Your chimney is one of the most substantial parts of your home. It can withstand natural disasters and high winds. It is definitely built to last as it literally has fire in a portion of it all winter long.
Even a chimney that is constructed well can develop small issues though. With all the flames and smoke that occurs in a stack on a daily basis, it is critical to maintain your chimney. By doing so, you can catch minor problems before they develop into major issues.
Continue reading to learn some of the most common masonry issues and how you can recognize them quickly in order to get chimney repairs completed before severe damage occurs.
No one wants to notice water dripping down the fireplace or stains on the ceiling or walls. A wet smell can also indicate there is a water leak somewhere in your roofing, chimney, or fireplace. Chimney repairs will be needed if a water leak is involved. Water is difficult because it can be occurring for some time before you may notice the signs of the leakage. The leak itself could be due to improper installation of the chimney cap or flashing where rainwater is coming in through a hole. Make sure to call in a chimney specialist or experienced handyman immediately if you notice a leak or other signs of leaking such as a decrease in the efficiency of the fireplace or new drafts.
Most times, your furnace should not have a smoky smell to it. There should be no smell at all. If you notice a smoky smell or even a smell of mildew, or decay, you need to be alert to potential issues with the interior of the masonry. Your chimney flue may need a good cleaning, especially if it has been a while since your last cleaning. It could also be that chimney repairs are required. You may have a water leak or need a new fireplace liner. Make sure to call a chimney sweep or professional as soon as possible.
Spalling Masonry Indicates Chimney Repairs
Spalling is crumbling of the brick and mortar as well as cracking and flaking. It can be caused by repeated weather as well as the passage of time. It is quite common in masonry, and it can be damaging if it is not repaired quickly. Usually, the brick and mortar need to be replaced with new, stronger mortar that will give your fireplace more durability and robustness. Painting of the new brick and mortar can occur, and no one will be the wiser that you had your masonry replaced.
How does a leaning chimney happen overnight? Well, it does not. Usually, a leaning stack indicates a problem with the foundation that could have been going on for years, but you never noticed. It could have been leaning very subtly and then gotten worse to the point you are noticing the lean. If this is the case, you will also see cracking in the masonry or a large crack between your chimney and your house. This may need chimney repairs, so it is imperative to call a professional in immediately.
Recognizing Masonry Issues In Your Home
A chimney and fireplace is a lovely addition to any home. It is one of the most substantial portions of your house and can add such flair and charm to a home. Chimneys can develop small issues though and need to be frequently maintained. This can be done by looking for chimney leaks, leaning, odors, and spalling and quickly repaired if problems are noted. By calling in a chimney professional, your chimney will be long lasting and will fill your home with much warmth for many years.
Chimneys are a great addition to any house or home. They give off an appeal and make a home feel special. However, they need to be occasionally maintained to prevent a buildup of chemicals and to prevent fires from occurring. This can be done with a thorough cleaning of the chimney.
Since it is summer, it is a great time to have your chimney cleaned, as you will not need it with the hot temperatures of summer. Vents need to be cleaned depending on how often you use your fireplace. For most people who live in Cincinnati, you are using the chimney daily in the winter. With this type of use, it is recommended that you have your chimney cleaned annually at a minimum.
Keep reading to learn more about the importance of chimney cleaning and how often you should be performing this crucial task.
Chimney Cleaning To Increase The Efficiency Of The Fireplace
One of the most critical reasons to have roofing inspections and your chimney cleaned frequently is to improve the efficiency of the flue. When soot accumulates near and around the flue of the stack, there is a drop in ventilation. Ventilation is necessary to remove smoke and carbon monoxide that is produced when wood is burned. Too much accumulation of creosote will prevent the smoke and other chemicals from escaping. Left untouched, smoke will back up into all rooms of your home and can cause severe damage.
Cleaning Assists In The Prevention Of Fires
Just like power washing leads to cleaner homes, chimney cleaning lead to spotless chimneys. This is important because a clean vent offers protection from fire. When wood is burned, not only does it produce smoke, but it also produces creosote, which is a dark, sticky substance that is quite flammable. The more creosote that is created and accumulates on your masonry, the more likely a fire is to break out. This is why it is of the utmost importance to schedule regular and frequent cleanings of your chimney. It is recommended to have your chimney cleaned when there is a residue of 1/8″ of soot accumulation that is visible inside your chimney or flue.
