A chimney can complete the picture-perfect charm of an older home. But enjoying the aesthetic of your chimney also comes with a unique set of responsibilities for its upkeep. We’ll review some common problems with old chimneys like obstructions and damaged brickwork that can be avoided with regular maintenance.
How to Avoid Common Problems With Old Chimneys? With Care and Attention
If you have an older home, chances are you’re no stranger to constant upkeep and care. Though you may not use your chimney year-round, it requires the same attention as your home to avoid signs of chimney problems. Before we discuss chimney problems and how to cure them we’ll reiterate the important functions of a chimney that preserve our safety.
Why Are Chimneys Important?
A chimney’s main function is to vent the byproducts of fire. A fire naturally produces carbon monoxide, ashes, and soot as it burns. As these byproducts begin to rise on the fire’s hot air, the chimney vents them upward and outside your home.
Common problems with old chimneys include buildup that can prevent it from properly venting. So instead of byproducts rising up and out of your home they remain trapped inside and inhaled. Buildup can also cause dangerous chimney fires. So what to do with an old chimney? Make sure you perform regular maintenance and use yearly professional inspections to ensure your safety.
#1. Chimney Obstruction
One of the most common problems with old chimneys are obstructions. While objects and even animals from outside can cause obstructions, construction factors can also be a cause. If your chimney isn’t tall enough it won’t properly vent smoke, leading to excessive soot buildup that obstructs the flue over time.
You can avoid chimney obstructions by using a professional chimney service for yearly maintenance. This service will assess for obstructions and provide advice for any needed repairs.
Image from InspectApedia
#2. Chimney Creosote Buildup
A wood-burning fireplace produces a specific byproduct called creosote when the wood burns. This mixture of tar and soot causes many chimney problems in old houses by building up inside the chimney. This buildup can easily ignite causing a chimney fire.
Given this hazard, the importance of a chimney cleaning is especially vital to regular chimney maintenance. The National Fire Protection Association recommends an annual chimney cleaning to maintain safety standards.
#3. Damaged Chimney Crown and Cap
Older chimneys are topped by a cement crown that helps keep out the rain. Yet, with time, this crown can crack, allowing moisture to damage other parts of your chimney’s masonry.
We typically recommend that all chimneys have a chimney cap instead of a crown. Caps are usually better at keeping out moisture, animals and other outdoor debris. However they will also require repairs or replacement over time. Regular professional inspections can assess a chimney crown or cap to prevent additional damage.
#4. Damaged Chimney Brickwork
Moisture will inevitably damage a neglected chimney, leading to more serious chimney problems in old houses. To keep the damage from moisture at bay we recommend regular maintenance with mortar tuckpointing, as needed. This mortar replacement process is performed by a chimney repair service and can prevent more serious chimney repairs.
#5. Broken Fireplace Flue
The lining of a chimney flue is exposed to moisture and byproducts that can break it down over time. If the flue’s lining breaks or cracks, your home can be more susceptible to fire.
If regular maintenance reveals breakages in your flue’s lining a professional chimney repair service must fix the damage before the fireplace is used again.