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What Causes Chimney Leaks?

Spring’s wet weather is often a welcome sight after months of snow and cold temperatures but, unfortunately, it can bring with it some unexpected (and unpleasant) surprises. One of these is chimney leaks. If you notice water spots forming on your ceiling, peeling wallpaper, warping wallboard, water dripping into your home from above, water in your firebox, or fireplace rust, don’t rush to blame your roof! Often, when water is coming in from above, it’s your chimney that’s to blame.

Learn more about the causes of leaks and water damage below, then count on the team here at Total Chimney Care to provide the top-notch care and high-quality services you deserve. We’re here and ready to help!

What Causes Chimneys Leaks? - Fairfield CT - Total Chimney Care LLC

A Missing or Damaged Chimney Cap

Chimney caps are essential when it comes to keeping water out of your chimney. These devices cover your chimney’s exterior opening ensuring water doesn’t flow down the chimney flue and wreak havoc. Along with this, caps are known for preventing debris build-up, animal entry, and downdrafts, and they are great at stopping stray sparks from landing on your roof, too. Unfortunately, builder-grade chimney caps can fail within a few years, and even the sturdiest of chimney caps can get blown off or damaged during bad weather.

On the bright side, addressing a broken chimney cap is not a complicated matter – simply have a professional replace the unit! Caps are typically quite affordable, and the protection they offer is unparalleled. If you need yours repaired or replaced, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team right away.

Cracked Chimney Crown or Chase Cover

Constructed from a cement-based mixture, chimney crowns play a big role in protecting your masonry chimney. They sit on the top of your chimney and extend from the inner edge of your flue to the exterior edges of your chimney masonry. They are designed to slant downwards, which ensures any water coming down flows out and away from both the inside of the chimney and its outside masonry walls.

Now, in a prefabricated chimney, this job is performed by the chase cover. While both crowns and chase covers can provide years of protection when installed correctly and constructed from appropriate materials, both are subject to breaking down over time, which can leave you with some big problems to address.

If you notice any issues, invest in repair work or replacement parts, as needed (and right away). Failing to do so will only cause more damage, and you’ll soon be left with some time-consuming and expensive work to address.

Loose/Rusted Flashing

Flashing consists of metal sheets that surround the base of your chimney where it meets the roofline to prevent water coming in through this especially vulnerable spot. It provides a great service, but if it is damaged, rusted, bent, loose, or incorrectly installed, water will gain easy access to your home in a hurry.

If you’ve ruled out other chimney issues, call in our professional crew to inspect the flashing around your chimney. They will make sure it is fitted snugly between the roof and the chimney and that it is free from any damage.

Damaged masonry

Most masonry damage is due to water penetration. As your porous bricks and mortar joints absorb water, that water can freeze and expand, causing cracking and crumbling. This is known as the freeze/thaw process, and it can lead to major leaks and water penetration that will eventually compromise your chimney’s structure. If you are concerned that your system is deteriorating, address the issue right away before it leads to extensive and costly chimney leaks.

How can you prevent masonry damage from occurring in the first place? Well, the best thing you can do is invest in waterproofing services. The application of specialized waterproofing products applied by a certified professional will guarantee better protection for your structure, and it will block all that water from getting soaked up. At the same time, these waterproofing agents are 100% vapor-permeable, so any moisture already in the masonry can easily evaporate, and gases created by your winter fires can still be exhausted.

What Happens If I Ignore A Leak?

A chimney leak should never be ignored! If left unaddressed, even minor chimney leaks can cause major damage. It is imperative to be on the lookout for signs of chimney leaks this spring. Walk around your chimney and look for cracked or crumbling bricks, crumbling mortar joints, and discoloration. If you’re able, it’s also wise to check the top of your chimney to make sure your chimney cap is firmly in place and that the flashing at the base of the chimney hasn’t pulled away from the chimney or cracked. Inside your home, look for stains on your walls and ceiling near your chimney. A rusted damper or rusting fireplace doors can be a sign of a chimney leak.

The more your structure crumbles, the more prone you are to experience gas leaks, house fires, chimney fires, and more. Don’t take any chances! If you notice any signs of leaks, get in touch with a technician from Total Chimney Care today, Our qualified experts are here for you.

By Steve Sobczak on April 13th, 2020 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment

Chimney swifts and your chimney

Do you hear chirping and rustling in your chimney? Do you notice birds flying in and out of your chimney around dusk each evening? Then chances are you have chimney swifts inside your chimney.

Chimney swifts are migratory birds that spend summer in the northeastern United States before flying to Peru for the winter. Chimney swifts build their nests on protected vertical surfaces. Their preferred nesting location — hollowed out trees — is a scarcity in many areas. So they have adapted to make their homes on the inner walls of masonry chimneys, which is the perfect surface for constructing nests from twigs.

