If you want to enjoy the warmth of a fireplace in your home, having a well-maintained chimney is necessary. Chimneys stacks are vertical shafts that allow heat and smoke to escape safely out of your living area while basking near the heat generated by the fire. Over time, soot carried upwards by the smoke will coat the interior of the chimney walls, which can weaken the structure.
External factors can also affect the integrity of your chimney. Strong winds can cause the stack to shift in position if it isn’t anchored properly. Water ponding on your roof can also seep into the porous bricks and cause chimney damage.
Ensuring your chimney is maintained well both internally and externally is necessary to prevent fire and other hazards. If you aren’t sure about what to look out for, here are several signs that your chimney may need repair:
1. Visible efflorescence
Moisture build-up is one of the most common concerns of chimney safety. A sure sign of moisture is the presence of white stains across the outer surface of the masonry called efflorescence. It can indicate water damage or pooling of water in between bricks and mortar. Moisture can cause mold and mildew to grow and consequently weaken the chimney.
2. Warped flashing
Flashing is the piece of material that protects junctions in your roof. Your roof has multiple intersections, such as those areas between gables, valleys, or obstructions. Flashing around a chimney is a skirt fitted around the base that keeps water and other debris from getting into the cracks. It should fit firmly and flat against the roof. If you see it peeling away from the surface of the roof, then this could be a threat to the integrity of the chimney.
3. Crumbling mortar
Mortar is the hardened paste that holds bricks together. It is made from sand, water, and a binding component. The mortar needs time to dry as it gains strength as it hardens over the space of a few weeks to months. If the mortar was made with substandard lime, or if it wasn’t given enough time to cure during construction, it may be vulnerable to damage from freezing temperatures or strong winds.
4. Damaged Flue Liner
The inner shaft of your chimney is covered with a protective material called a flue liner. It is typically made of clay, concrete, or sometimes metal. If you start to see pieces of it falling into your fireplace from within the shaft, especially if the liner is made of clay or concrete, your flue may be damaged. You might need to call an experienced chimney sweep to take a closer look at the liner to determine the extent of the damage.
Many people neglect to care for their chimney structures properly. Fires are a significant safety hazard in any home with a fireplace and require regular cleaning and maintenance. Inspect the exterior of your chimneys periodically, especially after a strong storm or during the winter months. You can also consult an expert roofing contractor who may be able to point out the warning signs that you might miss. Vigilance in checking can prevent failing chimneys and protect your home and your family from harm.
Do you need an experienced roofing contractor in Lexington, KY? We specialize in addressing all roofing issues, including damaged chimneys. Schedule a free inspection today and find out how we can help you save time and money on your roofing needs.