We’re nearing the end of what is typically considered “hurricane season” here in the Greater Houston Area, which means your chimney may need some extra care and attention. Here are some of the main things to look for when assessing your potential chimney damage.
1. Missing Caps & Chase Covers
One of the biggest issues we discover after a hurricane is missing caps and chase covers. When those strong winds come in, your cap is often the first thing to go, and it could be multiple houses away by the time we have the chance to look things over!
And if your cap still seems to be intact, don’t let out a sigh of relief just yet. We’ve seen multiple cases where it gets blown off, only to fall right back into its original spot. This gives the appearance of a properly-fitted cap when in reality it’s barely hanging on.
Needless to say, investing in a new cap or chase cover as soon as possible is an absolute must. These keep out rain and downdrafts, and they prevent animal entry, as well. In the end, an affordable cap can be quickly installed by of our team of experts, and it will wind up saving you a lot of time, stress, and hassle over time.
Another indication of severe damage is discoloration throughout your structure. Now, hurricanes typically come in one of two forms – extra windy or extra rainy. If you’ve just experienced one with lots of water, then discoloration is often something you’ll notice in the aftermath.
If you see lots of white, for instance, this is a sign of efflorescence, or lots of green throughout the bricks indicates vegetation growth (a clear sign of standing water). You could also see brown or black patches, which indicates rust, creosote, or built-up soot. In the end, most types of discoloration can be traced back to water damage, so get our certified crew on the job right away if things start to look suspicious.
3. Gaps in Your Brickwork
Excessive wind and rain can easily trigger spalling throughout your system, which weakens your entire structurally significantly. Moisture has a big impact on the strength of your brickwork and mortar, and the more everything crumbles and breaks down, the more vulnerable you will be to gas leaks, fires, and even chimney collapses.
Our experienced crew will get things patched up in no time, and once we’re done we can offer waterproofing products that will help your masonry better withstand water and rainfall.
4. Leaning/Swaying Chimney
One thing we strongly encourage homeowners to do after a bad storm is to walk outside and take a good look at your chimney. Does something look off? If you notice tilting or leaning at all, then you’ll want a solid team of sweeps on the job quickly.
And while you’re looking, watch out for anything else that seems out of the norm. We mentioned discoloration and missing parts, but do you notice rust, cracks in your crown, worn down mortar joints, or anything else awry? Call us in. This is one area where you are always better off being safe than sorry!
Not Sure Where You Stand? Schedule an Inspection or Invest In A Virtual Assessment!
Now, if you’re just not sure what state your chimney is in, the best way to get an accurate assessment is to schedule an inspection. Getting our team out to perform a level 2 inspection will ensure any faults or structural flaws are spotted and addressed as soon as possible.
Or, if you have a busy schedule or you’re just inquiring about some reconstruction or remodeling work, send us a picture! We do virtual assessments, and we typically can give you all of the information you need without even having to come to your house. This saves time and expense on your end, and it can help you make an official decision as to whether or not you want to proceed with any changes or renovations.
You Deserve High-Quality Care
From strange smells to weird noises to worrisome drips, we can put all of your chimney-related worries to rest. The CSIA Certified Sweeps at Lords Chimney are experienced, and we take education seriously, so you can bet we’re always up-to-date on all of the latest techniques, tools, and technologies in the trade.
And remember – the more often you invest in care the better! By having your chimney serviced on a consistent basis, you make sure you get all of the insurance coverage you’re entitled to should a hurricane cause significant damage to your chimney. Regular maintenance offers you a track record that shows what state your chimney was in before the hurricane, so you can prove 100% that the storm was the cause of all your damage.
This is the time of year when people start thinking about putting their fireplace to more frequent use, so it’s not uncommon for us to get a lot of questions and phone calls regarding proper fireplace care and maintenance. If you find yourself wondering about inspections, sweepings, and more, check out some of the more common inquiries we get by reading below.
1) When should I start thinking about getting my fireplace swept and inspected in Houston?
