Should I Switch to a Top Sealing Damper?

According to The National Association of Realtors (NAR), a property’s value can increase an additional $12,000 when a working fireplace is in the home. Not only do they improve aesthetics, but they help create a more comfortable home and can help lower energy costs. However, there are some downsides to having a chimney in your home…

Top Sealing Dampers - Houston TX - Lords Chimney homeChimneys offer a path to the outdoors. Which means, when temps are cooler, that cold air can pass through the chimney and make your house appear colder than it actually is. And the opposite is also true when warm air seeps through on hotter days – you’ll need to kick up the air conditioner, which then ups your bills.

Fortunately, there’s a solution to this issue – top sealing dampers.

What Is the Role of Fireplace Dampers?

A fireplace damper works as a door to allow flue gases and smoke out when your fireplace is hosting a fire, and to keep cold or warm air from entering the home while the fireplace is not being used. Most masonry fireplaces in homes typically have a throat damper, but sweeps nowadays are encouraging homeowners to switch to a top sealing option.

What’s the difference between the two? Well, to start, a throat damper is located right above the firebox. A top sealing damper, on the other hand, is located at the top portion of the chimney – hence the name. And, while throat dampers have been offering suitable protection for decades, there’s no denying a top sealing damper simply does a better job.

Top Sealing vs Throat: Why Is a Top Sealing Chimney Damper Better?

A traditional throat damper over time can warp, become stuck or jammed, or rust from exposure to moisture and extreme heat. All of these things cause a less efficient seal, which can then lead to all kinds of problems. A top sealing damper, on the other hand, is made of stainless steel, so rust or corrosion is not a problem. It also has rubber gaskets designed to create an airtight seal between the chimney flue and the outside.

How else are top sealing dampers better than throat fireplace dampers? Here’s what you need to know:

  • Top Sealing Dampers - Houston TX - Lords Chimney chimneySave More on Energy: Top sealing dampers help save energy due to the airtight seal they provide. This means they close the entire length of the fireplace, including the neck or the flue system. As a result, there is zero air moving through the chimney, which ensures the interior temperature of the house isn’t affected at all. Throat dampers definitely can’t offer this heightened level of protection.
  • Prevent Interior Damage: Like we mentioned, a top sealing chimney damper seals the full length of the chimney. This means that you’re closing the pipeline from the very top, thereby protecting the flue system from outside elements when not in use. Just imagine the amount of moisture that can enter inside the flue system if you’re using a throat damper. Leaves, tree limbs, birds and animals could enter and create a blockage, leaving you more vulnerable to experience smoke in the home or a chimney fire. Having a top sealing damper gives you more peace of mind,
  • Improved Life Expectancy: Left to the elements, the fireplace flue system can be easily damaged. Animals, debris, and water can enter, encouraging mold growth and causing the brick system to break down. A throat damper needs to be checked frequently for wear and tear. In contrast, the top sealing damper should have a longer service life and fewer structural problems during its lifespan. Not only will the damper last longer… your chimney will too!

When To Switch to a Top Sealing Fireplace Damper

If you have an older home, chances are you have a throat-sealing damper. If you’re having the chimney repaired, or even cleaned, this may be the perfect time to make the switch from a throat damper to a top sealing alternative. Creating the change isn’t hard, won’t take more than a day, and can be easily integrated during normal maintenance procedures.

Most chimney professionals in Houston recommend using top-sealing dampers for all of the reasons above. They’re simply easier on your property as a whole. By making the switch, you’ll find that keeping your chimney in good working condition is much easier, and you’ll be able to use your system with ease and peace of mind year after year.

Contact Us Today for a Consultation

With energy prices continuously rising, we understand the value of producing top-quality work that helps achieve energy efficiency goals for every household. We’re committed to helping you achieve the results you’re hoping for through quick, quality, and reasonably-priced work. Contact us today for a consultation!

Spring Fireplace Updates & Upgrades

Sping Updates - Houston TX - Lords springIt’s springtime, which means many are thinking of cleaning out their spaces and embarking on new home projects. And if your fireplace is something you’re looking to update or improve, then you know there’s only one team to call for the job… the crew here at Lords Chimney.

We have all kinds of options for improving the look or function of your heating system, and we offer a long list of repair services, too, ensuring all your bases will be covered when you start your burning this upcoming fall. Ready to get going? So are we! Reach out now.

Is a Fireplace Facelift Right for You?

