The cooler weather is on its way as Fall arrives. It’s time to gather at your fireplace feeling safe and relaxed. The best way to do so is by avoiding chimney safety issues in your old home. Excessive heat breaks down the chimney over time, and it’s important to keep your family safe and warm around the fireplace. If you own an old home, let’s take a look at six safety issues to avoid with your C – H – I – M – N – E – Y.
C – Cracks in the Cap, Crown, or Flue
Most old chimneys have cement crowns to keep out the moisture and rain. This barrier easily cracks and deteriorates over time from environmental pressures. Newer chimneys have caps instead of crowns because they are more efficient at deterring animals, leaves, debris, and moisture.
H – Hindrance Obstructing Chimney
Older chimneys, especially if not properly maintained, are at an elevated risk of chimney obstructions. Creosote, debris, and even animals can create obstructions and hinder proper ventilation. The blockages reduce airflow and cause multiple safety concerns. Creosote build-up is another common chimney obstruction in older homes. If not properly cleaned and inspected over time, the creosote builds up and leads to chimney fires.
I – Incineration of Build-up
Pyrolysis is one of the most common issues in old homes. When the chimney is exposed to high temperatures over a long period of time, the wood behind it dries out and incinerates. Materials can spontaneously burst into flames due to the pressure and dryness without being directly exposed to a fire. The chimney liner helps with build-up and minimizes the risk of pyrolysis.
M – Masonry & Mortar Damage
With old homes, your bricks might be of higher quality than ones manufactured today. However, they are still susceptible to mortar damage and deterioration. We use a process called tuckpointing to remove and replace damaged mortar, extending the life of your chimney. Block chimneys are also common in older homes and are less ideal because they tend to leak, crack, and lean more than brick chimneys. Surrounding all four sides of your block chimney with brick is a way to make the chimney safer and also more beautiful.
N- No Chimney Liner
Chimney liners are now standard in homes but were not deemed necessary until the 1940s. This means most homes built earlier lack what is arguably the most important chimney component. The lack of a chimney liner causes pyrolysis, flue damage, and carbon monoxide leaks. If you have an older home, you should schedule a chimney inspection to ensure your liner is installed and intact before you use your chimney.
E – Exhaust Vent BackUp
Inadequate venting is one of the most common causes of fires in old homes. If the fireplace does not have proper ventilation, the exhaust vents backup and dangerous gasses and fumes come back into the home. The exhaust backup can also cause damage to the structural integrity of the chimney and cause the liner to fail or creosote to build up.
Y – Yearly Chimney Inspections
An annual chimney inspection performed by a professional is the best way to avoid these common chimney problems in older homes. Let us help keep your beautiful older chimney safe and in service to you! Give us a call today to schedule a visit from one of our professionals.