For some reason most people don't stop and think about the topic of chimney repair until it is way too late. In the vast majority of cases, by simply taking a few simple precautions you will be able to keep any chimney repair jobs to the absolute minimum. Here are a few methods that you can use to help keep the little problems from becoming a big on.
- Inspect. The first step to telling whether or not you need any major (or even minor) chimney repairs is to periodically inspect it. On the average you should do this whenever the season changes from hot to cold or cold to hot. That being said, you really only need to check the chimney once every year or two. When you do look, keep an eye out for any loose flashing, cracks in the mortar, or other problems in the masonry.
- Get a second opinion. In the event that you find something that you think is a problem, get another opinion right away. This second opinion should not be your friend from down the street, but rather a professional chimney inspector. This inspector will not only be able to tell you if your chimney has a problem, but if it extends to anything else that may need to be fixed as well.
- Get the right tools. If you are willing to do the minor work yourself, make sure that you have the right tools. This will include things like a chimney brush to ensure that the chimney is free of any creosote, dirt, and debris. Once you have done that, you should be able to begin repairing any minor cracks or flashing problems. For the most part, smaller cracks that are less than half an inch in size only really need to have some waterproof caulking, or better yet a concrete bonding material. For larger cracks you need more detailed work, and more experienced hands to do the work for you.
- Don't be afraid to get a professional. Perhaps the single most difficult aspect of any project is figuring out when you are over your head. With chimney repairs, a good rule of thumb is that if the crack is larger than half an inch, or you find some damage to, or near, the flashing then you should have a professional come and make the repairs. This is largely a safety issue, since an improperly repaired chimney can easily become an even larger problem than it was without being repaired.
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