Common Chimney Issues
With proper maintenance and care, your beautiful chimney and fireplace will provide decades of enjoyment in a warm and inviting atmosphere. Unfortunately, due to current economic conditions, some folks in Rochester, NY, skip their annual chimney inspection because their chimney appears in good condition. However, appearances can be deceiving, and many problems can go unnoticed until it results in more severe damage, like a chimney leak, flue obstruction, or even a house fire. So, here are five common chimney issues that an annual chimney inspection and cleaning can help you avoid.
While the roaring flames in your wood-burning fireplace are a comforting sight on a dreary winter day in Batavia, NY, a hidden danger is building up inside the flue. Several substances are naturally created during combustion. One of the most dangerous is creosote, a carbonaceous volatile organic compound (VOC). The substance adheres to the interior walls, damper, flue liner, chimney cap, and other parts of the chimney as the smoke and exhaust vent out the top of the stack. As the creosote remains in the chimney, it begins to harden into an oily or tarry material that is extremely difficult to remove. It is also highly flammable and is the leading cause of chimney and house fires in Western New York and around the country. Every year, fire departments in the Greater Buffalo and Rochester metropolitan areas respond to residential structure fires resulting from a failure to clean the chimney properly.
Flue Liner Cracks
Think of the flue liner as an additional layer of protection for your flue and home. It serves several critical functions, such as keeping the flames and heat inside the duct so it doesn’t spread to combustible building materials. It also increases fireplace heating efficiency and protects your family from poisonous carbon monoxide fumes. There are several flue liners, such as clay or terra cotta, cast-in-place cement, and stainless steel. Terra cotta clay tiles are the most common liner material in Western New York homes. Many aging homes still have their original clay liner. Like other porous materials, clay deteriorates over time. Moisture or condensation, creosote, and corrosive gas residues can cause the tiles to chip, crack, or flake, depositing bits of material in the firebox. A chimney fire can cause the clay tiles to burst or fracture. Cracks in the flue liner increase the fire danger and exposure to carbon monoxide gas. That’s why an annual chimney inspection is essential, even if you have a gas fireplace.
With its proximity to Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, the Buffalo and Rochester areas are a popular migration route for birds heading south for the winter. So even before you light the fire for the first time of the winter season, your chimney may already have blackbirds, squirrels, beavers, and other critters nesting in the flue. Wind gusts can also blow leaves, twigs, and debris across your rooftop, blocking your chimney cap and flue pipe. A flue obstruction can be dangerous because it restricts the venting of smoke and exhaust. It can eventually result in a backdraft that pushes soot and debris down the flue and into your living space. It also reduces indoor air quality with irritating smoke and toxic carbon monoxide gas.
One of the most overlooked chimney issues is moisture intrusion. A missing chimney cap, cracks in the crown, and worn or improperly installed flashing are the most common causes. Once moisture invades your flue, it can cause extensive damage to your chimney, walls, ceiling, and roof deck.
Although masonry brick chimneys are solid and durable structures, moisture, freezing rain and snow, ice, and seasonal weather changes can accelerate their deterioration. While your chimney may look in good condition from afar, when you get up close, you can spot some severe issues, including decaying or missing mortar. You may also notice cracks and loose or missing bricks. When masonry damage is detected early with annual chimney inspections, our skilled masons can perform tuckpointing or repointing to repair the damaged bricks and mortar to restore the strength and stability of the chimney. It will also save the time and expense of a costlier partial or complete chimney replacement.
Annual Chimney Inspection & Cleaning in Buffalo-Niagara Falls-Rochester NY
You can avoid many common chimney issues by getting your annual inspection, cleaning, and necessary repairs done before the cold weather arrives. Call (716) 907-4914 or (585) 308-4914 to schedule your summer chimney inspection today! You can also contact us online at https://www.felgemachermasonry.com/contact-us/.