Total Chimney Care's Blog

What Can Happen If You Neglect Your Chimney

The holidays always swing back around quicker than expected and that often leads to a busy fall and winter for us as sweeps! Here at Total Chimney Care, we’ve been inspecting, repairing, and sweeping countless chimneys over the last few months, and we would love to get yours all set and ready for the weeks of festivities that are soon approaching.

Unfortunately, because most chimney companies get extra busy this time of year, many customers are forced to wait a bit longer than normal to get their system looked over. This scenario leaves many considering just how important this maintenance actually is and if they can put it off until spring or summer.

damaged chimney

Well, we encourage all of our customers to please be patient and get their annual chimney services completed before lighting any fires. The CSIA recommends yearly inspections because there are countless issues that can arise if you neglect to give your system the care and attention it needs, and we would hate to see families in the area get in harm’s way over a problem that is so easily avoided.

GIve us a call today to get the help you need from a team that is certified, trained, and eager to excel!

The Impacts Of Water Damage

One reason your chimney should be inspected regularly is so your sweep can look for any signs of water damage. Water and your masonry don’t mix well, and you could find yourself with a lot of decay if you don’t invest in preventative measures early on. One thing we encourage homeowners to look into is our waterproofing services.

By having our chimney techs waterproof your brickwork, you guarantee no moisture can penetrate the bricks or mortar and cause damage. These materials are very absorbent, and when water works its way in, it breaks things down significantly. Along with this, the freezing temperatures we so often face in Fairfield and its surrounding cities can lead to the freeze/thaw process.

What’s the freeze/thaw process? Well, when this preabsorbed moisture freezes and expands it puts a lot of strain on your masonry. Once it thaws and settles, your structure feels a lot of pressure, too, and if this happens multiple times of year (which is typically the case), you’re looking at a lot of extra stress on your chimney, as a whole. All of this wear and tear will lead to significant damage or, in some cases, a chimney collapse or settlement.

Along with all this, water throughout your flue and chimney can cause your metal components to rust, your crown to crumble, and your liner to deteriorate, all of which leaves you vulnerable to even more problems. The more your structure breaks down, the higher your chances are smoke, flames, and carbon monoxide entering your home. Why take the risk? Call on our team today – we would be happy to set you up right.

The Dangers Of Excess Creosote

Another major reason why inspections are needed before the start of every burning season is so that the sweeps are able to detect and remove any creosote that is building up. Creosote is especially harmful due to its flammable nature, and if it ignites it could send flames up your chimney. Your masonry isn’t designed to withstand these high temperatures, so your brickwork and mortar will crack, crumble, and deteriorate, and your flashing, chimney cap, and liner will likely face some serious problems, as well.

As you can imagine, the aftermath of a chimney fire can take quite a bit of time and money to address, and you’ll be left without a usable appliance until all damages can be appropriately repaired. In the end, you’re a lot better off investing in an affordable cleaning now, rather than expensive repair and restoration work down the line.

On top of everything, chimney fires are really threatening to the well-being of your home. More often than not, they occur slowly and quietly, leaving most homeowners unaware that they have a problem at all. This means countless families will light fires in a fireplace that is really unsafe, and it increases the odds of gas leaks, fires, and chimney collapses significantly. This is another big reason why investing in annual inspections is important!

Spotting Wear & Tear Early

All in all, by getting an expert’s eye on your fireplace and chimney, you ensure any early signs of damage or wear and tear is spotted right away and can be taken care of before your family experiences any risks. Detecting problems early on is always the preferred route, and it will put less strain on your budget and schedule in the end. Most importantly, your loved ones will stay as safe as possible.

We’re Here To Inspect, Sweep, Repair & More

At Total Chimney Care, we care about making you feel comfortable and totally satisfied with any and all of the services we offer. We put our sweeps through extensive training, and we work with reputable organizations like the CSIA and the NCSG to ensure we stay knowledgeable and up-to-date on it all. Your needs will always come first, and we are proud to offer mess-free, on-time care every single time.

So, what are you waiting for? The time to reach out to our reliable team is now. Call today!

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