Total Chimney Care's Blog

April showers bring May flowers… and chimney leaks?

Spring always means one thing: Rain. Rainy spring weather ushers in spring blooms and green grass, but it can usher in something far less desirable: a chimney leak. Water from spring rains can seriously damage your chimney, and that damage can spread to the portion of your home that surrounds your chimney. When you consider how damaging water can be to a chimney, it’s no wonder that the Chimney Safety Institute of America has declared water chimneys’ top enemy.

What can you do to help protect your home and your chimney from water damage? Be on the lookout for signs of chimney leaks, especially after rainy spring weather comes to an end. Here are some common signs of chimney leaks and chimney water damage:

• Discoloration on the chimney’s exterior. If you see streaks of color on the sides of your chimney, it is a sign that water is entering and damaging your chimney. Water damage can cause a variety of colors to appear on your chimney’s exterior, including white, green, blue, and black. If you have a metal chimney chase cover on top of your chimney, you also might see streaks of rust down the sides of your chimney.

  • Water in the bottom of the firebox. Not surprisingly, water pooling at the bottom of your firebox is a sign that water is coming down into your chimney and entering your fireplace. In addition to water, you might find debris from your chimney, such as pieces of masonry chimney tiles, in the bottom of your firebox if your chimney is leaking.
  • Rust. Rust is another sign that water is leaking into your chimney. You might see rust forming on your fireplace doors, your fireplace grate or your chimney damper if water is leaking into your chimney.
  • Discoloration on your walls or ceiling. When the flashing that seals the juncture between your chimney base and your roof fails, you can end up with a major chimney leak. Failing flashing usually leads to water damage on the walls and ceiling around your chimney, which looks like dark water spots, drooping or warping walls or ceiling boards, or peeling paint or wallpaper.
  • Crumbling masonry. Masonry chimney materials absorb water, which can cause damage and chimney leaks. When water is entering and damaging your chimney’s masonry, you might notice that your chimney masonry begins to crack and crumble. Look for cracks in the masonry and soft mortar as a sign that the chimney is leaking.

After spring’s rains, it’s important to be on the lookout for signs of chimney leaks. Leaking chimneys cause water damage, and when leaks go undetected or unaddressed, that water damage can become severe and incredibly expensive to repair. For that reason, it’s crucial that you address chimney leaks right away. If you notice any of the above signs of chimney leaks, call Total Chimney Care to have your chimney inspected today! We can repair chimney leaks to save your home from further water damage.

By Steve Sobczak on May 16th, 2019 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , | Leave a Comment

We specialize in masonry repairs

How is your chimney masonry looking after the long and cold winter? The exterior of your chimney masonry endures all the moisture and freezing temperatures during the winter that cause masonry to crack and crumble. The interior of your chimney and fireplace masonry also bears the extreme heat and byproducts of your hearth. Because of that, many homeowners find their fireplaces and chimneys in need of masonry repair in the spring. Fortunately, Total Chimney Care specializes in the chimney and fireplace masonry repairs!

Chimney crown repair

Chimney crowns is the masonry component that surrounds the top opening of your chimney flue. They often need repairs in the spring, since they endure all the weathering through the winter. Many chimney crowns might be improperly constructed from inadequate masonry materials from the start. When they are exposed to moisture and freezing temperatures in the winter, they form cracks or begin to crumble. If your chimney crown is in need of repair this spring, Total Chimney Care can repair or reconstruct your chimney crown.

Tuckpointing

Tuckpointing is one of the most common types of chimney masonry repair. While bricks and stones will last for decades on a chimney’s exterior, the mortar that holds them together is not so durable. Overtime, the mortar begin to soften and crumble away. This causes unsightly chimneys, and it can also compromise the strength of your chimney structure. Tuckpointing involves scraping out the old mortar and replacing it with new reinforced mortar. Total Chimney Care provides tuckpointing services to restore the strength and appearance of it.

Chimney relining & Firebox rebuild

Inside your chimney, your clay tile liner can develop cracks due to exposure to moisture and heat from your fireplace. When these cracks are severe, they allow the heat and smoke from your fireplace to access the surrounding structure of your home. In these cases, the chimney should be relined so your chimney can continue to safely contain the heat and smoke from your fireplace.

