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Chimneys are an important part of our homes. If neglected and not maintained properly, chimneys can put several lives at risk. However, with time, your chimney can deteriorate due to several factors and you will have to perform chimney repair to avoid problems. Below are the causes along with solutions to save you money on expensive repairs and replacements.

Improper Ventilation

Improper ventilation is a significant factor that contributes directly to the deterioration of the chimney. Most homeowners are not aware of the fact that even chimneys require adequate ventilation to preserve their strength and lifespan. The reason is that if a chimney does not have proper ventilation, condensation and moisture tend to accumulate inside.

The trapped moisture inside the chimney has nowhere to go and will eventually cause many problems. In some cases, the chimney has to be entirely rebuilt just because the problem was ignored all along. The best way to ensure the chimney has proper ventilation is to remove any items or objects that may be stuck inside.

More importantly, the chimney should be properly designed and installed. Believe it or not, a lot could go wrong if the chimney is not properly installed.

Chimney Settlement

There have been many cases in the past and continue to do so where chimneys begin to deteriorate due to gradual sinking or shifting. This usually happens due to inadequate construction or support. If that is the case, the homeowner needs to check the structural integrity of the house. Improper footing, unstable soil, or insufficient structural reinforcement can lead to the chimney shifting its place.

Eventually, there will come a time when the chimney will become a risk. If it is leaning to one side, chances are that it will fall as well. At the same time, you should also check for cracks and damages. If the situation does not look good, you will need to call an expert immediately and get the issue fixed.

If the root cause of the problem is the house, it will need to be fixed first. Otherwise, you will simply be wasting your money rebuilding the chimney as it will run into the same set of problems sooner or later.

Improper Construction Material

One of the most important considerations when it comes to building chimneys is using the right material. In fact, chimneys are always built using specific materials and techniques since the temperature inside can go extremely high. So, if you were to use any other material for money-saving purposes, you won’t have a reliable chimney for long.

Inadequate bricks may not be able to control the fire temperature leading to cracks, crumbling, and compromised structural integrity. At the same time, the low-quality mortar will not be able to bond properly with the bricks allowing moisture to seep in and speed up deterioration.

This is why you should always consult or hire a professional for chimney rebuilding or repairing. Premature deterioration is a very common issue and can be easily avoided. Homeowners should only work with licensed contractors to make their money worth it.

Lack Of Maintenance

Lack of maintenance is one of the most common reasons for chimney deterioration. Regular inspections are key to prolonging the lifespan and maintaining the structural integrity of the chimney. In some cases, the signs are not visible and can go unnoticed.

It could also be that the homeowners are not able to access the roof. This is where professionals come in and use special equipment and techniques to inspect the chimney for signs of wear and tear. If any damages or cracks are spotted, the professional fixes it on the spot helping you avoid serious situations later on.

It is recommended that homeowners schedule chimney inspection Ellicott City from an expert and maintenance at least once a year. Otherwise, soot buildup or accumulation can reach a point where it could become impossible to remove.

Freezing And Thawing

Freezing temperatures can be extremely problematic for chimneys that have water trapped inside. If there is water trapped inside the chimney, it could lead to freezing and expansion of up to 9%. This expansion puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the surrounding materials leading to cracks and fractures.

With time, the water keeps spreading to other areas and expanding leading to severe cracks and damages. This usually happens when the chimney is not protected or does not have a proper exit. The best way to prevent water from entering is by installing a chimney cap.

At the same time, the chimney crown needs to be properly built as well to direct the water away from the chimney structure. Additionally, repairing any cracks and using sealants help with freezing and thawing situations.

Creosote Buildup

As mentioned earlier, neglecting the maintenance of chimneys can lead to creosote buildup that could be hard to remove. Creosote is simply the byproduct of burning wood. Keep in mind that fireplaces need good quality, dry wood for efficient burning.

If the wood happens to be wet, it will lead to a relatively higher amount of soot buildup. Soot buildup is a dangerous thing as it could cause a fire inside the chimney or return toxic gasses inside the house. The best way to prevent creosote buildup is by regular cleaning and scheduling routine inspections. This will prevent deterioration of the chimney liner along with other serious issues.

Animal Infestation

If you live in a region where fireplaces are not used throughout the year and remain dormant for a while, it is highly likely for intruders like animals and birds to take accommodation in your chimney. These intruders can not only block the passage but also cause cracks and damage.

This is why you should cover the chimney if the fireplace is not in use. Then again, to prevent such situations, you should not only cover but also perform regular inspections even when the chimney is not in use. The reason is that intruders can find numerous places to enter and may further way space by dislodging bricks and other components.

Therefore, it needs to be properly protected to ensure a longer lifespan.

Is Chimney Maintenance Expensive?

Chimney maintenance may or may not be expensive depending on how well it is maintained. If regular inspections and cleaning are done, there is no reason for maintenance to be expensive. However, if the chimney is neglected, the expert will have to put in extra time and effort to not only clean but also repair and replace any damages.

This can cause the price to go high. On top of that, you should only hire a licensed expert. This way, you will not be risking any consequences down the road. Individuals offering services at a price lower than the market average will make the situation worse by using the wrong tools or using the right tools incorrectly damaging the flue or other parts of your chimney. Therefore, as much as you might be tempted, do not fall for it.


Avoiding chimney deterioration is easy if you were to follow the tips mentioned above. If you can afford it, hire chimney contractors Columbia MD for inspection, sweep, and repairs. Otherwise, invest in some cleaning and safety tools to perform regular inspections and maintenance without risking injuries.


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