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.
When it comes to chimney maintenance, most homeowners remember to clean out their fireboxes and know they need to have their chimneys swept. However, many may forget that some of the most important parts of the chimney cannot be seen from street level. One of these chimney parts that is often ignored is the chimney crown.
What is the chimney crown?
Chimney crowns are the slightly-angled slabs that surround and protect the top of the flue. Sometimes referred to as a chimney wash, the chimney crown acts as the base for the chimney cap; chimney crowns are designed to help moisture from ice, rain, or snow to flow away from the chimney structure and safely onto the roof.
What causes chimney crown damage?
There are a number of factors that can cause chimney crown damage. One of the primary causes of chimney crown damage is improper construction. Oftentimes, inexperienced contractors build the chimney crown using mortar instead of cement. Mortar, however, deteriorates much faster than concrete, especially when constantly exposed to the elements. The can cause the chimney crown to crack and spall, allowing moisture into the chimney structure.
Another major cause of chimney crown damage is long-term exposure to the elements without upkeep. Because of their location, chimney crowns take the brunt of Mother Nature’s forces; they are constantly exposed to varying temperatures as well as large amounts of moisture. These conditions can take a toll on chimney crowns, especially if it is not correctly angled. If left too flat, water and moisture can accumulate on the chimney crown and cause further damage.
Chimney crowns may also lose their watertight seal around the flue. This happens due to long term extreme temperature variations caused by fireplace use. The hot air and gas from a fire as it travels up the flue along with the cold outside air temperatures can cause the chimney crown to expand and contract, breaking the seal. This can let water into the chimney, causing even faster deterioration.
Chimney crown repairs
If your chimney is leaking, your chimney crown may be to blame. In these cases, we often recommended either repairing or rebuilding the chimney crown. The amount of repair needed will depend on the amount of damage the chimney crown has suffered.
When building or repairing a chimney crown, one of the keys is to make sure the edges extend over the sides of the chimney structure. This lip is known as a kerf and should extend at least 2-2.5 inches beyond the sides of the chimney. This acts as a rain gutter that helps water flow away from the chimney and onto the roof.
If your chimney crown only needs minor repairs, we often recommend CrownCoat, a professional waterproofing sealant that can help protect and extend the life of your chimney crown. When applied professionally, CrownCoat comes with a 15 year warranty, giving you peace of mind that this eco-friendly product will last.
Whether your chimney crown has minor damage or needs to be complete rebuilt, trust the experts at Lords Chimney to repair your chimney crown.
As the temperatures outside continue to rise, most homeowners have stopped using their fireplaces until the fall. Even though you may not be using it, don’t let your fireplace sit idle until the temperatures drop! Instead, use the summer as a time to have chimney maintenance done.
Summer is a great time to have annual chimney maintenance – including a chimney inspection – completed. By having work done now, you can start using your fireplace again in the fall with the knowledge that it is in good condition and safe to use!
Why have chimney maintenance done in the summer
Because most homeowners do not use their fireplaces during the summer, it is the perfect time of year to have chimney maintenance done. As the summer is traditionally a “slow season” due to the lack of a need for fireplace use, it is much easier to get an appointment at a convenient time with a minimal wait time. Likewise, as some masonry repairs cannot be made in cold weather have summer repairs done ensures your chimney will be ready to use all winter long.
Importance of chimney inspections
“A chimney inspection is like an annual dental check-up,” says Ashley Eldridge, Director of Education for the CSIA. “It’s preventative maintenance that helps minimize potential hazards.” A chimney inspection should be a part of your yearly fireplace maintenance. Unlike a chimney sweeping which focuses on the removal of soot, ash, and creosote, a chimney inspection focuses on the condition of your fireplace and chimney.
Levels of chimney inspection
There are three different levels of chimney inspection designated by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. A CSIA-certified chimney sweep can help advise you on what level of chimney inspection your home needs.
Level I: A Level I chimney inspection is the simplest kind of chimney inspection and is all that is needed for most homes that receive regular fireplace and chimney maintenance. During a Level I inspection, the certified chimney sweep will visually inspect all accessible portions of the interior and exterior of the chimney for signs of deterioration or damage. If any problems are found, repairs or a more intensive inspection can be recommended.
Level II: Level II chimney inspections are used if there has been a major change to the fireplace system, such as installing a new insert or changing fuel sources. Likewise, a Level II inspection may be recommended if you are preparing to sell your home or recently purchased a new home. This kind of chimney inspection often involves the use of technology such as closed-circuit cameras as well as accessing areas of your home such as attics, basements, or crawl spaces.
Level III: A Level III chimney inspection is the most in-depth – and most invasive – type of chimney inspection. For this reason they are only recommended in cases where serious structural damage is suspected, such as after an earthquake, chimney fire, or other natural disaster. During a Level III chimney inspection, portions of the chimney structure may need to be removed in order to better access areas of damage.
This year, don’t wait until fall to schedule your chimney inspection. Instead, have your chimney maintenance done during your fireplace’s summer downtime! Call Lord’s Chimney today to schedule your summer chimney inspection and help your fireplace be ready for fall!
