Is your chimney leaking? We’re willing to bet that if you’ve found this blog post, you may be trying to find an answer to why there are water stains on the ceilings or walls around your chimney or why you smell mold or hear a drip-drip-drip sound coming from your chimney. A chimney leak can be caused by any number of things, but here in Houston, Lords Chimney’s certified technicians have seen it all; from our many years of leak resolution, we now know that most chimney leaks can be attributed to one of the following four issues:
All chimneys—whether they’re brick, stone, or prefab—require some type of maintenance to keep water out of them. We’re happy to advise you about which waterproofing method(s) are best for you and your home.
1. Gapping or Rusted Flashing: Flashing is the metal band that is woven around the base of your chimney where it meets your roof. In most cases it is partially embedded in your roof’s shingles—so that new flashing is often installed at the same time as a new roof. This junction point is a vulnerable one, hence the flashing is installed to give it added armor from potential leaks. However, flashing is notorious for gapping or rusting over time, especially if caulk has come loose or if the flashing was installed improperly. If we determine that faulty flashing is the cause of your leak, Lords Chimney can either repair your existing flashing or custom fit new flashing onto your chimney.
2. Inadequate Protection Up Top: A chimney without a chimney cap or a top-sealing damper is not unlike a house without a roof. In other words you’ve got a recipe for disaster, as your chimney is inviting water into your home. A chimney cap or top-sealing damper will not only keep water out but also keep animals and debris out, keep sparks in, and in the case of a chimney damper, save you money on energy bills.
3. Cracked Crown: At the very top of your chimney sits your chimney’s crown, which seals your chimney from the chimney’s flu(es) to the edge of the chimney. According to the CSIA, “The crown should provide a downward slope that will direct the water from the flue to the edge of the crown. The overhanging drip edge, by directing the run-off from the crown away from the chimney, helps prevent erosion of the brick and mortar in the chimney’s vertical surfaces.” Many chimney crowns are built with an inadequate mortar mix that too soon chips or cracks, allowing water to seep in. In many cases existing crowns can be repaired, though we sometimes determine that a crown needs to be completely rebuilt.
4. Masonry Problems: Surprisingly porous, brick and mortar—if not professionally waterproofed and maintained—can actually act as a sponge to draw water into your chimney. In addition, chimney brick can crack and spall over time, making your chimney more susceptible to leaks. If this is the case, tuckpointing or other repairs may be necessary, along with the application of a waterproofing sealant.
Lords Chimney serves the entire Greater Houston area. Having chimney problems? We hope you will call us first.
Knowing What is Inside of Your Chimney
Has the inside condition of your chimney ever concerned you? Are you confident enough to say that after years of successive use and all the times your chimney never let you down, that it’s still in perfect condition? It is important for your home, your family and your bottom line, to keep your chimney cleaned and inspected annually. Knowing the basics can help you understand and make more informed decisions about your home.
Getting to Know the Parts
Learning about how your chimney works makes the annual conversation with your chimney sweep a great deal more clear. You need to understand to make the best decisions with regard to risk.
It is important to know the parts of the chimney. You should at least know which is which and which goes where. There are six important parts to remember that overall, help the function of the chimney.
At the uppermost part of the chimney is the spark arrestor. This performs the duty of preventing sparks from getting out of the chimney. You might think that this part is somehow unimportant but we all know that fire can spontaneously and unexpectedly start with a single spark along with the wind’s aid. It can automatically turn into a blazing roof fire. This is exactly why this part is very important.
Below the spark arrestor is the chimney crown. This functions as a shield and a barrier for any object and huge volumes of water to enter and accumulate inside the chimney.
The flue is another vital part of the chimney. It is long and thin and is often mistaken to be the chimney. This should always have a flue liner attached to it for two reasons:
- Protection of the flue itself
- Helping hand to the performance of the chimney as a whole
At the very end of the flue is the damper. This opens and closes the flue. Always make sure that when you are lighting up your fireplace, the damper should always be open. When you see abundant smoke coming out of your chimney, this means that the damper is closed. It’s important to check before attempting to ignite a fire in the fireplace.
Below the damper is the smoke shelf. This performs the duty of catching any foreign and unwanted objects that passes through the chimney. This might cause serious problems when involved in the fire.
Lastly, the smoke chamber is one of the most important parts of a chimney. I’m sure you’re already wondering why. This performs the most important task and that is to compress gases during combustion. If this has a defect, the smoke will go into your home instead of going into the chimney flue. This may cause negative air pressure and carbon monoxide to fill your home’s atmosphere.
The Importance of Knowing
You see, chimneys can be very tricky. They might always seem okay on the outside but big problems may start to rise on the inside. Eventually, you might need to get your chimney relined and restored to ensure safe and stable performance all throughout the winter season.
Here at Lords Chimney, we want to make sure you are aware of the fundamental parts and functions of your chimney. This can be beneficial on your part as a homeowner because you are allowing yourself to be completely aware of the things that are really important concerning your chimney. This can help us talk to you about your chimneys’ condition easily and effectively.
The Damaging Effects of Water in Your Chimney
There are so many different things that can go wrong with a chimney when it is not maintained properly. With all of the things that homeowners have to worry about, water entering the chimney is often not at the top of the list. However, it is important for all homeowners with chimneys to realize just how dangerous it can be if they have an excessive amount of water building up inside of the flue. Although it seems like an unlikely issue, it is easy for water to enter a chimney in the form of rain or snow.
When moisture gets into your masonry, you will see deterioration. Do all that you can to divert water from the chimney.
One of the most dangerous problems that can arise from water in the chimney is the growth of mold. When mold grows in the chimney, it is only a matter of time before it spreads throughout the foundation of the home. When it is inhaled by people living in the home, they are at risk for serious respiratory ailments that have, on occasion, been known to be fatal. In some cases, the mold will produce a smell but, in others, it may be impossible to tell that there is an issue until someone becomes ill.
Most chimneys are made of brick and many have liners that are constructed out of clay or tile. When water builds up and sits in the chimney, it can slowly deteriorate these fragile materials. This can compromise the entire structural integrity of the chimney and make it an extremely dangerous thing to have on the home. As it weakens, it will be able to withstand much less in terms of extreme weather and the heat that it endures during a fireplace fire.
Whenever there is stagnant water in a space, there is a chance that it will start to become a home for a variety of bugs. When this happens in a chimney, it is only a matter of time before those bugs make their way into the home. In the best cases, this is simply annoying and can be taken care of with some bug spray. However, in other cases, the bugs will carry diseases and can cause everyone in the home to become terribly sick.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult for homeowners to know whether they have a problem with water in their chimneys. This is why it is so important to have an annual inspection with a certified chimney inspector. They will be able to quickly identify any problems that are in place as the result of water in the chimney. More importantly, they will be able to recommend possible remedies that will correct the situation as quickly as possible.
The best way to avoid problems with water in the chimney is by installing a chimney cap. This simple little piece of material can keep water out of the chimney, as well as animals and other natural debris. All of these things pose a risk to the people in the home and compromise the function of the chimney. It is a simple and inexpensive precaution that can help prevent a great deal of serious problems down the line.
Water in the chimney may not seem like a big problem but, if left unattended, it can actually cause some very serious issues. A chimney with standing water will quickly become a home for bugs and the perfect place for mold to grow. In addition, it can make the entire structure weak and, therefore, dangerous. An annual inspection is the best way to make sure that there are no major issues with water in the flue.