With warmer temperatures finally here and summer just around the corner, many of us are content to close up our fireplaces until fall. However, if your chimney needs masonry repairs now may be the best time to have them done!
What causes masonry damage?
While bricks and mortar are one of the strongest building materials on the planet, they cannot stand up to everything. Because of this, there are a number of things that can damage your masonry. One of the most common causes of masonry damage is water. Long term exposure to moisture, such as puddles of standing water on the chimney or areas that sprinklers hit with every pass, are at greater risk of damage such as cracking and spalling. This type of damage can often be exacerbated by winter weather conditions; this is why masonry damage is more commonly discovered in the spring.
Signs of masonry damage
Masonry damage can be as minor as a small crack in the mortar or as major as entire chunks of brick or stone falling away from the structure. While a chimney inspection is often needed to pinpoint small areas of damage, the following are signs that your masonry may need to be repaired.
– Chips or cracks
– Missing pieces of bricks or mortar
– Stained masonry
– Long-term growth of ivy or other climbing plants on masonry
– Chimney leaks
Why should I schedule my masonry repairs now?
While spring might not be known as a time of heavy fireplace use, it is often the best time to have your masonry repaired. Below are some of the reasons why you should think ahead and schedule your masonry repairs today.
– Flexible scheduling: Spring is often considered the “off season” for chimneys. Because of this, it is easier to get a flexible appointment time that fits into your busy schedule.
– Mild temperatures: Many masonry repairs require mild temperatures and weather in order to be done. Because of this, some repairs cannot be completed in the cold of winter or the heat of summer, giving spring the ideal weather conditions for repairs.
– Ready to use: If you have your masonry repaired in the spring when you are not regularly using your fireplace, it will be ready to go again the fall when temperatures begin to fall. This gives you the advantage of a fireplace that is ready to use as soon as the first cold snap arrives.
Our masonry services
At Jack Pixley Sweeps, we can clean your chimney inside and repair your masonry outside. We are proud to offer our customers a wide range of masonry services that will keep your fireplace system looking beautiful and burning safely. Our skilled masons can handle any chimney repair, from small areas of tuckpointing or flashing repair to rebuilding your chimney from the ground up.
Don’t put off your masonry repairs until fall. Instead, schedule your masonry work this spring to get the best appointment flexibility and have your fireplace ready to use again in the fall. Contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today to schedule your masonry work today!
For nearly 40 years, Jack Pixley Sweeps, Inc., has served the greater Minneapolis area. From installation to cleaning and inspection to rebuilding, our certified technicians can meet all of your fireplace and chimney needs.
Chimney sweeping and inspection
We at Jack Pixley Sweeps go above and beyond national guidelines in our chimney sweeping and inspection service.
During your cleaning our CSIA-certified sweeps will insert a rotating brush up your flue. As it travels up your chimney, it will expand to remove all of the creosote and soot that has built up in your fireplace. Following your cleaning, your chimney sweep will go beyond the visual, “level 1” inspection recommended by the Chimney Safety Institute. Our sweeps will insert a closed-circuit camera up your flue so they can visually inspect to your chimney to make sure there is no crumbling mortar, cracked tiles, or damage from an unobserved chimney fire.
Chimney and firebox repairs
We can repair leaking chimneys, diagnose and correct chimney draft problems, or repair a damaged firebox. Our skilled technicians can go so far as to rebuild your chimney or firebox, if needed.
If you’re looking to upgrade your fireplace, Jack Pixley Sweeps can help. If you prefer a traditional fireplace but would like to return more heat to your home, we offer open-hearth Ahrens Fireplace Systems. Or, if you’d like to upgrade to a closed insert, we offer Regency gas and wood-burning inserts.
If you’d like to change the look of your hearth, either to update, make it better suited to your taste, or have it made to fit your new fireplace insert, Jack Pixley Sweeps is the company to call. We specialize in rebuilding fireplace fronts to meet the aesthetic and practical needs of our customers.
