Chimneys are robust, tenacious, and highly beneficial home features; however, they’re susceptible to wear and tear over time like any other structure. And due to their height, positioning, and various metal components, wear and tear commonly comes in the form of rust on your roof and chimney.

If you frequently utilize your chimney system and notice signs of rusting, the time to act is now! It will deteriorate the masonry if it goes untreated, leading to costly repairs and potentially dangerous situations.

Read through this blog post to learn what you need to know about chimney rusting signs, removal, and prevention!

Why is My Chimney Rusting?

Your chimney is most likely rusting due to a combination of excessive exposure to moisture, old age, and insufficient maintenance.

Rusting occurs when ferrous metals interact with oxygen and moisture over prolonged periods.

Most fireplace systems feature a cap, damper, flashing, chase cover, and flue liner. And in most cases, these components consist of ferrous metals (steel or iron). So, as you could suspect, a tall structure with multiple ferrous metals is essentially a magnet for eventual chimney rusting.

Roof Rust on Prefab Metal Chase Cover

The rate at which roof rust and corrosion form is different for every unit. For some, it takes decades; for others, it forms in a few short years. If you live in a moisture-prone area and your repairs aren’t up-to-date, rusting could be inevitable.

There are ways to stop it from happening in the first place. In short, proper chimney inspections, cleanings, and up-to-date repairs are critical. We will take a closer look into preventing rust in a subsequent section.

Common Signs of Rusting

Rusting comes in the form of red or orange discoloration, staining, and residue on your unit. You may see it in the following places:

  • Chimney’s exterior: This is the easiest and most common way homeowners discover it. The residue starts at the top and drains down the side of the chimney, leaving ugly red and orange streaks. This likely means your cap or chase cover needs desperate repair.
  • Flashing: Flashing is thin metal pieces that seal the unit from water penetration and pooling. If you’re experiencing leaks, it could be a sign that your flashing is rusting or deteriorating.
  • Firebox: Rust in the firebox is a definitive sign that your fireplace system isn’t safe for use. It’s forming inside the firebox because the residue is dripping down from the chimney cap, or even worse, the flue liner. Liners protect your home from toxic gases and high temperatures. Any damage to them puts your family and home at serious risk.
Rusty Vestal Fireplace Throat Damper

Example: Rusty Firebox and Throat Damper

The staining or discoloration isn’t always a sign of a rust problem, however. Creosote, a chimney fire, or manganese also could be the cause.

A certified professional knows how to identify these issues during the inspection process. Whether you’re beginning to see discoloration or your home is brand new, you need to schedule an inspection before utilizing your system.

How to Remove Rust from Metal Fireplace

It’s imperative to immediately act against rust the moment you or the inspector sees it. Any corrosion will accelerate damages to your masonry or metal parts.

To remove stains from metal fireplace or chimney parts, you have a few options.

The right way to do it is to hire a professional chimney technician. Instead of utilizing a temporary fix, they will solve the problem for you by implementing the appropriate repairs. It may be more expensive than other methods, but it grants you the peace of mind that this problem will never happen again.

But suppose you’re on a budget or insist on fixing your rusted fireplace yourself. In that case, there are multiple industry-grade cleaning solutions on the market. We recommend purchasing the SaverSystems Brick and Mortar Cleaner. This is a professional-grade cleaner that cleans rust, creosote, mildew, and dirt. It also won’t harm your brick-facing.

We must warn you, climbing a ladder and walking on a roof can be dangerous. So, if you don’t feel comfortable with it, PLEASE contact your local sweep to do it for you. They will complete the job safely and effectively.

Lastly, do not attempt to remove the rust with a power washer! It will not only fail to remove it, but it will also further increase the deterioration and cause a potentially dangerous situation for the person on the roof.

Roof Rust on Chimney Examples

As mentioned earlier, roof rust on the chimney can be difficult to identify for the novice fireplace owner. 

For your benefit, we compiled examples of chimney rusting that range in terms of severity and type. If any of these images resemble your unit, call a sweep to perform an inspection as soon as possible!

Furnace Flue Pipe Rusting
Rusty Chimney Cap
Roof Rust Streaks on Masonry Chimney
Rusting on Prefabricated Chimney Cap
Rust Streaks on Stone Chimney
Prefabricated Chase Cover Rusting

How to Prevent Rusting on Roof

The best way to prevent chimney rusting is to invest in stainless steel chimney components. Installing stainless steel caps, flashing, liners, and chase covers is the only way to guarantee that your system won’t rust over time.

Stainless is our favorite type of steel because the chromium inside of it prevents rust. Chromium is much more durable against moisture and oxygen than elements such as zinc. Older chimney parts commonly feature a zinc coating — an ineffective long-term rust prevention method.

Annual maintenance is another great way to prevent it.

All unit types need to be annually inspected and cleaned by a certified professional regardless of their age. Following the inspection specifically, your technician will determine if the components are safe and recommend adequate repairs.

The longer you go without professional maintenance, the quicker your system will break down, even if you have stainless steel parts! For example, suppose a flue goes uncleaned for too long. In that case, creosote will build up, leading to staining, and most notably, leading to an acceleration of deterioration. 

How to Keep My Fire Pit from Rusting

Many homeowners love relaxing around their fire pit in the backyard with loved ones. But just like any other ferrous metals left outdoors, they will eventually rust after exposure to harsh weather conditions.

To prevent fire pit rusting, we recommend following these easy steps:

    • Invest in a durable cover.
    • If possible, put it in the garage or under a roof during rain or snowfall.
    • Spray the metal with a weather-resistant, high-temperature coating.
    • Remove any moisture retaining debris when not in use.

Rust is a red or orange discolored residue that forms when ferrous metals mix with oxygen and moisture. Roof rust on the chimney is a frequent issue because every system consists of metal features such as the cap, flashing, damper, chase cover, or often, all four.

Homeowners commonly see it on the chimney exterior, flashing, and inside the firebox. If the chimney rusting or corrosion isn’t quickly resolved, it will lead to dangerous situations such as water leaks, flue deterioration, and brick spalling.

While there are quick-fix removal products, hiring a certified chimney company to install stainless steel components is the best prevention method. This guarantees a lifetime of not only no rusting but also a lifetime of warm, satisfying, and safe memories around the fireplace with you and your loved ones.

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