How to Tell if Your Chimney or Fireplace Needs Repairs

How to Tell if Your Chimney or Fireplace Needs Repairs

Chimney repairs are quite common among homeowners, and that’s especially true for those who live in the northern or midwestern part of the country thanks to the freeze and thaw cycles that can be hard on masonry. Here, you’ll learn about the six most common signs that you need to call a pro for a chimney repair.

The Mortar Joints are Damaged

The mortar joints between your chimney bricks are one of the first parts of your chimney that will show wear. This is due to water seeping into the porous brick and eventually causing it to erode, especially when that water freezes, thaws, and freezes again over time. Crumbling mortar joints are a serious issue that can quickly grow out of hand, so be sure to have it fixed as soon as possible to prevent a chimney collapse.

The Fireplace or Damper is Rusted

Rust in your fireplace (the firebox) or on your damper is a bad sign because it indicates that water has come into prolonged contact with the iron in the metal. This typically means that you have some sort of leak in or around your chimney, but in a few cases, rust can develop due to excessively humid conditions inside your home. Either way, an improperly functioning damper can lead to fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, so call for repairs right away.

There is Noticeable Spalling

Spalling occurs when the same moisture that causes damage to mortar joints forces the outer layer of the masonry to flake or peel off over time. In some cases – and in some parts of the country – you will also see a white film develop around the damaged area. This film is salt that is being pushed through the brick by the water. If you notice this film along with bits of masonry falling from your chimney, it’s time to call a professional to report spalling and get a quote for some repairs.

Falling Chimney Tiles

Though many homeowners use stainless steel chimney liners that can easily last a lifetime, many people still have traditional tile liners that can cause problems over time. If you notice bits of chimney tile piling up at the bottom of the fireplace, this means that your liner is damaged – and that’s a serious issue that can quickly lead to a house fire. Again, call a professional right away to learn about your options.

The Crown is Cracked

The chimney crown is the very top part of the chimney that rests atop the masonry coming out of your roof. It serves as the barrier between your chimney and the outdoors, so if there’s a noticeable crack, it’s time for a repair. That crack will only get worse during the freeze and thaw cycle, and over time, moisture entering the chimney through that crack will cause spalling.

Water Spots on the Ceiling or Peeling Wallpaper

Finally, if you notice a water spot on the ceiling near your fireplace, or if wallpaper near your fireplace has begun to peel or bubble, this is a solid indication that your fireplace is leaking. Spots on the ceiling usually indicate bad flashing, and bubbling, warped wallpaper indicates an abundance of moisture inside the chimney. These repairs can quickly get expensive, so be sure that you call a professional as soon as you notice them.

Your chimney serves an important role in your home by allowing combustion gas and smoke to escape while you and your family stay warm. However, they are not without their problems – even when they are well-maintained. Keep this information handy and refer back to it if you notice an issue, but above all else, call a CSIA-certified professional right away for repairs.