Here are the top 10 common chimney issues we see.
Creosote is a natural by-product of burning fuel. However, when you are burning improper fuel such as wet or unseasoned wood, you may find yourself with more than a normal amount of creosote build-up. This build-up can actually create an issue whereby we may suspect a cracked liner but are not actually able to verify it without a more thorough cleaning. This tends to happen when the creosote is glazed.
By bad flashing, we don’t just mean older flashing that is very old and due for a replacement. We mean flashing that has either pulled away from the chimney structure or was flat out improperly installed to begin with. This generally happens when you have a green roofing crew who takes a swing at chimney flashing.
Cracked Flue Tiles
It never surprises us when we find a cracked flue tile. This can happen when you have a chimney fire, or when the heat causes the tiles to expand unevenly, placing pressure on one side of the tile and cracking it.
Chimney Crown Cracks
This very common problem is caused mostly by improper installation and by natural aging. Generally, we find that there is no expansion joint on the top flue tile, or that the crown was made improperly or out of the wrong material.
When a brick face begins breaking off, this is called spalling. This can happen from water penetrating the bricks which are naturally porous. Once this water freezes it expands and it has nowhere to go and so it breaks your bricks.
Dampers are not complicated devices but they do have issues. Often we find that the dampers are just off track and just need to be reset.
Deteriorated Mortar Joints
In many of the chimneys that we inspect we find that the mortar joints have deteriorated or are missing. This happens because of water and the freeze/ thaw cycle.
Many of the customers call us not because of safety concerns but because their chimney produces a pretty pungent smell. This is creosote buildup in the chimney and it gets worse in the summer. It’s really bad when you have negative air pressure to boot.
Negative Air Pressure
We find that a bunch of our customers make comments about smoke when starting fires or feeling like there is a cold downdraft all of the time. This can be caused by negative air pressure, whereby your home wants to “suck air” in. It will usually take the easiest path, which is your chimney.
A chimney’s natural enemy is water. Unfortunately, once water gets in and wreaks havoc, your only option is repair or rebuild. The best thing to do here is to ensure your chimney has the proper water repellent professionally applied on a regular basis.