Spring has finally arrived; with increasingly warm temperatures outside, most homeowners have already stopped using their fireplaces for the season. However, it is important not to neglect your fireplace until the first cold snap of fall. Instead, have chimney repairs addressed now to ensure your fireplace will be ready to use next season.
What causes chimney damage?
The bricks and mortar used in chimney construction are one of the strongest and most durable building materials in the world. This makes them uniquely suited for use in chimney construction; in addition to exposure to the elements, chimneys must be able to withstand the heat and byproducts of combustion created while the fireplace is in use.
Despite their durability, there are a number of ways fireplaces can become damaged.
Common Causes of Chimney Damage
Water can be an extremely damaging force to your chimney system. Exterior masonry can crack, spall, or crumble due to long term water damage, especially when compounded with freezing temperatures in the freeze thaw cycle. Likewise, delicate interior fireplace components such as the damper or refractory bricks of the firebox are easily damaged by even small chimney leaks and water entry.
All homes settle over time; if a fireplace system is not built on a strong foundation, this settling can cause structural damage. Cracks within the firebox, large cracks in the chimney structure, or even tilting chimneys can all be caused by settling.
- Other causes
There is no one cause of chimney damage. Chimney damage can even be caused by reroofing, painting the masonry, climbing plants, or even power washing the bricks and mortar. A chimney inspection by a certified chimney sweep is often the best way to discover chimney damage.
When should I have my chimney repaired?
If your chimney has been damaged in any way, it is important to address potential repairs as soon as possible. Delaying or putting off repairs can cause chimney damage to worsen, even to the point of affecting the safety and structural stability of the chimney.
Because it is an off season for fireplace use, spring is an excellent time to have chimney repairs completed. The following are three reasons to address your chimney repairs now.
- Fireplace use is not affected. Warm outside temperatures in the spring mean the fireplace is rarely used. Having repairs done during the spring and summer keep you from missing out on using your fireplace when you most need it.
- Shorter wait time. Fall is the busiest season for chimney sweeps as homeowners scramble to get their fireplaces repaired and ready to use. By having your chimney repairs addressed now you are more likely to avoid a long wait before your appointment – as well as be able to schedule an appointment time that is convenient for your schedule.
- Fewer delays. Some chimney repairs cannot be done when the weather is too cold; by having repairs done during the spring you can help avoid weather related delays.
If your chimney needs repairs, don’t delay; contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today to have your chimney repairs addressed as soon as possible this spring.
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.
During the hot spring and summer months, most homeowners pay little attention to their chimneys. However, now is the best time to have your chimney maintenance and repairs done, especially if your chimney is in need of masonry repairs.
During the winter, fireplaces and chimneys endure months of heavy use and abuse. Coupled with exposure to freezing temperatures and other winter conditions, most chimney systems are in need of maintenance at the end of the season.
If your chimney or fireplace needs masonry repairs, now is the perfect time to have them done!
How masonry gets damaged
There are a number of ways that your chimney’s masonry may be damaged. Below are some of the most common causes of masonry damage.
Water: Moisture is one of the most damaging forces to your chimney and fireplace. While bricks and mortar are designed to stand up against water, repetitive damage from rain or leaks can cause masonry to crack or spall. The masonry in the firebox is particularly susceptible to water damage from chimney leaks; these bricks are designed to withstand high heats, not exposure to water.
Settling: All homes settle over time. However, if your fireplace was not built on a proper foundation this can cause it to crack or shift. Masonry damage from settling is often seen as cracks in the firebox or tilting or uneven chimneys. Chimneys that have been damaged by settling should be repaired as soon as possible to ensure they are stable and safe.
Other damage: While masonry is sturdy, it can be easily damaged if not correctly cared for. One cause of masonry damage that homeowners often forget about is power washing. Attempting to clean your chimney with a power washer can leave your bricks chipped, cracked, spalled, and in need of repair. Similarly, non-breathable sealants or paints that are not designed for use on masonry can actually further damage your chimney instead of protecting it.
Why have your masonry repaired now
Masonry damaged should ideally be repaired as soon as it is found. If you have existing or ongoing masonry damage, however, the summer is a great time of year to have your masonry repaired. Below are three reasons to have your masonry repaired before the fall.
1. Less fireplace use: As the temperatures outside climb, most homeowners are less likely to want to use their fireplaces. Because of this, you would not be inconvenienced or unable to use your fireplace when wanted when having it repaired now as to in the summer.
2. Fewer weather delays: Masonry repairs during the fall are often delayed by weather issues. Likewise, some masonry repairs cannot be performed in cooler temperatures, making them difficult – if not impossible – to complete in the fall or winter.
3. Less wait time: The fall is the most popular time of year for chimney maintenance and repairs. Because of this, it can be extremely difficult to get an appointment at a convenient time. Having your masonry repaired in the summer allows you to schedule the appointment when you want it rather than waiting weeks for an available time.
If you have masonry repairs that need to get done, don’t wait until fall. Let our expert masons take care of your chimney so it is ready to use when the temperatures drop. Call Jack Pixley Sweeps at 763-422-0481 today to schedule your masonry appointment!
According to the CSIA, problems with your chimney’s flue liner can pose serious risks to your home and family, as it’s no longer able to perform its primary function: to safely contain and usher the deadly byproducts of combustion up and out of your home.
Give Jack Pixley Sweeps a call at 763-422-0481 to schedule an inspection to ensure that your flue liner is properly carrying out its intended job!
By ensuring proper care and maintenance for your chimney, you are adding more years to its life and increasing its functionality.
In chimneys as in life, it’s always worth thinking and talking about the future, and making sure you’re doing everything you can to ensure health, longevity and happiness. Your chimney is an important part of your home — it’s working hard, every time you have a fire, to carry dangerous gases and byproducts up and out of your living area, and protecting the building materials around your fireplace or stove from the high heat produced by that fire. A chimney can also be an expensive thing to tear down and rebuild, so focusing energy on protecting and preserving it is always a good call.
Wondering what you can and should do to extend the life of your chimney? Jack Pixley Sweeps techs are always glad to help our clients avoid headaches and get the most enjoyment possible out of their heating system.
Don’t Skimp On Regular Maintenance
We say it all the time: The best thing you can do for your chimney system (and your long-term and short-term enjoyment of it) is to diligently keep up with regular maintenance.
Annual chimney inspections are important — not only are Jack Pixley technicians able to make sure that your system is venting properly and doing its job effectively, but we’re also able to catch small problems early and make the proper repairs, before those small problems become large, potentially destructive issues.
Regular chimney sweeping is just as important. Creosote and other deposits build up in your flue as you use your appliance, and a dirty chimney can lead to a mix of short-term and long-term problems. Heavy creosote can block your flue and inhibit your chimney’s ability to vent, allowing dangerous gases to enter your living area. It can also lead to a chimney fire that severely damages your flue liner, even your chimney (or in the worst cases, your home) itself. Acidic deposits can also wear at your flue liner over time, leading to worn joints, cracks and gaps.
One of the key things we’ve learned over more than three decades of servicing chimneys in the greater Twin City area: Keeping up with those regular maintenance appointments will make a big difference in the longevity of your chimney.
Be Diligent About Moisture Intrusion
Your chimney system was designed with built-in protection against water intrusion. Your chimney crown is there to divert rain and snow away from the flue. Your flashing is there to keep water from getting into the joints where your chimney and roofline meet. Your chimney cap is there, in part, to help protect your flue opening from moisture intrusion too. Keeping an eye on all of those key areas of protection is worthwhile.
Jack Pixley technicians will always check those components during your annual chimney inspection, but in between inspections, if you notice an issue — a chimney cap that’s come off in a storm, or a part of your flashing that’s pulled up — give us a call. Repairing those issues quickly is important, since chimney leaks can quickly lead to considerable damage.
If you want to be particularly proactive in protecting your chimney system against moisture intrusion and damage, we recommend having us apply masonry water repellant, which helps your masonry deflect water and can significantly lengthen its service life.
Use Smart Burning Practices
A really important thing to always keep in mind: The right fuel for your wood-burning fireplace or stove is seasoned or kiln-dried cordwood, and only that. Burning green or moist wood can create immediate and long-term problems, from increased smoke and staining now to the development of dangerous Third Stage Creosote down the line (which is extremely combustible and extremely difficult to remove). Burning trash, treated wood or plastics can allow toxic gases into your living area, too.
Stick to the right fuel, and it’ll help you enjoy your fires now, and keep your chimney healthier in the long run.
Do you have any questions about how to best care for your chimney system? We’re always glad to help. Give Jack Pixley Sweeps a call!