Looking to update the look of your fireplace or living space without doing a major renovation or overhaul? Then a facelift may be the right path for you. This is essentially the process of replacing the face of your fireplace with something new, even potentially changing up the material used in the process – choose from brick, stone, tile, and more.

Considering a Fireplace Replacement?

Working within your budget and preferences, we can help replace your entire unit if that’s the right path for you. For a more traditional look, we can install a masonry system, but if you’re looking for something easy to install and affordable, a prefabricated unit may be a better option. We can also talk with you about your options with gas logs or gas log conversions.

Interested in a fireplace insert? These are known for their efficiency and can offer an effective and easy route for switching fuel types. Many opt for this route if they’re sick of the upkeep involved with wood-burning systems and are ready to switch to gas. Sound familiar? Call today to further discuss your options!

Need a New Mantel?

Has your mantel seen better days? We can set you up with either a custom or pre-made option, improving the look of your entire fireplace significantly in just one easy step. This not only improves the aesthetic of your space, but can help up the resale value, too. (In fact, all of our improvement options will increase the value of home quite a bit.)

We pride ourselves on offering a long list of mantel varieties to explore, so you’re sure to find something that fits in with your decor and setup, no problem.

Improve Your Set-Up With Some Accessories

Sometimes it’s the little things that really make your appliance more personalized and truly yours. Our fireplace accessories offer both functional and cosmetic improvements, and include things like gas logs, fire screens, fireplace grates, glass doors, tool sets, and more. If any of these sound like they’d make a great addition to your space, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Looking to Get More From Your Chimney Components?

If any parts of your chimney’s anatomy are suffering, now is a great time to have these replaced, too. This could include your chimney cap, chase cover, or damper. We can also rebuild or repair your chimney crown, as well as make improvements or repairs to your firebox or chimney liner.

Basically… whatever repairs or replacement parts your system needs to withstand it all throughout your burning season, we can set you up. 

Have You Schedule Your Summer Inspection Yet?

Sping Updates - Houston TX - Lords brickSummer will be here before we know it, and summertime inspections are ideal for getting your fireplace maintenance done early and conveniently. Not only will scheduling early make it easier to book a spot (since our busy season won’t start until fall), but come that first chilly evening, you can happily enjoy your fireplace with ease, knowing everything is good to go and in working order.

If you need repairs, sweepings, or updates, now is the time to get it done! Give the quality techs at Lords Chimney a call today to get started.

Why Trust Us?

Why is Lords Chimney the team so many throughout Houston and its surrounding cities turn to? Well, our experience and professionalism is simply unmatched, and we work hard to maintain certifications and attend training seminars, ensuring we stay educated and up-to-date on all industry news.

We also work hard to offer that exceptional, personalized service that we know you deserve. We not only repair fireplaces, but aim to educate our customers about them, too, so that they can use their systems as safely as possible. Long story short… we listen to your needs and take your concerns seriously.

Ready to Get Started?

If you’re ready to work with our experts, then don’t hesitate any longer. Pick up your phone and give us a call at 281-497-4000 to set up your appointment! You can also conveniently reach out to us online. We look forward to working with you soon.

Answering Your Waterproofing Questions

There’s never a bad time to think about chimney care, and one of the most common issues homeowners face when it comes to chimney damage is water exposure. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) has actually named water chimney’s biggest enemy, so you know leak-related damages are nothing to underestimate!

And what’s one of the most effective ways to prevent water damage? Chimney waterproofing!

How does water damage my chimney? (And how can I spot it?)

Here’s the lowdown on the more common ways water damages your chimney…

  • Rust: Your chimney cap, chase cover, flashing, and damper are all much more likely to experience rust (and not be able to effectively do their jobs) if your system isn’t adequately protected.
  • Answering Your Waterproofing Questions - Houston TX - Lords Chimney waterWood Rot: As water damages your chimney, it won’t be long before it starts working its way into your home, as well. This results in any adjacent woodwork becoming weakened and rotted.
  • Wall/Ceiling Stains: And speaking of home damage, you’ll probably notice water stains on your walls and ceiling, too!
  • Clogging: As your system breaks down, you’re more likely to have pieces of your clay liner fall into your chimney and clog things up. A clogged chimney is never a good thing, and it can put your chimney, home, and family at further risk every time you light a fire.
  • Cracks & Crumbling: Your masonry is sure to break down the more it soaks in moisture. This results in hazards like smoke in your home, carbon monoxide leaks, house fires, and more… and it’s where chimney waterproofing really comes into play!
  • Tilted or Collapsed Hearth: In the end, the longer any damages go unaddressed, the worse off your system will be – and the more likely you’ll wind up facing some serious damage down the line.

