Total Chimney Care's Blog

Keep Critters – and More – Out With a Chimney Cap!

What’s protecting your chimney from above? If your chimney’s not fitted with a chimney cap, you’re putting your chimney, and even your home, in danger of damage from water, animals, high winds and more. Here’s why you should have a sturdy chimney cap atop your chimney flue.

Keep Animals Out

Your chimney provides the perfect environment for animals: It’s warm, it’s dark and it provides plenty of shelter from the elements. That’s why animals, from swifts and bats to squirrels and raccoons, will make their way into your chimney. Once inside, they’re happy to set up shop, building nests, bringing back food and even trying to gain entry into your home. And while some animals find shelter in your chimney, others find the chimney a hazard. They can find their way inside and become trapped, eventually dying, blocking your chimney and filling your home with a horrible smell. A chimney cap creates a barrier to animals entering your chimney flue. Installing a chimney cap is the best way to keep animals out.

Protect Your Chimney From Water Damage

Nothing can ruin your chimney and fireplace system like water. Without something to protect your chimney flue from rain, snow and sleet, water can run right down the walls of your chimney flue, damaging the chimney liner; rusting metal components of the fireplace, like the damper, fireplace grate and fireplace doors; and even entering and damaging your home’s structure. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends installing a chimney cap as the best way to protect your chimney and fireplace from water damage.

Block Downdrafts

A wind coming down your chimney can chill your home, making it feel drafty and cold. A sudden gust of wind that blows forcefully down your chimney can prove even more dangerous: It can blow smoke, embers and fireplace logs right out of your fireplace, burning anyone or anything that’s near your hearth and potentially sparking a home fire. A chimney cap can block drafts from coming down the chimney and chilling your home, and it can stop sudden downdrafts from creating a fireplace hazard.

Keep Your Rooftop Safe

The protection offered by a chimney cap goes both ways: A chimney cap outfitted with a mesh screen can keep embers in your chimney. When your fireplace burns hot enough, burning embers can pop up and out of your chimney. Those embers can ignite your rooftop, nearby trees or landscape features and neighboring structures. The right chimney cap can save your home from a rooftop fire hazard.

So, is your home protected from critters, moisture, downdrafts and burning embers with a chimney cap? If your chimney is missing a cap, or if your chimney cap is in disrepair, get your chimney protected as soon as possible! Call Total Chimney Care at 203-874-6772 or schedule an appointment online to have your chimney outfitted with a new chimney cap!

By Steve Sobczak on March 28th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

We Fix Leaky Chimneys!

Water leaking in through the ceiling is a common springtime problem. But if you notice water spots forming on your ceiling, peeling wallpaper, warping wallboard or water dripping into your home from above, don’t rush to blame your roof! Often, when water is coming in from above, it’s your chimney that’s to blame.

Why chimneys leak

Water leaking in your chimney can be caused by several different chimney deficiencies. Especially after taking a beating through the wet, cold winter months, your chimney structure can begin to break down and let water in. Some common causes of chimney leaks include:

• Deteriorated flashing. Flashing surrounds the base of your chimney with the sole purpose of keeping water from entering your home where the roof meets the chimney. Over time, the flashing can crack, corrode or pull away from the chimney base, allowing water to enter your home around your chimney’s base.

• Cracked chimney crown. Your chimney crown seals the top of your chimney, funneling water away from the chimney opening and protecting the different layers of your chimney structure. Many crowns are constructed from the wrong materials, and will break down quickly. Even properly constructed crowns can begin to crack or crumble due to weather-related wear and tear. A cracked chimney crown can allow water to enter your home through the top of your chimney.

• Freeze-thaw damage. Your chimney deals with brutal elements all winter. Moisture from rain or melting snow is absorbed by your chimney’s porous masonry, and when temperatures drop, that water freezes and deteriorates your chimney’s masonry. The cracks that form in bricks, or holes formed by crumbling masonry, can let water leak into your chimney and gain access to your home’s structure.

• Missing chimney cap. Your chimney’s best defense against leaks is a sturdy chimney cap. A damaged or missing chimney cap can allow water to pour down the inner walls of your chimney, breaking down the chimney liner and damaging your fireplace.

What to do about a leaking chimney

If spring’s wet weather and melting snows have resulted in water leaking in through your roof, don’t wait to address the leak! When you ignore a leaking chimney, the water that continues to enter your home can continue to cause damage. A leaking chimney can destroy your walls and ceilings, rot the supporting structures of your home and lead to mold growth and foul smells in your home. Letting a leak persist can result in extensive and expensive home repairs!

Countless roof leaks are actually caused by chimneys, not roofs, so if the water damage you see is forming around the chimney or on the wall or ceiling near your fireplace, call a chimney company, not a roofer! Total Chimney Care can assess and repair your leaking chimney. Call to schedule an appointment and resolve your chimney leak today!

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

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

When 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

There 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.

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