Believe it or not, water doesn’t need cracks to penetrate your brick chimney. Major chimney damage often starts with just a little soaking. Many chimneys are built with masonry materials which are porous in nature that allows water to soak through the chimney and into the home, usually without any warning signs to the common eye. This soaking primarily starts in the chimney’s crown, which acts as a roof for your chimney. This makes the brick brittle, causing cracks and deterioration that spreads over time. In the winter, this damage is multiplied as the water in your chimney freezes and expands, resulting in major damage to the infrastructure of your chimney.
It often starts small. Even small cracks are a sign there may be significant and unseen internal damage to your chimney. While cracks are dangerous in that they damage the structural integrity of your chimney, they have a hidden threat that results in far more serious complications. Cracks act as an access point for things like water, smoke and even heat traveling through your chimney. This is the perfect cocktail for a variety of problems that, if left untouched, multiply over time.
One of the most damaging results of water and heat traveling through cracks in your chimney is mold. As water soaks through your bricks and crawls through cracks in the chimney, it frequently finds its way into the walls of your home. The combination of water and heat traveling through cracks in your chimney creates an ideal environment for mold to thrive, usually undetected for long periods of time. Mold damage that isn’t detected early often results in expensive and extensive deterioration to the walls that support your chimney and your home. But more damaging is the serious health risk that mold poses by living so close to where you spend so much of your time.
One of the most obvious signs of major damage to the internal parts of your chimney is the lingering smell of smoke after using your fireplace. As smoke travels up the chimney, it is diverted by even the smallest cracks that can extend to the walls of your home. Not only does this carry an odor, but the smoke can carry heat and embers that can catch the internal walls of your home on fire.