Many chimneys have been constructed with the wrong size chimney tiles, which can lead to drafting problems and smoke flowing back into a home rather than out of the flue. Jack Pixley offers stainless steel chimney liners, which can solve your drafting problems, or replace any older, cracked tiles.
Dryer vent cleaning
Clogged dryer vents are a leading cause of home fires, and Jack Pixley Sweeps provides the best dryer vent cleaning in the area. We hook up a vacuum to your dryer vent to ensure that lint doesn’t litter your yard, and then we remove lint with a rotary system. We’ll also make sure your vent utilizes a safe aluminum lining.
Raccoons and some birds love to nest in your chimney, while other animals, such as ducks or squirrels, can make their way into your chimney and become stuck. An animal nest can be a chimney fire hazard, and a trapped animal is obviously in danger. Our technicians can safely remove any animal you hear trapped or making a home in your chimney. We also can install stainless steel screen and chimney cover to prevent animals from getting into your chimney.
Your gutters should be cleaned each spring and fall to prevent leaks or water damage to your home. Jack Pixley Sweeps is happy to provide gutter-cleaning service!
Chimney repairs can take extensive scaffolding setup. We set up our own scaffolding, saving you from hiring a scaffolding company.
If you have any questions about the services we provide and live in and around Minneapolis, please contact us or give us a call! We’re locally owned and happy to help!
Fireplaces continue to be beautiful additions to many homes. Additionally, many homeowners find that they rely on them in winter to add warmth and comfort to their homes.
Despite their popularity and widespread use, most people do not understand how their chimneys work. This can sometimes lead to homeowners misidentifying the cause of an issue or not realizing it is time for maintenance.
The following are some of the most important components of your chimney that many people are unfamiliar with. Learning more about the anatomy of your chimney can help you identify and understand any chimney issues you may have in the future.
The chimney cap covers the top entrance of your flue, allowing smoke to safely exit while preventing water, animals, and debris from getting in. Uncapped chimneys or those with damaged caps are more likely to have issues with water damage, blockages, or animals nesting in the chimney.
A chimney crown is a slab, typically made of concrete, which protects the masonry of your chimney. Damaged chimney crowns may allow water into the chimney structure or allow the masonry of the chimney to receive water damage.
Chimney chase cover
Similar to a chimney crown, a chimney chase cover protects the top of the chimney. Typically made of metal, chase covers were used regularly in the 1970s and 1980s with factory built or prefabricated chimneys. Over time, chimney chase covers may deteriorate, causing rust stains on the masonry of the chimney.
The chimney damper separates the firebox from the flue. Open and closed using a pulley or a lever, the damper prevents heated or air conditioned air from escaping as well as minimizing drafts. Likewise, dampers help prevent moisture, debris, or animals from getting into the firebox. While dampers should be closed when the fireplace is not in use, the damper should always be opened before starting a fire to prevent smoke from backing up into a room.
The chimney flue is the chamber through which smoke, gas, and other byproducts of combustion are vented to the outside.
Chimney flue lining
Chimney flue liners protect the surrounding building materials from the hot air, smoke, gas, and other byproducts of combustion that are travelling up the flue. There are three main types of flue linings: clay tiles, metal, or cast in place. Over time, creosote can build up on the flue lining. This byproduct of combustion is highly flammable, and it’s removal is the primary purpose of annual chimney sweepings.
The smoke chamber is designed to help compress smoke from the firebox into the flue without creating a backdraft. Smoke chambers are created with a sloping wall just above the firebox. A well designed smoke chamber with allow smoke, gas, and other byproducts of combustion to smoothly and quickly travel up the flue.
Located behind the damper, the smoke shelf is designed to catch any water or debris that enters the chimney. The smoke shelf also helps compress the large amounts of smoke created in the firebox to the much smaller entrance to the flue.
Chimneys are complex structures with a number of working parts that must be kept up in order to keep your fireplace working well. Contact the experts at Jack Pixley Sweeps today to schedule a sweeping and inspection to ensure your fireplace and chimney are in prime condition.