Cracks In Chimney: Causes, Risks & Repairs

The cracks in the chimney aren’t pretty at all! Plus, these result from several underlying issues.

More importantly, such deterioration presents several risks.

This article will be discussing this state of disrepair with a focus on the types, causes, risks as well as possible solutions among others.

You should find this article informative enough to take the needed action. It’s also important to note that cracks beget further problems. You’re likely to face all sorts of chimney issues when cracks aren’t quickly addressed.

Let’s delve into details on horizontal or vertical chimney cracks and possible solutions, shall we?

About Cracked Chimney

A chimney structure that isn’t frequently maintained will show signs of these cracks. Such cracks can either be mild or severe. With severe cracks, your chimney structure becomes an impending disaster waiting to happen.

This is further guaranteed by lack of action.

When it comes to chimney cracks and their causes, quite many causes can be attributed to the condition. These range from freeze-and-thaw cycles, zero maintenance, and natural events like earthquakes among many.

These and more will be discussed shortly.

So, can chimney cracks be fixed? You guessed right! Chimney cracks can be fixed. However, for a good job to be done, you’ll need the help of an expert.

Chimney sweeps are equipped with the right knowledge of chimney maintenance.

These technicians carry out a variety of services, maintenance actions including crack repairs, etc. You’ll need to have them handle your chimney rather than considering the DIY alternative to fixing cracks.

When done by professionals, such maintenance guarantees your chimney’s longevity.

Causes Of Chimney Cracks

As mentioned earlier, chimney cracks are caused by many factors. These include freeze-thaw cycles, lack of maintenance, earthquakes, and soils with poor load-bearing capacity.

Other causes include poor drainage, damage due to heat as well as tree damage.

Large or high antennas hoisted onto chimney structures may cause cracks too! There’s also the problem of improper construction.

  • Freeze-Thaw Cycles

Freeze-thaw cycles are yearly events caused by weather action.

Chimneys are largely exposed to such severe weather conditions. What results is a situation where moisture soaked into small cracks freeze due to extremely low temperatures. This is later followed by a thawing process.

The continued freeze-thaw cycles take their place on a chimney as creates cracks and widen existing ones. This will have to be fixed by having all cracks sealed.

  • Lack of Maintenance

Lack of maintenance will normally affect the basic functioning of a chimney structure.

Lack of maintenance refers to taking no action at all to inspect and fix a chimney. With such a situation, it’s only normal that steady deterioration begins to unfold.

  • Earthquakes

Earthquakes happen at various intensities. Very severe earthquakes have been known to cause chimneys to topple over. For moderate to mild earthquakes, chimneys are likely to get cracked.

This is due to stress caused by such activity. It’s important to have the chimney inspected and cracks sealed to reinforce the structure.

  • Soils with Poor Load Bearing Capacity

Certain soils are known to have the poor load-bearing capacity. When such is the case, the chimney’s foundation or footing becomes unstable. This condition takes its toll on the chimney with cracks appearing along with the masonry.

  • Poor Drainage

Poor drainage could be the reason why a chimney cracks. This is common for pooling water found around a chimney footing. When there’s no slope slanting away from the chimney, water pooling becomes inevitable.

This situation results in settling or expansion, thus causing instability in the structure, with cracks resulting.

  • Damage Due to Heat

Thermal damage is one of the possible reasons why your chimney is cracked. When basic a component such as a liner is damaged or absent, the bricks are exposed to excessive heat from a fireplace.

Chimney fires caused by creosote buildup are is likely to result in cracks.

  • Tree Damage

Do you have trees having large root systems around your compound? If you do, these could be the reason why you’re seeing cracks on your chimney.

As these roots spread out, they may cause damage to your chimney foundation.

  • Mechanical Damage

This is mostly the case when high or sizeable antennas are hoisted up on chimneys for better reception. These will add weight to the chimney structure, thus causing pressures that may result in cracks.

Harsh weather actions like wind storms will accelerate this process.

  • Improper Construction

Without proper construction, a chimney is likely to have issues like cracks.

One of the mistakes done by masons includes failure to allow sufficient space for expansion due to heat. This is mostly seen where masonry chimney sides and flue lines meet.

Risks Posed By Chimney Cracks

Whether you’re looking at cracked chimney masonry or cracked chimney flue, several risks are posed by such conditions. Any form of break creates a problem.

For cracked chimney masonry, these are likely to further disintegrate due to weathering action.

Chimney cracks can deteriorate to the extent where the entire structure crumbles or topples over. This poses a significant risk to injury among other things. For chimneys, cracks may extend to the flue components.

With such action, there’s little protection from toxic gases. There’s also a high likelihood of corrosion occurring. This steadily erodes your chimney structure when left unattended.

Chimney Crack Repair

There are two basic types of fixes for chimney cracks. They include preventive action and repairs due to damage. In the case of preventive action, different actions are taken to protect the chimney from cracks.

A crack-causing situation such as freeze-thaw cycles caused by the presence of excess moisture can be addressed by waterproofing. Waterproofing your chimney only allows such chimney to breathe out, but not in.

Plus, the waterproofing material is designed to be vapor-permeable.

When cracks appear, they need to be sealed up as soon as they’re discovered. Whether such cracks are tiny or large is immaterial. These need to be sealed up to reinforce the chimney structure. A cracked or faulty chimney crown must also be replaced.

What more? Have a chimney cap placed over the chimney.

We’ve covered a variety of issues relating to chimney cracks with a focus on how best to address them. Carrying out maintenance tasks as often as necessary on a chimney should help keep it in great condition.

For this to be successful, you’ll need to seek the expertise of a chimney sweep.

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