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Maintaining Your Masonry

Most chimney masonry is made of brick and mortar which is valued for its durability and long lifespan. Part of what makes brick and mortar so durable is that they are breathable materials. However, the porous nature of brick and mortar also makes them susceptible to water damage and consequential decay. There are a number of things you can do to protect your masonry from decay but the first step is to have your chimney system regularly inspected and swept by a professional.

During a regular sweeping, a sweep will be able to locate firebox, crown, and masonry disrepair before you have serious structural complications. Waiting to repair the masonry of your fireplace and chimney system can leave you with such damage that you must completely rebuild the entire system.

Common Damages To Chimney Masonry

Firebox damage can be attributed to a number of factors but the most common causes of damage are:

  • Water damage – When water gets into the masonry of your chimney system and firebox it causes a process called lime-leaching, in which the holding agent (lime) is pulled out of the brick and mortar, leaving gaps and holes in the actual composition. Water trapped inside of masonry can also swell and constrict as temperatures change, causing the infected brick to crumble and deteriorate internally. In addition, water can cause cracks, spalling, and efflorescence, leaving unsightly white splotches on the surface of the brick.
  • Poor design/Improper installation – Many firebox repairs are needed as a result of poor design or improper installation. When you leave masonry to the inexperienced, you are risking a lot more than the superficial. Just because a firebox turns out to be visually appealing does not mean that it is safe and functional. If you are experiencing smoke problems, you may have a firebox that was designed without the size of the flue in mind. In this situation, the firebox may be letting in more air than the flue can handle. If this is the case with your firebox, a Chief Chimney Services, Inc. technician can make the appropriate repairs.
  • Age – Even though fireboxes are designed to withstand high heat, they are bound to have cracks or decay over time especially if they are not properly maintained. Having your firebox and chimney system regularly swept can keep your entire system looking good for longer and help detect deterioration early on.
  • Environmental Changes – Extreme temperature changes can drastically shorten the life of masonry, especially if the masonry is exposed to water. When water gets into the brick and mortar and then freezes and thaws repeatedly, it breaks the brick and mortar up, causing crumbling, cracks, and holes.
  • Whatever your firebox needs, Chief Chimney Services, Inc. can meet and exceed them! For more on fireboxes, check out our Firebox Repair page.
  • Chimney Crowns – Chimney crowns serve the important function of protecting the entire chimney system from the elements. The crown is typically made of cement and sits on top of the chimney, keeping out water, debris, wind gusts, and animals. When a crown is improperly sealed, or is weather-worn or too thin, it is imperative that you have it replaced immediately. This will protect you from much more invasive and expensive repairs in the future.  For more on chimney crowns, please see our Chimney Crowns page.

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Regular inspections from skilled technicians will uncover problems with your chimney systems, problems like a chimney leak or maybe a need for relining. Whatever the issue, Chief Chimney Services, Inc. can provide the solution.

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Wow! A mother-daughter team, the most pleasant and professional of any chimney service I have encountered. Called in advance, showed up on time, explained everything in detail, was thorough and clean. In a profession full of questionable practices, this was a great experience and I would recommend Diane and Lauren without hesitation. ~ Zev Asch, East Northport, NY
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Angie's Super Service Award Angie's Super Service Award Angies List Super Service Award 2011 CSIA Don Leavitt Award CSIA Saint Florian Award CSIA Andrew Schukal Award CSIA Fred Toldo Award

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