A smelly chimney can do more than just create an unpleasant odor in your home; it is often the sign of a much more serious chimney issues. Unfortunately, chimney odors rarely resolve themselves on their own and often need professionals to find and fix the underlying cause of the chimney odor.
Our trained technicians at Lord’s Chimney are experts at troubleshooting smelly chimneys. We can uncover the cause of your chimney odor and get you back to enjoying your fireplace!
Causes of Chimney Odor
There are a number of common causes for smelly chimneys. Finding the cause of your chimney odor can help fix the problem and keep it from coming back. The following are a few of the causes of chimney odor.
Animal entry: Animals in the chimney system can create a whole host of chimney issues. In addition to damaging the chimney system, animals can create extremely unpleasant odors. For animals that are using the chimney as a nesting ground, food, droppings, or wet nesting materials can all create unpleasant odors. Likewise, if an animal becomes trapped and dies the decomposing body can create an unbearable smell, expose your family to bacteria and bugs, and affect your home’s air supply.
Creosote: Creosote is created by incomplete combustion, such as when logs smolder for a long period of time or a stove or fireplace is kept at a low temperature. In addition to being highly flammable, creosote can also create a strong odor. A dirty or smoky smell that gets worse during the summertime is often the result of creosote buildup. A thorough chimney sweeping can get rid of creosote and the odor it causes as well as make your fireplace safer to use!
Drafting: Wood fires are supposed to fill your home with a subtle smoky smell. However, if using your fireplace fills your home with an unpleasant burning smell or blows smoke back into the room you may have a drafting issue. Drafting issues are most commonly caused by improperly sized flues or error with usage. Many drafting problems can be easily resolved by resizing the flue, using only seasoned firewood, and ensuring that the damper remains open the entire time the fireplace is in use.
Mold: Undiagnosed or unrepaired chimney leaks often lead to mold or mildew growth in the chimney. This is also made worse by the presence of leaves, nesting materials, or other debris. Mold in the chimney can create extremely unpleasant odors that can affect the smell in the entire home. Left unremoved, mold growth can also impact the air quality as well as create breathing issues for those with asthma or other respiratory problems.
Chimney odor troubleshooting
Finding the source of a chimney odor can sometimes be challenging. At Lord’s Chimney, our highly trained technicians are experts at troubleshooting potential causes of chimney odor. Once the source of the odor is found, we can repair it as well as create a plan to prevent the odor from returning.
If you are dealing with a smelly chimney, don’t delay – contact the experts at Lord’s Chimney to have your smelly chimney repaired!
Many serious chimney-related problems arise due to negligence. Give your chimney the care it deserves.
A fireplace and chimney are creature comforts for many homeowners. Unfortunately, not every homeowner takes chimney maintenance as seriously as they should. Your chimney requires special care and attention to ensure it remains clear of debris and functions properly. Without an annual inspection, your fireplace and/or chimney can quickly become dangerous—even deadly.
Is a little creosote buildup really that bad?
In short, yes. According to the NFPA, the second leading cause of house fires is heating equipment; fireplaces, chimneys and wood stoves cause two-thirds of those house fires. Most of the afore-mentioned fires are the result of creosote. Sadly, most are preventable with regular inspections and maintenance.
If allowed to accumulate in large enough quantities, creosote can severely limit the flow of deadly combustion gases when you’re burning wood. One of these gases—carbon monoxide (CO)—is responsible for killing more than 200 people each year and sends more than 10,000 to hospital emergency rooms for treatment.
You can prevent your home and everyone in it from being included in these statistics by simply scheduling routine chimney inspections and sweepings to catch dangerous creosote before it has the opportunity to catch you.
So what if my bricks are spalling and the mortar is missing!
The main purpose of a chimney is to vent the products of combustion from your home. That function is crucial. A well-structured chimney and flue are designed to offer protection to your family and home from these deadly combustion byproducts.
It’s not uncommon for a masonry chimney to be in need of repair. If left uncorrected, a few minor issues can quickly become huge problems in no time at all. Broken or spalled bricks and deteriorated mortar joints are definite signs that your chimney may need repair, as they create several hazards—improper venting of combustion gases and potential structural collapse. Both hazards could prove to be fatal.
What harm is a little water going to do?
Failing to waterproof your chimney could lead to a multitude of problems. By waterproofing your chimney, you enable it to repel up to 99.9% of the water that would otherwise penetrate the brick and/or other materials. Waterproofing is a true preventative measure that can add years to your chimney’s life.
Because it’s not a requirement, many homeowners deprioritize it; this is a big mistake! There are many issues that can develop as a result of water being on and getting in to your chimney, and, as such, swift and immediate action should be taken to ensure that you’re not faced with unnecessary and avoidable repairs bills.
Unless you’re just looking for a reason to get rid of your chimney, there really is no excuse for neglecting it. It’s time to have an experienced technician evaluate the condition of your fireplace and chimney, get them repaired if necessary, and have your chimney coated with a waterproofing product. If you live in the greater Houston area and are looking for a pleasant service experience and the knowledge that your job was done correctly, give Lords Chimney a call at 281-497-4000, or click here to request an appointment online! We look forward to showing you a level of professionalism and quality that you haven’t seen in a service provider!