These cracks are caused by rebar originally installed during construction to give strength to the chimney. Lack of maintenance, waterproofing, allowed moisture to penetrate to rebar and the expansion rusting rebar shatters chimney bricks. Extensive cracking due to lack of maintenance. Because chimney bricks are porous, water can soak through to rebar. Metal as it rusts, expands and blows up bricks.
We get calls frequently about cracks in a firebox. Cracks depending on where they are and what type of cracking can be potentially hazardous situations or insignificant. There are about 3 different construction types of fireplaces employed in the last 70-80 years. A virtual assessment can often determine the severity of the situation and type of construction.
This picture shows a fireplace built probably prior to 1980 or so, where there were cracks inside the firebox top front opening. One can see staining where heat was traveling toward the wood combustibles. Someone removed the lintel and bricks of the the façade (incidentally a terrible idea as someone was looking to remodel). So, some cracks are potentially dangerous, while others not so much. But a virtual assessment can often determine the necessity for an in person inspection.
There are several methods available. The method we use has several advantages. It is less expensive than a metal liner and the spray on solutions some companies use. It is very strong and durable and cannot be brushed out with steel wire brushes.
Another advantage is that the HeatShield® system does not significantly decrease draft like a steel liner does. A decrease in draft might cause the combustion gases to spill into the house. HeatShield® is a specially formulated “Cerfractory®” sealant material that restores the integrity of your chimney’s flue to vent hazardous flue gases from your home. It eliminates the dangers in your chimney caused by gaps, cracks, and spalling for years to come. By using either the Repair System or the CeCure® Sleeve Relining System (depending on the defects found) your chimney will be restored to its original peak level of safety and efficiency.
This is a video of a home in San Juan Capistrano that is approximately 40 years old. All 3 chimneys had severe cracks and gaps in the chimney flue. This is a severe fire hazard if the fireplaces are used to burn wood or gas fires. If you are purchasing a home that was built over 20 years ago, don’t take a chance that the chimney will not have gaps.
Approximately 40% of the homes that were built in the 1980s and earlier have cracks and gaps within the chimney flues. Regular home inspectors do not inspect the chimneys with a video camera and as a result most of the cracks are not detected. Approximately 15,000 homes per year in the U.S. have home fires which start in the fireplace/chimney.
Would you want to buy a home with a fireplace and then burn down your home the first time you burned a fire because you had never gotten the chimney inspected?
There are approximately 15,000 house fires a year caused by fires that start in the chimney.
Most home buyers do not want to spend to have fireplaces and chimneys inspected, but home inspectors do not usually inspect chimneys. If there are obvious cracks on the outside or in the fireplace, they will note those, but they will not usually get on the roof and look down the chimney, much less put a video camera down it. Most good inspectors will suggest you have a chimney professional examine the chimney, especially if the home is older or it is a pre-cast Rampart General fireplace which are known to have structural issues. Read more
Most people don’t think about their chimneys and fireplaces. Often they never even look at the outside of their chimney, or even the inside of their fireplace.
We have even had people tell us that they burn wood in their fireplace all winter, but have never had their chimney cleaned in 25 years. Creosote (soot) is highly flammable and if the buildup is enough, a house fire may result. You may think the fire in your fireplace is out, but meanwhile, a fire is going inside your chimney which may spread into your house beams. Read more
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