As for spotting it, be sure to keep an eye out for discoloration on your brickwork. It could be green, which indicates mold or vegetative growth, or you may even notice some white efflorescence, which is a clear indication that water is wreaking havoc.

You might also notice water pooling in your fireplace or hear dripping coming from the inside. This is a good indicator that your cap is damaged or potentially missing altogether.

Smelling something unpleasant? Water can mix with your creosote to create bad campfire-esque smells, or you may notice some musty/moldy odors, too.

Finally, be sure to keep an eye out for obvious signs of cracking, decay, or crumbling. If your bricks are missing or cracked, or if your mortar joints seem to be falling out and deteriorating, then water is the likely culprit, and you’ll need some repairs completed before moving forward with any fireplace usage.

My chimney’s already leaking… Should I schedule repairs first?

Yep! Repairs should be completed before investing in waterproofing to ensure the most effective results. Fortunately, the team at Lords Chimney is qualified to address just about anything you’d need done, so you can work with us from start to finish – no matter the current state of your chimney.

Call on us for tuckpointing, flashing repairs, chimney cap replacements, crown rebuilds, and more. We’re confident we can handle whatever you throw our way!

Can I just use my own chimney sealer?

Are you known throughout your neighborhood for tackling an endless line of DIY projects? If so, you’re probably thinking… why not just buy my own sealant and do the job myself? This isn’t an uncommon thought for homeowners in our service area, and while it sounds foolproof enough, it’s not something we recommend.

One issue with these store-bought products is that many leave behind an unsightly film or glossy shine, which is is the last thing you want in a masonry structure. Some can even cause discoloration, leaving you with more of a mess than you started with.

The bigger problem, though, is that the waterproofing products need to be vapor permeable, otherwise your chimney will continue to suffer. Professional waterproofing products are formulated to meet these requirements, ensuring any moisture already trapped inside of the brickwork can still eventually vent out.

Long story short – your brickwork needs to breathe! This is why trusting a professional throughout the process is so important. …and why store-bought products can wind up causing more harm than good.

My chimney’s held up for years… Do I really need waterproofing?

Answering Your Waterproofing Questions - Houston TX - Lords Chimney chimneyYes! Bricks are known for their strength and durability, but bad weather and moisture will always win out in the end. Chances are your system has, in fact, already suffered quite a bit of damage. You’re just not noticing it because it’s hidden or in the form of small, hard-to-notice cracking. Unfortunately, there will come a time when these minor issues turn into big (and expensive) repairs. And the longer you put off repairs, the worse off you’ll be.

In fact, not only is waterproofing a must, but so are annual inspections. Like we said, damages can easily remain hidden for quite some time, so you could be at risk every time you light a fire without even knowing it. It’s through these seemingly minor damages that smoke, fumes, toxic gases, and fire can escape into your home and put those within it at risk.

Is my masonry the only thing to waterproof?

In addition to the sides of your masonry chimney, we also recommend waterproofing your crown and your chimney flashing. The crown is what actually directs the water away from the sides of your brickwork, and the flashing protects the vulnerable spot where your roof and chimney meet, so both play a vital role in leak prevention – and need adequate protection because of that.

Does my prefab chimney need waterproofing?

Since your chimney chase isn’t made from brick and mortar, our masonry waterproofing products obviously won’t be as useful on a prefab chimney. That said, prefab systems still need protection from water damage! What will be most beneficial is a quality chase cover, which is essentially the crown of a factory-built set-up.

Most systems come with their own chase cover, but these stock models don’t typically hold up for very long. Investing in a long-lasting, high-quality model (and having it professionally installed) is always going to be your best bet – and it will save you hundreds in repairs down the line.

Contact Us Today for Exceptional Care

Need chimney care this spring and summer? Now’s the time to call! Reach out soon, so you’re all set and ready when the busy fall season comes back around. We look forward to speaking with you!

How Do I Get Wasps Out of My Fireplace?

So, it’s not all that uncommon to hear of birds building nests in fireplaces. Even raccoons, squirrels, and the occasional opossum working their way from time to time! And while these guests aren’t exactly easy to get rid of, most know the proper protocol for animal removal – call on a team of professional to clear them out!

But this time of year we tend to get calls regarding a creature that’s less known for camping out in chimneys – the wasp.

