- Strange SmellsOne of the first tell-tale changes you might notice in your chimney is the smell. The familiar smell of firewood might become tainted with something else you find difficult to explain or might become overpowering. One potential reason for this is the growth of mold, which can develop from moisture damage in the chimney.Another potential contributing factor is the need to replace the liner. When the liner works as it should, it helps to extract fumes from the fireplace to prevent them from entering and staying in your home. People with respiratory problems might be especially affected by mold and a deteriorating liner.
- Dislodged Bricks and TilesMoisture can cause damage to masonry work, which eventually weakens the bricks and the structure holding them together. If you have noticed any indications of mold, this might very well be the case. You might also notice shaling, which is the word used to describe the growing pile of flue tiles on the floor.If you notice shaling, it is important to refrain from using your chimney until you resolve the issue or a contractor gives you the green light. Flue tiles contribute to the fire resistance of your chimney liner. Subsequently, if the chimney begins to shed them, you might have a fire hazard on your hands.
- Mortar DamageEven though Texas is a southern state, it has its fair share of cold winters. This cold puts additional pressure on the mortar that keeps your bricks in place. The damage might not appear obvious at first, so it’s important to check regularly. Red flags include holes, gaps or cracks in the mortar.Chimneys can be dark, so be sure to get a flashlight for your inspection. If your chimney has been shedding bricks or tiles, consider a hard hat to better protect yourself. Note that failing to fix your mortar damage could cause the chimney to collapse.
- Rusted FireboxMost homeowners recognize that rust is a serious problem, but few recognize how serious it might become. If you notice rust on your damper or firebox, consider wearing a hard hat before further inspecting your chimney. As another sign of an excess moisture problem, you could risk flue tiles and bricks coming down.If possible, hire a contractor to check the chimney. These professionals have special equipment, such as small cameras, that can see into crevices you might not be able to reach on your own.
- Chimney DiscolorationKnown as efflorescence, the white staining on your chimney is another tell-tale sign of potential water damage. Unfortunately, many people believe that so long as they clean up this white staining, the issue goes away with it.Unfortunately, the cause of the moisture still remains. If left untreated, many of the issues already identified that are associated with moisture will soon begin to show up. This could significantly shorten the lifespan of your chimney.
- Faulty Chimney Chase TopWhen you or a professional begin your inspection of the chimney, you might notice a rusting chimney chase top. In some instances, it might even be broken. The material used might account for this. Ideally, your chase top is made from stainless steel, but many prefab chimneys come with galvanized metal covers instead that do not hold up against Dallas Fort Worth’s rainy periods.A faulty top presents a number of risks, such as animals entering the home. In 2018, one Texas many got an unwelcome surprise in the early morning when a loud clunk in his fireplace turned out to be a six-foot-long rat snake. A faulty chase top might also explain excess moisture getting in. In fact, this could explain any excessive moisture problems identified.
- Cracked Chimney Crown Even if you do not have a prefabricated chimney, you might still have issues with the top of the structure. The crown in a more traditional chimney can crack. To determine if this is the case, you would need to climb onto your roof to take a look.Roofing is one of the most dangerous jobs in America and a fall can be lethal, so it is generally best to leave this to the professionals. Like a faulty metal chase top, when the crown fails, it allows water into the chimney. The inevitable freeze-and-thaw cycles can then wreak havoc on the masonry work.
- Leaning ChimneyWhen a chimney begins to lean, you might not notice it at first. A few degrees of difference in the angle might not become apparent to the human eye. However, if you begin to suspect it looks a little odd, you can use a bubble level to check.You should also consider checking if the chimney is leaning if you notice any water damage in the home. Several potential underlying causes include cracks in the crown, torn flashing, and damaged mortar. Note that the lean comes before a potential collapse, so this is not a matter to procrastinate on.
Chimney repair and maintenance plays an important role in keeping your family safe. Chimneys provide warmth and comfort on the coldest winter nights in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Even so, they can also become dangerous when not properly maintained or when problems go unresolved for too long. Potential dangers include damage to personal property, injuries, and even loss of life. The good news is that the need for chimney repair is unlikely to catch you off guard. All you need to do is watch out for the signs below. Then, contact a repair company as soon as possible if you notice something is wrong.