After a home has been flooded, numerous repairs and inspections are necessary to make it safe for occupancy once again. This can be accomplished through several means, including the replacement of drywall and flooring, and the removal of water and mold. However, one particular area that you may not have considered when it comes to water damage inspection and repair is your chimney and fireplace. These structures can also suffer serious damage in a flood that might not be discovered until a fire or other problem occurs as a result. Below are several considerations for homeowners to keep in mind whenever their home with a fireplace is flooded:
Iron and steel component corrosion
It's easy to think of a fireplace and chimney as not much more than bricks and mortar, but you may be surprised to know there are several iron or steel components, as well. Since water and these metals often don't mix well, corrosion can be a problem if they have been submerged for a period of time. Below are the areas you should consider carefully when inspecting your fireplace and chimney after a flood:
Lintel - This bar of angle iron or steel extends across the bottom of the bricks that line the top opening of the fireplace. Its purpose is to provide structural strength for the opening and help prevent sagging or a possible collapse. If it rusts or corrodes, the integrity of the front of the fireplace, including the mantle, could be threatened.
Throat damper - Not to be confused with the cap damper at the top of the chimney, the throat damper is located at the entrance to the fireplace flue. Its operation is critical to preventing warm air from leaving the home when the fireplace isn't lit, and it can also keep out rain, snow, or even animals. Corrosion can cause the control mechanism of the damper to freeze up and quit functioning.
Ash dump - Located in the fireplace hearth, this gate facilitates the emptying of ashes from the fireplace into the ash pit for disposal. The ash dump empties when it is pushed open and the ashes are swept into the opening. If the gate hinges corrode, the gate may fail and fall through, allowing flaming embers to enter the ash pit. This could be a fire hazard if the pit isn't empty or if the clean-out door is left open.
Firebox - This is the structure that encases the fire and lines the inside of the fireplace. Fireboxes are often made of firebrick, but those made of iron and steel can rust if exposed to water for a lengthy period of time.
Another concern for a fireplace or chimney submerged for a period of time is the deterioration of the mortar between bricks. Persistent moisture is likely the leading cause of mortar failure, and this can cause a chimney collapse if it was previously submerged. A professional inspection of the chimney is necessary to determine if the bricks will need repointing.
Gas distribution components
Fireplaces that use natural gas as the fuel and then distribute the flame via ceramic "logs" are not immune to flood damage. In fact, such systems are vulnerable to serious problems should they be submerged. Electrical controls can be ruined by flood water, and delicately drilled gas nozzles can become obstructed by debris. Worse, corrosion of the gas supply lines can lead to leaks that may cause an explosion hazard. That is why a gas fireplace system should be completely removed and replaced if it is submerged for any length of time.
Shifted chimney structure
Another concern whenever a chimney endures a flood is possible structural damage. Floods can carry large objects, such as cars, trees, or even other structures, that may strike a chimney and distort its shape. This type of damage may not be readily apparent after the flood to an untrained eye; however, it is important for a qualified professional to evaluate the structural integrity of the chimney, if there is reason to believe it was struck by an object.
Contact a water damage restoration company like Spotless Carpet Cleaners & Janitorial Services Inc to restore your home.