Like the chimney flue, the firebox can develop cracks in the masonry to compromise the firebox’s ability to contain the heat and embers of your fireplace. To keep your fireplace safe, Total Chimney Care can rebuild your firebox to restore it.

Chimney waterproofing

If your chimney masonry isn’t showing signs of water damage, and you’d like to keep it that way, Total Chimney Care can help protect your chimney masonry with waterproofing. Waterproofing keeps porous masonry from absorbing the water to causes damage to your chimney.

If you see signs of masonry damage on your chimney or in your fireplace this spring, don’t let it get worse. Let Total Chimney Care repair your damaged masonry! We specialize in chimney masonry repairs. Call to schedule an evaluation for your chimney today!

By Steve Sobczak on April 30th, 2019 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

We clean and reline oil flues, too

Most homeowners know about the need for wood-burning, gas and pellet-burning fireplace to be inspected and cleaned. But if you have an oil furnace, did you know your chimney furnace also requires regular maintenance? The flue to your oil furnace should also be annually swept and inspected, and will eventually need to be relined.

modern steel chimney on house roof


Scheduling your oil furnace flue cleaning and inspection

Just like any combustion appliance, your oil furnace generates soot and gases each time you burn it. In the winter, oil furnaces work overtime, running long cycles to keep your home warm. During these long cycles, the oil flue accumulates soot and debris. Chunks of soot will begin to fall to the base of the chimney, accumulating on the top of your chimney furnace. That debris can interfere with the venting of your oil furnace. At an extreme, it can block carbon monoxide from safely exiting your home, putting those inside in danger. Additionally, the soot that accumulates within your chimney is highly corrosive; It can cause a breakdown of your oil chimney flue when it’s allowed to sit on the walls for a while.

To keep your oil furnace’s chimney clean and safe from soot, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends having your oil furnace flue swept and inspected by a CSIA-certified chimney sweep at least once per year. The CSIA recommends having your oil furnace flue cleaned in the spring to remove damaging soot as soon as possible. When you schedule service for your oil furnace, beware that many furnace technicians will remove debris from a brick firebox, but they will not fully clean and inspect the chimney.

Having your oil furnace flue relined

Eventually, you may find that your oil flue needs to be relined. The liner will eventually break down after years of abuse from your furnace exhaust. Or, if you have your oil furnace replaced, you may have to have your furnace flue relined to accommodate your new unit. Many older, less efficient oil furnaces required larger chimney flues. Newer, more energy efficient models require much smaller flues. In that case, your oil furnace flue will have to be relined to optimize the efficiency of your new furnace and prevent problems with draft or other operation.

If your home is warmed with an oil furnace, this is the time to schedule your oil furnace chimney’s annual chimney sweeping and inspection. Total Chimney Care can help! Our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps can clean and inspect your oil furnace flue to ensure safety and efficiency. If your oil furnace flue needs to be relined, call Total Chimney Care! We can fit your oil furnace flue with a new liner to optimize its function.

By Steve Sobczak on April 15th, 2019 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Spring chimney cleaning

Spring has sprung, and for many homeowners, that means deep cleaning the house. Is your chimney on your spring cleaning to-do list? While chimney sweeping is often associated with the fall, your chimney sweeping and inspection can be done at any time throughout the year. Here’s why you should consider scheduling your annual chimney sweeping and inspection as part of your spring cleaning.

man with bucket on ladder looking into chimney

Clean away wintertime soot

Your chimney works overtime during the fall and winter. Come spring, it’s well filled with soot and creosote. Most homeowners worry about cleaning creosote away to prevent chimney fires in the fall. While that is important, soot and creosote can be corrosive and harsh on your chimney liner. Clearing it away in the spring not only removes flammable creosote. It also prevents soot from damaging your chimney all summer long.

Prevent foul chimney odors

It’s not just the damaging aspect of soot that can cause problems in your chimney during the summer. Creosote also can cause foul smells in the chimney that can enter your home and make the indoor atmosphere unpleasant on hot, humid summer days. Have your chimney swept in the spring to help prevent chimney odors in your home this summer.

