1. Soot build up – Smoke particles called creosote can build up in the chimney, potentially causing chimney fires or corrosion of the stack. Inspections should be done from the top and bottom.
2. Crumbling brick/cinder block – Soft, loose or cracked bricks or receding mortar is caused by seasonal freeze-thaw cycles and can lead to falling debris. This can occur outside as well as inside the house so check both.
2. Cracked crowns, caps – Caused by frequent freeze-thawing or seismic activity, these cracks can lead to serious structural weakness if not dealt with promptly.
3. Water leakage– A wet chimney can literally erode from the inside. That’s especially true for older chimneys without liners or rain caps. A telltale sign of moisture is efflorescence (white chalk stains) on the brick or cinder block. But water can also penetrate into fireboxes, attics, and basement ash cleanouts as a result of faulty flashing, substandard brickwork, or poor design. Look for stains on walls, rusty metal, and signs of mold.
4. Poor air draw – A safe chimney needs to draw in and exhaust air well. Often, insects, birds or other small critters will take up residence in your chimney and create a blockage. Another cause of blockage is that a brick could fall into the cavity. If your fireplace doesn’t exhaust smoke well, get it inspected.
5. No liner – Many old chimneys in Victoria were built without liners or with substandard materials which can deteriorate over time. That no longer meets building code. Liners prevent soot build up and protect your chimney from moisture build up.