The fireplace is one of winter’s greatest comforts. Most of the time, however, we aren’t thinking about what’s overhead. Chimneys are a vital part of homes, protecting us from external elements. Assuming your chimney is fine without proper inspection can lead to costly damage. Let’s walk through proactive measures to prolong your chimney’s life.
Are you also curious about what’s covered with chimney insurance? Don’t worry—we’ve got it all in the complete guide to chimney repair.
We experience all four weather seasons in St. Louis, sometimes to the extreme. Heat, storms, wind, and snowfall deteriorate our chimneys over time. Freezing and thawing throughout the year allow water to expand in our bricks, resulting in cracks and damage. Continue reading for chimney repair costs and damages requiring action.
After exposure to all four seasons of weather, decay over time, and additional outdoor factors like animals and rodents, chimney repairs become unavoidable. Repair can begin at $200, ranging up to and over $1,000. If more than 10 bricks need repair, costs can reach between $1,000 to $1,500.
And those costs are only a fraction compared to a partial or complete chimney rebuild. Partial rebuilds begin over the $1,500 mark, while a complete job can cost up to $5,000. Staying proactive by scheduling regular maintenance and chimney inspection drastically cuts costs over time. If you notice a small crack before the winter, chances are freezing and thawing of water within the brick will only become more expensive to repair.
Let’s jump into signs of chimney damage:
Flashing is the thin metal protecting the corners and mortar joints of your chimney. Over time, flashing can loosen or fall off, allowing leaking. If not corrected immediately, water damage will cause excessive moisture and mold to deteriorate a chimney.
White stains around the outside of your chimney indicate efflorescence, an internal moisture build-up. Damaged mortar joints are a common issue that can lead to costly damages. One of those by-products is excessive moisture. Mold forms quickly as a result of efflorescence, causing deterioration.
It’s normal to find wearing masonry over time. Severe cracking or growing space between bricks need quick repair. Moisture leaks are at risk with damaged mortar joints, which can expand in cold temperatures, distorting the flow of smoke and heat.
Deterioration happens over time, but major cracks or damages need repair. Chimney crowns are an additional support mechanism protecting against external factors. Rain, snow, branches, and animals will enter your chimney if the crown is exposed.
Rebuilding, repointing, and tuckpointing are the three types of chimney repair. Avoid attempting repointing or tucking if your chimney needs a complete rebuild, as the safety of your structure and anyone around is a concern.
Chimney repointing is the process of repairing gaps in mortar joints between individual brick or stone. Decay over time or severe weather damage causes crumbling, deportation, and water leaks in mortar joints. Repointing reinforces internal brick, eliminating water infiltration.
Tuckpointing removes old mortar joints, replacing them with new mortar that matches the color of the brick. Tuckpointing is a restoration technique, opposed to repair, and adds thin layers of support called filets.
As mentioned above, rebuilds will cost you thousands more than maintenance fixes. Minor damage will become costly repairs with fixtures exposed to all weather. Schedule chimney repair with a contractor to avoid further damage if you notice cracked or deteriorated mortar joints.
Most severe weather events cover chimney repair if you have homeowners insurance. An insurance policy will not cover wear and tear or neglect damages, which are common chimney problems. Let’s walk through the ins and outs of chimney repair insurance.
Dwelling coverage in a home insurance plan covers unexpected damages to a chimney. A chimney fire not caused by neglect to maintenance will be covered in your plan following an insurance inspection.
Lightning strikes, fallen trees, and other severe weather effects will cover chimney repairs up to rebuild if a collapse occurs.
Home insurance policy will not cover chimney maintenance since it is common to any structure over time. Chimneys also lean to a degree after aging. A collapse due to leaning likely won’t be covered by home insurance if inspectors deem prior improvements were needed.
Over 25,000 chimney fires occur annually, most of which could be avoided by chimney sweeping. Although chimneys are built to withstand high temperatures, they must be cleaned regularly. Fires from free debris or nests cause cracked tiles, which melt mortar joints. At a contractor like Approved Home Improvements, sweeping services:
- Clean wood-burning or gas fireplace flues up to two stories tall
- Visually inspect your clean masonry chimney for defects
- Check if your smoke shelf is parged, which is a new code upgrade for older homes
Approved Home Improvement offers a six-step process for tuckpointing: assessment, safety preparation, brick and mortar removal, masonry restoration, brick and mortar sealing, and tuckpointing warranty period.
For three generations, Approved Home Improvements has served hundreds of clients in the St. Louis area. We’ll even work with your insurance with available financing options. Don’t wait any longer—let us find minor damages in your chimney before they become costly. Contact us to begin inspection and chimney repair.