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Ivy Can Damage Your Chimney

When ivy begins growing on a home’s exterior, many homeowners allow – if not encourage – it to cover the exterior. Masonry structures are particularly popular to cover with ivy; the ivy can quickly grow to cover the chimney, masking any old or discolored masonry as it climbs. While ivy and other climbing vines may add character or charm to the outside of a home, they can also cause serious damage.

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How does ivy harm masonry?

While ivy might seem like a harmless way to cover a masonry structure, these kinds of climbing vines can actually cause both superficial and structural damage to a chimney. Below are two of the ways that allowing ivy to grow on your chimney can damage the masonry.

  • Roots and tendrils

Climbing ivy is unique in its ability to grow vertically instead of horizontally. This gravity-defying growth is able to occur because the roots and tendrils of the ivy attach to nearby structures, sticking to the building materials and allowing the plant to continue to grow. Unfortunately, when ivy attaches to masonry it can cause holes and cracks to develop in the bricks and mortar.

As the ivy grows, the roots and tendrils of the plant attach themselves to the masonry of the chimney. In order to better grip the surface in order to grow, the tendrils force their way into masonry; this then causes holes and cracks to develop when the roots attach themselves. Because mortar is significantly softer than the surrounding brick it is often more susceptible to damage caused by ivy. Over time, ivy growth can even damage the masonry to the point of affecting the structural stability of the chimney.

  • Trapped moisture

Because masonry is naturally porous, chimneys can be susceptible to water damage; however the chimney structure is designed in a way to prevent water from building up or sitting on the masonry. When ivy covers a chimney, however, water from rain, ice, snow, dew, and even sprinklers can become trapped in the shady coverage provided by the leaves. Combined with holes and cracks created by the roots and tendrils of the plant, water can damage the brick and cause it to crack, crumble, and fall away.

In addition to cause damage to the masonry, trapped moisture underneath the shady ivy can also encourage mold and mildew growth. If the masonry is seriously damaged, this mold growth can travel to the inside of the chimney and affect interior air quality.

Thick ivy can hide chimney problems

Most of us can tell there is a problem with our chimney just by looking at it; when problems like staining or cracked masonry are seen on the chimney, we know it is time to call a chimney professional. When a chimney is covered in a thick layer of ivy, however, these chimney problems can be hidden from view. Because of this, problems that could have been quickly spotted – and repaired – can continue to deteriorate for years.

While ivy may look beautiful, it can damage your chimney. If you have ivy covering your masonry chimney, contact Guaranteed Chimney Service today for more information on removing it – and making sure it hasn’t damaged your chimney.

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