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

We fix leaky chimneys!

What kind of shape is your chimney in after all of the stress of winter? Of course, you know that your chimney was bearing a lot of abuse from the inside, as you put your fireplace or heating stove to good use. But the real abuse a chimney faces during the winter months happens to its exterior. Come spring, the harsh conditions your chimney endured can become evident in the form of chimney leaks. If your chimney is showing signs of a leak this spring, call Total Chimney Care — We fix leaky chimneys!

How chimney leaks formwhite ceiling with brown water damage spots

So how does winter’s freezing weather affect your chimney’s exterior? Masonry materials, like the bricks, stone, and mortar used to build chimneys, are highly porous. Those materials absorb water. The water by itself isn’t a danger, but when temperatures drop, the water freezes and expands. That frozen, expanding water damages your chimney’s masonry. The damage caused by water trapped in your chimney’s masonry and freezing temperatures can lead to leaks.

 

Common causes of chimney leaks

Some common chimney damage that can lead to chimney leaks includes:

  • Cracks in the chimney crown. Your chimney crown is your chimney’s seal against water damage. At the top of your chimney, it protects the inner layers of your chimney by preventing water from pouring down in. When water trapped in the chimney crown freezes, it can cause the masonry to crack. Those cracks can allow water to leak into your chimney.
  • Deteriorated chimney masonry. Just like freezing water in the chimney crown can cause damage, freezing water trapped in your chimney’s masonry can cause damage. The chimney’s bricks and stones can crack or crumble, or pieces of the stones or bricks can pop off entirely. In addition to being unsightly, this damage can let water leak in through the sides of your chimney.
  • Crumbling mortar. The mortar joints that hold your chimney’s bricks or stones together can begin to soften and crumble away due to freeze-thaw damage. Water can seep in through these damaged mortar joints, causing chimney leaks.
  • Leaky flashing. It’s not just masonry materials that can be damaged during the winter months, opening your chimney up to the possibility of leaks. The flashing that seals the juncture between your chimney and your roofline can crack at the seams or develop holes. That can allow water to pour freely into your home around your chimney.

What to do about chimney leaks

If your chimney is clearly leaking, or if it shows signs of damage that can allow water to leak in, don’t ignore the leak or the damage! Water coming in through your chimney cause serious damage to your chimney or to your home’s structure. A chimney leak, or chimney damage, should be dealt with immediately to prevent serious water damage to your home. Call Total Chimney Care to fix your chimney leak or chimney damage today!

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

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

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

Chimney 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.

Obstructions

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

Freeze Thaw Damage to Chimneys

At Total Chimney Care in the South Central and South Western Connecticut areasFreeze Thaw Chimney Damage - Fairfield New Haven CT - Total Chimney Care we see a lot of cold weather. All the freezing and thawing that winter brings takes a toll on the pipes in your home as well as the masonry work in your chimney. Now that spring is finally upon us it is time to inspect the damage winter has done and make masonry repairs to chimneys and fireplaces. Taking the time to schedule a professional chimney inspection will take care of minor repairs before they become costly and dangerous.

Freezing Damage To Chimneys

Freezing is of particular concern to many homeowners because the masonry work on chimneys can endure a lot of damage during the cold winter months. Freezing can cause the mortar between the bricks of your chimney to crack, crumble and deteriorate. This type of damage is easily repaired if caught early. However, if left undetected can cause the bricks to crumble and shift and this can result in expensive masonry repair. Because chimneys are unseen on a daily basis and rarely inspected closely, this type of damage can go unaddressed for extended periods of time.

Thaw Damage To Chimneys

Once the water on your chimney has thawed, moisture damage becomes a concern. When moisture enters your chimney it can seep into the porous mortar and cause chimney bricks to crack, break and shift. Become mortar is porous, the constant freezing and thawing that is typical during winter months can cause the mortar to expand and contract, which can cause your bricks to shift and crack under the pressure.

Beyond this, moisture damage can affect all the components of your chimney like rust on the damper or parts of the firebox. Moisture can also settle into your chimney and cause damage as well as a build-up of creosote. Lastly, moisture can stain the exterior of your chimney, and if left unaddressed can cause water damage to your walls and ceilings.

Addressing Chimney Repairs

Chimney damage may sound scary, but if you schedule a regular chimney inspection, especially after the winter season, you can avoid many expensive repairs. A certified chimney sweep can come to your home and perform many basic repairs. For example, tuckpointing is a common and simple chimney repair in which a professional chimney technician replaces the mortar between each brick to stabilize the chimney and waterproof the structure.

Additional Ways To Prevent Water Damage

  • Install a chimney cap
  • Repair your chimney crown
  • Replace roof flashing
  • Ask about chimney re-lining
  • Waterproofing

Many homeowners will tell you that the best way to avoid costly chimney repair is to prevent it in the first place. A thorough chimney inspection from the professionals at Total Chimney Care will help recognize problems before they become hazardous and expensive repairs. Spring is the perfect time to tackle basic chimney repairs because damage from the winter will be evident and the weather is milder and easier to work around. Contact Total Chimney Care today to schedule your chimney inspection and keep your chimney and fireplace in top working order.

By Steve Sobczak on April 29th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment