Chimney Blog March 2016

Can a Broken Flue Ruin Your Chimney

Posted On: March 23, 2016

Chimney Flue RepairsMany people take their chimney for granted and don’t understand that it is more than just a tower of bricks that funnel smoke from your home. There aren’t a lot of moving parts, and to most people, that indicates that the only thing that can go wrong is if a moving part stops moving the way it’s supposed to.

The moving part people are most familiar with is the damper. The damper is what closes the cold from entering your home when it’s closed and it lets the smoke out of your home when it’s open. The other part you usually notice is the door in the firebox that allows the ash to flow down to the ash box.

But your chimney is what protects the inside of your home from fire, moisture, noxious fumes and smoke. But what is the flue and where is it? The flue is what provides the passage of smoke and gases from your fireplace or woodstove. It runs all the way to the top of your roof and rises above it. You call it a chimney but it is the flue. Flues can be lined or unlined, but unlined flues are extremely dangerous. There are a variety of linings for a flue but the most common are steel or ceramic flue tiles.

The part of your chimney that extends beyond your roof is constantly exposed to the elements. The exposure to heat, moisture and cold, in conjunction with the intense heat and corrosive sediments that are produced by fires in your fireplace, has a detrimental effect on the liner of your flue. It can cause cracks, flaking and gaps in the masonry that can allow gases and moisture to migrate from the inside of your flue into your home.

The gaps and cracks can cause your chimney bricks to loosen. It can cause your chimney to shift and to not stand straight. It can also cause your chimney bricks to fall and if left alone to further deteriorate can eventually cause your chimney to fall apart resulting in roof damage, falling bricks and the worst case scenario, a falling chimney.

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How To Tell If Your Chimney Needs A Little TLC

Posted On: March 12, 2016

The chimney is a tough one for the homeowner. You can’t see all the way up and you can’t see all the way down. Yet it is critical for your health and safety that you ensure your chimney and all of its components are in good operating condition.

Obviously regular inspections are the optimal method of ensuring your chimney is in good working order, but here are a few tips that can alert you to problems that should be addressed before your regular inspection is due.


Exterior Chimney

Take a walk around your chimney and look for what is called efflorescence. This is a white residue on your brick or mortar. Though this can be removed, it is indicative of excess moisture in your chimney. If you don’t solve the cause of this moisture and leave it untreated, it will cause your chimney to dangerously deteriorate.

You can also look to see if there is crumbling mortar or loose bricks. Both of these conditions indicate that your chimney needs attention, and pronto. Left unattended, these problems will result in far more expensive repairs to both your chimney on the outside and your interior home. This is how moisture can get into your home.


Chimney Leaks

Chimney leaks must be taken care of quickly. Aside from the damage to your chimney, they will also cause damage to the interior of your home. These leaks are caused cracks in the flue liner or times or crumbling mortar joints. You can easily discover if your chimney has leaks inside by examining the areas in your home that are immediately around your chimney. You should look for peeling wallpaper, stains on the wall, or dampness near your chimney. These are signs that moisture is entering your home.


Appliances

Check your fireplace. Check the brickwork on the fireplace and check to see that the damper easily opens and closes. Look up the smoke chamber and check for any buildup that indicates it needs cleaning. Also check for any rust. This is a clear indicator of moisture problems from your chimney.

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Spring Cleaning for Chimneys

Posted On: March 07, 2016

Post-winter Chimney Maintenance

Inspection and maintenance of your chimney prior to winter is of utmost importance before the snow arrives. With harsh elements such as ice and wind hitting the masonry, the structure of your home could be effected. It’s not only the exterior that could use the attention. With the fireplace in use over the cold months, the lower interior may have build-up of the toxic creosote. As we head into spring, you’ll want to once again examine the key areas of the chimney. While we recommend the professionals to complete the inspection, an experienced homeowner may be able to handle the following tasks.

Masonry

The exterior mainly consists of bricks and mortar. Look for cracks or any spots where the masonry is missing. If not properly sealed, water could enter the interior and lead to serious damage. The same goes for the flashing, a sealing component where the roof meets the top of the chimney.

Cap

The cap is designed to allow smoke to leave and keep animals out. If there is an opening, creatures such as raccoons, squirrels and birds will enter and possibly nest. They don’t know any better. They just know that this is a warm spot to reside. If this is the case, you may need more than a chimney expert. You will require animal control experts.

Fireplace

Since the fireplace has likely been used several times through the winter, the spring is really the ideal time to conduct a full sweep and cleaning. As mentioned elsewhere on our site, creosote will build and become toxic. If you don’t want to stick an object in the flue to measures the thickness of creosote, an easier way to judge is by smell. When it gets warmer, a musty, smoky odor will especially be noticeable.

Taking care of all this may seem like a lot of extra work, but it’s worth it for sound piece of mind. Plus your fireplace will be clean and ready for the following winter.

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