Your chimney and fireplace work together to maintain cozy indoor temperatures, while protecting your family and home from smoke, toxic chemicals, and fire. Without proper maintenance and repairs, your Toronto chimney could turn into a dangerous scenario. Know how to identify the warning signs of common chimney issues to help protect your home and family.
1. Spalling or Crumbling Brick & Mortar on Exterior of Your Toronto Chimney
Check the outside of your chimney for signs of spalling bricks or crumbling mortar. Issues with the outside of the chimney often relate back to the inner walls of your chimney. Even if the issues aren’t flue-deep yet, they could turn into internal issues without proper and timely repair.
Be especially cautious of mortar joint damage. Mortar is essentially what holds your entire chimney together. It is also the first thing to break down on most chimneys. When mortar starts to break down, the surrounding bricks are forced to endure more wear and tear—eventually leading to serious issue. In serious cases, chimneys can completely collapse. You can prevent issues from getting to this point by taking care of mortar damage when it first arises.
2. Rust on Firebox or Damper
If you notice rust in the firebox or on the damper, it’s a sign of excess moisture. If you notice rust, check the damper to ensure it is sealing properly. When moisture gets inside of your chimney it can lead to several issues, including cracked flue tiles. A deteriorating chimney flue puts your home at risk for fire by potentially letting excess heat into vulnerable areas.
Other signs of excess moisture getting inside of your chimney include:
- Mold growth
- Wallpaper deterioration, or other signs of moisture in walls
- Crumbling mortar, especially if mortar feels damp and soft to the touch.
3. Thick Creosote Buildup
Cleaning your chimney is a form of preventative maintenance. It is the easiest and most affordable way to keep your chimney in good condition and catch smaller issues before they have a chance to grow into something more serious.
Take a peak up inside of your chimney using a flashlight—do you see thick layers of black creosote building up? If the buildup measures over ¼ inch thick, it’s time to have your fireplace cleaned before using it again. Creosote is highly flammable. It is a combination of wood and fuel that breaks down and does not turn to ash when burned. Tiny particles of creosote are carried up through the chimney, where it condenses and sticks to the walls. When this unburned fuel grows thick enough, it can lead to a serious fire hazard. No matter what type of wood you use in your fireplace, creosote will still build up. When it becomes thick enough it increases the risk of a stray spark igniting and starting a chimney fire.
Chimney walls should be clean and smooth. If you notice a thick buildup with bubbles, or a buildup that resembles sand, tar or scales, it’s time for a cleaning.
Safety tip: Use gloves, glasses, and a breathing mask when looking up inside of or inspecting your chimney.
4. It’s Been Over a Year Since Your Last Toronto Chimney Cleaning
Chimneys that get regular wear in the winter should be cleaned and inspected once a year.
The most important areas to regularly inspect on your Toronto chimney:
- The firebox—look for creosote buildup and rust
- The exterior of the chimney—check for spalling bricks or crumbling masonry
- The chimney crown (very top of your chimney), the crown may be cracked or broken, allowing moisture, animals, etc. to get inside.
- Excess moisture in your chimney can lead to damaged wallpaper and other noticeable signs on the interior walls of your home.
Keep Your Toronto Chimney as Safe as Possible with Turnbull Masonry
We know chimneys like no one else! From initial construction, to rebuilds, and repairs, you can count on us to keep your chimney in tip-top condition, operating safely and efficiently. Contact us today to learn more.