Total Chimney Care's Blog

What causes chimney leaks?

Chimney leaks tend to spring up in the winter, when snow, rain and ice attack your roof lines. If you see water in your firebox, rust forming on your damper, fireplace grate or fireplace doors, or ominous dark spots on your ceiling or walls, water has found a way through your chimney. When you see water coming into your home, you must identify and address the source of the leak before the water causes major damage to your home. To help you identify the source of your chimney leak, here are some common reasons for chimneys leak.

Missing or damaged chimney cap

metal chimney capA chimney cap is essential for keeping water out of your chimney. A chimney cap covers your chimney’s exterior opening, to prevent water from flowing down the chimney flue. Water in the chimney can cause damage to chimney flue tiles and rust on metal chimney and fireplace components.

Freeze-thaw masonry damage

Damaged chimney masonry causes water to seep in through your chimney. Masonry materials are highly porous, and they absorb moisture from rain, sleet and snow very easily. When the temperatures drop, the water trapped inside the masonry freezes and expands. This causes the masonry to crack or crumble. Once the masonry is damaged or weakened, more water can find its way into the chimney. Over time, this can lead to extensive water damage that can threaten the structure of the chimney itself.

Damaged chimney crown or chase cover

If you have a masonry chimney, the top of the chimney should be protected by a chimney crown. The chimney for a prefabricated fireplace or heating stove is protected by a chimney chase cover. Crowns and chase covers divert water away from the chimney opening. Both are subject to breaking down over time, which can allow water to flow down into your fireplace and chimney, which causes rust or water damage.

Faulty flashing or roofing

Sometimes the cause of a chimney leak isn’t the chimney itself, but rather the flashing or the roofing. Damage to the chimney flashing, which is meant to keep water from coming in where the chimney meets the roof, is especially damaging to your home. If your chimney flashing is failing, water can pour into your home, damaging ceilings, walls and your home’s structure.

No matter what the cause is for your chimney leak, a chimney leak can cause extensive water damage. Don’t wait to have the cause of your chimney leak identified and addressed! Call Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment today! We’ll identify the source of water damage and prescribe a course of repair to reseal your chimney.

By Steve Sobczak on February 6th, 2019 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Reasons to have your dryer vents cleaned

With so many things on your home maintenance to-do list, it is easy to let tasks fall by the wayside. Clothes dryer vent cleaning is an often forgotten or put-off task, but this task is very important. Here are the key reasons to have your dryer vents cleaned by the professionals at least once a year. At Total Chimney Care, we offer this service for your family to protect your home and extend the life of your clothe dryer.

Reason No. 1: Dryer vent cleaning lowers your home’s fire risk.

clothes dryerThe biggest risk of not having your clothing dryer vents cleaned is the risk of a home fire. When you have clogged dryer vents, the dryer’s heating element can easily overheat and cause your dryer to ignite. Nearly 15,000 home fires each year are caused by clothes dryers. To lower your risk of a fire caused by a clothes dryer, the National Fire Protection Association recommends having your dryer vents cleaned and inspected by a professional at least once per year.

Reason No. 2: Clogged dryer vents pose a carbon monoxide risk.

If your clothes dryer is gas fueled, a fire isn’t the only risk posed by clogged dryer vents. Clogged dryer vents also can lead to a dangerous, or deadly buildup of carbon monoxide within your home. Gas dryers are a combustion appliance. When your dryer is at work, carbon monoxide is generated. Your dryer vents allow the carbon monoxide to safely exit your home. When clothes dryer vents are clogged, the carbon monoxide is forced back into your home. If carbon monoxide levels build up to dangerous levels within your home, it can sicken your family.

Reason No. 3: Clean dryer vents can save you time and money.

If your clothes dryer vents are clogged, your dryer won’t operate efficiently. This causes your clothes to not dry within a single dryer cycle, which means you’ll spend more time doing laundry. Therefore, you are running multiple cycles to simply dry your clothes. Those extra dryer cycles also cost money. By having your dryer vents professionally cleaned, you allow your clothes dryer to operate efficiently, which saves you time when you do laundry. It also helps to keep your energy bills low because you won’t have to run your dryer overtime.

Reason No. 4: Keeping dryer vents clean extends your dryer’s lifespan.

Dirty dryer vents can take a toll on your clothes dryer. The additional cycles that is needed to dry clothes when dryer vents are clogged means extra work for your clothes dryer. Overheating caused by clogged dryer vents can damage your dryer’s working components. Because of the toll clogged dryer vents have on the dryer, cleaning your clothing dryer vents can extend the lifespan of your clothes dryer. This helps to save you money from having to replace your dryer prematurely.

There are many reasons to have your clothing dryer vents cleaned, from keeping your home and family safe to lowering your energy bills and keeping your dryer running smoothly. If your clothing dryer vents are overdue for a cleaning, call Total Chimney Care to schedule your dryer vent cleaning at 203-874-6772 today.

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

Feeling a chill? It could be from a damaged chimney damper

Is the winter chill finding its way into your home, even when you have all of your doors and windows shut tight? Cold air could be finding a way into your home through a damaged chimney damper. Here’s what you need to know about chimney dampers and the unwanted chills, and what you can do about a damaged chimney damper.

Chimney dampers and cold drafts

masonry chimneyA chimney damper’s primary role is to keep things from entering your home, and that includes cold air. Most chimney dampers are located within the throat of the chimney, above the firebox. They feature a metal ring around the circumference of the chimney opening, and a metal flap covers the opening.

When a fire is burning in the fireplace, you open the damper to let smoke escape. When your fireplace isn’t in use, the damper needs to be in the closed position to create a barrier between your home and the chimney. An open chimney damper is essentially an open window to your home. If you leave it open, or if it’s damaged, you will lose the warm air from your home out of your chimney, and you will feel cold drafts in your home as they blow down your chimney.

