Top Three Dangerous Problems Related to Chimney Water Damage
Is your chimney in good shape? Have you been maintaining it, or are you not sure what needs to be done? Has it been deteriorating over the years and you aren’t sure what’s happening? If your chimney is damaged in any way, the problem might be worse than it seems on the surface, especially if the damage has been caused by moisture.
You might think that a fire is the worst thing that could happen to your chimney, but water damage is actually more of a threat in terms of costly damage. Moisture is your biggest enemy, and if you don’t take the proper steps to prevent and mitigate water damage, it can cost you thousands of dollars in damages. Keep reading to learn why that is and what you can do to stay protected.
How Does Water Damage Affect My Chimney?
Here are five ways water can damage your chimney.
1. Mold and mildew
Water combined with the right conditions will create mold and mildew, even on bricks and pavers. If you care about maintaining your chimney’s aesthetic appeal, this issue will be especially frustrating because accumulated mold and mildew will make your brickwork look bad.
You can tell if you have a mold problem because your bricks will turn black and sometimes green. However, you can use plain vinegar or an anti-fungal product to scrub it off of your chimney if you feel comfortable climbing onto the roof.
It’s also common for mold and mildew to accumulate inside your chimney. Usually, this problem is caused by a broken chimney cap or crown, damaged mortar, or poor ventilation.
If you suspect mold is growing on the inside of your chimney, it’s best to have it cleaned by a professional chimney sweep. Mold isn’t something you want to mess with if you don’t know how to properly handle it, and chimney sweeps are both trained and equipped with the right tools to get the job done. It’s just not worth risking the spread of mold into your home.
2. Cracked, broken, and missing bricks
A water-damaged chimney will often result in damaged brickwork given some time. The most common problem is spalling, which is when the brick’s surface cracks or crumbles and falls off. This can make your chimney look bad, but more importantly, it’s a sign that you need to have some restoration work done before the damage becomes too great. You can tell if you have spalling by looking for flaked off and broken pieces of brick by the base of your chimney.
“Spalling” happens because of the freeze/thaw cycle. Brick is a naturally porous material, so it collects moisture that becomes trapped inside. When the temperature gets cold enough, the water in the brick freezes and expands. Frozen water has 9% more volume, which causes significant cracks in the brick. Then, as the temperature warms up, the water melts, but the newly expanded voids in the brick remain.
This process doesn’t just happen once; it will continue until you waterproof your chimney. During each cold season, bricks will continue to collect water in the new, larger voids, and that water will freeze and expand again, creating even larger voids in the brick. Those expanded voids will then collect even more water the next time around, and the cycle will repeat infinitely.
An even bigger problem with missing or damaged bricks is that you end up with reduced support for the entire structure. Bricks are your chimney’s structural components, and if they are missing or broken, the entire structure is compromised. This can lead to a collapsed chimney and even more damage to your home. If your brick and/or mortar is damaged, you need chimney masonry repair.
3. Broken mortar joints
Just like brick, mortar absorbs moisture, and water alone can weaken your mortar joints. When that water is exposed to the freeze/thaw cycle, it can start to crack, crumble, and fall away.
When the mortar starts to crumble, your chimney will be exposed to even more moisture, which will speed up its degradation if left unrepaired.
4. Water can leak into your home’s structure
Depending on where your chimney is cracked, water that seeps in can end up leaking into the structure of your home, like the ceiling and walls. This can happen if you have a cracked flue, damaged tile liner, or your chimney cap is damaged or missing.
Water damage to your home is a pain to deal with, not to mention expensive. It’s best to avoid this by maintaining your chimney and getting repairs done as soon as you notice they’re needed.
5. A rusted firebox/damper
When water enters your chimney, it can cause the damper or firebox to rust. Rust is a problem that doesn’t stop deteriorating, it just gets worse. When your chimney’s components begin to rust or corrode, it needs to be fixed immediately to prevent water leaks, spalling, and flue deterioration.
Combat Chimney Water Damage With a Professional Inspection
If you know or suspect your chimney is damaged, get an inspection as soon as possible. A professional will tell you if you need chimney repair, tuckpointing, or just a good cleaning.
The best part is, when you call a pro, you won’t have to get up on the roof to sort it out yourself. Even if you just need to scrub mold off of your brickwork, it’s easier (and safer) to have it done by a professional company.
At Approved Home Improvements, we’re chimney experts who know how to repair any chimney. We can repair water-damaged mortar, waterproof your chimney, restore your brickwork, or just give it a good scrub. Whatever you need, we can make it happen.
Contact us today for all of your chimney inspection, cleaning, repair, and restoration needs.