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Restoring Your Historic Chimney

historic chimneys, concord nhIf you have an older home that you’re working to keep in good aesthetic and functional condition, the chimney is one thing you don’t want to overlook. Chimneys in homes built during the early 1900s and prior pose certain challenges that must be met if the historic chimney structure is to remain sound and deliver safe, predictable performance.

Historic chimney restoration is a service offered by chimney repair professionals who know what to look for and how to resolve problems when assessing historic chimneys. Two key areas are:

  1. The condition of the bricks and mortar
  2. The absence of a chimney liner or the poor condition of an existing one

Let’s look at each area briefly.

Structural condition of your historic chimney

If your home is more than 80 or 90 years old, it’s unlikely that you had anything to do with its initial construction. If you’ve only lived in your home for a few years, you may know very little about the chimney and what’s been done to it through the years.

Although you can see cracked masonry, crumbling mortar and a chimney that leans to one side, you won’t know the exact condition of the structure until you have it inspected.

A licensed chimney inspector who has specific training in historic chimney restoration will be able to determine what, if anything, needs to be repaired and how these repairs should be approached.

Depending on what is found, the issue may be resolved by cleaning out and replacing damaged mortar joints, replacing bricks, rebuilding sections of the chimney or rebuilding the entire chimney.

Masonry problems can lead to widespread damage

The concern with damaged masonry, aside from the structure possibly being unsound and unsafe, is water intrusion. Cracks in the bricks and mortar of a historic chimney are common, and this is enough to allow water to move in and create a cycle of ongoing decay and deterioration.

If you don’t know exactly when your older chimney was last inspected and serviced, scheduling a thorough inspection should be your first step.

chimney liner, milville nhIssues with chimney liners

Chimneys built before the 1950s often had no type of inner protective liner. Liners built – most often with clay tiles – more than 30 or 40 years ago usually need repair work or complete relining. Even newer liners made of stainless steel or a cast-in-place compound may need attention if they’ve been subject to the effects of chimney fires and water damage.

As with a historic chimney’s masonry, understanding the condition of the chimney liner starts with an inspection, during which your technician will use video imaging technology to see down into the flue and spot problems within the lining system.

If your chimney needs a first-time or a replacement liner, the size of your fireplace will dictate the proper dimensions of the new liner. Reputable chimney repair technicians know the math and drafting physics involved in liner installation and will do the job correctly.

Historic chimney restoration projects should be focused on safety and structural stability. Workers also should be experienced in turning out an aesthetically pleasing finished product to compliment your historic home.

Fire N’ Stone of Tilton, NH, are your local historic chimney experts, providing historic chimney rebuilding or restorations, chimney inspections and chimney sweep services. We’re licensed and certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).

Speak with a chimney restoration specialist today at (603) 293-4040.