Signs Your Chimney Crown is Damaged
Your chimney looks like a simple structure; however, it’s composed of many pieces, all crucial to its efficient and safe operation. Because many chimney components are made from masonry materials like bricks and mortar, they’re subject to wear and tear from heat and the elements. This post looks at the chimney crown, its purpose, signs of damage, and how to repair it.
What is a Chimney Crown?
The crown is a concrete slab that sits atop the chimney, preventing water from seeping into the mortar joints and the joints where the roof butts up against the chimney.
Problems arise when crowns aren’t finished properly, typically when time is a factor or inexperienced masons do the work. If you live in a part of the country that experiences freezing temperatures and precipitation, it can lead to rapid crown deterioration, which can compromise the integrity of your chimney.
How Chimney Crowns Become Damaged
Knowing how crown damage occurs can help you prepare for and prevent it. The most common causes of crown damage are:
Normal Wear & Tear
Like every other part of your home, the chimney crown undergoes natural wear and tear. If not properly maintained, small cracks grow larger and larger until the crown falls apart. The best way to prevent this is to schedule annual inspections and maintenance by a trained chimney service company to repair minor damage before it escalates.
As mentioned, some chimney crowns weren’t correctly installed, or maybe the contractor used inferior materials, causing it to deteriorate more quickly than if a master mason had done it. It’s common for contractors to construct the crown from mortar instead of concrete, which is less reliable and breaks down faster.
Because the crown is exposed to the elements, the extreme heat, rain, and freeze/thaw cycle lead to cracking. A crown installed by an expert mason will withstand the elements longer than one that’s built by someone with less experience, but it’s still wise to schedule routine inspections and maintenance.
Signs of Chimney Crown Damage
Now that you know how a crown becomes damaged, here are the most common signs to watch for that signal you need repairs.
The obvious sign of chimney crown damage are visible cracks. As we’ve seen, foul weather, moisture, and improper construction lead to cracking. Once cracks form, water seeps in, causing further deterioration.
Another sign that you have a problem is if you see pieces of the crown missing. Crowns with missing chunks typically get to that state through years of neglect, so it’s crucial to stay on top of maintenance, so you can avoid costly crown repairs or reconstruction.
If you notice water pooling in your firebox, it’s a good sign that your crown is damaged and no longer doing its job. Pooling water can be a sign of other chimney-related issues, so call a professional for an inspection as soon as possible to determine the cause and recommend the most effective repair.
Water damage or stains on your home’s interior walls is another sign that your crown may be compromised. Water damage isn’t only unsightly, it can lead to significant mold growth, which can cause health issues for some family members.
Chimney Crown Repair
Various factors determine which repair method is best for repairing a damaged crown, including the materials with which it was originally constructed and the extent of the damage. If the crown was constructed from cement and has minor cracks, the mason may opt to apply a waterproof sealant. However, if there’s significant cracking, or missing pieces, bond patching or a complete rebuild may be the solution.
How Often Should I Have My Chimney Inspected
Damaged chimney crowns aren’t the only problems that can affect your chimney and fireplace performance and safety. If you rely on your fireplace for heat, you must have it thoroughly cleaned and inspected by trained professionals.
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), most chimney fires are caused by a dirty chimney, as creosote (the byproduct of burning wood) accumulates in the flue and becoming a fire hazard.
The CSIA further says that the best way to keep your chimney and fireplace safe and to catch minor damage before it becomes dangerous is to schedule annual inspections and sweeping by a trained, certified professional.
About Flegemacher Fireplace Shop
Felgemacher Fireplace Shop is a division of Felgemacher Masonry. We’re a third-generation fireplace company serving homeowners in Rochester NY, Buffalo NY, Williamsville NY, Pittsofrd NY, Charlotte NC, and the surrounding areas. We have over 60 years of experience and employ expert masons who are masters in their craft. We’re certified with the National Fireplace Institute and know chimneys and fireplaces inside and out. Whether you need routine maintenance and cleaning or a full-blow repair, you can count on our decades of experience. Call us today for an estimate at 716-710-7019.