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The Dark Side of Neglecting Masonry Chimney Maintenance

Chimneys may seem like simple, sturdy structures that can safely be ignored, but danger is lurking when you neglect chimney maintenance. Though they have few moving parts, chimneys have important functions that help keep homes safe. When things go wrong and chimney problems are ignored, the cost of repair and risk of danger continue to heighten. Learn the inside-and-out story of what happens when masonry chimneys are not properly maintained. In the end, be prepared to punch in the phone number of trusted chimney professionals, who can shine the light on the condition of your chimney.

Attack on the Chimney StackChimney Inspection

The part of the chimney that rises up through or over the roof is the chimney stack. All exterior masonry materials except stone are highly vulnerable to damage. Moisture is a continuous threat that comes at the chimney stack from all sides. 

Chimney Mortar

Bricks are porous and absorbent as a sponge, and the mortar that seals the brick structure expires and deteriorates after about 25 years at best. When the mortar fails, water can get into the masonry. Then, during freeze and thaw cycles in winter, the water within the masonry expands and contracts. Spalling begins, in which the brick face flakes and pops off. Unless repairs are made, the chimney will begin leaning and could completely collapse.

Chimney Crowns

The chimney crown at the top of chimneys is often made with common mortar mix, which is unable to withstand years of harsh weather conditions. For this reason, chimney crowns that keep water out of the chimney system are prone to chipping, cracking, and deteriorating. When chimney professionals replace damaged chimney crowns, they use more durable material that can do a more reliable job of protecting the venting system from moisture.

Chimney Flashing

Chimney flashing is the metal where the chimney stack meets the roof. The flashing is supposed to create a watertight seal, but it’s easier said than done. Inexperienced masons often don’t understand what’s required to properly install flashing. As a result, leaks can occur. Roof structures have had to be almost entirely rebuilt because of wood rot caused by faulty, leaky chimney flashing.

Chimney Sealant

When the exterior chimney is in good condition, a sealant can be applied that will help to keep moisture out. However, the proper type of sealant also allows breathability. Many do-it-yourselfers that have tried sealing their chimneys themselves have learned the hard way that expert help was needed. Problems have included using such products as paint sealant over masonry that was already saturated with moisture. As a result, the sealant didn’t allow any moisture to escape the masonry, and further masonry damage occurred at an accelerated pace.

The Dreadful Milieu in the Chimney Flue

Inside the chimney liner, toxic combustion byproducts are deposited in the chimney flue. Creosote and high temperatures in the flue lining expose the home to a heightened risk of hazardous chimney fires. If the liner is damaged to the smallest degree or the chimney liner is obstructed, the home is at risk for dangerous fires and exposure to deadly toxic gases.

Contact Dubuque Fire & Heating for Chimney Maintenance

Avoid being part of a tragic tale of a neglected chimney gone wrong. Schedule chimney inspections, chimney cleaning, chimney maintenance, and chimney repairs from the chimney sweep experts at Dubuque Fire & Heating. The contact details are below.


Dubuque Fireplace & Patio

925 Century Drive, Dubuque, Iowa

Phone – (563) 582-5156


Chimney Specialists Inc.

869 Main Street, Highland, WI

Phone – (608) 929-4887 / Toll Free (800) 395-6660

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