Fireplaces can last a lifetime if cared for properly; just ask anyone with an older house. Unlike a prefab factory-made which will last 15-20 years; clay tile liners and cast-in-place liners typically last around 50 years.
But they need to be repaired from time to time. When you start noticing water in your fireplace, smoke not filtering through the chimney correctly, or anything else that is not normal with your fireplace, do not continue to use it as it could be a fire hazard. Chimney fires which are caused by blockage in the chimney can be very dangerous. Removing the creosote and debris buildup in the chimney regularly will solve that problem.
#1 Chimney Cleaning A chimney cleaning is the most common and affordable type of fireplace repair. We suggest that you have your chimney cleaned 1-2 times per year based on the amount of fireplace usage. When creosote buildup reaches an eighth of an inch or thicker, you need to have your chimney swept by a professional. When creosote buildup reaches it’s a quarter of an inch thick, Homeadvisor.com suggests that you need to have it cleaned immediately. Whether you have a fireplace or any kind of wood-burning appliance, such as a wood stove it needs to be inspected and cleaned out at least every year
#2 Cracks When temperatures fluctuate widely in different seasons; masonry joints expand and contract. Cracks form allowing smoke, carbon monoxide, and sometimes enter your home. Cracks will most often form at corners before they form anywhere else. If detected early enough, simple brick mortar repair can fix the problem. But if left untreated, they increase the risk of fire, and can cost upwards of around $3,000.00 to repair.
#3 Water Leaks When water penetrates the chimney’s structure it can cause mold and wood rot. When the water combines with creosote, chimney dampers which control the air flow of the chimney and fireplace when not in use can get rusted and fail. The water can cause water damage near the fireplace, including ceilings and floors.
#4 Chimney Crowns Just like a king wears a crown, your chimney needs its crown to keep rain from coming down the flue and into your home. It protects the brick and mortar of the chimney as well as keeping animals from entering your chimney. It also prevents sparks from flying out of your chimney and landing on your roof. Because of its sloped position, water should drain easily from your roof. The spark arrestor keeps sparks and embers from going out of the chimney and landing on your roof, possibly starting a fire. Chimney crown rebuilding or replacement isn’t too expensive unless there are other issues.
As chimney and fireplace professionals we have seen many different conditions in chimneys and fireplaces and will know what to look for to see if any upcoming issues may be around the corner. It begins with a chimney inspection and a chimney cleaning. If after cleaning out creosote and other debris, we notice other issues then we’ll advise you immediately. We have mentioned some of the most common fireplace repairs in the article but we have also seen chimneys that have suffered from severe neglect such as a leaning chimney which can a dangerous situation. A leaning chimney has had a complete structural failure and is at risk to collapse. In this case, it will have to be completely removed and replacement of the entire chimney, even down into the house. Once the exposed portion has started to lean, there’s a good chance that the interior part of the chimney is also weakened.
If you have any questions or concerns please call us at 281-491-0433