Prevention Of Carbon Monoxide
When a fire is started and burned, it is not just wood and smoke that you have to be cognizant of. You also need to be aware of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of fire. It is an unscented chemical that can be very harmful and destructive to humans and pets if too much exposure occurs. Signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea, headache, dizziness, and fatigue. It is imperative to have proper ventilation in your home and to have chimney cleaning and yearly inspections of your fireplace to check for carbon monoxide exposure.
If you have a chimney that you infrequently use, it is essential for you to maintain and perform chimney cleaning. Not to prevent fires or carbon monoxide, but to prevent pests that can make your chimney their home. Wildlife such as squirrels, birds, and raccoons can find a way in your chimney and make it a cozy spot to live in. If they can get in the fireplace, they most likely can get into the rest of your home as well. A routine inspection and evaluation will allow you to see any critters that should not be there. By doing this annually, you will be able to catch any intruders before they make a nest or start storing food in your chimney.
How Often Should I Have My Chimney Cleaned And Inspected?
Chimneys need to be cleaned based on the amount of use. If you only turn it on once or twice a year, you could go a few years without cleaning, but if you use your chimney in the winter like most individuals in Ohio, you need to have it inspected, cleaned and maintained yearly. This will prevent carbon monoxide build up as well as fire prevention. You will also increase the efficiency of the flue with a chimney cleaning. Lastly, you can remove any pests such as squirrels or birds that have made your chimney their home. Make sure to call a chimney sweep or experienced local handyman to have your fireplace cleaned and inspected today.
There are more elements to your chimney system than most homeowners realise and each one plays a crucial role in ensuring your chimney system is functioning properly. While for the most part, the primary role of your chimney is to allow smoke from your fireplace to safely leave your home, it’s important to ensure nothing comes back in.
Chimney caps are a critical component of your chimney system and are the one element that protects your entire chimney system. With a properly installed and functioning chimney cap in place, you can be sure that your fireplace will function correctly and safely.
Keep reading to find out exactly what a chimney cap is and why you need one for your chimney system.
What are Chimney Caps?
Chimney caps are located at the very top of your chimney that cover sand protects the opening on top. Chimney caps are installed above the opening of the chimney to allow smoke to pass between the top of the flue and the cap itself. There are many different styles, shapes, finishes and sizes used depending on the aesthetic and exterior painting job on your home but they all serve the same basic functions.
Why Do You Need a Chimney Cap?
A chimney cap is essential in keeping your fireplace running smoothly and safely. Essentially, it acts as a barrier to protect the top of the flue, allowing smoke to exit from your chimney while keeping birds, animals, debris and water out. Chimney caps also help to keep sparks and embers off your roof to prevent potential fire problems. Let’s take a look at four of the main reasons a chimney cap is important.
Prevent Animals From Entering
Birds, squirrels, racoons and other animals often seek out chimney systems to protect themselves from predators and from the weather. Having animals camped out in your chimney system can cause blockages, allows an entryway for wildlife into your home and can be unnerving for adults and children alike. However, with a chimney cap installed, you can easily avoid this problem.
Keep Debris Out
If you don’t utilize chimney caps, your chimney is highly susceptible to blockages from debris entering the flue. Not only can this cause damage to the flue liner but leaves, twigs, branches and other debris can block up your chimney and prevent proper ventilation.
Avoid Issues With Moisture
Although the outer elements of your chimney system are built to withstand elements such as rain, hail, ice and snow, your fireplace inside is not. In order to keep moisture out, a chimney cap should be installed or you could end up with expensive repair work to your fireplace that could cost you a lot in handyman bills.
Protect Your Roof From Fire
When your fireplace is in use, sparks and embers can often travel up the flue. Without a chimney cap to get in their way, they can find their way onto your roofing, into your gutters or even land on your garden and be the cause of a fire. This is something that all homeowners want to avoid and a chimney caps are a simple way to do so.
A Chimney Cap is Essential in Keeping Your Home Protected
Your chimney is a potential entry point for wildlife, debris and moisture to get into your home. Installing a chimney cap is crucial in keeping your chimney system free of blockages, keeping fire risk at a minimum and ensuring your home and your family are always kept safe.
