Chimney Repair Charleston SC is a vital home safety and comfort feature that allows smoke and combustion gasses to escape through the roof. If neglected, a chimney can become damaged and may collapse.
Chimney repairs can be relatively inexpensive when performed during optimum weather conditions. A schedule of routine maintenance activities prevents deterioration and extends a chimney’s functional life.
Mortar is a crucial component of your chimney’s strength and longevity. It helps your masonry withstand weather and other elements by creating a buffer between the bricks and absorbing stresses that can break them. When your mortar joints crack, crumble, or spall, it allows water to seep into your home and damage the bricks beneath. A good masonry repair will stop this process before it escalates and save your home from expensive repairs and potential hazards.
The most common type of masonry repair is repointing. This involves removing the damaged existing mortar and replacing it with new mortar to repair cracked or loose bricks. While it’s a basic repair, it must be done correctly to ensure your chimney is strong and secure.
During this process, the new mortar must be a close match to the composition of your original mortar. The sand used in your masonry’s mortar is responsible for over 70% of the color you see, so it must be matched exactly for a proper visual match. This is one of the most important parts of a repointing job, and it should always be taken over.
When matching your mortar, our skilled masons consider every aspect of the mixture, including its age and strength. For example, if your chimney was built with Type S cement and repaired with Type N, the result will be a soft, flimsy repoint that may break loose over time.
The sand and binding materials in your mortar also affect moisture retention. If your masonry hasn’t been waterproofed, we can install a new chimney flashing to protect your home from water leaks. Chimney flashing is a layer of metal or a tar-like material that bridges the gap between the bottom of your chimney and the roof. It prevents moisture from penetrating the chimney and damaging the bricks, walls, and other components of your home.
Even if your chimney hasn’t been leaking, it’s a good idea to have it inspected regularly. Having a professional inspect your chimney can help you spot warning signs such as brick deterioration and loose or missing bricks so that we can make the necessary repairs to keep moisture from entering your home.
Brick chimneys are a beautiful and functional addition to your home. However, they are not immune to structural damage from harsh environmental conditions. This is why basic maintenance is so important. It is much cheaper in both the financial and emotional realms to invest in routine chimney repairs than to deal with a chimney collapse.
A primary source of damage is water. Rainwater, snow melt, and thawing ice and frost seep through masonry joints and erode the mortar. Over time, this can lead to spalling brick – where the brick crumbles or breaks. This damage exposes the porous interior of your chimney to moisture. This infiltration not only damages the masonry but also allows water to penetrate the metal chimney components and cause rusting.
The most common and affordable chimney repair method is reporting, which addresses minor cracks in the mortar. Another popular option is tuckpointing, which is repairing damaged areas of a chimney’s mortar with new mortar, matching it to the brick, and restoring the chimney’s appearance. This is a labor-intensive and more expensive repair, but it can restore your chimney’s integrity and aesthetic appeal.
When you need to replace the bricks in a chimney, it is called a rebuild. This is often a more costly restoration, but it can be the best option when the original masonry is deteriorated beyond repair. Chimney rebuilds are usually completed using either salvaged bricks that share the patina of the chimney’s history or custom replicas crafted to match the old ones. Both options help preserve your chimney’s classic look while extending its service life.
Chimneys are exposed to harsh weather conditions all year round. The elements that affect a chimney include direct exposure to flames and heat, as well as indirect contact with smoke and water. The latter is particularly damaging to a chimney, as it can lead to a collapsed chimney that poses an extreme safety risk. Moisture is the biggest threat to a chimney’s brickwork. When it freezes and thaws, it seeps into the pores of the masonry and causes damage that can be very costly to repair.
A properly functioning chimney crown provides the first defense against water-related deterioration. A well-built chimney crown is designed so rain and snow can easily run off, avoiding the masonry material below. Unfortunately, a poorly constructed or damaged chimney crown can allow water to seep into the vulnerable masonry materials and cause major problems.
The most common sign that a chimney crown needs repair is visible cracking. These cracks should be addressed immediately, as they worsen if left unattended. Another common sign of chimney crown damage is spalling. Spalling is when chunks of masonry material, like bricks and concrete, begin to break off the chimney crown. This is a very serious problem that should be addressed immediately, as it could cause the chimney crown to collapse.
Chimney crown repair usually uses a special sealant that fills the cracks and creates a waterproof barrier against the elements. This protects the masonry from further deterioration and extends the life of the chimney system. For larger cracks, a high-bond patching material is used to make the chimney crown stronger and more durable. For severely damaged chimney crowns, a more permanent solution is available by having the chimney crown rebuilt.
A chimney mason who specializes in chimney crown repairs will start by removing any debris, dirt, or dust from the chimney crown surface. The chimney crown is then thoroughly inspected and cleaned to ensure it is smooth, even, and free of any areas where cracks might have formed. Next, duct tape is applied to the edges of the chimney flue tile and crown surface to catch any debris that might fall off during the crown coating process. The chimney mason will then brush the crown with a wire brush to prepare it for the sealant application.
There are several different chimney crown sealants on the market, all of which work in a similar way to prevent cracks and leaks. A good option is an elastomeric chimney crown sealant that flexes with the normal freeze-thaw cycles of northeastern weather to keep water out and brick joints sealed.
Chimneys are exposed to the elements, and over time, they can wear out. If the bricks and mortar become worn to major deterioration, it is time to rebuild. A total chimney rebuild will include the replacement of all exterior brick and the crown. A partial chimney rebuild is possible when the chimney is less damaged, and scaffolding is not required.
The best way to protect your chimney from moisture-induced deterioration is to apply a breathable waterproofing solution. This protects the bricks and flue liner from water penetration yet allows trapped moisture to escape during freeze-thaw cycles. This prevents the chimney from becoming structurally weakened and avoids costly repairs.
While it is common for homeowners to spot chimney damage in the firebox and on the roof, many may not notice problems with the largest portion of the chimney – the flue. This is why it is important to have your chimney professionally inspected.
A professional can inspect the entire chimney and identify areas that need repair, including a leaking chimney crown or damaged clay flue tiles. He can also recommend the proper chimney lining and repoint the existing mortar.
An experienced chimney service will provide a detailed report and cost estimate. He will also recommend additional services, such as a chimney video scan and a masonry inspection. Chimneys in disrepair can be a serious health hazard for the family and cause significant damage to the home. In addition, an improperly functioning chimney can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you notice signs of chimney deterioration, like cracks in the mortar, spalling bricks, or a crumbling crown, it is time for a restoration. A well-maintained chimney adds aesthetic value to the house, reduces chimney leaks, and improves fire safety. A chimney that is in good condition also increases the efficiency of the fireplace and can help prevent fires from spreading. You must choose a qualified chimney service to perform the work on your chimney, as a mistake could result in costly and unnecessary repairs.