When a chimney is in disrepair, it can pose a fire risk and allow smoke and toxic gases like carbon monoxide to enter the home. Most major repairs require professional chimney repair services. Working on a roof can be dangerous, so pros work with a fall-arrest harness tethered to a metal ridge anchor or other safety equipment.
Baltimore Chimney Repair crown sits at the top of the chimney, and it protects the masonry walls from rain and snow. When cracked and damaged, moisture will easily enter the chimney and cause many problems. It can also damage the lining and lead to fires. The chimney crown can be repaired with a cement sealant, but if there are significant cracks, large chunks broken off of the crown, or gaps between the crown and the chimney’s walls, it is time to rebuild the crown. Chimney crowns can cost between $100 and $6,000, depending on the severity of the problem.
Water leaking through a cracked chimney crown is one of the most common chimney repair issues. Rain, wind, and snow can put great stress on the crown, especially during the winter. The water will freeze and thaw repeatedly, and the masonry can break down over time.
Ideally, the chimney crown should be sealed when there are small cracks and before they get worse. It is easier and cheaper to repair the masonry before it can deteriorate. Small cracks that are not fixed will eventually become larger, and the problem will get more expensive and harder to fix.
Another important point is to inspect your chimney at least once a year. A chimney inspection will help spot early indications of crown damage and other potential problems.
A qualified professional can inspect the chimney crown from a ladder or with a camera. It is something you can only easily do with help. Chimneys are dangerous, and climbing on a roof is not recommended, especially if you aren’t a certified chimney service professional. A chimney professional can tell you if your crown can be repaired with a sealant or needs to be rebuilt completely. They will also be able to recommend the best chimney cap for your chimney and install it.
Chimneys and the components that sit atop them are made of metal and exposed to the elements. Over time, environmental factors, normal wear and tear, and the chemicals in creosote can corrode these metals, exposing them to oxygen and moisture. Rusting can lead to structural damage and a host of other problems. If you see signs of rusting on your chimney, it’s important to call a certified masonry repairer as soon as possible to assess the situation and recommend appropriate repairs.
Rust stains on the outside of your chimney appear as orange, brown, or reddish-orange streaks on the brick. These stains are caused by metal components that are rusting. These metals include the chase cover, flue liner, and chimney cap atop your masonry chimney. Chimney caps that are not stainless steel are also prone to rusting. These stains are most often caused by galvanized metal that is rusting. Rainwater will wash the rusting debris down the sides of your chimney and leave behind unsightly rust stains.
The deterioration of your masonry can also cause rust stains. The rust stains are not only unsightly, but they can also be extremely dangerous. If the rusting has reached the masonry walls, it’s critical to have the chimney rebuilt as soon as possible before the masonry collapses.
One major avenue for water to enter your chimney is at the joint between the chimney flue and the crown, which is the concrete cap atop the chimney. Over time, this area will crack and crumble, creating a gap that water can easily seep into, causing damage and leaks. If you notice any gaps in your chimney crown, it’s critical to have a certified masonry repairman inspect the problem and repair the cracks as soon as possible.
Another place you may find rust is on the flashing, which is the strip of metal that seals the space between the chimney and roof to prevent water leaks. Galvanized metal flashing is coated with zinc to protect it from rust, but environmental conditions and normal wear can erode this coating, exposing the metal to rust. It’s also a good idea to inspect the flashing for rusting during your annual chimney inspection. If the flashing is rusted, it should be replaced with new flashing or caulked to prevent water leaks into your home.
Efflorescence is a common and unsightly problem in masonry materials like brick, concrete, and stone. It is caused when water seeps through porous materials, dissolves, absorbs the salts inside, and then travels to the surface via capillary action, forming white crystalline deposits. While aesthetically displeasing, efflorescence is not harmful to humans or animals and can be easily removed using basic cleaning methods.
However, when it reoccurs, especially in severe cases, it is often a sign of more significant issues that require expert attention. Professionals can thoroughly investigate the source of moisture infiltration and recommend long-term solutions to prevent future problems.
The condition can occur indoors and outdoors, but it is most commonly found in areas exposed to water and frequent wetting and drying cycles, such as basements, bathrooms, and walkways. It can also result from poor drainage, which allows water to penetrate deeper into a building material and cause deterioration over time.
Efflorescence can be removed from most surfaces by washing the affected area with water, using a clean sponge or cloth. Sometimes, a chemical treatment such as muriatic acid may eliminate the residue. However, this dangerous process should only be done by certified professionals with the proper safety equipment. If the wrong concentration is used, it can corrode metal objects and cause permanent damage to the surface.
Recurring efflorescence is more than just an eyesore; it can indicate underlying moisture and structural issues within a structure. Professionals can evaluate the building construction to identify possible moisture travel paths and recommend long-term prevention strategies. For example, an impregnating hydrophobic sealant can be applied to a surface to prevent water absorption and the migration of soluble salts. Additionally, installing capillary breaks and quality masonry construction can minimize the potential for moisture penetration and the development of efflorescence.
While efflorescence is not harmful, it can indicate a more serious moisture issue that could lead to extensive and costly water damage. Moisture problems must be addressed quickly to avoid structural damage and potential health hazards.
Chimneys are often considered unbeatable, but even the strongest and best masonry chimneys occasionally need some upkeep. If a chimney isn’t protected from moisture or doesn’t receive routine cleanings, it could end up with costly water damage that can lead to health and safety concerns.
Mold growth is one of the most common signs that a chimney is suffering from water damage. Another is soft or crumbly mortar between the bricks. When these signs are present, it’s important to call a chimney professional to complete a full inspection as soon as possible.
Moisture is a chimney’s main enemy, and it can cause many problems. For instance, bricks absorb water, and if that water freezes and then thaws repeatedly, it will erode the surface of the bricks. This is called spalling; the resulting crumbles can fall off the chimney and onto the roof or ground below. This can create an unstable structure that is prone to collapse.
To keep this from happening, a chimney should be waterproofed. This will prevent excess moisture from entering the chimney and allow moisture that does get inside to escape. A chimney professional can install waterproofing using a special sealant formulated to adhere to masonry materials.
Chimney leaks are a common problem, and many things can cause them. A faulty chimney cap, animal entry, damage to the crown, or flashing are all possibilities. The best way to protect against leaks is by installing a chimney cap, ensuring the chimney flashing is in good condition, and having a chimney sweep inspect the chimney for any cracks or gaps.
When caught early, a crack in the chimney’s masonry can be repaired fairly easily. A chimney repair specialist will use a pre-mixed cement patch or mortar to fill the crack and apply a special waterproofing agent. For larger cracks in the chimney’s masonry, removing and replacing the damaged bricks may be necessary.