Just a few decades ago chimney repair was largely left to masonry contractors, and few fireplaces used anything other than brick or stone fireplaces. Modern fireplaces are diverse though, both in appearance and the materials used to make them , and many such materials weather time and use differently than brick. As such, it's important that your approach to fireplace and chimney maintenance is capable of addressing these varied needs.
Interior Support for Your Fireplace
The inside of your chimney is arguably the most abused part of any fireplace. Extreme temperature variations, a large volume of deposits left behind by each fire you light, and the ravages of time can all wreak havoc on the health and stability of a chimney. While regular inspections are critical to making sure problems are addressed early, the is another important step in maintaining your chimney's interior.
Wood smoke is highly corrosive, especially if applied on a frequent and ongoing basis to the same surface over a period of years. Worse, if the wood you burn is even slightly moist, that wood smoke can end up creating a layer of highly flammable creosote on the inside of your chimney. Making sure that your chimney is cleaned out annually can help to prevent chimney fires, and can improve the airflow when your fireplace is in use.
There's a Lot More to Your Chimney
Unless you own a ladder tall enough, and you make the effort to climb up to the very peak of your chimney, there is likely a great deal you haven't even seen. The cap, collar and flashing around the top of your chimney are critical components in its installation. If any of these fail, you can expect to see major problems result in very short order.
The chimney cap is designed to prevent anything from getting inside your chimney, such as falling debris or nesting animals, but it degrades over time and will need to be replaced. The collar of your chimney secures it's upper vent pipe to the structure of the house, and also prevents water from making its way into the gap between the structure and the pipe. Additional flashing may be used to help redirect the flow of rainwater, but this must be properly sealed and in good repair in order for it to be effective. Failing to address any one of these components can lead to water damage, animal infestation, and increased risk of chimney fires.
It's not enough to simply address the appearance of your chimney any more. Regular cleaning, and maintenance of both the interior and exterior components is essential to making sure you can continue safely using your fireplace. Talk to experts like Excel Chimney & Fireplace Service for more information.