Chimney systems are deceptively simple. For example, a simple stone column actually consists of several different components. They all need care and maintenance in order to keep your fireplace burning safely and efficiently. One of the most important – yet often ignored – chimney components is the chimney crown.
What is a chimney crown?
The chimney crown is the concrete or masonry slab that sits on top of the chimney structure, sealing around the flue. Quality chimney crowns slope gently down and away from the flue to prevent a buildup of moisture on top of the chimney crown. This helps prevent chimney leaks and water entering the chimney system.
What causes chimney crown damage?
Improper installation or construction often causes chimney crown damage. Because of their location and exposure to moisture and the elements, it is extremely important that chimney crowns are built using quality construction practices and materials. If not, the crown can deteriorate prematurely.
While bricks and mortar are ideal building materials for the chimney structure, they are unsuited for use in a chimney crown. Mortar-based mixes are significantly more susceptible to water damage; moisture, sun exposure, and changing temperatures can cause mortar-based crowns to crack and age.
Crowns built without an adequate slope deteriorate prematurely. When the chimney crown is too flat, moisture from rain, sleet, snow, and other sources can pool on top of the chimney instead of running off onto the roof. Over time, this can cause cracks and holes to form in the chimney crown.
Temperature disparity can also cause damage to the chimney crown. During the winter, exposure to cooler air temperatures causes the crown to become cold. However, when the fireplace is in use the flue can become extremely hot as it vents; the disparity in temperature between the flue and the chimney crown can cause the stone to expand and contract, opening it up to water damage.
Was my chimney crown properly built?
Few homeowners spend a significant amount of time on their roof or looking at their chimney. Therefore, it can be difficult to spot damage or deterioration to the chimney crown. The best way to evaluate the condition of your chimney crown is through a thorough chimney inspection by a certified professional.
When inspecting a chimney crown, the sweep will check to see what material the crown is made of. Concrete, stone, or even metal make up durable chimney crowns. The crown should be a single, solid piece to avoid water seeping into cracks or joints.
The edges of the chimney crown should also extend beyond the sides of the chimney. This overhang, called a kerf, keeps water from flowing directly onto the sides of the chimney. If water damage has begun to occur, a waterproof sealant can be applied to the chimney crown to prevent further damage.
A quality chimney crown can protect and extend the life of your fireplace system. For more information on chimney crowns or to schedule an appointment, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today.
The arrival of spring brings warmer temperatures, plenty of green plant growth, and the birth of adorable baby animals. Unfortunately, many animals think chimneys are the perfect nesting spot to protect their new babies from predators and the elements.
While the presence of animals in the chimney may seem like a minor inconvenience – especially if you are not using your fireplace – it can lead to significant chimney damage or expose your family to disease. However, animal entry can be avoided with the use of a chimney cap.
How animals get in
The primary way that animals get into the flue is through a damaged – or missing – chimney cap. Sitting at the top of the chimney, the chimney cap covers and protects the flue from the elements. The metal top and mesh or wire sides allow smoke and gas to safety vent from the fireplace while preventing water, debris, and animals from getting in.
Even minor damage to the chimney cap can create enough space for animals to gain entry to the chimney; small holes in the mesh sides, dents in the metal, or missing screws can all create opportunities for animal entry. While birds and small mammals may only need a few inches to squeeze through, raccoons have been known to claw and bite at weak areas in order to create large enough openings for them to fit through.
How animals damage your chimney
While a chimney might seem like the ideal nesting spot for an animal, the presence of wildlife in the flue can cause significant problems for your chimney system. The following are just a few of the ways animals cause damage to your chimney.
– Chimney cap: Animal entry can worsen damage to a chimney cap. In addition to leaving space for more animals to enter in the future, this can also allow water and debris into the flue year-round.
– Flue liner: Beaks, talons, and claws can all scratch or chip the flue liner as animals attempt to navigate the cramped, dark flue. Likewise, nesting materials may have a corrosive effect on the liner, sometimes requiring chimney relining.