How Do I Get Wasps Out of My Fireplace? - Houston TX - Lords Chimney waspWasps tend to gather in flues and chimneys this time of year because of the cooler temperatures. They’ll be drawn to the heat of your chimney, and if it doesn’t have any lingering smoke or fire smells, they’ll deem it a perfect spot to set up camp. Unfortunately, this isn’t so ideal for the homeowner who now has to worry about buzzing noises and stinging insects potentially invading their space.

Needless to say, avoiding their entry is the most ideal route, but what can you do if they’re already present?

Smoking Them Out

So, even our experts agree that, in most cases, smoking an animal out of your chimney won’t end well. They’ll likely just die in there, leaving you with even more problems on your hands, like clogs and lingering odors.

In the case of wasps, though, lighting a fire is actually one of the more effective ways to send them away! As we mentioned above, they can sense when a fireplace hasn’t been put to use recently, and they’ll be drawn to it because of that. That said, if you light fires regularly, they will note the smokey smell and know to stay away (or to move out if they’ve already starting building a nest).

Smoking them out also works better than sprays or pesticides, as these only offer a short-term fix due to their inability to stick to the metal components of your system. And we don’t recommend sealing things up either (another common approach) as this just invites more problems.

The good news is that, since temperatures tend to drop a bit this time of year, the wasps should be a bit more docile. That means you won’t have to stress as much about them taking the attack.

Removing Nesting Materials

How Do I Get Wasps Out of My Fireplace? - Houston TX - Lords Chimney nestOnce the wasps are out, removing the nest is imperative for avoiding potential chimney fires and other hazards. Their nest is thin, dry, and paper-like, making it the perfect fuel for any stray flames and sparks.

Removing it as soon as possible will also help prevent the wasps from attempting to return to the same nesting spot.

Once your system is free and clear, the next course of action should be to schedule a professional chimney inspection to guarantee everything is safe and ready for use. An inspection will also reveal if a sweeping or any repairs are necessary.

Preventing Their Return

So, the wasps are gone and your chimney is nest-free. This is great, but… we’re guessing you don’t feel quite at ease yet. And we can’t say we blame you! What you need is action steps that guarantee the wasps will stay gone for good.

Here are some options we recommend:

  • Have a New Chimney Cap Installed: The main purpose of a chimney cap is to keep things out of your chimney that should not be there. That includes any creatures that may be looking to build a nest and take things over!
  • Invest in a Top-Sealing Damper: Top-sealing dampers seal tightly at the top of your flue, working alongside your chimney cap to keep out rain, debris, downdrafts, and – you guessed it – unwanted animals and insects.
  • Have Masonry & Mortar Cracks Sealed: Gaps and openings throughout your chimney can give wasps easy access to your system’s interior. These defects also leave you vulnerable to fire hazards and gas leaks, so investing in necessary repairs (like tuckpointing) right away from a qualified pro is a must!
  • Move Trash, Bird Feeders, Etc. Away From Your Chimney: Keep bird feeders, trash cans, flowering plants, and other common wasp attractors well away from the side of your home with the chimney. The further they stay away, the better!
  • Run Your Chimney: Like we mentioned above, running your chimney is a solid way to ensure wasps don’t come flying back around anytime soon. The smoke will deter them when fires are going, and any lingering smells after its out will warm them away, too.
  • Invest in Professional Maintenance: The more diligent you are about scheduling annual inspection and investing in necessary maintenance, the more likely your chimney will remain pest-free. Professionals will note any vulnerable spots and provide the appropriate solutions for keeping your system better protected for the long haul.

Our Sweeps Are Ready for Your Call

Our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified sweeps are always ready and willing to help with any and all of your chimney and fireplace needs. Don’t put off the care you deserve. Give us a call or reach out online today, so our experts can put your mind at ease.

We look forward to speaking with you soon!

How To Make Your Fireplace or Appliance More Effective At Heating

We’re in the cooler season here in Houston, which means many homeowners are putting their fireplaces to a lot more use. Let’s face it – is there a better way to wind down at the end of the day than in front of a cozy fire?

That said, if you’ve found yourself settling down only to be disappointed with a lack of heat from your appliance, then relaxing and unwinding is probably the furthest thing from your mind.

This scenario can also be frustrating when it comes to lowering energy bills. Many use their fireplace as an alternate heat source, so they don’t have to worry about turning on the heat and upping their energy bills. But this isn’t going to be an option if your fireplace isn’t doing it’s job!

