Even a well-constructed chimney can become cracked over time either because of weather, natural disasters, or neglect. Many of the reasons for chimney cracks can be avoided, while some cannot. It’s important to keep up with your chimney’s routine maintenance so that problems are recognized before the lead to damage like cracks. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend annual chimney inspections and regular chimney sweeps to maintain the highest level of safety and efficiency. It’s at these appointments that a hairline crack may be detected before it becomes a problem.
Common Causes for Masonry Cracks
- Natural Disasters
Natural occurrences such as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and house fires can cause cracks in your chimney’s masonry. These cracks can occur suddenly during these catastrophic events even with no prior issues.
- Inappropriate Installations
Your chimney is a ventilation system for your fireplace or appliance. It it not part of your home decor (although when your chimney matches your decor, it’s a plus). Your chimney shouldn’t have items hung on it, piled around it, and should definitely never have anything installed onto it. Antennas, satellites, cables, and decorations should never be attached onto the interior or exterior of your chimney. This is especially important to remember at Christmas time when rooftop decorations are commonplace.
- Improper Construction
If the chimney was built when the home was built, it might not have been constructed by a certified chimney sweep. A general contractor may not know the specifications of a chimney build. He may make the mistake of using regular masonry materials instead of the correct refractory materials that can withstand heat. If medium or heavy-grade firebrick isn’t used in the firebox, the masonry will crack in no time, resulting in a costly repair or rebuild.
- Vines and Plants.
If your chimney is outdoors it should be kept clear of weeds and vines that can climb and penetrate the masonry. You might assume that a vine cannot damage masonry, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Vines are a common problem with older home chimneys. They may be pretty, but the damage they cause is never a good thing. This is true not just of chimneys, but foundations, walls, windows, and even roofs can be ruined with vines.
- Weather and Water Damage
If water penetrates the chimney it adversely affects masonry rather quickly. Water rusts parts of the system, deteriorates masonry from the inside out, and does even more damage through the winter when the water freezes and thaws. If your chimney has cracks, you should call a professional right away, and he will most likely check for a chimney leak.
You can avoid extensive damage that may cost a fortune in repairs and insurance premiums by maintaining your chimney properly. Be sure you schedule your maintenance appointments so that a chimney sweep can catch a problem before it worsens. When you hire West Texas Chimney and Venting Solutions you can also have your chimney waterproofed for good measure. Call West Texas Chimney today or request an appointment online.