– Debris: Animal houseguests in the chimney do not come empty-handed; nesting materials, food, and droppings can accumulate in the flue. In addition to increasing the risk of chimney fire, this can also exposure your family to bacteria, bugs, and other diseases.
How to keep animals out
The most effective way to keep animals out of your chimney is through the use of a chimney cap. Good chimney caps are made of quality materials, correctly sized and fitted to your chimney, and have been professionally installed. In addition to preventing animal entry, chimney caps can also keep moisture and debris out of the flue; this protects your chimney system year round and helps prevent damage and deterioration.
Don’t let animal entry affect your chimney system this spring. Instead, have a new chimney cap installed to prevent birds, raccoons, and other animals from gaining entry to your home. For more information on the dangers of animals in the flue or to have a new chimney cap installed on your fireplace system, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today.
While water in the fireplace can be easily cleaned up, it should never be ignored. Chimney leaks, even minor ones, can cause serious damage throughout your fireplace system.
Signs of a Chimney Leak
While chimney leaks are often discovered by the presence of water in the firebox, there are a number of other signs that water entry may be affecting your chimney. The following are just a few of the signs of a chimney leak.
- Moisture, dampness, or water in the firebox
- Rust on the damper
- Masonry spalling
- Sounds of dripping inside the chimney
What Causes a Chimney Leak?
Because chimneys are complex structures there are a number of ways that water can get into the chimney system. The following are three of the most common areas where water can enter your chimney.
- Chimney cap. A chimney cap is a metal top with mesh sides that protects the top of the flue from animal, debris, and water entry. A damaged, sized or incorrectly installed chimney cap allows water into the unprotected chimney.
- Chimney crown. Made of stone or cement, the chimney crown is a slab that covers and seals the top of the chimney. Because of their location, chimney crowns are prone to overexposure to the elements; chips and cracks from repeated exposure can create chimney leaks.
- Chimney flashing. Flashing is when metal strips and other waterproofing materials are layered on the joint between the roofline and the chimney. This watertight seal can be damaged by weather, overexposure, improper installation, or even roof repairs. Leaky flashing can damage not just the chimney, but also nearby walls, ceilings, and building materials.
Repairing a Leaky Chimney
Before repairing a leaky chimney, the source of the water entry must be identified. Identifying and repairing the source of a leak before repairing the damage ensures that the leak will not return in the future. A chimney inspection is often the best way to identify the source of a leak as well as evaluate the damage a leak has caused.
Once the source of the leak has been identified, the damaged caused by the leak can be repaired; repairing a leaky chimney as soon as possible prevents serious masonry or structural damage from occurring. There are a few of the ways your chimney can be repaired after a chimney leak. One option is to replace damaged bricks and mortar through tuckpointing. Another option is to install a new chimney cap.
Preventing Future Chimney Leaks
One way to protect your chimney against future leaks is by having the masonry waterproofed. In the waterproofing process, a water repellent specifically designed for masonry is applied to the bricks and mortar of your chimney. Our SaverSystems products help prevent leaks by repelling water from the masonry and can used to stop additional water damage from occurring.
A leaky chimney is more than just a minor inconvenience. You should repair leaks as soon as possible to prevent dangerous chimney damage from occurring. For more information on preventing or repairing chimney leaks, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today.
While a little water in your fireplace might seem like only a minor inconvenience, it can spell major trouble for your chimney system. Whether it’s a few droplets, a large puddle, or even a musty smell, the presence of water in your fireplace and chimney can cause damage to many different chimney components.
Causes of leaky chimneys
Because chimneys are complex structures with a number of different components, there is no one guaranteed cause of a leaky chimney. However, there are several common ways that water can get in; below are four of the most common causes of chimney leaks.
- Chimney cap: Chimney caps are metal covers that protect the top of the flue and keep animals, debris, and moisture out of the chimney. If a chimney cap is installed incorrectly, does not fit properly, or is damaged, water can easily enter the flue and chimney.
