Everything to Know About Masonry Chimney Repairs
On those blustery winter days, your brick or stone masonry chimney keeps your home and family safe while enjoying a warm and cozy fireplace experience. However, the frequent rain, snow, and ice that we experience in the Buffalo area can cause several problems: efflorescence, spalling bricks, chimney leaks, chimney crown cracks, and flue liner damage that can make it unsafe to use your fireplace or heating stove until repairs are made. Here’s everything you need to know about masonry chimney repairs in Western New York:
Have you noticed white stains on your masonry chimney? This is efflorescence, and it is a sign that your brick or stone chimney is absorbing moisture. It occurs when water penetrates deep into the masonry, drawing the salts to the surface. When the chimney dries, white stains appear on the affected sections. If you spot white stains on your chimney, schedule a chimney inspection with a CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep like Felgemacher Masonry & Chimney as soon as possible to prevent further masonry damage. After making any necessary chimney repairs, applying a waterproof sealant will help protect the chimney from the damaging effects of rain, snow, and ice.
Spalling, Loose, and Missing Bricks or Stones
As the masonry absorbs moisture, it softens the porous bricks, which will eventually begin to crack, crumble, and spall. At the same time, the mortar is decaying as if it is washing away. Without sufficient mortar, the bricks or stones will loosen and can even fall off the chimney.
Also, cracks in the brickwork and gaps in the mortar joints increase fire risk and exposure to harmful fumes. It also allows water to leak inside the chimney, damaging the flue liner and other chimney areas. It also weakens its structural integrity, which can cause it to lean or collapse, increasing the cost of repairs. When you see any cracks or gaps in the masonry, it needs immediate repair to stop the damage.
Water is the chimney’s mortal enemy. So, anytime you notice moisture in the chimney is a strong indication it needs immediate repair. Otherwise, the water will damage the masonry, rust the damper, and create conditions for mold, mildew, and bacteria to grow inside the chimney and spread to other areas of your house.
Chimney Crown Cracks
The chimney crown is the concrete surface that tops the entire masonry structure. Its sloped edges help deflect rain, snow, and wind, protecting the chimney from moisture intrusion. However, normal wear and tear, foundation settling, and weather can cause the crown to crack. It occurs much like cracking on other concrete surfaces around your house, like the porch or patio. Even a hairline crack puts the interior masonry at risk of water damage. Therefore, we recommend homeowners in Buffalo, Rochester, and Western New York with wood or gas fuel heating appliances stay up to date with their annual chimney inspections.
Flue Liner Damage
The flue liner contains the heat inside the flue, so it doesn’t spread to nearby combustible building materials like your attic or walls. However, many older homes in Western New York still have the original clay tile liner.
Like brickwork, clay tiles are also porous materials that absorb moisture. The moisture and residue from combustion gases can also accelerate the flue liner’s deterioration, thus increasing the risk of fire and carbon monoxide exposure. Also, when exposed to high temperatures in the fireplace or a small chimney fire from creosote buildup can cause the clay tiles to crack, split, or burst.
If you see any clay pieces or chips on the fireplace floor, schedule a CSIA certified chimney inspection right away to determine if it needs repair or replacement.
Professional Chimney Repairs in Rochester / Buffalo
Felgemacher Masonry & Chimney provides CSIA-Certified chimney repairs in communities throughout Greater Rochester, Buffalo, and Western New York. We also work with homeowners’ insurance claims. Call (716) 452-9156, (585) 684-7197, or contact us online to schedule a chimney inspection today!