! Problems that are addressed early on can prevent bigger issues down the road; small repairs are far less costly than larger ones. The CSIA-certified professionals at SirVent Chimney & Venting Service are here to handle your masonry repair needs.
ANNUAL INSPECTION AND SWEEPING
The most important thing you can do, if you haven’t done so already, is schedule an appointment with a CSIA-certified chimney sweep to have your chimney inspected and cleaned. The leading cause of fires in wood-burning appliances is creosote (unburned fuel) buildup in the chimney. Burning big, hot fires instead of small, smoky or wet ones will virtually eliminate the likelihood of creosote building up in your chimney, and scheduling an annual cleaning provides extra peace of mind that’ll help you sleep a little easier at night.
CRUMBLING MORTAR IS NOT TO BE IGNORED
Your chimney is exposed to the elements on the outside and the heat from your firebox on the inside. As a result of this two-front attack, the weathering process is sped up. As such, it isn’t atypical for your mortar to begin to crumble and/or break away. This leaves open areas between the bricks, which exposes even more surface area to these weathering agents and processes. Repointing your chimney might be recommended. During this process, the damaged, old and loose mortar on your chimney is removed from the joints between the bricks and replaced with new mortar.
CHIMNEY CROWNS HELP PREVENT ACCELERATED WEATHERING
Your chimney crown is a reinforced concrete cap placed over the top of your brick and mortar chimney. A properly constructed crown sheds water and serves as a protective covering for your chimney against harsh weather. Your chimney crown is exposed to the same elements that wreak havoc on your chimney itself. As such, it can eventually crack or break and need to be replaced. The replacement will either be cast-in-place (a form is placed on the top of your chimney and filled with cement to the exact specifications required by your particular chimney) or precast (a prefabricated unit that is placed atop your chimney).
SPALLING INDICATES A MOISTURE PENETRATION ISSUE
When chimneys spall, it’s a sign of severe moisture penetration. Spalling—the flaking off of a brick surface—is evident when the face of the masonry is missing. Pieces of bricks may be found on the ground or on your roof. Damage can be increased if your crown isn’t poured with an overhang/drip edge, as water that is diverted is allowed to flow straight down the face of your chimney. Spalled bricks can’t be repaired and must be replaced.
The central theme is clear: repairing minor problems in a timely manner will decrease the chances of them becoming major problems down the road. Chimney systems are comprised of many parts that depend on one another to function at optimal levels. A problem with one part of the system can lead to increased and premature wear and tear of other parts of the system. This can become a vicious cycle rather quickly if the initial problem isn’t addressed in a timely manner. Your chimney and fireplace play a large role in your home; when issues arise, we know you want them taken care of correctly, quickly and affordably. Our expert technicians are dedicated to making your system look and feel like new again. If your system is in need of repair, or you need a chimney inspection to determine the cause of a problem, call us today. We’re ready to help!