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Why Ivy Damages Chimneys and What You Can Do

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Ivy can be a beautiful addition to many homes, but lurking under the romantic exterior can be millions of tiny roots destroying your chimneys foundation. Ivy can be extremely destructive to your chimney and needs to be considered with proper care. Below are some common questions homeowners have about ivy.

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Why is Ivy so Damaging?

Ivy is most destructive to houses built before 1930 because, before that time, Portland cement was not used in mortar. This means that the mortar is more likely to deteriorate. Ivy clings to small cracks and crevices and can actually speed up the deterioration process by spreading the cracks and making them deeper. And if the ivy is ever pulled away, it can be so deeply embedded that it actually pulls chunks of brick from the chimney. You could end up pulling down your whole chimney trying to remove ivy. The most destructive type of ivy is English Ivy, and it should be avoided if possible.

When Should I Avoid Ivy?

If you have any spots where the brick has weakened, ivy will cause increased damage. Places that are eroded or cracked are invitations for ivy to embed their roots. Also, when your entire chimney is covered with ivy, it can be very difficult to spot any damage. Your chimney could be eroding or missing a brick and you would not know it until the structure collapses. Also, if you have existing ivy growing on your chimney, it can be difficult for sweeps to identify any damage that may have occurred.

If I Want Ivy, What Should I Do?

Thankfully, there are many options to consider if you want the look of ivy. In general, you should stay away from aggressive forms of ivy, such as English Ivy, and use other forms like Boston Ivy and Virginia creeper. These types of ivy are less likely to cause damage to older chimneys. Another option we recommend you consider is installing some sort of lattice, wire or trellis for non-attaching climbing vines. Flowering vines such as jasmine, clematis, roses, and wisteria provide a similar look to ivy but without the damage. These vines will not attach to the chimney walls and can be moved away from the walls for inspections and repairs.

If you are wanting to explore different options for growing ivy or another climbing vine on your chimney, the first step should be calling a Certified chimney expert to inspect your chimney. We will be able to tell if your chimney was made with Portland cement and identify any cracks or damages. We will also be able to further explain other options and help you come up with a plan that suits your needs. Give us a call today to setup an appointment!