Total Chimney Care's Blog

How the Freeze-Thaw Cycle Can Ruin Your Chimney

When winter’s deep freeze has taken hold for months, nothing can seem more glorious than a bright, sunny day. It warms the roadways and rooftops as the snow melts away. But when the temperature drops again, that temporary thaw can have a detrimental impact to masonry materials, including your chimney. Here’s what you need to know about the freeze-thaw cycle and how you can protect your chimney from it.

How the Freeze-Thaw Cycle Damages Chimneys

How the Freeze Thaw Cycle Ruins Your Chimney - Fairfield CT - Total Chimney CareWhen water freezes, it expands. That’s dangerous because water from melting snow or an unexpectedly warm and rainy day penetrates the masonry chimneys. When the water inside freezes and expands, it causes the masonry material to crack.  That leads to crumbing mortar, large cracks in the chimney structure, or the popping off of the faces of chimney bricks.

The initial impact of the freeze-thaw cycle is aesthetic — a crumbling chimney certainly doesn’t improve the look of your home! Freeze-thaw damage and effects become more serious over time. The cracks allow water to find its way into the chimney interior, where it can cause deterioration or rusting and damage within the fireplace. Water can also make its way into your home, rotting away at your home structure while causing water stains, sagging ceilings and mold growth. For the chimney, the continued breakdown of the masonry materials due to freeze-thaw damage can compromise the entire chimney structure. The chimney can start to lean, become unsound and unsafe, and eventually collapse altogether.

How to Protect Your Chimney From Freeze-Thaw Damage

How you protect your chimney from freeze-thaw damage will depend on whether or not your chimney has already been affected. If your chimney mortar and bricks have already started to crack and crumble from alternatively warm and freezing temperatures, repairs will be to restore the look and function of your chimney. Cracks in chimneys need filled. If mortar is weak and crumbling, tuckpointing might be recommended. Tuckpointing involves the removal and replacement of weakened mortar to reseal chimney joints.

If your chimney hasn’t suffered damage, you can protect it from the freeze-thaw cycle with waterproofing. Waterproofing involves applying a solution to your chimney’s exterior masonry. The solution prevents water from entering the chimney’s masonry while still allowing the chimney to exhaust the smoke and gases from your fireplace. Ultimately, waterproofing can save your chimney from expensive deterioration due to freeze-thaw and other water damage.

If your chimney has suffered visible freeze-thaw damage, call Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment! Our chimney experts can restore the appearance and the security of your chimney and help protect your chimney from future damage.

By Steve Sobczak on February 9th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Relining Your Oil Flue

What kind of shape is your oil flue liner in? It’s something most homeowners don’t give much thought to. But oil flue liners take a lot of abuse, both from the heat of your furnace and from the acidic nature of the smoke being exhausted through your chimney. Whether from age or due to other factors, your oil flue might eventually require relining.

Why Oil Flues Need to be Relined

Relining Your Oil Flue - Fairfield and New Haven CT - Total Chimney CareThere are actually several reasons your oil flue might require a new liner. Some of the most common reasons oil flue liners need to be replaced include:

• Flaking chimney tiles. The soot and smoke generated by your oil furnace is highly acidic. Even if you have your oil flue swept and inspected every year as recommended, the soot and smoke your oil flue endures season after season will take its toll. The tiles within the oil flue will begin to break down and flake away. Once the flue liner degrades enough, the oil flue will need to be relined.

• Water damage. Nothing damages a chimney flue quite like water. If water has made its way into your oil flue, the tile liner can crack or crumble. Unchecked water intrusion into your oil furnace flue can lead to the need for a new chimney liner.

• Improperly sized liner. If you have a new oil furnace installed, it’s likely you’ll need to have your oil flue relined. That’s because today’s more efficient oil furnaces require small liners. In fact, today’s oil furnaces can require flues that are up to 60 percent smaller than traditional ones! To make sure your new oil furnace is properly exhausting, you will need to install an oil flue liner that’s the proper size for your new furnace.

• Missing flue liner. Believe it or not, many home builders or furnace installers will skip lining a chimney altogether. This is an extremely dangerous practice that can put your home at risk of a fire. If your oil furnace flue is missing a liner, you’ll need to have one installed to keep your home safe.

Oil Flue Relining Options

How you choose to reline your oil flue likely will depend on the reason for relining your oil furnace flue. A flue that’s breaking down due to time or water damage might be able to be relined with a specialized cerfractory cement that’s poured down the flue and smoothed into place to fill in any cracks or holes in the damaged masonry. If you’re missing a liner, if your existing liner is metal or if your oil furnace flue needs to be resized to fit a newer furnace, your sweep might recommend installing a stainless steel chimney liner to restore your oil flue furnace liner.

So how do you know if your oil furnace flue needs to be relined and which method for relining your oil flue is best? Call the experts, of course! The sweeps at Total Chimney Care can clean and inspect your oil furnace flue.  If you’re due for an oil flue relining, our sweeps will recommend and install the best oil flue liner for your furnace!

By Steve Sobczak on January 24th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Service Your Oil Flue Annually

All heating appliances need regular maintenance, whether it’s an open-hearth chimney, a heating stove or a furnace. If you have an oil furnace, your annual service is especially important! Here’s why you should service your oil flue annually and what to expect from your annual oil flue service.

Why oil flues require maintenance.Service Your Oil Flue Annually Image - New Haven CT - Total Chimney Care

Like any combustion appliance, your oil furnace generates smoke, soot, and gas. As your oil furnace burns, all of those combustion byproducts travel up your oil flue and out of your home. In the process, however, soot is deposited on the walls of your chimney flue. If left unchecked, that soot can cause several problems. First and foremost, the soot is highly corrosive; it can eat away at the walls of your oil flue, causing holes and leaks that prevent the flue from safely venting dangerous smoke and gases from the furnace. The buildup in your oil flue may also run back through the system. It can land on the furnace itself and buildup, blocking the working components of the furnace.

In addition to causing your oil furnace to malfunction due to a buildup of debris, failing to clean your oil furnace can cause carbon monoxide to build up dangerously in your home. If your flue is clogged, the carbon monoxide generated by your furnace’s combustion will back up into your home. Also, if there are gaps or holes in the furnace flue, carbon monoxide can seep out of the cracks and holes and into your home. Either way, a dirty oil flue can lead to a dangerous, or even deadly, buildup of carbon monoxide in your home.

What to expect during an oil flue service.

So what exactly will your technician do during an oil flue cleaning? First, any openings that allow soot to enter your home will be sealed. Then, your technician will disconnect the pipe that attaches your furnace to the chimney. That pipe will be cleaned, and the chimney will be evaluated to see whether it needs to be swept. If the chimney has too much of a buildup, your technician will use high-powered brushes to sweep soot and debris from your flue. Any debris swept from the flue or from the connector pipe will be vacuumed away.

After the sweeping, your technician will perform another crucial task: the annual inspection. Your chimney technician will inspect your oil flue and all of the connecting components to look for any signs of damage or weakness that could pose a danger to your home or your family. If any problems are found, your technicians will make recommendations to have your flue repaired to restore its safety.

Who to call for oil flue cleaning.

Are you wondering who can service your oil furnace flue? In New Haven and Fairfield, you can call Total Chimney Care! We provide full-scale oil flue cleaning and inspections to keep your furnace running efficiently and safely. Call to schedule your appointment today!

By Steve Sobczak on January 12th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Why We Recommend Stainless Steel Chimney Liners

A chimney liner is your home’s main protection from the heat, smoke,

Stainless Steel Chimney Liners - Milford CT - Total Chimney Care

and sparks from your fireplace. Over time, chimney liners often need replacing, whether it’s due to water damage, fire damage or just overall deterioration. When this happens, we at Total Chimney Care strongly recommend choosing a stainless steel chimney liner. Here’s why.

Stainless steel chimney liners can handle the heat from your fireplace.

When it comes to resilience, it’s hard to beat a stainless steel chimney liner. In the event of a chimney fire, a  stainless steel chimney liner can easily handle the heat of the fire. In contrast, the clay tiles of a masonry chimney expand and crack, often rendering the liner ineffective. Many chimney fires go undetected. Therefore, a stainless steel liner might keep your home safe from a chimney fire or from a previously weakened chimney.

