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!
This Spring, make your chimney a top priority on your home maintenance list.
After a long, bitter winter everyone is welcoming warmer temperatures with open arms. While it’s not exactly spring yet, the to-do lists are in the works and one thing that is commonly being forgotten about is the chimney maintenance. This is not good for your house or your health because neglecting chimney care can cause danger to the entire home. Two things that must be done every season are the sweep and the inspection. Call Lords Chimney to get an appointment with a quality chimney technician today.
How many chimney sweeps do you actually need?
If your technician tries to tell you that you need two sweeps a year, the reality is that this is true information, especially if you are a frequent user. The more you use the fireplace, the more wood is burned to release creosote. One sweep should be done after burning season to remove this buildup before temperatures get hot in the summer. However, another sweep should be done before burning season to remove anything natural that may have built up over the summer. It is important to have a technician that is Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified perform your sweep.
Common repairs to the chimney?
Winter storms can be rough on a chimney’s structure, so the spring season is often the time to start these repairs. Your technician will be sure to check the rain cap and flashing before the wet season begins. You will also want to make sure that there is a good seal on the chimney. Once the unit freezes and thaws in the cold, wet weather, the caulk will begin to crack and loosen which could lead to water being allowed to collect and mold to form. After you have your repairs and sweep, your technician may recommend having the chimney waterproofed if you live in a wet climate.
Is my chimney turning into a zoo?
When animals enter your chimney it is important to remember to remain calm. Next, call us because we have experience with both living birds and animals and with removing carcasses. If you try to remove the animal yourself you could both be hurt. As animals use your chimney to nest, having a sweep will help remove some of their droppings.