Here at Lords Chimney, we strongly believe that fireplaces are meant to be enjoyed and to offer comfort, and we hate to hear of customers not getting what they deserve from their system. That’s why we’re here to talk about the more effective way to get more heat from your fireplace – upgrading to a gas insert.

Why Gas Inserts?

How to Make Your Fireplace or Appliance More Effective at Heating - Houston TX - Lords Chimney gasSo, why are gas inserts the way to go? Well, if you own a wood-burning fireplace, you’ve probably noticed that their open-style set up isn’t exactly ideal for warming up your living space. Like a fire pit, if you’re right on top of it, sure, you’ll get some heat… but once you back away, you’re left cold, uncomfortable, and frustrated.

A gas insert, on the other hand, is designed to radiate heat into your home and all without the use of a fan or any outside help. They also come with a remote that has a thermostat right on it, so controlling any temperature changes from the comfort of your couch or favorite chair won’t be an issue at all.

Curious about some other benefits of gas inserts? We’ve got the lowdown on it all:

  • They offer constant/consistent heat. No worrying about flames dying down or whether or not your wood logs will burn hot enough. Just set it to the temperature you want, sit back, and relax!
  • They come in a wide range of style and design options. Whether you’re looking for something sleek and modern or something more classic and traditional, we’re certain you’ll find something to love in no time.
  • There’s no mess involved. Wood-burning units invite a lot of mess. Between storing/hauling wood, cleaning up ash piles, and dealing with the occasional stray spark, you could find yourself with damaged or dirty belongings in no time. This isn’t the case with gas units!
  • No more creosote. No burning wood means no creosote buildup, so you won’t be investing in those chimney sweepings all the time. Annual inspections are still a must, though!
  • They’re easy to operate. Just flip the switch or push a button, and you’ve got heat. No building fires, no adding more logs, and no waiting for things to die down, either. Once you’re done for the evening, simply switch it off, and you’re all set.
  • You can easily lower your energy bills. Because gas inserts offer so much extra heat to your home, lowering those monthly energy bills shouldn’t be a problem whatsoever.

There’s no reason not to make the switch – give us a call today to get started!

We Sell Valor Radiant Gas Fireplace

How to Make Your Fireplace or Appliance More Effective at Heating - Houston TX - Lords Chimney valorLooking for more specifics on what products we offer here at Lords Chimney? Well, we only work with the best brands, which is why we’re happy to install a Valor Radiant Gas Fireplace into your home. We only recommend products we believe in, so you can trust that any model you choose will provide comfort and satisfaction for years to come.

Valor’s gas fireplaces are easy to customize, too, and we’d be happy to go through the different facing and front options with you. In the end, you’ll end up with an efficient, clean-burning appliance that you can enjoy season after season!

Not Ready to Make the Switch?

Like we said, gas inserts are the way to go when it comes to getting more heat from your fireplace. They’re a very worthwhile investment, helping you save time, money, and stress down the line, and we have a long list of customers who are completely satisfied with the models we’ve installed for them.

That said, if switching to a gas insert just isn’t in the stars for you right now, we get it. Maybe you don’t have the budget for it or maybe you’re one of those who believe the old-school ambiance of a crackling wood fire just can’t be beat. Well, while you won’t get the same heat you would from a gas insert, the good news is that there are still a few tricks that may help you get a bit more efficiency from your wood-burning system.

  • Only burn well-seasoned wood. Any wood you’re burning should have been dried out for at least 6 months and should have a moisture content of around 15 – 25%. The more water your fires have to burn through, the more energy they’ll waste, and the less heat you’ll end up with.
  • Use hardwoods as opposed to softwoods. Hardwoods are denser and have more British Thermal Units (BTUs) per piece of wood. This means you’ll get more heat and less smoke, guaranteeing a better (and hotter) experience overall. Maple, oak, and walnut are three of the best wood types you can burn.
  • Invest in regular maintenance. Annual inspections and regular sweepings are imperative to getting the most you can from your fireplace, no matter your set-up or fuel type. If your system becomes clogged or is damaged it will not perform as well – simple as that.
  • Have a fireback installed. Firebacks are iron or steel plates that can be installed in the back of the firebox to help radiate heat back into your living space.

Contact Us Today for Quality Care

Need chimney care? From installations to sweepings to restoration work and more, our experienced and certified crew would love be there for you through it all.

Give us a call or reach out online to get started!