Your chimney may be built properly and by a certified professional, but the best chimneys are still susceptible to damage. The biggest culprit and most detrimental circumstance for your masonry chimney is preventable: water penetration.
The Problem with Water
Water has the power to destroy your masonry from the inside out, causing spalling, deterioration, rust, stains, structural damage, damper malfunction, decreased efficiency and increased fire risk. Your chimney leak doesn’t only ruin your chimney system, but can cause other problems in your home, resulting in stained, damaged, and ruined walls, ceilings, coverings, and weakened structural materials.
Many homeowners make the assumption that the chimney system is separate from the house, so it shouldn’t affect it. This couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, if you have a leak in a different part of your house, even rooms away from your chimney, it is most likely caused by a chimney leak. In fact, if you call a general contractor about your leak, he’ll most likely contact a certified chimney sweep. If you find a leak in your home or suspect you have a chimney leak, you should go ahead and contact a certified chimney sweep as soon as possible.
What to Look For
The average homeowner won’t see signs of a leak before it causes damage. This is not because they don’t pay attention, but because much of the damage is done behind-the-scenes. By the time the leak is caught, there can be substantial damage already done. It’s important to be aware of the signs of a leak so that you can catch it quickly and have it assessed right away.
1. Dripping in the fireplace or chimney. If you hear or see dripping water in the chimney system, there is an obvious leak and a chimney sweep needs to assess your chimney system as soon as possible.
2. Moldy/mildewy odors in the fireplace and chimney. Musty odors in the chimney mean that water has been in the chimney long enough for bacteria to grow there.
3. Stains in the firebox and on the exterior of the chimney. Dark stains in the firebox can mean water seepage, but can also be mold. White stains on the exterior of the chimney’s masonry mean water has penetrated the masonry and minerals from the water left on the surface of the bricks.
When you notice the first sign of a problem with your chimney system, you should get on the phone with New Buck Chimney Services right away. Assessing your chimney system regularly is a great habit, but cannot replace actual chimney inspections. You should have your system inspected by a CSIA certified chimney sweep annually in order to discover weaknesses and damage that can lead to a leak. Only a chimney expert knows what to look for and how to correct a problem before it becomes a leak.