Chimney Blog December 2018

Common Problems That Stem from a Chimney in Disrepair

Posted On: December 31, 2018

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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Winter and Your Chimney

Posted On: December 17, 2018

We’ve certainly had an interesting winter this year and it isn’t over yet. You’re probably enjoying your fireplace and if you were smart, you had your fireplace and chimney inspected by professionals before the winter season arrived. But what many people don’t realize is that throughout the winter, particularly if there are heavy snows, below freezing temperatures or temperature swings, you have to watch your chimney.

Your chimney stands proudly like a soldier, rising out of your roof and funneling smoke to the outside. What you probably don’t consider is the effect your weather can have on your chimney and ultimately, the safety of your home.

When the winter weather comes, and snow builds up on your roof, you should always take some time to look up at that grand chimney and give it a good once over. But what do you look for, you may ask? Here’s the answer.

If there has been snow and temperatures have remained cold enough for that snow to remain on your roof, make sure that it isn’t blocking your chimney. A chimney blocked by snow can cause carbon monoxide to build up in your home when you light that roaring fire. Just because the smoke isn’t billowing into your living room doesn’t mean that there isn’t some blockage that can cause you a problem. If you suspect that the chimney isn’t completely free of snow, please call a professional to check it out.

One way to help protect your chimney from any kind of blockage, whether it’s birds, leaves or snow, is to have a chimney cap installed. These little devices work wonders to help keep your chimney free of debris that could otherwise cause costly repairs. Remember that a blocked chimney can also affect your home’s heating supply, and not in a good way.

If you had a fair amount of snow, or if the temperatures remained at freezing for some time, remember that your chimney is constructed of brick and mortar that expands and contracts with the weather. Pay close attention to your chimney’s structure and call a professional if you suspect that damage may have occurred.

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Your Fireplace Is Not an Incinerator

Posted On: December 03, 2018

Every year you read or hear stories about yet another fire that started in a fireplace. Sometimes the fire was in the living room, others were on the roof and still others may have actually started a tree fire.

The holidays may bring out the best in a lot of us, but sometimes in all the excitement, some people simply lose sight of safety. If you have family members who fall in this category it may be uncomfortable to tell them your concerns but the alternative is much worse.

This year, when you come in after your reveling or if you simply decide to gather around the fireplace for a cozy time with family, think before you act. Fireplaces are a great addition to a home, but only if you use them safely.

Using Dry Wood

Fireplace owners know that the wood used should be on the dry side, but keep in mind that wood with some moisture in it is beneficial. About 20% of dry wood still holds moisture and that moisture helps to slow down the time it takes for the wood to burn. This reduces the embers that can fly either out of your fireplace (if you don’t use the screen) or up your chimney where they belong.

Don't Burn Your Beautiful Wrapping Paper

If you are opening presents, don't be tempted to take the wrapping paper and stuff it in the fireplace with the burning logs. Sure, it burns, but it burns quickly, is quite light and the embers really fly. Some fly right up the chimney and onto your roof or your landscaping! This is dangerous and frankly, a giant Santa in flames is not a good look for a Christmas decoration. The other reason not to burn wrapping paper is because it is so pretty. The prettiest paper has finishes and ink that could very well be toxic at high temperatures. Don’t burn rolled newspapers, charcoal, garbage or plastic in your fireplace and never use an accelerant. If you have trouble starting the fire, you can use crumpled newspaper on the grate and then put the logs on top of it.

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