Missouri is fortunate to experience four different weather seasons, but these varying conditions impact a property over time, causing damage to your chimney. With effective professional inspection and maintenance, however, chimneys last a lifetime. But neglect often requires extensive repair or even replacement. In this article, we’ll break down the leading causes of chimney deterioration while providing helpful insights to help you sustain your chimney for years to come.
Highlighted below are the leading factors contributing toward chimney deterioration broken down by section:
Chimney head, upper shaft:
- Exhaust gasses and ashes
- Rain, wind, snowfall, and other weather events
- Thermal variations and UV exposure
- Atmospheric carbon dioxide
- Neighboring chimney’s exhaust
- Atmospheric carbon dioxide
- Concentrated run-off
- Industrial atmosphere
Chimney care is often overlooked, but with regular maintenance and care, your structure can last decades. Follow these leading tips for chimney deterioration and damage prevention:
- Don’t paint, waterproof instead.
- Install the correct type of chimney cap.
- Install an effective chase cover.
- Keep your chimney maintained properly with inspection and regular maintenance from a professional contractor.
From the moment they are built and activated for service, chimneys begin to wear. Structures indicate few signs of damage in the first few years of use, but they actively collect damage under the surface. Over time, chimney deterioration is caused by weather conditions, neglect of regular maintenance, structural concerns, and other external factors. Let’s take a deeper dive into the causes of chimney deterioration:
Enough water in a chimney affects flue liner components. Protective tiles set in mortar joints are in danger when water leaks wash away mortars. Washed-away joints cause threatening gaps in the flue liner, requiring immediate maintenance repair. If breached water continues past mortars, the shoulders of the chimney and the smoke chamber are at risk of extensive damage.
Smoke chambers exposed to water leaks pose a safety hazard, as they are located directly above the fireplace. Smoke chambers prevent heat from escaping and transfer the byproducts of combustion upwards toward the chimney flue. Breached water weakens and can potentially ruin the efficiency of a chimney system.
It’s normal to see the occasional St. Louis winter afternoon hit 75 degrees only for it to snow a foot just days later. The constant fluctuation in temperature impacts chimney structures.
Masonry chimneys absorb significant amounts of water during heavy rain or snowfall. Listed below are a couple of scenarios where moisture becomes a problem:
- Built-up water freezes in masonry structures when the temperature drops overnight. Water then expands as it’s frozen, fracturing layers of the brickwork.
- As temperatures rise during sunlight, breached water thaws within your system. Movement occurs in the brickwork itself as the previously frozen water has already expanded the structure, eroding the system.
Exposed brickwork allows water to seep into the chimney crown, and an excess amount in the crown will leak into roofs and attics. A failure of the chimney system causes separate and costly issues in property structures.
Have you noticed green or black substances growing on the interior and exterior of your chimney structure? Water leaks create mold on the inside and outside of chimney structures. Property owners can expect to pay between $1,000 to $5,000 for removing mold throughout a chimney’s lifespan. Neglecting mold build-up causes significant concerns to the building’s structure, often costing over $10,000 in repairs.
A quick rule of thumb: Mold growth isn’t possible without water. If you notice vegetation building, contact professional maintenance to repair water leaks.
Is your chimney experiencing damage or deterioration? Regular maintenance substantially increases a chimney’s lifespan. Check out when repair is necessary to avoid costly replacement.
Because chimneys and fireplaces are common in many residential homes, property owners can follow several guides to proper maintenance for a prolonged and healthy structural life. Below we’ll break down chimney and fireplace tips for different seasons:
- Fireplaces and chimneys are used consistently throughout the winter. Clean the fireplace weekly to reduce ash build-up. Be sure to leave about an inch of ash for useful insulation.
- Schedule chimney sweeping annually through a professional contractor like Approved Home Improvements. Chimneys are often a common area for animal nests, which creates a fire hazard.
- Close the damper in your chimney system outside of the cold season. Air conditioning escapes through the damper and out the chimney when temperatures rise, causing air drafts.
- Schedule professional inspection in warmer weather. Don’t assume your chimney is safe—know it’s safe.
Cleaning your chimney and fireplace isn’t always enough to ensure a healthy system lifespan. Follow these suggestions below for fire safety clarity:
- Keep fire extinguishers within reach.
- Create a property emergency plan.
- Install and test smoke detectors.
- Use non-flammable rugs around fireplaces.
- Sweep ashes, don’t vacuum.
- Burn seasoned wood.
Repairing chimneys is a common and inevitable practice for homeowners, whether you experience a severe weather storm or natural aging. With a contractor like Approved Home Improvements, chimney repair and tuckpointing services restore chimney structures.
Here’s an example of how professional services fix chimney deterioration:
Cracks from deterioration over time can lead to chimney fires or structural collapses if property owners neglect regular maintenance. Professional contractors typically install metal flue liners to correct cracking. Listed below are a few other methods contractors perform during chimney masonry repair:
- Rebuilding or retucking
- Caulking around the flue and chimney crown
- Fixing cracks with sealants
Approved Home Improvements has served hundreds of satisfied clients in the St. Louis area since 1991. From charred flues to general chimney deterioration, our goal is to fully restore your chimney. We offer a full range of chimney services to tackle minor issues before they become costly repairs. Don’t wait any longer—contact our team of experts to secure a healthy and prolonged future for your chimney today.