The scorching days of summer are nearly over. Fall is settling in and, before you know it, the holidays will be here in full swing. Which means, it’s nearly the time of year when we get to cozy up next to our fireplaces evening after evening.
However… if your fireplace isn’t properly maintained, you could end up facing some serious problems. And one of these problems is crown damage. If you haven’t scheduled your annual inspection yet, get it on the books today, so we can ensure all your components are in good working order.
What Is a Chimney Crown?
The crown of a chimney is the cement-like slab that covers the top of the flue. Its job is to prevent water from seeping into the brickwork, which would then cause further damage to the structure as a whole. Essentially, it guides any rain water or melting snow and ice out and away from the sides of the chimney, rather than allowing it to slide down the sides. It also works alongside the cap, helping to protect your system’s interior.
Signs of Chimney Crown Damage
How can you know if your chimney crown is damaged? Here are some of the signs to watch for:
- Visible Cracks: The most common sign of crown damage is visible cracking. Temperature changes and settlement issues usually cause these. Over time, the crown will start to break down and develop cracks, gaps, and holes, which will then invite in water and cause deterioration.
- Missing Pieces: If you start to notice that pieces of your crown are missing, that’s definitely a sign that it needs to be repaired or replaced. Get a tech on the job ASAP – before things get worse.
- Pools of Water: When rainwater starts to pool on top of your chimney or water is spotted in your firebox, that’s another sign that the crown may not be doing its job. Scheduling an inspection is always a good call when this issue occurs.
- Rusting: If there’s rust, there’s moisture. When you see rust in your fireplace, water is most likely getting into your chimney – and it could be time for a crown repair.
- Interior Wall Damage: If water starts seeping through the walls and ceiling of your home, your chimney is the likely culprit behind the damage. A damaged crown could be the cause, so be on the lookout for discolored blotches or fraying.
- Mortar Joint Damage: The crown is responsible for keeping the mortar joints of your chimney in good condition. If you see any cracks or gaps in the mortar, the crown is no longer doing its job. Invest in an inspection and some tuckpointing services.
- Falling Pieces of Concrete: If any part of your crown is falling off, the damage is severe. Hopefully, it doesn’t get to this point, but if it does, you’ll probably need to get a crown replacement. Look for pieces of the crown around the foundation of your home, on your roof, and in your firebox and flue.
Causes of Chimney Crown Damage
Knowing the signs of a damaged crown is good, and it can help you take charge of an issue long before it gets worse. That said, if you know what causes the damage in the first place, you can work to avoid the issues altogether. Some of the common causes of chimney crown damage include:
- Natural Wear & Tear: Just like any other part of your home, crowns experience natural wear and tear. Over time, they will start to break down and develop cracks, and the best way to deal with this is to have your crowns inspected yearly so you can spot any damage early on.
- Improper Installation: If your crown wasn’t installed with the proper materials, then it will deteriorate much faster. Often contractors build the chimney crown with mortar instead of concrete. This is far less reliable and tends to break down much quicker.
- Bad Weather: Crowns are vulnerable to bad weather due to their placement outside of the home. Extreme heat or cold can cause the crown to crack, and strong wind can cause damage too. That’s another reason why ensuring it’s built right – and from appropriate materials – is a must.
Repairing Damaged Chimney Crowns
Depending on the damage’s extent, crowns can be repaired or replaced. Once the crown is inspected, our experienced technicians will determine the best option to get it back into tip-top shape.
When replacing the crown, we’ll start by removing any damaged or loose pieces, as well as any debris, moss, or dirt. Once the area is ready, the new concrete is mixed and poured with the proper thickness and slope in mind – both of which help to divert water away from the flue tiles and masonry sides.
Remember to trust a pro for any and all of your crown repairs. If you’re an avid DIY-er, you may think you can tackle it yourself, but this is one job that should be left to someone who’s certified and trained on the technical side of chimney care. Our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified techs can get it done right.
Get Ready for Fall With Winston’s Chimney Service
Virginia chimneys tend to go through freeze/thaw process multiple times a year, which can wreak havoc on your crown in the process. As we creep closer to fall, it’s time for a crown and fireplace check-up with our crew. We’ll take note of any damages, create a plan to address them, then can apply waterproofing products to ensure the cold temps of winter aren’t something you have to stress about – at least, not in regards to your chimney.
Our team knows everything there is to know about crowns, fireplaces, and chimneys. With over 40 years of experience in the field, we guarantee your crown and fireplace will be ready to take on anything winter throws your way.
Don’t wait until your crown is in shambles to call us in. Get in touch today, and let’s prepare your chimney for fall.