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How To Spot Damage in Your Chimney Before it’s too Late

Posted on October 31, 2021

This holiday season, many of us will experience a decrease in temperature. For most homeowners, chimneys will fire up to keep our homes toasty and ambient. The chimney adds a decorative experience to our home. Depending on local wood costs, it may even help you save on your energy bill. A working chimney creates priceless memories and comfort. Faulty chimneys can lead to other in-home complications and present dangerous hazards to you and your family.

     1. Doors that are unable to close. If you have fireplace doors that cannot close, check for dents in your chimney. However, if the frame of your fireplace seems morphed, you probably have foundational asymmetry. You might want to call a foundation specialist to check your chimney. 

2. Your mantel is warped. Warped fireplace mantels are a clear indicator that your chimney has caved or cracked inside. Wood mantels are susceptible to moisture damage. The damaged wooden mantel may lead to an unstable chimney. If the warped mantel is metal, this indicates the damage is long-term. The warping probably occurred from foundation or chimney faults.  Depending on the extent of the damage, you may not need foundation repair.

3. Leaking and moisture in your mantel or chimney. Chimney covers generally keep the rain out. Sometimes heavy storms allow water to seep into the top of your chimney. However, cautiously approach the chimney. If the leaking occurs for more than a day or two, consider calling your local masonry company. The good news is that homes with more open chimneys are more likely to allow water to seep into your fireplace. Old brick chimneys may have cracks that allow the water to seep into your chimney. Replace or fix minor cracks as soon as possible to avoid larger ones from forming. Water trapped in a wooden chimney can result in wood rot and metal rusting. Both of these conditions could lead to a faulty chimney and progressive foundation damage. Metal improperly melded together allows heat to contact the wood. Unstable chimney linings in wood could lead to a fire. Ask the mason to check the safety of the metal lining if you have a wooden home.

4. Cracks on the outside. Checking for cracks may seem obvious, but you should keep an eye on your chimney regularly. If you see a crack forming or a brick sliding out, you need to stop your yard work and investigate further. If your loose brick is up top, filling it with cement may offer a quick and safe solution. If you think the crack is minor, you may choose to observe it over time to see if it changes. Fill it in beforehand. If the crack is towards the bottom, call a foundation masonry repair company as soon as possible. 

5. Tiles, wallpaper, or paint that peels or falls around the chimney. In older homes, peeling paint and wallpaper is natural. If you have never noticed the paint or wallpaper peel until now, you should investigate chimney damage. A sudden change in the wallpaper reveals a shift in your walls caused by the foundation . Tiles, that randomly fall off or appear cracked, indicate that your walls are unstable due to warping.

6. White stains on your chimney’s bricks. If you see white marks on your chimney’s bricks, damage may be present. These white marks, called efflorescence, mean that water has left behind a crystalline deposit of salts in the grain of the bricks. Efflorescence happens when water vaporizes through the slab. If you have glazed or cemented your chimney, you should be able to wipe off the crystalline deposits. If not, you need to call a mason to ensure that your slab is not weak. 

     If any of these signs become a concern, you can contact Atlantic Foundation for a free consultation for foundation or masonry repair.

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