Water leaks can cause corrosion, deterioration, dimensional damage, efflorescence, freeze-thaw spalling, staining, damage to interior finishes, and, ultimately, structural failure.
Below is a list of the remedies used by Best Cincinnati Chimney to fix chimney liner issues that can lead to house fires.
- Flue Tiles – Used mostly for straight , short chimneys, this method of lining is used mostly on new construction. You generally cannot replace Terra cotta tiles but you can repair them.
- HeatShield® Cerfractory Flue Sealant Restores Your Chimney tiles– HeatShield® is a specially formulated “Cerfractory®” sealant material that restores the integrity of your chimney’s flue to vent hazardous flue gases from your home. It eliminates the dangers in your chimney caused by gaps, cracks and spalling for years to come. Best Cincinnati Chimney is a certified HeatSheild distributor. By using either the Joint Repair System or Resurfacing System, depending on the defects found, your chimney can be restored to its original peak level of safety and efficiency. View the HeatShield® manufacturer’s website.
- Stainless Steel Liners – This method of relining involves installing a round or oval stainless steel liner in the chimney. The liner can be either rigid or flexible; flexible liners are used for chimneys with offsets. Stainless steel liners are used mainly for woodstoves and oil furnace installations. Best Cincinnati Chimney offers UL Listed stainless steel lining systems that come with a manufacturer’s Lifetime Warranty.
- Aluminum – This method is similar to stainless steel, but the liner is made of aluminum. Aluminum liners do not tolerate the heat that stainless steel will. Aluminum liners can only be used to vent certain types of gas appliances. Note: Gas logs intended for installation in wood-burning fireplaces may not be vented with aluminum liners. We do not recommend, nor will we install aluminum liners in woodburning fireplaces or stoves.
WATER LEAKS IN MASONRY
At Best Cincinnati Chimney we know that durability of masonry depends primarily on its resistance to water penetration and water leaks. Water leaks can cause corrosion, deterioration, dimensional damage, efflorescence, freeze-thaw spalling, staining, damage to interior finishes, and, ultimately, structural failure.
It is well established that water will penetrate a masonry wall that is one unit thick. Even if built to every requirement masonry work can always leak. Material selection, the design itself and the quality of construction can all be factors in water resistance. Understanding the causes and mechanisms of water penetration in masonry will enable technicians to better diagnose and solve problems before severe damage occurs.
The main source of masonry water leaks is driving rains, and the level of penetration is affected by rain quantity and wind pressure. The directional consistency of wind-driven rains can create severe water damage to the affected side of an exposed masonry surface. Damage from wind-driven rain is most severe at the corners and top of a wall or chimney system because of changes in air flow patterns at these locations. Since wind speed and rainfall are such critical factors, a driving rain index for the United States was developed to illustrate climatic patterns. The driving rain index considers the average wind speed and rainfall for the country and creates zones on a scale of one to five, with ‘one’ indicating the least and ‘five’ the greatest exposure. Most severe water damage in masonry occurs in ranges three, four, and five due to frequent freeze-thaw cycles.
Once masonry walls are exposed to hours of driving rains, they usually reach a saturation point. Saturated walls will take from one to several days to lose most of this water. Trees, plants, and micro-organisms like algae can prevent it from drying. With cumulative cycles, a saturation point can be reached in masonry pores that often leads to leaks or damage to the wall system.
Water leaks can also be caused by condensation within the wall system itself. Chimney systems are especially vulnerable to condensation because water vapor is a large component of flue gases. Most of the water vapor escapes out the flue, but some will pass through tile liners and the mortar joints between the liners.
The greatest exposure to condensation occurs during the heating season as surface wetting and use of the system produce high humidity in the air cavities surrounding the liners. When the temperature of outer masonry walls of a chimney falls below the temperature of the air in the cavity, condensation often occurs on the inside walls. Masonry units can absorb up to .5 lbs of water from condensation; though masonry is relatively dense, it is also a porous material composed of a network of interconnected pores called capillaries that circulate water by means of suction. Capillary suction is an important factor for openings smaller than 0.5mm. Pores in clay brick generally have a diameter of about 0.01mm, while hairline cracks can range between 0.1mm to 1mm in width.
Water can enter a wall system through pores and cracks in the masonry units and the mortar joints, but very often water seeps through cracks or separations between the masonry and mortar. The water accumulates until it either penetrates to the interior, drains to flashings where it is redirected through weep holes, or simply evaporates through the exterior wall.
Although we try hard to solve water leaks, they can be very difficult to diagnose and even harder to stop. If you have a water leak going in, it may not be solved by the first attempt. Water leaks are not the fault of the last guy on the roof.
If you live in the Cincinnati, Ohio area, then you know how important it is to have heat in the long, cold winter. One way to stay warm this winter is with a fireplace. Although, having a fireplace does mean chimney cleaning and chimney maintenance. If you don’t have a chimney liner then you can also be at risk of other problems with your chimney. In this short guide, you will be informed when you should replace your fireplace liner.
- Older fireplaces
If you have an older fireplace and do not remember ever changing out the liner, it is most likely time to do so. Usually, a chimney sweep will inform you if you need a new liner if they have seen a buildup of residue from burning wood or any cracks to the liner. Chimney repairs can be costly and may not completely fix the problem, so if your chimney sweep has advised replacing the liner, you should heed his or her warning.
- If you have a cracked flue
If you have an older fireplace or even if you don’t, liners can get cracked or have other damage. It is more common in older fireplaces because the liners were built using clay or other types of materials rather than stainless steel, which is what the liners are made out of nowadays. If you choose to keep using a cracked chimney liner, the soot can dissolve into the mortar and the joints and cause a potential fire.
- Replace clay liners
If you have a clay liner that is not cracked or damaged, it is still wise to replace it. Over the years, the breakdown of the wood and charcoal into soot can clog the chimney causing a carbon monoxide leak. It is best to replace the liner if you can by purchasing a stainless steel or cast-in-place liner.
- Liner? What liner?!
You are probably not saving a lot of money if you have a fireplace without a chimney liner. Occasionally no liners were installed in the past, but it has been found that liners help the wallet! A stainless steel liner which is the industry standard requires less labor and are available in a variety of sizes to fit your fireplace. A liner will give you higher temperatures in the flue, which is a good thing because it keeps the soot to a minimum and saves on your heating bill.
- Hire a professional
Just as you would call for a professional to perform HVAC maintenance, power washing, roofing fixes, simple remodeling, cleaning of the gutters, or exterior painting, you want to do the same when dealing with chimney cleaning and chimney maintenance. This is especially true if you are not comfortable with the task or run into any obstacles. It is always better to call the professionals than to attempt a task and then regret it. Make sure to call a Cincinnati handyman if you get into a sooty situation!
As you can see, there are multiple reasons you should replace your liner. Chimney cleaning and chimney maintenance are critical to do yearly, as you do not want a carbon monoxide leak or a backup of soot into your home. If you follow our advice on when you should replace your fireplace liner, your Cincinnati home will be cozy warm this winter!