Chimney Repairs

Damaged Chimney Signs & Symptoms

Chimney Masonry Repair in Fulton MDA fully functional chimney is a safe chimney. A damaged chimney can be dangerous. Fortunately, you can spot many signs of chimney damage and arrange for the necessary repairs before the problem gets out of hand. Here are four areas of chimney damage/chimney issues to be on the lookout for.

Leaky chimney signs

Water in the firebox: If you see water inside your firebox, likely it means there’s a leak somewhere in the system.

 

White stains on masonry: White stains (efflorescence) are caused by naturally occurring salt and mean that water is getting into the masonry.

Foul smells coming from the fireplace: Excess moisture inside the flue often is caused by a leaky chimney. Moisture mixes with soot and creosote and produces strong odors.

Structural damage 

Crumbling on the roof: Masonry damage often leaves areas of crumbling on the roof near the base of the chimney.

Leaning chimney: If a chimney has begun to lean to one side, it indicates a significant level of damage that needs to be addressed before using the fireplace again.

Missing bricks: When bricks fall completely away from the chimney or parts of the bricks are missing, water damage is often the reason.

Black staining at the top of the chimney: This could be caused by the excess, thick smoke produced by a chimney fire.

Damage to chimney components

Damaged chimney cap: Any compromise to the vented areas of a chimney cap mean that unwanted obstructions could get into the flue and cause drafting issues.

Cracks in the chimney crown: Crown damage commonly begins with small cracks, which expand over time due to freeze-thaw cycles. Water inside the crown structure eventually can destroy it.

Flashing problems: The flashing that blocks the gap between the chimney and the roof should be flat and secure in order to keep water from running down into the home. Warped or deteriorated flashing needs to be replaced.

Chimney liner damage: If the chimney liner begins to break apart or degenerate, you may notice pieces of it in the firebox. You also may be able to visually see some parts of the liner to determine if damage is present.

Chimney Flue Cleaning in Glenwood, MDIssues inside the flue

Aside from what’s listed above, two serious issues can take place inside the flue.

  1. Excess creosote buildup: Creosote is formed when wood burns. The substance is flammable and responsible for most chimney fires in the U.S. each year.
  2. Outside obstructions: Things such as small-animal nests, dead small animals, leaves, twigs and other debris can narrow the smoke passage and cause smoke and carbon monoxide to back up into the house. In both these cases, professional chimney sweep services are called for.

As a homeowner, you can keep a close eye on your chimney and its components and be able to tell when something is wrong. However, your “novice” inspections are no replacement for professional chimney inspections performed by certified technicians. If you watch your chimney and schedule annual inspections by a pro, you’ll be taking a big step toward keeping your chimney safe and running optimallyHigh’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, provides everything you need for a safe chimney including certified chimney sweep, professional inspection and expert repair services. Call (301) 519-3500 with questions or to schedule an appointment.

 

 

How to Get Your Chimney Ready for Santa Claus

Chimney sweep in Potomac MDIt’s that time of year again – the time good old Santa Claus hitches up his sleigh to the reindeer and heads to the homes of every good boy and girl and shimmies down chimneys to leave brightly wrapped presents for the kids. Okay, none of this may be true, but it’s not a bad idea to think it is when it comes to taking care of your chimney.

Let’s look at four ways you can prepare your chimney for Santa and in the process keep it running at max safety and efficiency.

 

 

 

First, Santa needs to be able to get into the chimney

If your chimney is full of accumulated leaves and twigs and dust and bird nests and possibly the bodies of small animals who have died in the chimney, Santa might not even fit into the flue. So, step one in getting your chimney ready for a visit from the Old Man is to have all the obstructions cleaned out.

Doing this will also allow your fires to burn more efficiently and keep smoke drafting up the flue rather than backing up into your home.

Next, Santa can’t afford to get too dirty

Creosote and soot inside a chimney can seriously mar Santa’s pristine red-and-white appearance. If Santa went down a chimney packed with these smoke byproducts, he would emerge looking like he’d been dragged through the mud.

Removing creosote and soot from your chimney also brings the benefit of significantly reducing the chance of a chimney fire – most of which in the U.S. each year start with ignited creosote.

Masonry repair in Poolesville, MDChimney repairs 

Santa isn’t getting any smaller as the years pass, so your chimney might be a tight fit for him. The last thing you need is for his sizeable girth to push against already compromised bricks and mortar joints and cause the whole chimney to come tumbling down.

Damage from water infiltration, house-settling, seismic events and plain old age can cause chimney masonry to degrade. Once the structure is sufficiently compromised, it can begin to fall apart and create a danger for everyone near it. It would be a good idea to repair damaged masonry before Santa arrives.

Finally, don’t smoke out Santa

You’ve decided to leave a low fire burning in the fireplace during the night. Hopefully you’re burning dry (seasoned) logs that produce minimal smoke. Sure, Santa can come down chimneys when the fireplace is in use, but he’s only human, and if you’re burning wet, unseasoned wood, he’s going to get smoked out before he can drop off the presents and eat whatever snack you left for him.

By burning dry wood only, you create much less smoke, which means less creosote and soot buildup as well as less smoke emissions going out into the atmosphere. Plus, your fires will start easier and burn better.

Of course, it’s unlikely that Santa will be dropping down your chimney this holiday season. But if you go about chimney maintenance as if he really was going to pay you a visit, you’ll have a much cleaner, safer and efficient chimney to enjoy all winter long.

High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is standing by this winter to help with the very best in certified chimney sweep services, chimney repair and chimney inspection. We’ll get your chimney in great shape for the long winter season – and maybe for a special visit from you-know-who. Call us at (301) 519-3500.