While you may not be a fireplace experts, many homeowners know more about their chimney systems than they realize. Because of this, you may be able to recognize potential problems with the masonry of your fireplace and chimney. The following are three common masonry problems that homeowners may notice about their masonry. If you spot these kinds of masonry damage, it may indicate a larger problem within your fireplace system.
Broken, Chipped, or Cracked Masonry
Some masonry damage is only seen when up close on the roof. However, large cracks, chips, or sections of missing bricks can often be spotted from the ground and may indicate your chimney is suffering from water damage. Bricks are naturally porous; while this makes them ideal for fireplace construction as gas can pass through them, it also means that water can seep into the bricks over time.
The freeze-thaw process can cause significant damage to the masonry. This process begins when the bricks absord small amounts of water. When the temperatures drop below freezing during the winter, the water expands as it turns to ice. This creates progressively larger cracks and holes, allowing more and more water to be absorbed until significant damage is done to the masonry.
Tuckpointing repairs masonry damage caused by water entry or the freeze-thaw process. During tuckpointing, damaged bricks and mortar are carefully removed and replaced with matching masonry. Likewise, applying a masonry-specific waterproofing product can also help protect your chimney.
Stained or Discolored Masonry
Brown, black, red, white, or even green stains on the side of your chimney affect more than just your home’s curb appeal. The color of the stain or discoloration can give clues as to what kind of chimney issue is occurring. Excessive creosote buildup in the flue causes brown or black stains; an annual chimney sweeping can prevent this kind of staining. Red stains, often with orange or brown, may indicate a metal chimney component is rusting. Red rust stains are most common in manufactured chimneys with metal chimney chase covers.
White staining both inside or outside is caused by efflorescence, or the phenomenon in which evaporating water leaves salt deposits behind. Mold or mildew growth cause green staining, particularly in areas around the chimney that receive little sunlight or have experienced water damage.
Don’t just cover up chimney odors with air fresheners or sprays! A variety of different chimney issues cause smells. Excessive creosote buildup causes strong smoky smells, particularly during hot or humid weather. Mold growth causes damp or musty odors; in addition to indicating an underlying chimney leak, mold growth in the chimney can negatively affect your home’s air quality. Sharp rotting smells, especially when accompanied by scratching or scurrying sounds, indicate a trapped or nesting animal in the flue.
While the walls of our chimneys can’t talk, they can help us spot different kinds of masonry damage. For more information about identifying masonry damage or to schedule a chimney inspection, contact Coopertown Services today.