All parts of a home will eventually need an upgrade because time wears down everything. Older homes, which are very common all along the east coast, generally need these updates sooner rather than later. Everything from contemporary style updates to energy savings updates can help bring an older home into the modern world. For homeowners looking ahead to the chilly winter, an update to the chimney or fireplace may be next on the to-do list.
Chimneys can require a rebuild for a number of reasons, but the most common issue involves a partial or complete collapse of the chimney. Collapse occurs when the structure of the chimney has degraded, often due to long term exposure to harsh weather. Masonry chimneys, in particular, can suffer negative effects from weather. The materials used to construct a masonry chimney – brick, concrete, and mortar – all have a very porous nature, meaning they readily absorb water. Absorbing water alone does not have damaging consequences, but when the temperatures drop below freezing, the issues begin. In freezing weather, water undergoes a freeze and thaw cycle in which it continually expands and contracts. The bricks and concrete saturated with water also contract and expand with the water inside, and this results in degraded materials over time. First, the mortar will crack and fall from between the bricks, and the concrete will split. Then, the bricks come loose, and the entire structure loses its integrity. Eventually, the chimney could collapse.
Other problems that may result in a chimney rebuild include earthquakes and chimney fires. Earthquakes can cause irreparable structural damage to the chimney, and older chimneys usually do not have the stabilizing steel rebar that modern chimneys use to protect against this type of impact damage. The rebuilt masonry chimney would contain this rebar to stabilize the structure in case of future earthquakes. Chimney fires can also necessitate a rebuild, especially with older masonry chimneys. These chimneys often utilized clay or mortar chimney liners, which crack and split under the heat of the fire. This destroys the protection provided by the chimney liner and undermines the strength of the structure overall.
While a full chimney rebuild may not seem ideal from the homeowner’s point of view, if only for the cost of it, this process could mean the difference between a safe fireplace and a hazardous one. In order to make the rebuild process easy and effective, a chimney expert must be employed. This ensures proper and safe construction that meets safety codes. If you live in the area of Boston or North Shore, Massachusetts or near Portland, Maine, you can get in contact with Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep for a rebuild inspection and consultation.