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Maintain Your Chimney Crown to Protect Your Chimney

The robust structure of chimneys, often made of brick or stone, deceives a lot of homeowners. Many people assume chimneys were designed to withstand the elements for years without suffering any damage. Unfortunately, this type of thinking can result in large, expensive chimney repairs for the unsuspecting homeowners.

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Despite being made of tough brick or stone, chimneys are surprisingly delicate. While they can resist immense heat and high winds, they are not indestructible. In fact, chimneys are astonishingly sensitive, particularly to water damage. Chimneys are designed to endure outdoor elements, but they require regular upkeep and inspection to prevent water from creating expensive damage.

Materials used for masonry chimneys, like brick and mortar, have large pores that absorb water. Over time, the water breaks down the integrity of the materials, and therefore, the integrity of the entire structure becomes compromised. Particularly during frigid Boston winters, the freeze and thaw cycle causes the water, and thus the masonry, to expand and contract, which is how the materials begin to break down.

Homeowners have several options available to maintain a safe, sturdy chimney. One of the most important options that many overlook is keeping the chimney crown in good repair. The chimney crown acts as a roof or umbrella for the chimney by directing water away from the structure. The ideal crown should hang over the outside of the chimney by two inches and should have a drip edge to catch water that runs under the overhang. Generally, the chimney crown is made of concrete but occasionally can be found as a metal, stone or steel-reinforced concrete.

Over time, the chimney crown will begin to deteriorate, which is when it needs attention. If the crown has suffered minor cracks, a mason can patch it with a chimney crown sealant. With larger cracks, the mason should first fill the damaged areas with high bond patching material, finishing with a chimney crown sealant. The waterproof sealant prevents water from seeping into the concrete, damaging the crown, and seeping into the masonry to cause additional damage there. If the damage is caught early, these repairs can add up to 15 additional years to the life of a lightly worn chimney crown.

In more serious cases, the chimney crown may be missing large pieces or have shifted structurally. Here, replacing the weakened structure instead of patching it is the best course of action. A good mason will walk you through choosing the right type crown for your chimney. Most likely, a concrete structure with a two inch overhang is a safe, effective choice. Although rebuilding is more costly than patching, rebuilding will save you significantly more money in the long run by preventing extensive water damage to the chimney.

As part of your yearly chimney sweep and inspection, the mason should examine the crown for any wear or damage. This will let you know when you need to have the crown repaired. If you live in Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth or Barnstable Counties in the Boston area of Massachusetts, call Above and Beyond Chimney Service for a professional consultation. These experts will help you properly maintain your chimney and fireplace for years to come.