Fireplaces add an undeniable dimension of coziness to a home in winter. But a chimney in a state of disrepair puts you, your family, and your home at a much greater risk of fire. For that reason, it is imperative that you know how to recognize when it is time for some chimney repairs. This article will outline three easily identified signs.
Your chimney's mortar joints are beginning to degrade.
This sign directly concerns the portion of your chimney visible above the roof of your home. Those chimney bricks are held together by means of a substance known as mortar. Though this cement-based substance is fairly durable, it still tends to degrade and crumble away over time, leaving behind deeper and deeper void spaces between bricks.
The deeper such crevices become, the weaker the structural integrity of your chimney gets. This leads to an elevated risk of chimney collapse--a dangerous and costly disaster. Thus, the next time you happen to be up on your roof to repair a shingle or clean out your gutters, take a moment to inspect the state of your mortar. Those who aren't comfortable going up on the roof may use a pair of binoculars instead.
You've noticed piles of clay accumulating inside of your fireplace.
Inside of your chimney is, in effect, a second chimney--one known as the flue. The flue helps to absorb and diffuse the heat of the smoke rising upward through the chimney. Most flues, especially those in older homes, are constructed of special clay tiles. After decades of use, these tiles will begin to crack and crumble, leaving deposits on your fireplace floor. This is a strong sign that your chimney needs work, as a damaged or compromised flue greatly increases the risk of fire.
Your chimney damper is rusty.
A damper is used to control the flow of air upward through the chimney. This helps to control the rate at which a fire burns; when the fireplace is not in use, a closed damper also keeps heat from escaping out of your house.
Ideally, your damper should be easy to manipulate across its full range of motion. Rust, however, can cause a damper to become stuck in place, or excessively hard to move. This is usually a sign that your chimney has developed a moisture problem. This is often related to cracks in either the mortar, the flue, or both.
Be sure to inspect your damper for rush on a regular basis. The sooner you can detect signs of water damage in your chimney, the better. If such a problem remains undiagnosed for long enough, it can seriously damage your chimney flue, resulting in the need for much more costly repairs.