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

Why We Recommend Stainless Steel Chimney Liners

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

Dealing with a Leaky Chimney

You can easily stay on top of the maintenance of your chimney, but if you develop a substantial leak in your fireplace, you need to contact a certified professional as soon as possible.

You can easily stay on top of the maintenance of your chimney, but if you develop a substantial leak in your fireplace, you need to contact a certified professional as soon as possible.

Water can be your chimney’s biggest enemy, primarily due to the structural damages it can cause. With obvious signs like loose bricks on the exterior chimney and annual chimney sweeps and inspections, you can easily stay on top of the maintenance of your chimney, but if you develop a substantial leak in your fireplace, you need to contact a certified professional like Total Chimney Care immediately to assess and repair the leak. Our experienced technicians will find the leak’s location and fix what is causing the leak.

The Importance of Preventing Chimney Leaks

If you have a masonry chimney (or any chimney, for that matter), the Chimney Safety Institute of America stresses the importance of regular maintenance to prevent chimney leaks. However, when you are experiencing a chimney leak, you can relax after contacting Total Chimney Care because our expert technicians know exactly where to look and what to do. Some of the most common reasons for a leaky chimney include:

  • Damaged chimney cap or crown – The chimney cap or crown (a chimney crown is the masonry fireplace version of the chimney cap) is one of the most important parts of your chimney because it covers the top of your chimney, protecting it from rain water, animals, and debris. If your chimney cap or crown becomes cracked or damaged, it needs to either be repaired or replaced. Total Chimney Care specializes in masonry chimneys, and we guarantee our work rebuilding your cracked and damaged chimney crown.
  • Damaged or improperly installed flashing – Flashing is sheet metal that is installed around the exterior of the chimney to offer even more protection against water leaks; however, it does not last forever. Rusting causes the flashing to become ineffective and fails to prevent water from entering the chimney. Furthermore, although flashing is sold in DIY kits and promoted as easy to install, this is a job best left to professionals. Improperly installed flashing is one of the biggest causes of water leaks in chimneys.
  • Condensation – When a gas like water vapor transforms into the liquid form of water, condensation has occurred. If there is no physical damage to the chimney cap or crown or to the flashing, it is likely there is flue gas condensation causing the leaking in your chimney. Usually, to solve this problem, your chimney needs relining to keep the flue gases hotter to eliminate the condensation.

Waterproofing your Chimney

If you are not currently experiencing a leaky chimney, there is something you can do now to prevent this nightmare from happening to you: waterproofing. Recommended by the Chimney Safety Institute of America after your leaky chimney has been repaired and cleaned, a waterproofing treatment will extend the life of your chimney for years. Applied to your chimney by Total Chimney Care’s certified professionals, this waterproofing sealant will reduce the amount of water entering your chimney, decrease the erosion process from water, and preserve your chimney’s beauty and function.

Suffering from a leaky chimney is not fun, but before you panic, contact Total Chimney Care. Our certified repair associates are on hand to solve the problem and then protect you from this nightmare experience from happening again.

Basics of Ash Removal

Do you know what to do with the ashes in your fireplace?

Do you know what to do with the ashes in your fireplace?

For someone who does not like dirt or dust, a fireplace may not seem like an ideal piece for your living room. Many think that when a fireplace has dirt or ashes in the bottom that it needs to be immediately removed, but this may not be the case. Your local chimney professionals can answer these questions and also administer your annual chimney sweep and inspection. Call Total Chimney Care for all of your chimney needs.

Should you leave the ashes or should you remove them?

Many homeowners are shocked to learn that you are supposed to leave a thin layer of ash in the bottom of your fireplace during burning season. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) suggests this amount be about an inch. This is done to help build and maintain your fire by supplying extra heat. However, you must be very careful in monitoring the ash level because too much can allow pieces to come into contact with the grate, causing it to burn out prematurely.

However, if you have a stove that burns from the front to the back you will need to have the ash in the inside of the door removed. This gives you a spot to move the hot coals from the back to. A small layer of ash will also protect the overall floor of a firebox. At the end of the season you do need to remove all of the ashes. When the acids contained in ash begin to reach parts of the fireplace they can begin to cause rust and deterioration.

How do you remove ash from inside of your firebox?

There are many ways you can remove ash – always using a glove, a fireplace shovel, and a wet/dry vacuum. This process should be done four or more days after the last fire so they are completely cooled down and safe. You should always place the old ash in a metal or clay container and discard far away from your home. You can remove ash and soot from glass parts of the fireplace with an equal part water and vinegar base. Using a spray bottle, cover the area and gently wipe away with a paper towel.


By Steve Sobczak on February 17th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment

Air Quality Indoors

Do you think the air you breathe inside is cleaner than the air outdoors? Sometimes the air quality in your home is compromised, especially when you don't pay attention to your fireplace and chimney.

Do you think the air you breathe inside is cleaner than the air outdoors? Sometimes the air quality in your home is compromised, especially when you don’t pay attention to your fireplace and chimney.

Imagine you’re sitting in front of your fireplace on a blustery winter night. You have a roaring fire going, the flue is adjusted perfectly so no smoke is billowing into the house, logs are burning evenly, and you’re enjoying the warmth and the intoxicating scent of wood burning. That last little bit of information, however, is a real sign of danger, as being able to smell a wood fire burning in the fireplace, even in small amounts, is a sure sign that your chimney is not functioning properly.

Dangerous Combustion Byproducts

Fireplaces provide a lot of things we want: heat, light, ambiance, and a soothing crackle. The combustion happening in the fireplace, however, also provides byproducts we don’t want or need—smoke and toxic gases. Wood smoke in your home contains one or more of the following: hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that can cause cancer, fine particle pollution (ash) that damages lung tissue and creates respiratory problems, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide (CO), formaldehyde, and/or nitrogen oxides. It is your chimney’s job to contain and remove those byproducts from your home. A poorly performing chimney is allowing those harmful byproducts to remain in your living space, thereby diminishing the quality of the air in your home.

Indoor Air Quality and your Health

Your poorly functioning chimney inevitably has a negative effect on the quality of the air in your home, especially for children, elderly family members, and those with lung cancer and/or heart disease. Smoke can have a marked effect on people with respiratory issues (e.g., asthma). Another major concern of a poorly functioning chimney is that it can allow colorless, odorless—and toxic—CO gases to remain in your home. It is a natural byproduct of the wood burning process, and, because you cannot see or smell it, it can make you sick without your even knowing it’s there. As a matter of fact, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can even be deadly.

Small Things All Homeowners Can Do

There are small things you as a homeowner can do to improve the quality of the air in your home. Open the flue when using your fireplace. Have your chimney and fireplace inspected by a CSIA-certified technician annually to keep it running at the optimal level. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home if you don’t have them installed already. Improved ventilation will improve air quality by increasing the amount of fresh outdoor air coming into your home, which will help to dilute the concentrations of indoor pollutants and push stale indoor air out of your home. It’s also extremely important to make sure that the chimney is properly sealed. A well-vented, tight-fitting fireplace/chimney combination will move those harmful gases up and out of your home, which will greatly improve the overall quality of the air remaining inside.

Yearly chimney inspections and cleanings will go a long way to improving the overall indoor air quality in your home. The trained staff at Total Chimney Care is at the ready to help you increase the overall air quality in your home with the extensive list of fireplace and chimney services. Contact us today to schedule all of your necessary services.