How can you tell if you have chimney swifts?

Chimney swifts and your chimney - Fairfield & New Haven CT - Total Chimney CareChimney swifts are really noise. You will hear the rustling of wings and movement in your chimney as adult birds construct their nests. That noise will eventually be followed by chirping of baby birds. If you think you’re hearing chimney swifts in your chimney, the best way is standing outside your home near dusk. This is when they leave their nest to feed on insects. They have dark gray cigar-shaped bodies, squared-off tails and a wingspan of about a foot.

Chimney swifts don’t cause any damage to your chimney, as long as you take precautions while they are inside your chimney. You should also make sure to clean your chimney thoroughly once they leave.

What do you do if you have chimney swifts in your chimney?

If chimney swifts have taken residence in your chimney, they are staying for the summer. They are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Act, which makes it illegal to remove them or harm their nesting. If you have swifts in your chimney, close your chimney damper to prevent them from entering your home or becoming trapped. Once they leave their roost for the winter, which usually happens around November, have your chimney swept and inspected to remove the nest and debris left behind by them.

How can you help chimney swifts?

Many bird lovers look for ways to protect and aid chimney swifts. Some homeowners will even have their chimneys swept in early spring to create a welcoming habitat for chimney swifts. If you’re not willing to throw out a welcome mat for chimney swifts, there are still things you can do to help nurture chimney swifts.

First, you should install a chimney cap surrounded by a wire cage. This will keep swifts out of your chimney. You can also install a chimney roost to provide an alternative home to swifts. Look for swift roosts in your area and work to make sure those roosts are protected during the nesting season.

If you’ve had chimney swifts in your chimney this fall, call Total Chimney Care at 203-874-6772! Once the swifts have left, we can clean and inspect your chimney to make sure it is safe for use this fall, and we can also install a chimney cap to prevent future nesting.

By Steve Sobczak on August 16th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Keeping Animals Out of Your Chimney

If your chimney isn’t protected, you could find it playing home to an animal. Whether they enter the chimney by accident or are tempted into building a nest by the warmth and shelter of the chimney, birds, bats, raccoons, and squirrels are common intruders in chimneys. Those intruders can cause some serious problems, which is why you should take measures to prevent animals in your chimney.

Keeping Animals Out is Important

Once inside your chimneys, animals can bring a host of problems. At the very least, you can’t use your fireplace if the chimney is blocked by a trapped animal or an animal nest. And having animals removed from your chimney by a professional can be expensive. Some of the other problems animals in chimneys can cause include:

  • Chimney damage. A trapped, frantic animal can damage your chimney with clawing and scratching. A nesting animal can damage the chimney as it enters and exits, and as it builds the nest.
  • Fire hazard. Animal nests are usually constructed of flammable materials. If you have a nest in your chimney that you’re not aware of and you light a fire, the nest could ignite and start a chimney fire.
  • Carbon monoxide hazard. If your chimney is blocked by an animal or an animal nest, gases generated by your fireplace, including carbon monoxide, can’t exit the chimney. That can cause the gases to build up to dangerous levels within your home.
  • Foul odors. If a trapped animal can’t escape the chimney, it can die and decay, filling your house with a horrible smell. Nesting animals can leave behind smells from droppings, rotting food or rotting nesting materials.
  • Diseases. Animals carry diseases. When they enter your chimney, they carry a risk of spreading those diseases to your family or your pets.

Prevent Animals From Entering Your Chimney

There are three primary ways to protect your chimney from animal intrusions:

  • Chimney caps. Chimney caps are perhaps the most common method for keeping animals out of your chimney. Chimney caps cover the chimney opening, and a proper chimney cap is surrounded by a metal cage to keep out animals and debris.
  • Top-sealing dampers. Top-sealing dampers close off your chimney entirely when the chimney isn’t in use, keeping out water, animals, and debris. When the chimney is in use and the damper is open, the damper opening should be enclosed with a wire cage to keep animals out.
  • Chimney sweepings and inspections. A chimney sweeping and inspection won’t keep animals out of your chimney, but a chimney sweep can spot a trapped animal or signs of an animal nest. A chimney sweep can clear away any signs of an animal nest or animal droppings, and he can help with any repairs needed due to damage caused by animals.

If your chimney isn’t protected from animal intrusions, call Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment today! We can install a chimney cap or a top-sealing damper to keep animals out. If an animal does enter your chimney, we can clear out a nest, clear away droppings and debris left by the animal, and make sure that your chimney is safe for use.

By Steve Sobczak on August 3rd, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment

Chimney crown, chase cover, chimney cap: What’s the difference?

