When you live in an old home, it’s easy to take your chimney for granted. After all, it’s been there since the house was built. And while the flue is probably soot-covered from decades of usage, it’s still serviceable as is. Right? Since you’re reading this article, we can assume that you don’t see things quite that simply. That’s because a neglected chimney poses severe risks to the safety and stability of your home. If you own or rent a property with an old chimney, you need to be aware of its potential dangers before they become fully realized problems.
A chimney fire can be incredibly destructive, burning away at your house’s structural integrity. While many people equate chimney fires with Santa’s reindeer, the truth is that they happen far more often than you might think. A chimney fire can occur for several reasons: – Buildup of creosote in the flue – The buildup of creosote is an unfortunate byproduct of burning wood. The chemical reaction between the carbon in the wood and the oxygen in the flue can create an extremely flammable substance that’s notoriously difficult to remove. When it becomes too thick, it can ignite, causing a chimney fire. – Carelessness – A wood-burning stove or fireplace is a major safety hazard if it’s not used properly. Cocktails, candles, and other open flames near the flue can ignite the creosote and send it up the chimney. – Defective chimney – Chimney fires can result from a defective flue or improperly installed chimney. – Poorly maintained fireplace – Even if you don’t use your fireplace, you still need to clean it. A neglected fireplace can cause enough buildup to cause problems.
Most chimneys are constructed of masonry. To be specific, they’re usually made out of brick. While this is an incredibly durable material that has been used as a building material for thousands of years, it’s not indestructible. When chunks of brick start falling off your chimney, it could be a sign that it’s beginning to crumble. If it’s not repaired immediately, it could be the first step on a path that ends with your entire chimney falling apart. This is a serious problem, as a crumbling chimney is a potential hazard to the structural soundness of your home. It can also be a major headache to repair.
Water is one of the most destructive forces available to humankind. If it gets inside a brick chimney, it can work its way through the mortar, eventually weakening the structure to the point where it might collapse. How worried you are about this depends on how many bricks are missing from the inside of your chimney. If the chimney is covered with patches of missing bricks, it’s time for repair. – Missing bricks allow water to get into the chimney and begin corroding the mortar. – A few missing bricks here and there are normal. As long as the majority of them are intact, the chimney is safe.
Odour and Air Quality Issues
A poorly maintained chimney can cause all sorts of odours to waft through your home. If it’s been a while since you’ve had your chimney inspected, you might be experiencing some of the following: – Burning wood – Burning wood produces a variety of odours, the most common of which is a pungent, smoky smell. If you’re not burning wood in your house, you might have a problem with your chimney. – Burning dust – The burning dust smell is a little different from the smoke odour. It’s more of a chemical smell. While it can indicate a problem with your wood-burning appliance, it can also indicate a chimney problem.
Your chimney is an integral part of your home’s overall structure. If you own an old house, it’s probably made of brick and is covered with soot and grime. – You may not feel like the chimney is something you need to worry about. After all, it’s been there since the house was built, so it’s as old as the house. – While it might seem like it’s still in good shape, it could be very dangerous. – The chimney needs to be cleaned and inspected at least once a year to make sure it’s safe. And while you’re at it, make sure it’s properly ventilated, too. It’s important to keep your chimney in good shape so it lasts as long as possible.