Chimney Problems: How to Spot a Potential Hazard
Chimney problems can be difficult to spot, especially since they are in that “out of sight out of mind” part of your home. Neglecting a chimney problem can lead to expensive repairs or worse, such as a potential house fire. Here are some common chimney problems, how to spot potential hazards and how they can be fixed.
Poor insulation of chimney flashing can result in rust and water leakage, which can destroy the masonry and interior of your home. Some things to look for:
- Signs of water dripping or damage in the attic around the chimney
- Flashing is pulled away from the outside masonry
- Flashing is rusted or discolored
Many homeowners can reattach their flashing to the masonry on their own, but if it’s badly corroded it will need to be replaced by a professional.
Liner is Damaged
The chimney liner protects combustible parts of the home from the heat of the fire. If there is a small crack in the liner, it could lead to a house fire. To spot the potential hazard, look in the firebox to see if you notice any broken masonry, which is an indication that the chimney liner is most likely damaged. A chimney professional will be able to identify any damage to the chimney liner during an annual inspection. Chimney liner repair can be expensive and invasive, but usually a professional will suggest replacing the liner with a stainless steel liner.
There are more than 25,000 house fires every year in the United States. Many chimney fires also go undetected by not getting enough fuel or air to spread throughout the rest of the home. Each undetected fire also creates more damage to the chimney which can eventually become an emergency. It’s important to have an annual inspection of the chimney done by a professional who can use special equipment and tools to inspect the entirety of the chimney.
As a homeowner, there are a few things you can look for to spot signs of previous fires, and potential hazards of a future chimney fire.
- Crack in the exterior masonry
- The rain cap is discolored or distorted
- Creosote flakes found on the ground or roof
- Smoke escaping through tile liners or mortar joints
- Flue tiles are collapsed or cracked
- Damper or chamber contains warped metal
Set at the very top of the chimney and making it harder to check on, a chimney crown seals the edge of the exterior masonry to the edge of the flue liner. Small cracks in the crown invite unwanted moisture and create damage. To keep cracks away, install a chimney cap or re-coat with mortar mix as needed.
Forensic Engineering Specialists
Engineering Specialists Inc. has nearly 30 years of field experience in analyzing the damage to vehicles, residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. We can work on any project in any state, nationwide. When you or your business needs to confirm the extent of damage or how to correct a problem, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us, toll-free, at (877) 559-4010.