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Chimney Repair Baltimore can be expensive. But the price of not making repairs is far more costly. Even small cracks can lead to water leaks that damage roofs, drywall, and wood. They can also cause carbon monoxide to seep into the home.
To avoid costly chimney repairs, schedule annual maintenance and inspections. This will allow professionals to catch problems before they become serious.
One of the most important parts of any chimney is its flue liner. The liner protects the household from two main dangers: house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. A damaged or deteriorated flue liner is a serious fire hazard. It also leaves the house vulnerable to a dangerous chemical, carbon monoxide. If this gas is not vented properly, it can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and even death.
Chimneys without liners are susceptible to damage by corrosive materials such as smoke, hot gases and creosote. The heat and moisture from these materials erode the masonry and mortar joints that hold bricks together. This deterioration can lead to cracks and leaks. When the flue liner is in good condition, it prevents these corrosive substances from causing damage to the bricks.
Most homeowners do not realize their flue liners are damaged or need repair until it is too late. It is recommended that you have a qualified chimney sweep inspect your flue liner at least once a year.
There are several ways to fix a deteriorated or damaged flue liner. One way is to have a cast-in-place chimney liner installed. This method involves pouring a special cement-like product into your chimney passageway to replace your old liner. This product can fill cracks and improve the structural integrity of your chimney and chimney walls. It also helps with energy efficiency by reducing chimney heat loss.
Another option is to have a HeatShield Joint Repair system applied to your chimney. This patent-pending chimney repair method uses a special foam applicator blade that is custom fitted to your chimney. Then a special HeatShield Cerfractory flue sealant mixture is extruded into the applicator tool and into every gap or void in your chimney. Camera monitors verify that the application has successfully repaired your chimney.
Lastly, it is possible to install a stainless steel chimney liner in your fireplace. This is a popular and more durable chimney lining alternative to traditional clay tile liners. A stainless steel chimney liner is resistant to heat and moisture. It is also inexpensive compared to clay tile and can be easily replaced when damaged.
The damper is like a door to your chimney’s flue and should be closed when you are not using the fireplace. It keeps conditioned air in the home, prevents animals and moisture from entering the chimney, and reduces heating costs. A damper that isn’t working properly can lead to water damage and expensive repairs to the fireplace, chimney, and house.
There are several types of dampers, and each one requires some special tools to repair. However, if you are a handy person, it may be possible to fix your chimney damper yourself. You’ll need to have some protective equipment, such as gloves, old clothes, a hair covering, and a cloth over your nose and mouth. It’s important to protect yourself from the ash and creosote that will fall onto you while you are working inside the chimney flue.
Whether your fireplace has a top-sealing or bottom-sealing damper, you’ll need to remove the handle to get to it. Then you’ll need to remove the grate and clean the frame where the damper plate rests, the plate itself, and the rod it is attached to. If the damper plate is rusty or damaged, you’ll need to replace it.
Once you’ve cleaned the frame and damper plate, you can put everything back together. If you’re having trouble opening the chimney damper, there could be a problem with the spring assembly or creosote buildup on the hinges. If you have a top-sealing damper, the handles are often stuck due to the fact that the hinges can be locked in place. This can happen if the damper is opened while the fire is still burning.
A rotary damper can also have problems opening if there is excessive creosote in the channel it sits in that seals it shut, or creosote has built up on the pivot hinges. If this is the case, you can try to open the chimney damper by pushing down on the plate itself or using a screw driver to pry it open. If this doesn’t work, you might need to contact a chimney professional to help you open your chimney damper.
Bricks are the walls that make up the majority of your chimney, and although they can last a lifetime, they need to be maintained. Over time, water from rain and snow can cause the mortar (cement-type material) between the bricks to deteriorate, soften or fall out. This process is called spalling and the result can be a crumbling chimney that looks bad, causes mold and other problems in your home and puts people’s safety in danger. If not dealt with quickly, spalling can lead to more costly chimney repairs and even structural damage in your home.
When you notice spalling, the first thing to do is assess the problem. A professional chimney sweep can take a look at the situation and determine how serious it is. They can also check for many other issues, including cracks, water leaks and masonry issues, during an annual chimney cleaning or inspection.
If there are only a few loose bricks, they can be removed by hand using a hammer and chisel. They can then be reattached with new mortar to the mortar bed. If the chimney has been weakened from spalling, it may be necessary to remove and rebuild the entire chimney crown.
The chimney crown is the concrete cap that covers the top of the chimney and creates a seal to keep water from entering the chimney and damaging the masonry. If the chimney crown is cracked or missing, a professional can repair it by removing the old damaged material and adding a new layer of mortar to make the crown permanently flexible to prevent water leaks into your home.
Cracks in the bricks in your chimney can also be repaired with high-heat mortar and a caulk gun. The key to a successful repair is to ensure the area is clean and free of debris, like moss, and that any standing water is absorbed or evaporated. Wet the brick to ensure that it can properly absorb the mortar and then apply a thin bead of high-heat brick caulk in the crack, filling it as deep as possible.
The bricks and mortar that construct your chimney serve a dual purpose: they support the chimney structure and allow gases to vent safely out of your home. Over time, these materials can be affected by various factors that cause wear and tear. Keeping an eye out for signs of damage and taking action as soon as possible can protect your chimney and prevent expensive repairs in the future.
The flue is a vital part of your chimney that allows smoke, gases and sparks to exit the home. However, if it becomes damaged, these byproducts could endanger combustible material in your living space or cause structural damage to the chimney. Fortunately, the flue can be easily repaired with a custom chimney liner that can be installed in place of the old clay tile flue lining.
Chimney masonry is also susceptible to water damage over time. In order to keep moisture out of the brick and preventing damage, it’s important to inspect your chimney regularly for leaks and discoloration.
For instance, if you notice that your chimney is leaking around the flashing, it’s important to have it repaired by a professional as quickly as possible. Leaks at the chimney crown are another common problem that’s easy to repair with a waterproof sealant.
You can perform minor masonry repair yourself, but only if you have basic masonry skills and feel comfortable working at heights. To begin, stand back and visually inspect your chimney from a safe distance. Consider using binoculars to gain a closer look at hard-to-see areas, paying special attention to cracks and signs of deterioration.
If you find any issues, such as broken or cracked bricks or crumbling mortar, you should have these problems fixed right away. A chimney expert can assess your chimney and recommend the best course of action for repairing it.
A reputable masonry contractor should use the proper type of mortar for each project. For new chimney work, a masonry magazine recommends using Type N mortar, which balances strength and workability with moisture-resistance. For repointing projects, you should also use Type N mortar, as it’s designed to last for years without becoming water-soaked and loose.