Three of the most common, and the most commonly confused, words when discussing chimneys are chimney crown, chase cover and chimney cap. Often these words are used interchangeably, but in fact, they represent very different components that sit atop chimneys. It’s important to know the difference so you can communicate effectively with your chimney sweep — It’s difficult to describe or understand a problem if you’re unsure what the terms are referring to!

Chimney crownDifference between Chimney crown, chase cover, & caps - New Haven - Fairfield CT - Total Chimney Care

Chimney crowns are a masonry component at the very top of a chimney’s structure. Made of concrete, the chimney crown seals the top edge of your chimney. It slopes away from the chimney flue to help divert water downward, and it should extend a few inches beyond the edges of the chimney itself to help shield the chimney structure from water.

Too often, chimney crowns are improperly constructed from masonry mortar, which leads them to crack and wear away quickly. Even properly constructed chimney crowns will crack or deteriorate over time. A crack in your chimney crown can lead to water damage, so it’s important to be aware of its condition. Your chimney sweep should update you on the health of your chimney crown during your annual inspection.

Chase cover

A chase cover offers a similar function to a chimney crown, but it is made from metal and sits atop factory-built chimneys. Chase covers are used on non-masonry chimneys, such as vinyl, wood, or aluminum sided chimneys. Like chimney crowns, they seal around the edges of the chimney to help keep water away from the flue.

Even though chase covers are made from metal, they are break down over time. The metal corrodes, and can lead to rust dripping down the sides of your chimney or water leaking down the inside of your flue. Every so often, your chimney chase cover will need to be replaced. As with a chimney crown, your sweep should give you an idea of the condition of your chase cover during your annual inspection.

Chimney cap

A chimney cap works in conjunction with your chase cover or chimney crown to keep water from penetrating your chimney. A chimney cap fits atop the opening of your flue to keep rainwater, snow or ice from flowing freely down the walls of your chimney. Most chimney caps are elevated from the main chimney by a wire cage. This case allows smoke to exit your chimney while keeping birds, rodents and debris from entering your chimney.

Chimney caps, too, are subject to break down or become displaced over time. You’ll want to make sure your chimney sweep reports on the health of your chimney cap, as it’s your chimney’s primary defense against water damage.

Chimney crown, chase covers and chimney caps are the most crucial elements to protect your chimney and your home from water damage. Be sure you know the health of your chimney crown or chase cover and your chimney cap, and make sure you communicate with your sweep to know when a repair or a replacement is needed!

If you have questions about your chimney crown, chase cover or chimney cap, call the experts at Total Chimney Care at 203-874-6772.

By Steve Sobczak on January 31st, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Common Blockages

What’s Up Your Chimney?

Every homeowner owes it to themselves to become aware of the condition of any part of their house. And like every appliance or piece of furniture, a chimney requires just as much attention. There always has to be proper and regular maintenance to ensure the safety and continued functionality of your chimney.

Now, here’s the thing: a chimney is one of the more exposed features of a house. And it can be easily susceptible to certain objects getting in and blocking the chimney. This is already a problem in itself, but it can cause even bigger problems to arise—making it harder for you to balance the necessary expenditures at home. We, at Total Care Chimney would like you to understand what could cause these blockages and how we can absolutely help you with solving that problem.

It is completely expected that something will get in and muck up the ventilation in your chimney system. Annual cleaning and inspection is meant to prevent and clear any obstructions.

It is completely expected that something will get in and muck up the ventilation in your chimney system. Annual cleaning and inspection is meant to prevent and clear any obstructions.

There are a number of things that can cause a blockage in your chimney. Here are some of the very common ones:

  • Leaves and debris. These items are all around and can rapidly fall and accumulate in chimneys during any season. At first they will seem insignificant but once there’s too much already, there is a risk for incomplete combustion and negative air pressure to occur, driving smoke into the house
  • Bird nests. Birds want to nest in open chimneys to breed and hatch their eggs because it gives them added protection from the environment. They surround chimneys during winter – the time for them to breed and make babies.
  • Spider webs. Lastly, these are the most underestimated and one of the most common blockages in the chimney. Spider webs are typically soft, easy to reach and easy to take out but are hidden most of the time and appear only when the problem becomes grave. One spider web is nothing, but thousands of webs will give you a problem.

There is Only One Solution

So these are the common blockages in the chimney and the best way to solve this is to have a chimney cap installed. This can help prevent anything from entering your chimney. This will allow you to truly enjoy your chimney all four seasons of the year, hassle-free. This does not only prevent blockages but can also lessen the chances for fires to start, carbon monoxide poisoning to happen and negative air pressure to occur. Total Care Chimney can definitely help you with that.