- Chimney crown: The chimney crown is the mortar slab that covers and seals the top of the chimney. Well-built chimney crowns are typically made of concrete or other stone to prevent the chips and cracks associated with long term exposure to the elements. Likewise, a good chimney crown should have overhangs and be slightly sloped in order to prevent water from pooling or draining directly onto the masonry of the chimney.
- Damaged masonry: Damage caused by water can cause bricks to crack and spall; not only does this let additional water into the fireplace system, but it can also affect the structural stability of the chimney structure.
- Flashing: Chimney flashing are the layered metal strips that seal the joint between the roof and the chimney structure. Flashing can lose its watertight seal due to exposure to the elements, incorrect installation, damage from storms, or if changes to the roof line are made.
Repairing a leaky chimney
The first step to fixing a leaky chimney is to identify and repair the underlying cause of the leak. A chimney inspection done by a certified chimney sweep is often the best way to uncover where water is getting into the chimney system; by fixing how the water is getting in first, you can avoid needing the same chimney repairs because of water damage again and again.
In addition to repairing your leaky chimney, preventative maintenance can be done to protect your chimney against water damage. Waterproofing is one of the best ways to protect your masonry against water entry. Our professional-grade SaverSystems sealants are specially designed to work on masonry; these sealants allow the masonry to retain its semi-porous nature, allowing gasses to pass through but preventing moisture from getting in. Water repellent sealants can even be used if your masonry already has areas of water damage!
If you have a leaky chimney, it is important to have it repaired as soon as possible. Contact the experts at Jack Pixley Sweeps today for more information on how we can fix your leaky chimney!
Fireplaces are designed to contain heat from a roaring fire – the last thing you want to see in your fireplace is water! The presence of water in your fireplace or chimney can indicate that there is a leak somewhere in your chimney system. Likewise, water can quickly cause damage and deterioration to your entire chimney and fireplace system.
A leaky chimney is more than just a minor annoyance. Have your leaky chimney repaired as soon as possible to avoid long term damage to your fireplace and chimney system.
What causes chimney leaks?
Because chimneys are complex structures, there are a number of places where a leak might be caused. At Jack Pixley Sweeps, our technicians are highly trained to find the source of the leak before water damage gets worse. The following are some of the most common causes of chimney leaks.
Chimney cap: Chimney caps, also known as rain covers, are designed to protect the top of the chimney against animals, debris, and water. Without a chimney cap, water from rain, ice, and snow can freely enter your chimney, damaging the interior and exterior of your chimney system.
Chimney crown: The chimney crown seals the top of the chimney around the flue as well as protects the masonry of the chimney structure. If a chimney crown is damaged, incorrectly sized, or improperly installed it can cause a variety of chimney leaks. Crowns built without a proper overhang, for example, allow water to flow directly onto the bricks of the chimney; this, in turn, causes the masonry to crack and spall, allowing more and more water in. Likewise, cracks in the chimney crown can also let water into the chimney and create leaks.
Flashing: Flashing is the watertight strip that connects the masonry of the chimney with the rest of the roofline. Flashing can easily be installed incorrectly, especially when put in by inexperienced roofers. Likewise, even correctly installed flashing can be damaged due to animals, exposure, or settling.
Without watertight flashing, homeowners may notice water leaks or stains on the walls or ceilings around the chimney structure. Many homeowners mistakenly believe it is their roof leaking when it fact the flashing has simply lost its watertight seal.
Preventing leaky chimneys
The best thing you can do to prevent a chimney leak is to have a chimney sweep and inspection performed each year. This annual maintenance ensures that your chimney remains in top condition and any damage can be fixed quickly and easily before turning into a major issue.
In addition to regular annual maintenance, homeowners can also have their masonry waterproofed. Our waterproofing products are specifically designed for use on masonry, keeping moisture out while still allowing gas to pass through.
If you are experiencing a chimney leak, don’t delay – contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today! Our expert staff can find and repair the source of the leak and get you back to enjoying your fireplace faster!