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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

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!

Benefits Of Regular Cleanings & Inspections

One thing that the CSIA, as well as countless reputable chimney companies, promote is the importance of annual chimney inspections. These, along with regular cleanings and sweepings, can make an enormous impact on the safety and efficiency of your appliance and, here at Total Chimney Care, we can help you out with it all. We’ve been in business for over twenty years now, so there isn’t a lot we haven’t seen! Give us a call today to get your inspection on the books.

man with bucket on ladder looking into chimney

Spotting Excess Creosote

There are lots of benefits of investing in regular inspections, and spotting creosote is one of them. Creosote is extremely harmful to your chimney, and its flammable nature could easily cause a chimney fire to occur. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent it from forming, but by hiring a sweep to regularly clear things out, you can reduce your risk of experiencing problems significantly.

Chimney fires cause serious damage, and they will make you more prone to experience house fires and gas leaks. Play it safe by calling on our team today!

Addressing Masonry Damage

If your brickwork and mortar is cracked, crumbling, or broken down, then investing in repair work as soon as possible is the right route to take, and an inspection will reveal any problems in a hurry. Open pathways throughout your structure give smoke, flames, and carbon monoxide ample opportunity to escape into your home, and they will keep your fireplace from functioning as efficiently as possible. The longer you put off necessary services, the worse things will get, so make the call today and get our team on the job!

Removing Obstructions

As your chimney goes through months of disuse throughout the spring and summer months, animals, nesting materials, and other outside debris could easily enter and clog things up. Having these items removed before lighting any fires is vital, as obstructions could send smoke and other harmful fumes back into your living space. Our team can remove any build-up, then ensure you have a chimney cap installed to prevent these issues from occurring again down the line.

Preventative Maintenance

As you may have realized by now, preventative maintenance is key when it comes to keeping your structure stronger for the long haul. An inspection can reveal weak points in your set-up, allowing us the opportunity to recommend effective measures to keep you better protected down the line. For example, your chimney cap may be broken or your flashing may be missing – both of these scenarios will trigger leaks and water damage.

Whether you need new parts installed, waterproofing services completed, your crown repaired, or something else, our team can get the job done.

Book Now & Beat The Rush

Fall weather is finally upon us, and soon the holidays will be here in full swing. Ensure you are all set and ready to enjoy the festivities by counting on us for all of your chimney-related services. Our busy season is just about here, so call today to set up your appointment early and guarantee a time slot that works well for your schedule. We’d love to work with you soon!

By Steve Sobczak on September 22nd, 2019 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Are you ready to light your fireplace?

Lighting Your Fireplace Image - Fairfield & New Haven CT - Total Chimney Care LLCTemperatures are dipping, and the holidays are almost upon us. This time of year has many homeowners lighting their first fires of the season. Before you use your fireplace for the first time this fall, you need to follow this checklist to determine: Are you ready to light your fireplace?

Have your fireplace swept and inspected.

If your fireplace hasn’t been swept or inspected since your last fire of the spring, you aren’t ready to light your fireplace. Your annual chimney sweeping removes dangerous creosote deposits, which can ignite a chimney fire or block smoke from exiting your fireplace if left unchecked. Your annual chimney inspection checks for any weaknesses, damage or blockages in your chimney that could pose a hazard when your fireplace is lit. Don’t light your first fire if you haven’t had your chimney swept and inspected!

Perform any recommended repairs.

If your chimney inspection turned up any needed repairs, don’t ignore them, no matter how small they seem! Even the smallest chimney issue can put your fireplace or your home at risk. Small cracks in your firebox or chimney liner can allow heat and smoke to enter your home, causing damage or a fire or sickening your family with carbon monoxide. Cracks in the chimney crown or exterior masonry can allow water to penetrate your chimney and your home and do damage. As tempting as it is to ignore recommended repairs when it comes time for the first fire of the fall, make sure you take care of chimney repairs before you use your fireplace.

Make any improvements.

Did last winter have you thinking about fireplace improvements? Did you consider a new damper to replace one that no longer sealed out cold air? Would you like to install an efficient gas fireplace insert to your existing hearth? Could your hearth’s masonry use some cosmetic work? It’s not too late to make improvements to your fireplace or chimney! You could still have a new fireplace insert, fireplace or heating stove installed to enjoy all winter long, or you could replace dated or aged chimney or fireplace parts that are no longer working optimally to improve the function of your fireplace and chimney this winter.

Waterproof your chimney.

Water is your chimney’s greatest enemy. It erodes your chimney’s masonry and can compromise its structure. It can rust your damper, fireplace grate and fireplace doors. It can even seep into your home and cause structural or cosmetic damage. You can save your chimney from water damage this winter by having your chimney waterproofed!

Call Total Chimney Care to Schedule an appointment today!

If your fireplace and chimney aren’t quite ready for fall, call Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment today! We can clean and inspect your chimney, perform any needed repairs or desired improvements, or waterproof your chimney to protect it from moisture this winter. With Total Chimney Care, you can be sure that your chimney and fireplace are ready for the first fire of the fall!

By Steve Sobczak on November 25th, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Keeping Water Out of Your Chimney

Waterproofing a Chimney

The chimney is the least thought about and most exposed to the natural elements of any house. Most brick houses are protected by a roof, yet the chimney sits above the roof and sometimes attached to the side of the house. The natural elements of rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain, and freeze/thaw cycles wear and tear on masonry and brick over time. Masonry is porous by nature, and over time without proper maintenance and care can render thousands in structural repair costs.

A certified chimney sweep can help you take preventative steps to keep water out that will save you money and headache in the future.

A certified chimney sweep can help you take preventative steps to keep water out that will save you money and headache in the future.

One procedure to ensure the longevity and structure of a chimney and masonry is waterproofing. Waterproofing masonry, especially something like a chimney, is no easy procedure and requires several steps. Most waterproofing of a chimney or masonry should be done by a professional to ensure proper techniques and is the soundest option. If you have any cracks in the masonry, have it inspected by a professional right away.

These steps must be taken and might help understand this procedure if it is suggested by a chimney professional:

  • Measure – material must be purchased to clean and seal the masonry, so proper measurement is required for these materials.
  • Cleaning – Dirt, creosote, mold and other contaminants must be cleaned off of the masonry properly before sealing. Special masonry cleaner is needed.
  • Masking – this is simply protecting areas of overspray of the sealer. Special care must be taken to secure drop cloths in proper areas.
  • Minor Chimney Repairs – some openings in the mortar might be too large for a general sealer and will need to be addressed separately. Any opening under 1/8” can be filled with Crack & Joint Sealant. Three to four days will be necessary to allow the minor sealant to fully cure. Any brick replacement or crack over 1/8” will need to be repaired by a masonry professional.
  • Apply Water Repellant – water repellent is sprayed on bricks and mortar using a pump garden type spray nozzle. Repellent is applied going from the bottom to the top moving side to side. A brush might be necessary to break the tension of the repellent to get it fully penetrate the masonry. The deeper the sealant can penetrate helps the longevity and effectiveness of the water protection. A second coat can be applied in as little as 3-5 minutes, but will also darken the look of the masonry. Fully dry time will be 2-6 hours depending on weather conditions. A long dry window of 6 hours of no rain is necessary.
  • Clean up – Drop cloths will need to be removed as well as the pump sprayer cleaned out with soap and water.

So the process may take a few days or more for minor cleaning, masking to be applied, minor repairs to be applied and cured, and a dry weather window. In the end, the waiting is worth it and a waterproofed chimney is a happy chimney and will last many years and better protected from the elements.

By Steve Sobczak on September 2nd, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment