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Your chimney is responsible for safely directing noxious gases, particulates and other combustion byproducts out of your home. Over time, natural wear and tear can cause damage and prevent your chimney from working properly. This can be extremely dangerous, posing a fire hazard or allowing hazardous fumes to leak into your living space. For your safety, it’s imperative to learn the warning signs and recognize when to call for an urgent chimney repair in Newport News, VA.

Creosote Buildup

When smoke, gases and other combustion byproducts travel up your chimney, they begin to cool and mix with condensed moisture. The resulting mixture, known as creosote, is a toxic and sticky substance that easily clings to exposed surfaces. If enough creosote accumulates inside your chimney, it can disrupt the airflow and potentially flood your home with smoke. Creosote is also highly flammable, creating a major fire hazard inside your chimney.

You can typically identify creosote buildup with a quick visual inspection. A healthy chimney may have light accumulations that look like soot stains and can be removed with a chimney brush. Dark, shiny flakes are more difficult to remove and are indicative of more advanced creosote accumulation. If you see deposits that look like thick tar inside your chimney, call a professional right away. You should also seek professional chimney repairs immediately if you notice smoke or fumes inside your home.

Visible Deterioration

Chimneys are built to be rugged and durable, but they aren’t impervious to the laws of physics. Day after day, they endure the stresses of extreme heat and exposure to the elements. Even seemingly minor imperfections can threaten your chimney’s structural integrity, so you can’t afford to take any chances. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to regularly check for any visible signs of damage or deterioration.

On the outside of your chimney, look carefully for any loose, cracked or crumbling bricks. Check the mortar joints for any damage, deterioration or separation as well. Additionally, make sure your chimney cap is intact to keep out rain, pests and debris. Inside, watch closely for any slices of flue tile that end up at the bottom of your chimney. Known as shaling, this is a clear indicator that your flue tiling is degraded. A damaged chimney simply isn’t safe, so schedule a repair visit promptly if you notice any of these signs.

Rust or Efflorescence

Rust is never a welcome sight, but it’s especially concerning if it appears inside your chimney. First and foremost, a rusty damper may not seal well or may be difficult to open and close. More worryingly still, a rusty damper or firebox indicates the presence of excessive moisture. Too much moisture inside your chimney can damage the flue lining, creating a dangerous situation. Water can also lead to spalling, which causes bricks to crack, shift and decay.

Another sure sign of excessive moisture is called efflorescence. Efflorescence is a powdery, chalk-like deposit produced when water penetrates bricks, dissolves the salts inside and carries them to the surface. After the water evaporates, the deposits are left behind on the exterior of your chimney. Since moisture can be so damaging, it’s crucial to act quickly whenever you encounter efflorescence or rusty components.

Water Damage

If you spot water damage inside your home, don’t automatically assume it’s a roof leak. Depending on the location, the damage could actually be a sign that your chimney is being infiltrated by moisture. This often takes the form of bubbling, peeling or sagging of the wallpaper near your chimney. Alternatively, you might notice water stains on the ceiling or walls.

In more extreme cases, water infiltration may even lead to rotting wood and structural damage. This can undermine your home’s integrity, causing affected walls and ceilings to warp, sag or buckle. It can also set the stage for mold growth. Even if you can’t see the mold, you may be able to detect it by its dank, musty smell.

Chimneys seem so substantial and permanent that it’s easy to take them for granted. Unfortunately, ignoring your chimney could mean putting your health and well-being at risk. If you’ve spotted any signs of trouble, make sure you’re protected by scheduling a professional chimney repair today. Contact Rooftop Chimney Sweeps.

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