Why Ivy is Damaging Your Chimney

Climbing vines such as ivy or wisteria have been used for years as a way to cover up unsightly exteriors or add a touch of whimsy to a home. While these vines may add curb appeal, they can also cause serious damage to your home’s exterior, especially if they are growing on or around your masonry chimney.

Why Is Ivy Bad for Chimney?

Many homeowners believe that ivy is no different from any plant growing in the garden. Unfortunately, while it can be a charming addition to the exterior of a home, it is can also cause significant damage. Below are three of the most common ways that ivy and climbing vines are bad for chimneys.

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1. Ivy causes cracks

Climbing vines such as ivy do not grow vertically on their own; they need a structure to hold onto in order to climb. When this happens on your chimney, the roots and tendrils of the ivy snake their way into the bricks and mortar in order to continue climbing. This can create cracks and holes in the masonry; at the plant continues to grow, so too does the size of the damage.

Even chimney chases covered by siding or shingles can be affected. Just like with masonry, ivy on a chimney chase can also cause cracks and holes to form. Likewise, on these building materials tendrils from climbing vines can cause staining and discoloration that is difficult to remove without damaging the siding itself.

2. Ivy traps moisture

Ivy’s lush, green foliage can create a cover of shade that is difficult for the sun to penetrate. Because of this, water from rain, snow, morning dew, and even sprinklers can become trapped against the masonry. Over time, the combination of water and the holes and cracks created by the ivy’s roots can cause significant cracking and spalling.

In addition to damaging the masonry, trapped moisture can also encourage the growth of mold or mildew. Exterior mold and mildew growth can cause odor both inside and outside your home, as well as affecting your home’s air quality. This can be particularly harmful to those with breathing condition such as asthma or allergies.

3. Ivy invites insects

The same leafy coverage that prevents water from evaporating also provides the perfect home for all kinds of insects. Protection from predators and an abundant food source are just two of the reasons why climbing vines such as ivy can easily become host to insect infestations. Termites in particular have been known to take up residence in ivy; the network of branches, roots, and leaves often give these insects direct access to wood siding or trim around your home.

While ivy might add character or curb appeal to your home, it can also cause significant damage to the exterior. Chimneys, whether they are made of masonry or covered with a chimney chase, are particular susceptible to damage from climbing vines. If your home has ivy growing on the chimney structure, contact Lords Chimney today to learn more about removing the ivy and repairing the damage it may have caused.

HeatShield Facts

Many homeowners mistakenly believe that if their chimney looks good from the outside, it must be safe on the inside as well. However, the structure of the chimney means that most of the functional parts of the chimney – including the flue – are inside the chimney structure and therefore invisible to the naked eye. Because of this, damage to these parts of the chimney can be difficult to spot.

One of the hardest areas to identify chimney damage is in the flue. Because the flue stretches from the firebox to the top of the chimney structure, there are yards of flue liner is which damage can occur – and go unidentified. Most damage to the chimney liner is found during an in-depth chimney inspection with the use of technology such as closed-circuit cameras.

When damage to the chimney liner is found, relining the chimney may be recommended. While there are a number of techniques and products that can be used to reline chimneys, one of the most innovative products available today is HeatShield.

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All about HeatShield

In the fireplace industry, HeatShield offers one of the most effective and long lasting methods of chimney relining. HeatShield is a cast in place chimney liner, meaning it is applied directly into your existing flue. This allows the product to form and fit your flue exactly. What sets HeatShield apart from the competition, however, is that it can be used in both small and large areas. Whether your need the entire flue relined or simply need to reinforce a few areas in the chimney, HeatShield can provide a safe and effective barrier against the heat, sparks, and embers created by the fireplace.

HeatShield also stands apart from the competition because of how it is made. Unlike similar products on the market today, HeatShield is made of only environmentally friendly, naturally occurring, and recycled materials. This means that when you choose HeatShield you can rest assured that you and your family will not be exposed to any dangerous chemical compounds.

The HeatShield application process

Unlike attempting to replace the existing clay tiles in the flue, the application process for a cast in place liner such as HeatShield is a relatively easy and mess free. Before relining the flue, a special brush will be created and fitted to your chimney; this ensures that HeatShield can be evenly applied throughout the chimney structure. After application, HeatShield is smoothed over the areas in need of repair, creating a level finish without any gaps or cracks.

HeatShield is unique in the fireplace industry in that it can be applied to both small and large areas. This means that if only a small portion of the chimney has been damaged – such as the flue tiles at the top of the chimney – you can repair the damaged areas without needing to reline the entire chimney.

If you have been told your flue is damaged or the chimney needs to be relined, choose HeatShield products to create a smooth and durable chimney liner that will last for years to come. Contact Lords Chimney today to learn more about what HeatShield can do for your chimney!

Spotting Masonry Damage In Need Of Repairs

Your chimney does more than just decorate your roofline; it protects your entire fireplace system and helps keep you and your family safe. While chimneys are built to last and to withstand the elements, they can deteriorate due to damage, poor construction, or age.

In order to keep your chimney working well and in good condition it is important to be able to spot the signs of masonry damage. By knowing when your chimney is damaged, you can quickly enlist the help of a chimney professional to get it repaired and back in good working condition.

