Chimney Blog December 2016

How to Prevent Snow and Ice From Damaging Your Chimney

Posted On: December 19, 2016

How to Prevent Snow and Ice From Damaging Your Chimney

Winter has arrived and with it comes the tasks that make homeowners cheer when Spring finally comes. Aside from weatherizing your home, you have snow removal and salt that has to get spread. But there is a task that is terribly important and many homeowners rarely think about it. That task is protecting your chimney.

Right now, you’re probably wondering what we’re talking about. How can you protect your chimney and why should you even have to? It’s up there and really there isn’t much you can do about it. Well, that’s actually not true.

Snow and Ice

When you let snow build up on your roof, it eventually can block the chimney and the vents. If this happens, you may have a huge problem on your hands. Blocked vents can cause carbon monoxide to seep into your home and it is colorless and odorless. It is a silent killer.

If your chimney is blocked, and you light your fireplace, you could end up with not only a carbon monoxide problem but you could possibly cause a fire. Snow should not be allowed to accumulate on your roof to any depth.

One more problem you could have is the damage that can be done when the snow melts. This is not as big an issue if your chimney is in the center of your house, but if it is on the low side of your house you could end up with leaks in your home if there are any cracks in the mortar or the flashing is deteriorated.

What Do I Do?

If you have a pitched roof you should use a snow rake to get the snow from your roof. Keep in mind, however, that this is a labor-intensive job and if you don’t know what you’re doing you could end up damaging your roof which will cause you more problems. It’s better to get a professional to take care of any mounds of snow you may have.

To protect your chimney from potential leaks from runoff, you should install a chimney cricket. This is a plywood piece, covered with roofing material, specifically designed for your roof, that sits in front of your chimney and diverts the water as it rolls down.

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Animal Nests In Your Chimney?

Posted On: December 12, 2016

Why You Should Check Your Chimney for Animal Nests and How

Well winter is here and with it we begin to stoke up the fireplace. Yes, nothing is better than coming home from a hard day at work and relaxing next to the fire. Of course, we’re sure you have done your due diligence before the first lighting of the fire. You’ve checked the damper and flue, you’ve cleaned out the firebox and you’ve been checking the chimney through the year to ensure the chimney itself is solid. If you haven’t, you should do it before your first fire.

So What about Nests?

If your chimney has a cap and an animal guard you’re probably fine. Hopefully you’ve checked your cap’s condition. They can rust you know and after all, they are exposed to all of the weather hazards.

If you don’t have a chimney cap you most definitely should check for animal nests. You may not realize it but birds aren’t the only wildlife that can make a nest in your chimney. Raccoons and squirrels can set up housekeeping too. And if there is a nest in your chimney it could cause a fire, not in your fireplace, but in your chimney. That’s in addition to the danger of having an animal living in your chimney that could easily make its way into your house. But don’t worry, there are ways to check that aren’t at all dangerous and that you can easily do yourself.

How Do I Check for Nests?

First do a visual inspection around the top of your chimney. If there is no cap, do you see anything besides the top of your chimney? Have you noticed birds hanging out on the roof? If not, that’s one down. Now you should go inside and open the damper. Arm yourself with a flashlight and be prepared to get down on the floor.

Shine the flashlight around the firebox to see if you notice anything that doesn’t look like it belongs, like twigs or other typical nest-building items. If you don’t see any shine your flashlight up your chimney. You should be able to see the sky. If you can’t, there is a blockage and it’s time to call a professional. Whatever you do, don’t light a fire until you’ve had the chimney inspected.


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Common Problems That Stem from a Chimney in Disrepair

Posted On: December 09, 2016

Common Problems That Stem from a Chimney in Disrepair

People pay little attention to their chimney. It’s just there all the time, looking sturdy and strong. But chimneys can have problems that aren’t readily noticeable and unless you look or have an annual inspection by a professional, you won’t know there’s a problem until it affects something you do notice. Hopefully you’ll notice before it causes damage or smokes you out of your living room.

What Kind of Problems Can Chimneys Have?

It’s important to remember that your chimney is exposed to the worst of the elements. It sits above your house with nothing to protect it from wind, rain, snow or ice. These elements affect chimneys like they do anything else, they wear away mortar and brick and can wreak havoc with the flashing. Any of these problems can weaken your chimney or cause cracks that can lead to leaks that damage your home on the inside.

Chimneys can also have creosote build-up from using your fireplace and not having it cleaned regularly. This build-up can cause serious ventilation problems and can even cause fires inside your chimney. Other problems inside your chimney can be animal nests, dirt and debris, broken chimney bricks or mortar; especially if you don’t have a chimney cap. These elements can cause blockages that can lead to fires or can lead to carbon monoxide or smoke billowing into your living room.

If your chimney has cracks or mortar degradation, and it goes unattended, it is only a question of time before you will need some serious work done on your chimney. If you don’t end up needing it replaced entirely.

So What Else Can Happen?

If you don’t take care of your chimney you put your whole house at risk. Chimney fires are devastating and very thorough. Remember the chimney runs through every floor of your house. If your mortar is degraded water can leak in and the bigger problem is that it can damage the ceilings and walls of rooms near the chimney. A chimney in disrepair can cause extensive damage to your home, which is typically one of your biggest investments.

An annual chimney inspection can prevent any of this and will cost you far less than the price you’ll pay if you neglect it.

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