Chimney Tales You May Not Know

Chimneys on older Calgary houses tell tales their owners may not know. Tales when wood-burning fires roared through their flues, and sent sparks bursting into the sky. Chimneys really felt the thermal pressure in those days. Fortunately their owners knew about chimney maintenance back then.

Modern, gas-effect fireplaces are far more efficient. That’s because they circulate the warm air inside the house, as opposed to sending it roaring up the chimney. However, their stacks still get hot compared the cold winter air around them. And that means they do their fair share of contracting and expanding.

The Weak Point of Stone and Brick Chimneys

Architects specify chimneys made of brick, or hard stone because they know they will last longer despite the temperature differential. When it comes to the builder though, the best they can do is glue them together with strong cement.

This could withstand the push and pull of the stones and bricks for decades, although often less. However, the cement gradually weakens until the joints start loosening. This makes regular chimney inspections essential, if we want keep them going. Not to mention avoid damage from loose stones or bricks falling on the roof.

The Parts of Chimneys Deserving Regular Attention

The chimney crown is the obvious place to start, because the buck – or heat, should we say – stops there. It acts as a ‘roof’ to keep the rain, sleet, snow and windblown debris out. However if the chimney crown is a cement capping, it will eventually fail.

The other major problem you may face is failure of part of the stack exposed to ambient temperature. If you were to go up on your roof, you might be alarmed to see stepped cracks developing signaling structural failure.

The wise money is on removing the loose bits, chipping off the old cement, and reassembling with the original materials. However, if you leave things until they tumble, then that may be too late.

The Value of Regular Chimney Inspections

We are not saying for a moment that chimneys in Calgary are in imminent danger of collapse, like the tenement ones in the picture. The point we are making is the parts of your home above the eavestroughs take the brunt of the weather, and someone needs to get up there and check things out from time to time.

This post comes to you with compliments of Valiant Exteriors Limited, Calgary’s proud experts in weather-proofing all aspects of buildings. Please call us on (403)829-1661 anytime you need advice on your siding, soffits, eavestroughs, roof, and yes your chimney too.

Related Reading

What You Should Know About Roof Decking

Eavestroughs Are Not Responsible for Ice Dams

Old Chimneys (Image Clive Varley BY CC 2.0)