No matter what time of year it is, it’s important to ensure that your chimney system is in perfect working order. As with any other element of your home, your chimney is prone to problems from time to time, which should be addressed immediately. If you don’t look carry out chimney repairs and look after these issues promptly, they can very quickly become major issues and cause further problems down the line.
Chimney leaks are relatively common and can occur for a number of different reasons. Stonework consists of different materials, which can be affected by water and cause your chimney to leak. However, if you are aware of the potential cause of the problem you should carry out the necessary chimney repairs to resolve the issue before it goes any further.
Let’s take a look at four of the most common causes of chimney leaks in Cincinnati homes.
Damaged or Faulty Chimney Caps
The chimney cap installed at the top of your chimney serves a number of purposes. It is there to keep birds, animals and debris out and also to stop rain from getting in. However, over time, chimney caps can become damaged due to bad weather conditions, general wear and tear and from abuse by animals. If damaged, rainwater can easily get into the chimney flue, damage your chimney system and cause a leak which can result in expensive remodelling work being needed in your home.
Cracked Chimney Crown
At the top of every chimney, is a large slab that covers the top opening to your chimney, known as the chimney crown. Its main function is to keep your chimney protected against harsh weather conditions such as high winds, rain and snow. Over time, it’s common for the chimney crown to deteriorate due to exposure and to fluctuations caused by changes in temperature. When this happens, water can gather in the cracks and eventually seep through resulting in your chimney leaking and you needing expensive chimney repairs.
Broken Mortar Joints and Cracked Bricks
With time, the mortar and cement holding your chimney in together can become cracked and the bricks themselves can also crack. Freezing and thawing of water deposits in the bricks over a long time period get into the concrete and eventually allow the water to start leaking into your chimney system. Many people choose to waterproof their chimney to avoid this from happening. However, with natural deterioration and bad weather, it is still a common cause of leaks which can cause huge damage requiring re-painting of your home and professional handyman services to get your home back to its original condition.
Poorly installed Flashing
In the area where your chimney intersects with your roofing, you will notice a layer of thin metal sheeting, this is your chimney flashing. Installing flashing must be done very carefully as the angle of the roof and the materials used have to be given careful attention. When the flashing is not installed properly, water is allowed to penetrate the system easily. Flashing problems are very common and one of the most common causes of water leaks in a chimney system that require immediate chimney repairs.
Avoid Expensive Chimney Repair and keep Your Chimney Leak-Free
Rain, snow, high winds and fluctuating temperatures can damage to your chimney over time. It’s important to pay attention to your chimney to ensure that you catch any water leaks early on before they develop into more serious problems. Conduct regular chimney inspections and carry out any required chimney repair promptly to make sure you keep your chimney leak-free and healthy so that it will stand the test of time.
Although many people don’t realize it, chimney liners are one of the most important elements of any chimney system. Whether your chimney burns oil, gas or solid fuel, the liner assists in guiding the by-products caused by the combustion up the chimney and away from your home. Chimney liners are crucial in not only protecting the inside of your chimney but also ensuring that your chimney operates as efficiently and effectively as possible.
While other elements of your chimney system are easier to monitor, a professional chimney inspection is essential in detecting any issues with your liner. Many homeowners overlook this part of their chimney system, simply because they can’t see it. Your chimney liner covers the inside of your chimney system, providing protection for your chimney. If your liner becomes damaged or worn, you might need to have it replaced or repaired to prevent further damage to your home, interior painting or risk of harmful chemicals entering your home.
Let’s take a closer look at chimney liners so that you can stay informed about this vital element of your chimney system.
The Function of Chimney Liners
Chimney liners provide three main functions and play a vital role in your chimney system.
Protecting the Chimney System
Chimney liners protect the brickwork and concrete that your chimney is made from. Corrosive byproducts created by the fire can cause serious damage to the masonry work if there is no liner in place. In addition, creosote and soot can harm your chimney from inside your chimney.
To ensure that your chimney is providing optimal ventilation, it’s important to have a chimney liner in place. Essentially, chimney liners create the right sized vent for your fireplace ensuring the right amount of space is available and a smooth passage is present for smoke to escape and for your chimney to operate efficiently.
Providing a Barrier
Your chimney liner serves the function of acting as a barrier in two main ways. First of all, it eliminates the risk of harmful chemicals entering your home through the brickwork of your chimney, which can be harmful to those inside. Secondly, it prevents heat being transferred to other building materials used in your home such as those supporting your roofing.
