Chimneys are an important part of households. With time, these chimneys tend to crack and need repair or replacement regardless of how well maintained. This means that every homeowner should be aware of fixing basic chimney issues. This is possible with regular chimney inspection and basic knowledge of how a chimney works and how to repair it. Below are some important tips and techniques that will help you deal with different kinds of chimney cracks with ease.
Check The Chimney Brick And Mortar
When it comes to repairing chimney cracks, you need to keep in mind that not every time will you need to build the entire chimney from the ground up. Sometimes, repairing a few cracks here and then will do the job. That said, you should check and repoint the chimney mortar first.
The reason is that mortar keeps the bricks together and with time wears out and begins to crumble. Because mortar is softer than brick, it will be the first to deteriorate. That said, repointing the chimney brick mortar simply refers to the process of removing the crumbling mortar and replacing it with new.
Using a joint raker, scrape out all the loose and weak mortar. Make sure to not damage the good mortar. For stubborn and difficult mortar, use a hammer and masonry chisel to tap it out. Then, use a wire brush to sweep out all the remaining mortar.
Then, use a garden hose to spray down and clean the chimney from the remaining bits of mortar and let it dry for around 30 minutes. Finally, prepare a new mortar and use a pointing trowel to apply it. And, smoothen the joints using a tuckpointing tool.
Check The Flue And The Crown
The flue and the crown are significant components of a chimney and help prevent water from entering the house. If the flue and crown are damaged, you will need to fix them immediately to prevent rainwater from seeping inside your house.
Although extreme weather conditions along with other external factors can damage such components, it is bound to happen sooner or later as the chimney ages. The joint between the chimney crown and the flue tends to weaken with time. To fix the issue, you will need a wire brush to first remove debris such as moss.
Then, fill the crack with high-heat mortar and caulk. This will replace the joint and keep your property safe from water leakages.
Repair Cracks In The Large Crown Area
The chimney crown is the uppermost masonry part of the chimney which is slightly bigger than the rest of the chimney which is why it’s called the crown. It protects the chimney walls. The cracks in the large crown area tend to be relatively more complicated than cracks in the vertical section of the chimney as snow, ice, and water can gather there. Even if that is not the case, moisture will still linger around the area.
Cracks in the chimney crown less than 1 inch in diameter can be repaired using mortar or pre-mixed cement patch. All you need to do is squeeze the cement or mortar into the joints to repair them. This is the easiest way to fix and fill chimney cracks and perform chimney repair Columbia MD. But if it appear difficult to you or the problem appears more complex, you should not risk it and get help from experts.
Patch Hairline Cracks Using A Sealant
Hairline cracks also known as spider cracks are relatively different from large cracks due to their extremely narrow nature. Hairline cracks are such that you cannot use any tool to inject mortar or sealant etc. That is why, these cracks are not treated the same way as larger cracks.
The solution to patching hairline cracks is using a sealer that can penetrate the cracks. Not only that but using the sealer will also help seal the crown and protect it from cracking with moisture and other elements.
In the end, use a putty knife to remove all loose particles. You need to do it carefully to avoid only remove the particles and don’t expand the formed cracks.
Repair And Replace Bricks
Now that you are done inspecting and repairing cracks in major areas of the chimney, it is time to repair and replace the bricks. Remember, if some bricks have few cracks individually, you can repair them with caulk and high-heat mortar.
Using a wire brush, sweep the crack clean. Then, put in high-heat mortar in the crack. Remove the excess mortar using a rag or any other tool.
In the case of severely damaged bricks, you will need to replace them. Bricks with extreme damage should not be repaired and will pose a threat the longer they are part of the chimney. That said, you will need to remove the damaged bricks first ensuring not to disturb the adjacent bricks.
All you need to do is gently remove the damaged bricks by removing or chipping away the mortar first. Use a drill to bore holes into the mortar that will help speed up the process. Once the brick has loosened, pull it out using your hand.
Then, remove the remaining mortar using a chisel and clean the surrounding area for the new brick to come in. Apply mortar to all sides and put the replacement brick in place. Using a tuckpointing tool, remove the excess mortar around the bricks to smoothen the joints.
How To Maintain A Chimney?
Maintaining a chimney is crucial to prevent expensive repairs and replacements and to prolong the chimney’s life. If you live in a region that experiences extreme weather conditions throughout the year, you will need to inspect and maintain it more frequently. And also clean the chimney frequently.
Unfortunately, the maintenance part of chimneys is mostly ignored. This leads to severe consequences and the homeowners are left with nothing but to hire an expert to build the entire chimney from zero. This can problematic for people who want to get the chimney repaired cheaply.
Therefore, the best way is to protect and maintain rather than be ignorant. Inspecting and fixing minor chimney issues along the way is a lot more cost-effective than replacing the bricks, crown, flue, etc. Even the slightest hairline cracks might become troublesome if ignored.
That said, as soon as you spot something unusual, you should attend to it or hire an expert if you can to fix the issue before it gets out of hand. And, do not look for someone who is neither licensed nor expert in what they do just to save some money.
Chimney services can be expensive but protect you from many problems at the same time. Consider it as an investment that offers a return by allowing you to sleep soundly.
Repairing chimney cracks is easy and simple if you inspect and repair the chimney frequently. Once things take a turn for the worst, you won’t be left with many options. A chimney can be a blessing if maintained and a threat if ignored. It is your job as a homeowner to keep a check and prevent serious problems from repeating in the future. And hire chimney contractors Ellicott City for inspection or repair as required.