Stainless steel chimney liners are durable.

Stainless steel chimney liners are less likely to deteriorate than their clay tile or aluminum counterpart over time. In fact, many stainless steel chimney liners come with warranties because they are manufactured to last a lifetime.

Stainless steel chimney liners are suitable for nearly any type of fireplace.

There are so many different types of fireplaces that it’s hard to find a one-size-fits-all option for chimney liners. Stainless steel chimney liners often offer that option. They’re suitable for wood-burning, gas or pellet-burning appliances. They come in several lengths and circumferences, so you can find one to fit your existing chimney. Additionally, they can help you resize your chimney to improve an improper draft.
Stainless steel chimney liners are easy to install in an existing chimney.

Your masonry chimney liner needing replaced can present a problem. Replacing a masonry chimney liner with new flue tiles involves disassembling and reconstructing the entire chimney. The process is time consuming, messy, expensive and impractical. However, a stainless steel chimney liner can save the hassle and the expense! Stainless steel chimney liners are simply inserted from the top of your chimney. They fit into place to provide perfect ventilation for your fireplace or heating stove.

Needing a new chimney liner can be a terrifying thing! It means not relining your chimney may put your home and your family in danger. Total Chimney Care can solve the problem effectively. A safe, durable, and suitable stainless steel chimney liner immediately allows you to enjoy your fireplace or heating stove. If your chimney needs relining, call Total Chimney Care to hear more about stainless steel chimney liners today!

By Steve Sobczak on December 15th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Common Problems Found During Chimney Inspections

Your chimney inspection can be nerve wracking, especially if it’s been awhile since the chimney has last been looked at by a professional. You don’t know what problems the inspection could turn up or how much those problems could cost to repair. To help you anticipate potential problems, here are some common issues that come up during chimney inspections.

Cracked Chimney Crown

Common Problems Found During Chimney Inspection - Fairfield and New Haven CT - Total Chimney CareChimney crowns, the exterior portion of the chimney that surrounds the chimney flue opening, are particularly susceptible to damage. That’s because chimney crowns are exposed to the elements and will crack or crumble due to moisture and freezing temperatures. On top of that, chimney crowns are often constructed from the wrong materials, which leads to faster breakdown and deterioration. It’s crucial to repair a cracked or damaged chimney crown because a failing chimney crown can allow water to seep into your home around the chimney flue, leading to further chimney damage or damage to your home’s structure.

Missing Chimney Caps

Chimney caps are metal tops that keep out water, wind gust, animals, and debris. Chimney caps should top off all chimneys, but sometimes they are not included during construction. Other times, wind or other elements damage the cap. A missing or damage chimney cap must be replaced, as a chimney cap is your chimney’s best defense against water damage.

Damaged Chimney Liner

Your chimney liner deals with the extreme temperatures from your fireplace, as well as moisture and soot. Sometimes the liner contains small chimney fires which go undetected until an inspection. All of these factors can cause cracks or weakening in the chimney liner. Repairing your chimney liner restores its function so it can continue to protect your home from the extreme temperatures, sparks and smoke from your fireplace.

Water Damage

Extending beyond your roofline, your chimney faces the brunt of the elements. It also provides and opening to your home’s structure. That makes your chimney extremely vulnerable to water damage. Chimney inspections often will turn up masonry water damage on your chimney’s exterior, top or interior. Inspections also can turn up leaks around the chimney base or through the structure. It’s especially important to address water damage in your chimney, as unaddressed water damage worsens over time. It weakens your chimney’s structure and potentially damages your surrounding home structure.


Particularly if a chimney goes unused for an extended period of time, chimney inspections turn up obstructions. Natural debris, animals or even uncleared creosote can obstruct your chimney. An obstructed chimney puts your home in danger of a chimney fire or can force dangerous carbon monoxide back into your home.

If you’re due for a chimney inspection, call the experts at Total Chimney Care! Trust our certified chimney technicians to perform a thorough inspection of your chimney. We clearly explain any problems discovered and propose the best solution to restoring your chimney’s appearance, structure and function.

By Steve Sobczak on December 1st, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment