8 Functional Chimney Problems In Old Houses [And Solutions]

This article is all about highlighting common chimney problems, especially in old homes, and also proffering far-reaching solutions to them.

Without identifying and fixing such problems, you’re likely to face a major challenge with its smooth operations.

Chimney Problems In Old Houses

Are you a homeowner seeking to keep your property safe? Part of the maintenance considerations to make should include checking the condition of your chimney.

By checking its condition, we simply mean identifying if there are chimney damage signs and finding solutions to them.

Risks can be quite significant, including chimney fires. This is a situation you’d want to stop from happening.

Without further ado, let’s get into the common chimney problems you’re likely to encounter and how to solve such problems.

Common Old Chimney Problems In Most Homes

The lifespan of a chimney is dependent on how well it’s maintained. Most times, maintenance is only required when common problems arise. This is always a given for chimneys.

In other words, you’re bound to experience issues affecting the smooth functioning of your chimneys once in a while.

The actions you take to solve such problems make the difference. So, what are the common issues affecting a chimney’s smooth functioning?

They include masonry damage, creosote buildup, flue damage, obstruction, and chimney crown & cap wear.

Additional problems affecting chimneys include water leaks and moisture, debris, and chimney odors. Most of the problems people experience with their chimneys are likely to be found among these.

Not only will we be expanding on these problems, but we’ll also provide practical solutions to get your chimneys functioning efficiently.

  1. Masonry Damage

Water is mostly the culprit when it comes to chimney damage especially when it has to do with masonry.

So how does this happen? When water finds its way or gets absorbed into bricks, it is frozen by cold weather which in turn creates an expansion. This ends up weakening the entire chimney structure.

What more? Damaged mortar and cracks result within the structure which further compounds the problem. You’ll need to find urgent solutions to such a problem to maintain a functional chimney.

This takes us to the solution.

  • Solutions

However damaged your chimney masonry is, there’s always a remedy for it.

Having your chimney fixed from this condition involves carrying out repointing services. This involves filling up the voids between joints caused by weathering activity and decay.

Additional solutions for masonry damage include taking preventive measures. This is considered the best approach as it forestalls masonry damage altogether. This preventive solution involves waterproofing the structure.

Installing a chimney cap and crown helps protect water from getting in. It’s important to call in the experts. This helps ensure that a quality job is done.

  1. Creosote Buildup

When wood is used as fuel it doesn’t burn completely in most cases.

This results in the release of a wide range of by-products including carbon dioxide. These accompany the heated air and get taken up the chimney.

Now, instead of being expelled completely, some of this soot and gases end up forming a layer on the chimney walls or flue. This gradual buildup of the by-product of burning wood is called creosote.

Creosotes are in the form of tar. Deposits must be cleaned frequently to avoid or prevent chimney fires as they are highly combustible.

  • Solutions

This common chimney problem must be fixed or addressed as soon as possible. The best way to remedy the problem is by cleaning your chimney. This process can be quite messy but worth it.

The right cleaning frequency must be determined if you must achieve the desired results.

The cleaning frequency for creosote buildup depends on the type of fuel being used. There are various kinds of fuels that include wood, oil, and gas.

Others include bituminous and smokeless coals. For wood, more frequent cleaning will be needed.

We recommend cleaning or sweeping your chimney four times every year. Setting up a quarterly schedule will suffice and help solve this chimney problem.

  1. Flue Damage

Chimney flue works to keep your home safe from the risks associated with combustion. Now, the reality here is that over time, this lining gets damaged due to the high temperatures released as well as deposits of creosotes and soot.

Whatever the case is, you don’t want your chimney flue damaged as it can result in a lot of problems. It is common to discover after many years of using your chimney that it no longer works effectively as it used to.

This is even more common when scheduled inspections are absent.

  • Solving this Problem

To solve flue damage, it’s best to call in for expert help.

Chimney technicians come around to inspect your chimney flue. This is mostly done with specialized equipment including the use of a video live feed. Every part of the flue is inspected and possible issues are pinpointed for fixing.

You don’t have to be stressed out about how the job will get done.

You only need to point inform the experts about what the issues are and give way. They take over from there and proceed to perform a thorough job of addressing such problems.

  1. Obstruction

Chimney obstruction is among the riskiest problems you’ll encounter.

This is because it affects ventilation thus resulting in the accumulation of gases and smoke which may be toxic. So, what exactly causes such obstructions?

There are several factors and all of these are tied to the absence of a chimney cap. Having no chimney cap means critters, birds, reptiles leaves and a whole lot of other unwanted items and animals can nest in your chimney.

These end up causing an obstruction.

  • Solutions

Finding a lasting solution to the problem of chimney obstruction isn’t as difficult as it seems.

First, such obstructions will need to be gotten rid of. We recommend calling the experts for this task as they are highly professional and know just where to look and how to give you the relief you seek.

Also, gas detectors should be installed at strategic points within your home. What they do is help detect leakages caused by leaking or blocked chimneys.

  1. Chimney Crown Fix and Cap Repair

When it comes to waterproofing your chimney, the crown and cap play a prominent role in that regard.

Water is considered your chimney’s greatest enemy. This is evident in the damage it causes. Due to the importance of a waterproof chimney, we recommend regularly checking your chimney cap and crown.

Doing this simple, yet vital activity goes a long way to prevent further problems with your chimney.

  • Solutions

To protect your chimney from further breakdown due to water seepage, you should call for professional help. We consider this very important because you’re likely to not have the experience required to have such issues fixed.

A chimney technician on the other hand is skilled in this regard. They inspect the problem and determine what exactly needs to be done.

In the case of fixing the crown and cap, a technician adopts the best approach needed to ensure a good job is done.

  1. Water Leaks & Moisture

Water leaks and moisture also come from the attic.

When this happens, it poses a significant challenge as the chimney degrades fast. There may also be a need for repointing among other maintenance tasks.

You don’t want a situation where water seepage results in flaky chimney walls among other things. This leads to a weakening of the structure.

In some cases, the chimney may have to be replaced or rebuilt.

  • Solutions

A variety of maintenance activities can be carried out to fix water leakages. Having some masonry skills will be an added advantage.

However, the best approach to take involves calling the technician. The technician knows exactly what to do and how to go about the whole maintenance task.

  1. Debris

Falling debris is always due to loosening or eroding chimney walls. This is largely due to weathering activity. Such debris may be in the form of falling tiles or chipped bricks and flaky walls.

Whenever you notice such debris, you’re looking at the effect and not the cause.

  • Solutions

What solutions are available for falling debris? There are several.

One of them has to do with the removal of loose mortar joints and replacing them with fresh mortar. This holds the bricks in place and prevents the continued and gradual loosening of the structure.

Falling debris may also be due to a faulty chimney.

Depending on the level of damage or disrepair, such can either be fixed or completely torn down to be rebuilt afresh. The latter is more comprehensive and goes a long way to solve the problem.

  1. Chimney Odors

When water gets into the chimney flue, it comes in contact with creosote. Now, wet creosote produces more odor than when dry.

This adds up to other conditions to give off an unpleasant odor.

  • Solutions

Fixing a foul-smelling chimney begins with focusing on the cause. In this case, water leakage should be properly addressed.

Again, the chimney crown and cap play a vital role in preventing moisture and water. Get these fixed and you’ll have limited problems to worry about.

These are the common chimney problems you’re likely to encounter.

We’ve gone further to also provide you with solutions to help tackle such issues. Each of these problems is accompanied by solutions.

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