Putting Off Those Chimney Repairs? Check Out These Serious Problems That Should Never Be Postponed
Some types of household repairs warrant immediate attention from homeowners. For instance, when no water comes out of the tap or no heat comes from the home's vents, homeowners realize that a time-sensitive problem exists and they take immediate action to correct it. Other types of household problems, such as a chimney that needs to be repaired, are often considered to be merely cosmetic annoyances and not given the same level of attention by today's busy homeowners. In some cases, the homeowner simply stops using the chimney until it can be fixed and the task of arranging for the repairs is soon postponed or forgotten.
More Than Inconvenient and Ugly
Cracked mortar joints or flue tiles, crumbling brick or stone work or even just a missing rain cap or faulty damper system are much more than just cosmetic problems. In fact, these problems can cause other types of expensive damage or serious risks as time passes. Here are some chimney repair issues that should never be postponed.
Missing Rain Cap
A rain cap actually protects the chimney from falling rain or snow, and helps to prevent animals and birds from seeking shelter or building a nest in the flue. Not only can the nesting materials catch fire, but they can also block the chimney's ability to vent harmful carbon monoxide and smoke particles created by wood burning fires, and allow the fumes to infiltrate the living areas of the home. In addition, birds and and destructive animals such as coons and squirrels can use chimneys as their own private entry and exit point into your home, where they can destroy furnishings, desecrate food storage areas and even attack family members and pets.
Helpful Tip: Unexplained scratching sounds emanating from your chimney during the spring can indicate that a bird has nested there. To be safe, block your fireplace opening and do not light a fire until you have the chimney checked by a professional.
Latent Water Damage
Another very real problem that occurs when a masonry chimney becomes cracked or the bricks and stones crumble is latent water damage. Rain, snow, ice and even the condensation that forms during changing weather patterns can settle into the cracks and fissures of damaged masonry. Over time, this moisture will seep downward and infiltrate roofing materials, attics, insulation and other nearby building materials. When this action goes unnoticed for long periods of time, it can create the perfect growing conditions for mold and mildew, and damage insulation, plaster, walls and floors.
Helpful Tip: If your home has a masonry chimney that you are not using because it is in disrepair, consider covering it with a tarp to keep out rain and snow until you can schedule proper repairs.
While homeowners might think a faulty damper is merely an annoyance, it can actually cause more serious problems, including an increased risk of household fires and interior air quality issues. Even though damper systems are built to withstand high temperatures, they can become worn, warped or damaged over time. When this happens they can slip into a closed position without warning, reducing the draft needed for the fire to burn correctly and allowing harmful creosote to build up to dangerous levels in the flue. In addition, a loose or damaged damper system will not be able to quickly reduce air flow in the event of a wood stove or fireplace fire that is burning too hotly and needs to be ratcheted down.
Helpful Tip: If your damper system becomes unusually noisy or fails to stay in position, it may need to be adjusted or replaced. Contact a reputable chimney repair specialist and have them evaluate your damper system and check your chimney for any issues that need addressed before building another fire. Doing so can prevent more extensive repairs and help to keep your family safe.
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