Chimney damper damage

Chimney dampers deal with a lot of abuse. Because of its location, chimney dampers can warp or crack due to the extreme heat of the fireplace. Most chimney dampers are metal, so they tend to rust or deteriorate when water or moisture finds its way into your chimney. When chimney dampers are damaged, this can cause your damper to get stuck in either the opened or closed position.

When dampers are stuck in the closed position, this inhibits the use of your fireplace. However, when dampers are stuck in the opened position, this lets hot air out and cold air into your home. Even if the damper still opens and closes, a bad seal when the damper is closed allows air to leak around the chimney, which chills your home in the winter.

Dealing with a damaged damper

The only solution for a damaged chimney damper is to replace it. In most cases, chimney sweeps recommend replacing a failing throat damper with a top-sealing chimney damper. A top-sealing damper is installed at the top of your chimney flue. The primary benefit of top-sealing dampers is that they feature a rubber gasket that allows for a complete seal when the damper is closed. With a top-sealing damper, cold air and moisture can’t get into your chimney, and warm air can’t escape your home.

If your failing chimney damper is causing a chill in your home this winter, call Total Chimney Care! We can outfit your chimney with a new damper that will open and close smoothly and block air exchange through your chimney!

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

Give your fireplace a facelift with cultured stone

A hearth can anchor a home’s living space, or it can do the opposite. If your fireplace is outdated, it can drag down the look of your entire home. Perhaps your hearth doesn’t fit with the vision you have for your fireplace and home. In this case, you can give your fireplace a facelift and make it the showpiece it should be, with cultured stone.

Cultured stone is manufactured from colored concrete. It’s made to mimic the look of real stone. Because it’s lighter and cheaper, it’s more affordable, easier to install and more accessible. With cultured stone, you can give your fireplace a facelift in a variety of ways and styles.

Cover an existing, unsightly fireplace surround

masonry chimneyCultured stone is sold as a veneer, which means it can easily be placed over nearly any existing surface. Cultured stone can also be installed over outdated brick or tile fireplaces. With cultured stone, you can get the look of smooth cobblestone, stacked river stone or beautiful limestone to create a new, updated fireplace.

Frame your fireplace

Sometimes fireplaces aren’t outdated or unsightly, but they lack detail to make them standout in your home. Cultured stone let you frame your fireplace to give it interesting detail, and it highlights your fireplace. In addition to simple stone veneers, cultured stone comes in arches, keystones and framing pieces. This gives your fireplace an unique look with architectural detailing that makes it stand out.

Create a statement

One of the greatest benefits of cultured stone is that you can use it to create a statement in your home. Because cultured stone is lightweight, it doesn’t require extensive infrastructure or foundation. It’s also cost effective when compared with other hearth materials. Due to its easy installation, light weight and low price, you can use cultured stone to create your dream hearth.

You can install a floor to ceiling fireplace feature, or create a wall-to-wall hearth with built-in nooks and crannies for storing firewood, books or décor. Cultured stone provides you with the opportunity to create a statement that wouldn’t be possible with traditional masonry stones.

If you are ready to give your fireplace a facelift with cultured stone, call Total Chimney Care to schedule a consultation! We listen to your vision, and we can help you design your dream fireplace that also fits your budget.

By Steve Sobczak on December 17th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

We Repair and Rebuild Fireplace Fireboxes

Masonry fireplaces will last for generations, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need the occasional repair or even minor rebuilding. One of the portions of the firebox that is most likely to need to be repaired or rebuilt is the firebox. The firebox is the portion of your fireplace where the fire burns.  It’s constructed of heavy-duty firebricks that are made to withstand the intense heat of your fires. However, these heavy-duty bricks are susceptible to breakdown over time. The extreme heat of the fires can cause bricks to crack, as can the natural settling of your home over time, and the mortar that holds the firebricks together can deteriorate.

How to know if your firebox needs to be repairedFirebox Rebuild and repairs

Without a professional evaluation, it can be hard to determine if your firebox needs to be repaired or replaced, but there are some signs you can look for that indicate that your firebox needs to be inspected. Some warning signs to look for in your firebox include:

• Cracks in the firebricks. Cracked firebricks can allow the heat and smoke from your fireplace to seep out of the confines of the firebox and damage your home’s structure or even put your home at risk for a fire. Some minor cracking in the firebrick is normal, but cracks should be evaluated annually by a certified chimney professional so you can be alerted when cracks are severe enough that they pose a hazard and should be addressed.

• Crumbling mortar. Mortar is often the first component of the firebox to break down. Crumbling masonry can weaken the overall structure of the firebox and lead to further damage. The good news about crumbling mortar is that it generally can be repaired with a relatively simple process called tuckpointing: The old mortar is scraped away and new mortar is smoothed into place, restoring the look and function of the firebox.

• An unsightly firebox. In some cases, there is nothing wrong with the structure of the firebox, but the color or style of the firebox is outdated, unattractive or out of sync with your style or the style of your home. In these cases, old fireboxes can be ripped out and replaced to create an attractive, updated look for your hearth.

Who to call when your firebox needs to be repaired or rebuilt

If you notice the warning signs that your firebox needs to be repaired or replaced, or if you want to have your firebox rebuilt to update your home and reflect your home’s style, call Total Chimney Care!  For safety or aesthetic reasons, we are able to repair or replace fireboxes, and we do it in a professional, mess-free way, taking care to protect your furniture and floors. With Total Chimney Care, you can have a beautiful, hand-built firebox that restores the beauty and safety of your hearth.

By Steve Sobczak on November 30th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment