Of all the terms associated with chimneys and fireplaces, this may be one you haven’t heard. Chimney efflorescence is a common occurrence in some regions where hard minerals exist in the air. The area near the Great Lakes, for instance, is highly susceptible to chimney efflorescence because of the nearby Lakes Erie, Michigan, Ontario, Superior, and Huron. This region has routinely harsh winters that contribute to chimney efflorescence as well. You’ve probably seen it, but never knew what you were looking at.
What is Chimney Efflorescence?
When water moves through a masonry structure, whether wall or chimney, the minerals found in the water and the structure are left on the surface of the masonry. This process leaves a white residue on the chimney that looks like a stain. In actuality, the white residue is a powdery substance that can be cleaned away. It is unsightly, and most homeowners and onlookers assume it’s a sign of age.
Chimney Efflorescence will not happen to every chimney, but is most common when a gas or oil fire is vented through a masonry chimney. The moisture from the fire passes through the masonry, leaving the minerals on the outside. It can also occur if water is present in the chimney because of a leak.
What to Do About Chimney Efflorescence?
In order for chimney efflorescence to occur, a few things have to happen:
- There must be water-soluble salts present in the wall
- There must be enough water present in the wall to render the salts into a soluble solution
- There must be a path for the soluble salts to migrate through to the surface where the moisture will evaporate, leaving the efflorescence on the surface
Preventing one of these things from happening can prevent chimney efflorescence on your chimney, stopping that unsightly residue, and returning your masonry to its original beauty.
One way to prevent moisture from entering your chimney system is to make sure it’s adequately waterproofed. You should have it assessed by a qualified professional, which helps your system work safely and efficiently. At Northwest Fireplace and Chimney we diagnose and repair chimney leaks that will also lead to chimney efflorescence. By allowing an experienced technician to assess your chimney system, you can be sure that important parts of your chimney are working properly.
- The chimney cap keeps water/snow/precipitation from entering your flue from the top.
- The chimney crown covers the chimney opening from the flue to the edge of the chimney.
- The flashing protects the intersection of roof and chimney, easily the weakest part of the system.
- A proper liner will prevent moisture from a gas or oil fire from passing through the masonry.
Call a professional at Northwest Fireplace and Chimney if you have noticed chimney efflorescence on your masonry. A chimney expert will come out and assess the cause, the possible water damage, and can discuss options for further prevention. Our popular waterproofing services protect our customers from winter damage as well as water intrusion that causes chimney efflorescence.
If you’ve noticed this frustrating occurrence changing the look of your chimney, call us today at (219) 413-2349 and an expert will walk you through the process of getting rid of chimney efflorescence for good.