Are your bricks spalling? Adapting a white sheen? Is water trickling through open spaces that shouldn’t be there?
If you’re experiencing any or all of these ‘symptoms’ with your chimney, it may be time for a complete rebuild. While it may be tempting to try to patch the problem with an easier short-term solution, you’ll do yourself a great disservice in the long run by cutting corners.
What Are the Symptoms?
- In the case of spalling, water damage causes the bricks to deteriorate and can fall loose from the masonry, putting anyone or anything below it in danger of being hit by falling debris. Patching problem areas will only temporarily hold pieces in place.
- With efflorescence (also known as “white bricks”), the natural minerals of the bricks come to the surface, leaving a salt-heavy sheen that can make the bricks appear white. Though you can typically eliminate (or at least reduce) this whiteness with a soap-based cleaning solution, the very presence of it indicates water damage that will need to be addressed sooner rather than later.
- If you’re seeing debris falling into your fireplace, you may have shaling flue tiles. This is the result of water making its way into the gap between your flue lining and your chimney. It causes the tiles to erode and break off, eventually landing in your fireplace. It’s another sign that a re-build is in your near future.
- The first line of defense to protecting your chimney is the crown at the top, so if you find evidence of a damaged crown, complete with cracks or holes, you’ll probably soon notice issues on the body of your chimney too. Crown damage is typically a result of weather (heat/cold expansion and contraction) and natural wear and tear over time.
The Long-Term Fix
The good news is that a complete chimney rebuild will solve these issues for years to come—you just need to utilize tried-and-true building methods vs. the latest trends. Unfortunately, masonry is a dying art. In the world we live in today, instant gratification often takes precedence over fine craftsmanship, which leads to construction shortcuts. The practice of masonry does take longer than newer techniques, but the benefits far outweigh the wait.
For example, though the upfront costs of building with masonry may be more expensive than alternate methods, in the long run you’ll save money because of your lower utility bills. Concrete block, combined with thermal mass insulation systems, stays warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, reducing the consumption of electricity.
Aside from energy conservation, you’ll save money on insurance too. Because masonry provides a better barrier to pests, it’s more resistant to extreme weather and offers higher levels of security. This means leading insurance providers offer homeowner policy discounts up to 15% for homes that have it.
But the monetary benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. With a traditional masonry-built chimney, you’ll enjoy a quieter living environment because the materials used naturally block out noise. Furthermore, those materials are non-combustible so they’re fire-resistant.
Environmentally, masonry-built chimneys utilize ‘green’ products, which adhere to government guidelines for maintaining sustainable ecological practices. They also offer protection from mold and fungus since there is no wood used in the builds. Without wood, there is an absence of rot, so those suffering from allergies or asthma will find greater relief.
Add all of this together with the undeniable aesthetic value that a chimney built with masonry offers and the choice seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?
Our team at Powers Chimney and Masonry would be honored to help with your upcoming chimney rebuild. Give us a call at 360.691.9828 or send us a message to arrange for an estimate.