Different Types of Liners
There are three main types of chimney liners in use today. While each one provides the same basic function, different types of chimney liners are used in different situations depending on a number of factors.
Clay Tile Chimney Liners
Clay tiles can withstand very high temperatures and hold up very well to damage from corrosive materials, making them a great material for chimney liners. This method has been used since the 1900’s and while the clay tiles themselves are not very expensive, the work involved in installing them is very comprehensive, making this the most expensive option. Most of the time these are installed during the homebuilding process and replacing and maintaining this system is costly and time-consuming. Installing this type of chimney liner after your home is built can require heavy remodeling work.
Cast-In-Place Chimney Liners
If your chimney flue is in disrepair, a cast-in-place liner can be a great option. These liners work to reinforce the structure of your existing chimney as they are very durable and are not easily affected by harmful gases or heat. They also stand the test of time, often lasting up to 50 years. However, installation of these liners is a big job and should only be attempted by a professional.
Metal Flue Chimney Liners
Metal flue liners are the most popular option with homeowners nowadays due to their versatility and flexibility. Usually, metal liners are made of either alloy or stainless steel and they come in either rigid or flexible constructions. Your chimney professional will choose rigid or flexible construct depending on the shape of your chimney. Flexible liners have the added benefit that they can expand and contract with exposure to heat, helping to knock off deposits of creosote and other buildups.
Take Some Time to Understand Chimney Liners and Make the Right Choice
There’s more to chimney liners than most homeowners may think and with them playing such a pivotal role in the functionality and protection of your chimney system it’s important you make the right decision. Take some time to speak with a professional and make sure you make the right call for your home’s chimney system.
It is again the winter season in Cincinnati, Ohio, and that means it is time to kick on the fireplace and utilize the chimney. Before doing so, you want to make sure your chimney is functional and in good working condition. This is a task you want to complete on all your home systems, including the HVAC as well as the gutters. In this short guide, you will be informed of the top four signs you might need chimney repairs.
1. Your chimney is crumbling
If you have had a recent disaster occur in your home, it may have affected your chimney as well as the rest of the house. Besides having to perform remodeling, you may need to have chimney repairs completed to get your fireplace and chimney working again. If you notice any cracking or crumbling to the chimney after a tornado, earthquake, flood, fire, or hurricane, or if the chimney is leaning at all, you need to contact a professional chimney team to evaluate the damage to your structure.
2. Water damage and chimney repairs
Another sign that your chimney may need repairs is if you notice visible water damage. Water damage from leaks can be an insidious and slow process. Your chimney may have a minor leak, or it could be as severe as crumbling brickwork. Just as roofing leaks will cause the painting to peel and mold to grow, leaks in the chimney can cause stains on the masonry or ceiling. Musty smells may emit from the fireplace, or wet ashes may be noticed. These are all signs that you need to call in a professional chimney crew as soon as possible.
3. Your stonework is hot to the touch
Chimney repairs may be required in your home if your brickwork or other masonry materials are warm to the touch. This is usually a sign of a damaged flue liner, but it can also mean other things are not functioning correctly as well. If you notice any pieces of broken clay in the fireplace, this is a sign that your flue liner needs to be replaced. When the flue liner is cracked, damaged, or not functioning correctly, it can cause the gases that are usually swept up and out of the chimney to escape into your home. You and your family members can breathe in this contaminated air and develop respiratory issues from the harmful gases.
4. Your fireplace is at the end of its life
If you have used your chimney and fireplace for many years, it may be coming to the end of its life. One of the hardest working portions of your chimney is the firebox. It takes the brunt of the heat and abuse from the fire and flames. Simple wear and tear may require you to replace the flue or firebox after multiple years of usage. Make sure you are inspecting your firebox monthly and if you notice cracks or damage to the masonry, call in a professional fireplace handyman or a professional chimney team to evaluate the severity of it.
As you can see, there are multiple signs to look for when operating your chimney for the first time this season. Whether you notice water damage, normal wear from use, or any structural damage, you will be well prepared to fix the obstacle and start using your fireplace this winter. If you follow our advice on the top four signs you may need chimney repairs, your Cincinnati home will be cozy and warm from your working fireplace this winter!