This is your traditional chimney, a masonry chimney, which is a chimney and fireplace system that’s built on site in the home. (Note: this diagram is missing a very important part: the cap.) For decades, masonry chimneys have been the most common, although prefab chimneys (chimneys that are installed in the home, not built) have become more common in recent years.
What Types Of Damage Can Occur In A Masonry Chimney?
Common problems for masonry chimneys:
- spalling brick
- cracks in the chimney structure
- cracked flue liners
- deteriorated mortar joints in the flue and shell (from settling and seismic activity)
- cracks in the crown (which softens from weather)
- cracked and/or deteriorated fire brick
- rusted grates
- burnt-out log lighters
If your masonry chimney doesn’t have a proper chimney cap, rain water will run down the flue, spalling the liner, and pooling in the smoke shelf before leaching down into the firebox, softening the firebrick, and rusting the damper solid. Likewise, the birds and the bees will feel right at home in your chimney and build hives and nests inside.
Couple these problems with the abuse that comes with use and the corrosive nature of wood-burning byproducts (especially creosote), and you have some major chimney problems. Simple maintenance is key to avoiding costly repairs and fireplace/chimney replacement.
What Type Of Maintenance Do Masonry Chimneys Require?
The truth is, over time, every chimney needs some type of maintenance, even if you do not use it. I’ll use this as an example: if you bought a car and parked it in your driveway for 2, 5, 10, or 20 years, would it fire right up when you turned the key? Probably not, and so it goes with your chimney.
Make sure your masonry chimney is clean and operating at peak safety and efficiency levels by scheduling an annual inspection and sweeping. Doing so can ensure your fireplace is able to provide you with warmth and comfort when you need it, and will help prolong the service life of your masonry chimney.
Do you have questions about your masonry chimney? Is it time to schedule an inspection and sweeping? Simply call Armour Chimney Service at 208-550-8474 or click here and I’ll send a CSIA– and NFI-certified chimney and hearth professional to you ASAP.