If you have a fireplace in your house, the chimney needs to work perfectly fine to prevent any hazards. Regardless of how well the chimney is kept, cracks will form sooner or later. May it be smaller and especially bigger, you should perform chimney repair immediately if cracks appear. We are going to share why chimney cracks are dangerous and what you can do to fix them.
Chimney Cracks Let In Water
One of the biggest concerns surrounding chimney cracks is they allow water inside the house. In most cases, cracks that let water inside are zig-zag in design. However, if the cracks are small, there is little chance the water will come in and damage the entire chimney structure.
On the other hand, if the cracks tend to be big, there is a lot of chance the water will soon end up inside and damage the chimney structure as well. Once the water starts leaking in, it fills up the cracks and becomes a problem in freezing temperatures. This is because the water freezes and expands which pushes against the mortar and bricks. In the beginning, the cracks and leakages as a result might be hard to notice.
But once the deterioration starts to take place, you won’t have any option other than getting the cracks repaired. This is why experts suggest fixing even the minor cracks as they can turn into bigger ones in the future.
Chimney Cracks Can Cause House Fires
Another cause of concern is chimney cracks can cause house fires. A chimney is made of several components. Some of these components such as the flue liner help contain the fire. So, if your chimney flue liner is damaged, you should not use the fireplace and rely on a secondary heating option till the chimney repair.
Most chimney liners tend to be clay tile liners. Although these are inexpensive, cracks are common with clay liners. The high temperatures inside the chimney can warp, crack, or burst, which could lead to extreme fires by catching onto nearby combustible materials.
In addition to that, the accumulation of creosote on the liner can also ignite a chimney fire. In most cases, homeowners are not even aware of that their chimney flue liner is damaged until an inspection is performed. That said, your entire chimney must be thoroughly inspected by an expert and any minor or major cracks or damages could be fixed beforehand.
Chimney Cracks Can Expose You To Toxic Gasses
A fireplace is a breeding ground for toxic gasses. As the wood burns, toxic gasses are produced and released as a result that can seriously threaten the people living inside the house. The most serious problem happens to be carbon monoxide. It is both colorless and odorless. This is what makes the gas extremely lethal.
There have been incidents where people simply lost consciousness sitting next to the fireplace. Prolonged unconsciousness can lead to serious situations, even death. That said, carbon monoxide along with other toxic gasses can easily escape through the cracks.
Therefore, to prevent the silent killer from getting to you and your family members, you need to repair chimney cracks and make sure the chimney is crack-free. It’s best to hire chimney contractors Ellicott City for repairs and inspections.
What Causes Chimney Cracks?
Now that we have discussed the dangers of chimney cracks, it is time to shift our attention to the causes. Chimney cracks can take place due to several reasons. To begin with, cracked flue tiles are amongst the most common reasons. As mentioned earlier, tiles expand with heat, and the flue tiles buckle, warp, or crack under pressure.
Furthermore, moisture trapped inside the masonry can also lead to brick cracks. During the freeze-thaw cycle, the bricks tend to expand which puts pressure on the tiles. This is why a chimney needs to be built properly to prevent moisture from coming through.
Meanwhile, newly built chimneys can also experience cracks as the mortar hardens. It takes a while for the mortar to settle in, in the case of a fresh chimney. During the process, if the weather turns windy, the mortar may shift and create tension. Installing steel rods for a brief period will prevent this issue but such a precaution is mostly ignored by the builders.
Finally, a common reason chimneys develop cracks is if the builders skip out a few important details. From the outside, building a chimney might seem simple and easy. There is a lot of detail that requires focus and attention.
For instance, there should be some space between the flue and walls of the chimney so there is enough space for the flue and the bricks of the chimney wall to expand as they heat up. If there isn’t, the tiles will expand and eventually crack.
Common Types Of Chimney Cracks
Vertical cracks are the most common. These cracks form due to foundational issues or the natural settling of the building. If there are foundational issues, you will need to get them fixed as the chimney will continue developing cracks.
Unfortunately, there is no cheap or easy way to deal with foundational cracks. You will need to dig up your house and make it stable again. However, if the issue is with the chimney, you will need to choose the right materials and sealing techniques.
The sealant you choose should match the need of the situation without compromising the integrity of the repair if the chimney tends to move in the future.
Spalling is a phenomenon that takes place due to moisture damage and freeze-thaw cycles. This happens as the outer layers of the stone or brick tend to flake off. As a result, chimney deterioration takes place at a much faster rate than usual.
The best way to prevent chimney spalling is by using the best quality materials and employing the proper repointing techniques. In addition to that, spalling only occurs in masonry chimneys. That said, it is important to apply sealants to help keep unwanted moisture out to extend the chimney’s life.
How Often Should I Get My Chimney Maintained?
The frequency of inspection and maintenance of your chimney depends on its usage. If your fireplace is used mostly throughout the year, you will need to get it inspected at least once every two months. In the meantime, you should also perform personal inspections and maintenance.
Keep in mind that soot is a byproduct of the wood-burning process. It needs to be removed for the chimney to provide a clear passage to the gasses and fire. If ignored, soot can build up and become hard to the point where it becomes nearly impossible to remove.
This could lead to a fire as well as soot can catch fire. This is why experts recommend getting the chimneys periodically maintained to prevent complications.
One thing you need to keep in mind when it comes to chimneys is that cracks can be dangerous no matter how small they are. Considering the threats produced as a result, you should always have an expert periodically inspect and maintain the chimney. This will help prevent fires and toxic gasses from entering your vulnerable space. If the flue liner is cracked, you will need chimney relining services Upper Marlboro to replace the liner.