There are a number of reasons to own an older home: structural stability, charm and character, and original building features are just a few. However, if your older home as its original fireplace and chimney, they may no longer be up to code.
Because the building and safety standards for fireplace systems have drastically changed in the past decades, older homes may have chimneys that are no longer up to code. Likewise, the fireplaces in older homes may have different problems and maintenance needs than newer construction. If you have an older home, it is important to learn more about the condition of your chimney in order to know what services, updates, or upkeep may be necessary.
Is my chimney really that old?
Many homeowners have a skewed view of what constitutes an “older” chimney. Homes that were built in the 70s or 80s, for example, may not be new, but will most likely have chimneys that were built to modern standards. Likewise, the majority of the units installed after the 1950s have been prefabricated or factory built fireplaces or block chimneys.
The chimneys that are most at risk for being out of code are those that are more than 60 years old. Likewise, masonry fireplaces are more at risk for not meeting modern standards than prefabricated units. If your fireplace was built before 1950, it is important to have it inspected; a chimney inspection will give you a complete picture of your fireplace’s condition and alert you to any damage or repairs that need to be made.
Maintenance for older chimneys
The maintenance for older chimneys is similar to that for newer units. Annual chimney sweepings and inspections are recommended for all chimneys, regardless of age, to ensure that they are in good condition, have not been damaged, and do not need repairs.
Older chimneys, however, may have other maintenance concerns. The following are some of the safety issues that may occur in older chimneys.
- Chimney cap: Most older chimneys lack a chimney cap that meets modern standards. Without a working chimney cap, fireplace systems are at risk for water, debris, and animals getting into the chimney.
- Damaged masonry: Because bricks and mortar can deteriorate over time, older chimneys are at an increased risk for damaged masonry. In addition to being an eyesore, damaged masonry can also affect the structural stability of the chimney. If the mortar joints are damaged, the tuckpointing process can replace the damaged masonry while matching the look of the original bricks and mortar.
- Unlined chimney: Many older masonry chimneys were not built with chimney liners. While your unlined chimney may not be currently causing any problems, modern building standards dictate that all chimneys should be lined. Relining your chimney can not only help your fireplace operate more efficiently – it can also lead to a safer chimney system that protects the rest of your home from the byproducts of combustion.
Making the necessary repairs to an older chimney is an important part of making sure it meets modern building and safety codes. If you have an older chimney, contact Coopertown Services today to learn more about bringing your older chimney up to code.