Most people start thinking about scheduling their inspection right around this time of year. Fall is just around the corner, families start planning for the holidays, and homeowners suddenly realize that they better make sure their appliances are in good working order!
Unfortunately, because everyone tends to think the same thing at the same time, we get a lot of appointment requests throughout September, October, and November.
Needless to say, if you need work done, you will want to reach out as soon as you can! Repairs and inspections will book out later and later as the year progresses, and if you want a well-working fireplace by Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s much more likely to happen if you get in touch with us right away.
Then, next year, make sure to stay ahead of the curve by scheduling your inspection during late spring or early summer. May, June, and July are all ideal months to get your maintenance booked in a timely manner, and you’ll be more likely to get your appointment on a day and time that’s convenient for you.
2) Do you need to get an inspection done every year, no matter what?
Yes – an inspection should be completed every year to ensure optimal functioning. This way if there are small problems (like a small leak, crack, etc.), we can catch them while they are still minor and relatively easy to fix. If you wait until the issues are big and obvious, they will be much more expensive and time-consuming to fix.
All in all, preventative maintenance is always better on your budget, schedule, and stress levels, so don’t hesitate to get that yearly inspection on the books!
3) In terms of getting inspections done, is it just about how much you burn or is it also about heavy rain, hurricanes, and other major weather events?
The short answer here is… both! If you put your fireplace to lots of use, then you’ll definitely want it checked over for damages and build-up because both of these things can lead to some serious and dangerous issues down the line.
But bad weather will often lead to some major problems, too. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and the like can compromise your structural integrity a great deal, and by documenting your structure both before and after a natural disaster, you ensure your tracks are covered when it comes to getting compensation from your insurance company.
4) Most people know what sweeping a chimney sweeping consists of, but they don’t know what an inspection entails. Can you explain?
While a sweeping entails actually removing creosote out of the chimney with the use of brushes and vacuums, an inspection is what comes before that. Basically, we send cameras up your flue to check for any signs of cracking, deterioration, water damage, and more.
In the end, inspections are more about preventing more damages from occurring later on. We will also be able to tell what has happened to your system in the past (for instance, if it experienced a lightning strike or storm damage), which is especially good to know if you are buying a home. Home inspectors will quickly shine a flashlight in the appliance, then make a fast assumption on where you’re at. They aren’t actually required to look over a good portion of the chimney, which is a bit unsettling!
The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, “chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances.“ Hiring a certified chimney professional is always your best bet and ensures you don’t wind up paying more for the home than you should. And you’ll have all of your bases covered when it comes to insurance, too – well worth it!
5) Are there any sure fire signs that you have waited too long to get a chimney swept?
Other than experiencing a chimney fire, most signs of creosote build-up aren’t all that obvious. You won’t truly know where you are at until you get an official inspection completed by a team of qualified sweeps.
6) What’s the difference between using a creosote sweeping log and getting a professional chimney sweeping completed?
When it comes to creosote sweeping logs, the name can be a bit deceiving. While they can make the creosote in your chimney easier for the professional to remove, they don’t actually remove the harmful substance.
These products should never replace an actual professional sweeping, and they will not clean your chimney. All in all, they’re not bad for your chimney, but they may not be worth the money you pay for them.
7) How do I know I have hired the right chimney sweep for the job?
There are a few main things to keep in mind when hiring a sweep. The first is whether or not they’re trained (and trained correctly). A surefire to know this is by checking for proper certifications and memberships from organizations like the CSIA, the NFI, and the NCSG. And keep in mind that some businesses will certify one sweep, claim the status, then fail to indicate that other team members (likely the ones coming to your home) are, in fact, not certified.
You’ll also want to make sure they use an actual camera to look your system over, have a physical office that you can check in with if issues arise, and hold all necessary insurance and liability policies.
Here at Lord’s Chimney, we believe communication is a key component in quality customer service, which is why you get an actual picture or video of the technician that is coming to your home, along with their certifications. You can bet that we’ve got everything necessary to provide you with the highest level of care, so don’t hesitate to reach out now.