No matter how small or large your home is, it needs renovation and repair from time to time. Unfortunately, some home repairs can often become dangerous and life-threatening if delayed for too long. Broken chimneys are one such example. Even something as unthreatening as a bird’s nest can bring a disaster if left unchecked. According to a report, more than 61 chimney fires occur in a day in the United States alone. With such a high accident ratio, chimney repair and maintenance are essential and should not be delayed even if the problem seems too small.
Before repairing your chimney yourself or asking a professional to do it, you must read our complete guide on the chimney repair and understand the basic components of your chimney and fireplace and what can go wrong with the chimney or fireplace.
Basic Components of Fireplace
- Chimney Crown
Your chimneys and fireplace are most susceptible to damage by water. The rainwater can seep through the foundation bricks of your chimney, making it vulnerable. Chimney crowns help in protecting your chimney.
- Chimney Damper
These are mechanically operated doors that protect the heat energy of your fireplace when it is not being used.
It is the essential component of the fireplace. Flue helps the gases to exhaust out. The chimney acts as a vent to let out the gases.
- Smoke Chamber
The smoke chamber has only one main but important function. It compresses the combusted material and allows it to pass through the chimney without a backdraft.
- Smoke Shelf
Located just behind the smoke chamber, it is used to catch all the debris and rainwater. But, unfortunately, it also facilitates the flow of a large percentage of smoke from the chimney.
What Can Go Wrong With Your Chimney and How to Solve the Issue?
Understanding the basic components of your fireplace can help you grasp a better knowledge of issues your chimney might face and how you can repair them.
Cracks are amongst the most common problems that your chimney goes through. Fireplace or chimney cracks are even deemed as a fire hazard by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This is because the black smoke that leaves the chimney and the resulting soot that collects on the chimney’s inner walls contains many combustible waste particles that can accumulate in the cracks. One such combustible matter is Creosote, which can ignite even with the smallest spark.
According to professional chimney repair services, your chimneys should be clean when the soot and creosote content reaches up to ¼ inch or more thickness. Cleaning of the chimney should not be delayed, and the cracks should be filled with either patching cement or 100 percent silicone caulk and sealed with a crown sealer.
- Broken Chimney Components
Like any other home architecture, chimneys are also susceptible to breakage and damage. The chimney crown and the chimney cap act as protection from several threats, such as rainwater, extreme sunlight, bird nests, etc. The chimney crown should have a low slope that steers the rainwater away from the flue edge so that the interior of the chimney does not get wet.
If your chimney is damaged to the point of deterioration and disintegrating, then instead of repairing it, you should rebuild it from scratch because bricks and mortar have crossed their survival threshold.
- Water Damage
Water can severely damage your fireplace and chimney. There are numerous entry points for water penetration to occur, and water penetrating the chimney can give rise to many huge troubles. Water can enter the chimney through any cracks in the crown or in the chimney shelf itself. It can also penetrate due to the defective flashing where the chimney joins the roof. Water penetration into the inner walls of the chimney can allow the mold to build up that can reduce the efficiency of the fireplace, causing the smoke to backdraft. Other than the usual damage caused by mold that water penetration can cause, it also has another scary result. Mixing creosote with water causes it to become acidic, which, in turn, results in premature rusting of the damper and speeds up the erosion of the brick and mortar in your chimney & fireplace.
Water hazards can be prevented by a regular chimney checkup and making sure that there is no room for water to penetrate in any part of the chimney or fireplace. Another way to protect your chimney from water damage is to use water repellent treatments, sometimes referred to as “waterproofing,” which is also very helpful at retaining water out of your chimney.
Chimney repair should not be taken lightly. Otherwise, the result can be very disastrous. Therefore, we have compiled a thorough guide on chimney repair in the hope of providing you a basic understanding of your chimney and how you can avoid any unfortunate event.