Spot winter chimney damage

Winter is hard on your chimney. The moisture and freezing temperature can cause cracks to form and weaken the chimney’s masonry. Winter damage can bring about leaking chimney in the spring. A spring chimney inspection allows your chimney sweep to identify wintertime damage that could lead to damaging chimney leaks.

Leave time for repairs

Should your chimney inspection turn up signs of a chimney leak or chimney damage, a spring inspection leaves ample time for repairs. Spring and summer are the ideal seasons for chimney repairs, thanks to the warm, dry weather. And you won’t have to rush your chimney repairs to have them completed in time for fall fires.

Plan your improvements

Have you been thinking about chimney or fireplace improvements, but every fall, you set them aside in your haste to prepare your fireplace for the season? When you schedule your chimney sweeping and inspection in the spring, you can talk to your sweep about the possibility for hearth improvements. And you will have plenty of time to make those improvements before the fire-burning season.

Enjoy easier scheduling

Because most homeowners associate chimney sweeping with the fall, chimney sweeps’ schedules tend to be lighter in the spring and summer. That means that when you schedule your chimney sweeping during the spring, you will be able to make an appointment faster, and you will have more appointment times and dates available to you. With a spring sweeping, you can schedule an appointment that fits better into your schedule.

If you are undertaking your annual spring cleaning, don’t leave your chimney off of your spring cleaning to-do list. Call Total Chimney Care to schedule your appointment for a chimney cleaning and inspection. You will have an easier time scheduling an appointment, you’ll catch any signs of winter damage early and have time for repairs or improvements, and you will clear away damaging and stinky creosote from your chimney’s interior. Make your appointment now!

By Steve Sobczak on March 31st, 2019 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

We fix leaky chimneys!

What kind of shape is your chimney in after all of the stress of winter? Of course, you know that your chimney was bearing a lot of abuse from the inside, as you put your fireplace or heating stove to good use. But the real abuse a chimney faces during the winter months happens to its exterior. Come spring, the harsh conditions your chimney endured can become evident in the form of chimney leaks. If your chimney is showing signs of a leak this spring, call Total Chimney Care — We fix leaky chimneys!

How chimney leaks formwhite ceiling with brown water damage spots

So how does winter’s freezing weather affect your chimney’s exterior? Masonry materials, like the bricks, stone, and mortar used to build chimneys, are highly porous. Those materials absorb water. The water by itself isn’t a danger, but when temperatures drop, the water freezes and expands. That frozen, expanding water damages your chimney’s masonry. The damage caused by water trapped in your chimney’s masonry and freezing temperatures can lead to leaks.

 

Common causes of chimney leaks

Some common chimney damage that can lead to chimney leaks includes:

  • Cracks in the chimney crown. Your chimney crown is your chimney’s seal against water damage. At the top of your chimney, it protects the inner layers of your chimney by preventing water from pouring down in. When water trapped in the chimney crown freezes, it can cause the masonry to crack. Those cracks can allow water to leak into your chimney.
  • Deteriorated chimney masonry. Just like freezing water in the chimney crown can cause damage, freezing water trapped in your chimney’s masonry can cause damage. The chimney’s bricks and stones can crack or crumble, or pieces of the stones or bricks can pop off entirely. In addition to being unsightly, this damage can let water leak in through the sides of your chimney.
  • Crumbling mortar. The mortar joints that hold your chimney’s bricks or stones together can begin to soften and crumble away due to freeze-thaw damage. Water can seep in through these damaged mortar joints, causing chimney leaks.
  • Leaky flashing. It’s not just masonry materials that can be damaged during the winter months, opening your chimney up to the possibility of leaks. The flashing that seals the juncture between your chimney and your roofline can crack at the seams or develop holes. That can allow water to pour freely into your home around your chimney.

What to do about chimney leaks

If your chimney is clearly leaking, or if it shows signs of damage that can allow water to leak in, don’t ignore the leak or the damage! Water coming in through your chimney cause serious damage to your chimney or to your home’s structure. A chimney leak, or chimney damage, should be dealt with immediately to prevent serious water damage to your home. Call Total Chimney Care to fix your chimney leak or chimney damage today!

By Steve Sobczak on March 16th, 2019 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment