The day starts like any other, I send out the remaining reports from the day before. Finish my coffee and check my email one last time. I slide on my shoes, coat and messenger bag. Pull my freshly charged tools off my desk and slide a SD card into my camera. Check my phone, I have 30 minutes to get to my inspection (30 minutes to be 30 minutes early). I make my way down the country road and past old and new homes alike, turn right then left and arrive. Long before agents, and clients arrive, this is my time to gaze upon the dwelling in question. From the comforts of my truck I note the approximate age, temperature, weather patterns, grade and any initial abnormalties that cause a pause for notation. I walk across the front yard and remove my camera to take that intial photo. This photo is a very similar photo to the one on your listing sheet. The photo you will find on the cover of every J.S. Kelley Home Inspection report. The photo that in the clearest field of vision shows the shadows and shapes. The ridge line, over hanging vegetation, windows and doors, and not always but sometimes the cursed painted chimney (black top optionial).
No one knows for sure who convinced who or how long ago it was painted. The fate and mortar was sealed. One thing is for sure if it was not damaged before it most certainly was the moment the brush caressed the canvas. “A clean new look for old and tired,” “It matches the trim,” or “adds a new modern feel,” all excuses. To me its hidden danger and here is why:
- Moisture: When moisture is trapped behind paint in masonry structures it is not capable of breathing. Moisture gets inside the masonry, behind the paint. Moisture trapped inside the masonry can come from natural places or appliances attached to the chimney. In some cases your chimney is exposed internally to gallons of water per day (a future blog subject). This trapped moisture causes corrosion within the chimney structure that not only affects mortar and masonry units but also the iron and steel that make up wall ties, dampers and thimbles.
- Freeze Thaw Cycles: Like it or not in New England we have freeze and thaw cycles. Water when frozen expands approxametly .09%. When water pipes freeze they burst, when water freezes in masonry? you guessed it!
- Clearence to combustables: There are several brands and types of paint on the market. These paints have a veriety of basses some of which are flammable and should not be in contact with your chimney. Areosoles and oil basses are flammable while latex basses degrade when exposed to heat.
- Hidden Danger: It is often impossible to determine the level of damage with in a painted chimney until its too late. Typically damage is revealed in cracks and spalling. Even leaks are harder to repair when masonry is masked and unable to function as desighned.
- Money and Time: Although painting a chimney may seal your masonry for a short time, or hide damage briefly. The damage created externally and internally will be greater and more costly at time of replacement.
Chimney tops are found on roof tops and roof tops are for profesionial’s. Rely on Certified chimney professionials to repair and maintain your chimney top. Just as you would rely on your licensed, professional home inspector to provide you with the education and knowledge to make your best decision. A decision that will protect you and your loved ones.