Generally speaking, a fireplace is made up of three main components. All of them must be in good condition for everything to work as they should. The chimney repairs that are about to be reviewed below affect these parts equally;
- The exterior masonry, which includes the brick and mortar joints holding them together, the inner lining
- The inner lining collects the soot and creosote formed while funneling the smoke up and out of the home.
- The lid and crown prevent animals and dry leaves or other elements blown by the wind and end up inside the chimney, causing blockages and other problems.
Each part plays a vital role in terms of safety, efficiency, and functionality. The danger of not doing chimney repairs when necessary absurdly increases fire or carbon monoxide poisoning risk.
The Integral Parts
When you consider the external part of the chimney, that is, the duct that serves to let out the smoke caused during combustion, this has to do with the brick or exposed stone and the mortar that holds them together, which combined play an integral role in the protection of your home. The point is that, over time, the mortar begins to decompose due to its exposure to moisture and the elements. And when the mortar softens and begins to peel off the wall little by little, the pressure on the bricks leads to their cracking, and even the loss of small pieces, or the falling out of them.
Reform Instead of Replace
If the damage is not yet widespread, chimney repairs can still solve the problem without replacing the entire structure. The most affected bricks can be replaced or turned over so that the back is facing forward and the side is facing into the structure where no one can see it. It is also possible that white spots or dust-like debris of the same color may appear. This is usually due to water, which is absorbed by these building materials from wet fog, rain, or snow. And it is the water that manages to penetrate through the pores or cracks on the surface of the chimney, carrying with its lime and other salts that have dissolved in it. When the coating dries, the water evaporates when they re-solidify and cause those accumulations of white color.
Inspection and Evaluation
In these cases, the chimney repair process begins with a visual inspection and evaluation of the bonnets’ condition and the bricks’ joints and cladding pieces, precisely to find those cracks, breaks, or holes that may give way to the water. Even a tiny gap can be problematic in the long term due to the effect of water and cycles of cold and heat, which cause the expansion and contraction of materials. It can be as drastic as having to remodel the entire chimney or roof.
The Inner Lining
In chimney sweeps, we recommend existing sealing compounds, which are also flexible enough to withstand these expansion and contraction cycles. However, its correct application must clean the surfaces before eliminating mold or fungi properly. Another one of the most frequently encountered fireplace repairs is a damaged interior siding. The interior duct of any fireplace has the task of conducting smoke and gases. Therefore, it accumulates soot and creosote produced by combustion in the hearth. Studying the interior lining condition can reveal hidden dangers that increase the risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning if not addressed in time.
There are different types of coatings, and therefore, the chimney repairs that can arise with each one are different. Steel linings tend to be the most durable, while other types of fireplaces are more sensitive to heat and stress. Depending on their use, these vents deteriorate, crack, or chip. The recommendation is that the fireplace is inspected once a year, preferably before or during the fall, to ensure that it is working correctly in advance of the heavy use season.
Other Chimney Repairs
The next chimney repair to deal with is replacing the bonnet or cap on the crown of the chimney. Located at the top of the fireplace, they serve as the first defense line against the elements. They prevent water from penetrating, animals nesting inside your fireplace, and the entry of other types of debris that could obstruct the duct and even end up causing a fire. Repairing or replacing a damaged chimney cap or bonnet can save you a lot of trouble later on. There always seem to be more urgent expenses, and chimney repairs often go from “number one priority” to “someday done.” This shouldn’t be the case. If you suspect problems, or if you have detected damage and deteriorated spots in the masonry, waiting until that “right time” can make things worse.
Soot Build Up
There are several reasons why our fireplace may not let out smoke properly, one of the most common fireplace repairs. It may be due to poor combustion when an unsuitable material is burned. However, the most likely cause is usually soot build-up. The fumes and gases caused by fire transport particles end up accumulating in the chimney pipes in the form of what we call soot. These remain only prevent the passage of air, similar to cholesterol in the arteries, so that the combustion will be less and less efficient until the fumes cannot even go outside. Cleaning the soot is the task of a professional chimney sweep since certain specific tools are necessary to access all the ducts’ cavities. Click here to know more about chimney repairs and what to expect.