Brick chimneys are one of the most iconic features of historic brick homes and are a testament to the technical craftsmanship of the past. Beneath a chimney’s simple outward appearance is a complex construction designed to ensure proper performance and venting. These chimneys require care and attention to maintain their charm and more importantly, your home’s safety. Fall is the perfect time for an inspection. As the cold weather approaches, it is even more critical to ensure your chimney is in top-notch condition, and you can achieve this by calling in the professionals: chimney cleaners and historic brick restoration specialists. Don’t overlook the importance of chimney cleaning and repair on your old brick home.
Why Professionals Are Essential for Chimney Maintenance
Professional chimney cleaning services are crucial for ensuring the safety of homes with fireplaces as well as other heating systems that use chimneys. Regular inspections and cleanings prevent the buildup of creosote, a flammable residue that results from burning wood. If left unchecked, creosote can lead to dangerous chimney fires which could pose a serious threat. Even if you don’t burn wood, chimney cleaners will ensure there are no obstructions, such as bird nests or fallen debris, which could prevent the venting of smoke and harmful gases. If the chimney cannot vent effectively, carbon monoxide can build up in your home with potentially devastating results. Professional chimney cleaners are part of your front-line defense of your historic brick home’s safety.
Professional Chimney Cleaners Can Spot Problems Early
Engaging a professional to clean your chimney is about more than just removing soot. They thoroughly inspect for signs of wear and tear, ensuring the structure is sound. Many chimney cleaning companies now use cameras to get a detailed view of your chimney’s condition.
Over time, exposure to the elements can wear away at the chimney’s mortar joints, allowing water to seep between and behind bricks and potentially causing structural damage. Moisture seeping into brick and mortar expands and contracts with temperature fluctuations. This process, called the freeze-thaw cycle, wears down the brick and mortar, causing cracking, crumbling and even spalling. An annual visual inspection that goes along with routine cleanings can detect signs of failing mortar and loose, broken or crumbling brick. Following up with a historic brick expert can correct these problems, prevent further damage and keep the structure sound.
Why Use a Historic Brick Expert for Chimney Repairs?
When inappropriate mortar, such as cement, is used on historic chimneys, it can accelerate the rate of masonry deterioration. The compressive strength of modern cement differs significantly from the historically accurate lime-based mortars. Due to this difference, the contemporary mortar will exert pressure on your historic home’s brick, resulting in cracking, crumbling and further structural damage. Lime-based mortars require different techniques to ensure secure joints and long-lasting performance, and these historical methods are a specialized craft of which regular contractors are often not even aware.
Your historic brick expert will use tuckpointing to remove and replace the damaged mortar with the correct lime-based mixture. In areas of damaged brick, these experts can determine if bricks can be reused by removing and turning them around. If reuse isn’t an option, historic brick specialists can source bricks that match your existing ones.
Consulting with a chimney cleaning service and a historic brick specialist will allow you to safely enjoy the comforts of home, however you heat it, while ensuring your chimney looks its best for years to come.
Contact Renaissance Development for a consultation on brick chimney repair or for any other advice you may need regarding your historic brick home in DC. Working with our expert team upon completion of the evaluation, you'll be able to make informed decisions about renovations and repairs, while preserving the historic integrity of your old brick home.