Although many homeowners don’t think much about it, the chimney is actually a quite important element of their homes. This is the reason why we must always check its condition even when we are not using it for a long time. A chimney that was not maintained on a regular basis can lead to many different problems and dangers. Of course, experiencing a chimney collapse is one of the worst problems that can happen. If you want to find out whether there is a risk of chimney collapse, you must know what to inspect. The best period of the year to check your chimney is when the heating season is finished. Now let’s see how to check the chimney and prevent chimney collapse.
To start with, there are cases when homeowners notice certain mortar problems. Damaged or missing mortar is not something unusual, but this doesn’t mean that we should ignore this problem. All the materials that are part of the chimney tend to lose their properties over time and it seems that the mortar is one of the first elements to experience wear and tear. If you notice any damages or parts where the mortar is missing, you should solve this problem right away because these openings and cracks will widen due to water retention. Once the water gets frozen or the moisture reaches high levels, the brick will become loose and lead to chimney collapse.
The next indicator that your home is at risk of chimney collapse is more obvious – missing bricks. As you probably know, bricks are here to provide complete integrity of this structure and when some of them are missing the structure is at risk of collapse. In addition, missing bricks let water enter the mortar, surrounding bricks and even into the masonry. The solution for this problem is obvious – replacement of missing bricks.
Another common problem that can lead to chimney collapse is spalling. In case you didn’t know, spalling occurs when water gets into the stone or brick and pushes the masonry out of the chimney. It is quite simple to notice a spalling because when something like this is happening there are traces of fallen masonry all over the chimney and flakes too. If you ignore this problem for a while, the chimney may collapse.
Furthermore, if you notice rust in the firebox or even damper, this means that there is excessive levels of moisture in the chimney which is definitely not a good thing. So, your task is to determine the source of this moisture and to solve the issue. Keep in mind that this is not an easy task and it would probably be a better idea to hire a professional.
Finally, in case there is white discoloration in the chimney this is a clear sign that there is water retention in this area. The white color comes from crystalline deposits as a result of the damage caused by water to the mortar joints or the cap.