How masonry gets damaged

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Masonry is one of the strongest building materials available, which is what allows well-built fireplaces and chimneys to stand the test of time. However, even the most well maintained masonry structures need repairs over time. Below are some of the most common causes of masonry damage, as well as what repairs can fix them.

Water: Water and moisture from rain, ice, and snow can be some of the most damaging forces that affect your chimney. Because bricks are naturally porous, they may absorb small amounts of water. As the water absorbed by the bricks freezes, it expands and creates progressively larger and larger cracks and holes. This freeze-thaw can cause significant damage to the masonry in as little as one year, causing bricks to crack, chip, and spall.

In addition to affecting the bricks and mortar of the chimney, water can affect many other parts of your chimney system. The chimney cap and crown are also particularly susceptible to water damage due to their location; many chimney leaks are caused by damaged chimney caps and crowns. Chimney leaks can lead to damage to the flue and firebox, as well as damage to the walls and ceilings surrounding your chimney.

One of the best ways to prevent water damage is by having your masonry waterproofed. The waterproofing process involves coating bricks and mortar with a specially designed chimney sealant. Made for porous bricks, it keeps water out while still allowing gasses to pass through. Waterproofing products can also be applied to chimneys with existing water damage to slow or stop the deterioration process.

Settling: Over time, all homes are prone to settling. Settling can affect many different parts of your home, including your fireplace and chimney. Masonry fireplaces that are not built on proper bases may become damaged due to settling; this often shows up as cracks in the firebox or chimney.

Chimney or fireplace cracks caused by settling can be repaired using the detailed tuckpointing process. Tuckpointing involves the removal of the existing damaged mortar, replacing it with new mortar that matches the color and consistency of the original. This strengthens the masonry and prevents further damage.

Subpar materials: Sometimes, chimney damage can be caused by the wrong materials. If subpar materials were used in the construction of your fireplace or chimney, it may be more prone to damage. Likewise, mistakes made during installation can also affect your fireplace system. This is often seen in fireplaces or chimneys that are built by general contractors rather than skilled masons.

No matter what is causing your masonry damage, it is important to have it repaired as soon as possible. Contact Lords Chimney today to schedule your masonry repair appointment!

Heavy Rain Can Mean A Leaky Chimney

Spring and summer rain showers and thunderstorms are often a welcome reprieve from the scorching temperatures. In addition to cooling us off, these rain storms also keep our lawns and gardens green and our rivers and lakes full and ready for summer fun.

Unfortunately, heavy rain can also lead to a leaky chimney. Chimney leaks are one of the most common chimney problems we see during the summertime. Even chimneys without previous problems can develop leaks – and their accompanying water damage – in as little as one season.

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What causes chimney leaks?

Although chimneys look like simple brick or stone columns, they are actually complex structures with a number of different pieces and parts. Because the chimney is constantly exposed to the elements, its masonry is at greater risk for damage and breakdown.

The following are some of the most common causes of chimney leaks.

Chimney cap: The chimney cap protects the top of your flue from water entry, as well as animals and debris. Without a properly fitted chimney cap, the flue and fireplace are left completely exposed to water entry from rain.

Flashing: Flashing is the water tight strips that seal the seam between your roof and the chimney structure. If flashing is incorrectly installed, damaged, or merely loses its seal due to wear and tear or age, water can easily seep through any gaps. This can cause water damage to not only the roof and chimney, but also the ceilings and walls around the chimney.

Masonry damage: If one side or part of your chimney is often directly exposed to rainfall or other sources of water, the masonry may deteriorate or become damaged faster than the rest of the chimney. Water can cause bricks to crack and spall; in addition to making your chimney look aged or unkempt, it can also affect the structural stability of the chimney and lead to chimney leaks.

Symptoms of a leaky chimney

Many homeowners falsely assume that all leaky chimneys present themselves as visible water in the fireplace or flue. However, because of the size and complexity of most chimney systems, chimney leaks are often not recognized until they’ve already caused significant damage.

Below are some of the signs that may indicate your chimney is leaking.

  • Water or condensation inside the firebox
  • Sound of dripping water in the chimney
  • Moisture, leaks, or water staining on walls or ceilings around chimney
  • Musty or dank odors, especially after it rains
  • Cracked or spalled interior or exterior masonry

Preventing chimney leaks

The best way to prevent chimney leaks is by having regular preventative maintenance done on your fireplace and chimney. Annual chimney sweepings and inspections can often identify any new chimney or masonry damage, allowing you to have it repaired before it leads to a chimney leak.

Another option for preventing leaks and water damage to your chimney is to have your masonry waterproofed. The waterproofing process involves the application of a specially designed sealant that keeps water out while allowing the masonry to retain its semi porous nature. These products can even be applied to chimneys with existing water damage as a way to keep it from getting worse.

If a summer rainstorm has left you with a leaky chimney, contact Lord’s Chimney today. Our expert staff can identify and resolve the source of your leaky chimney!

Trust the Best With Your Fireplace & Chimney

As a homeowner, there are lots of things around your home, both inside and outside, that need to be regularly maintained. And let’s face it – it’s easy to get so overloaded with household to-do lists that sometimes some of the most important places get overlooked.

We’ve noticed that fireplaces and chimneys tend to get thrown into this overlooked category since they are only used for a portion of the year. Sound all too familiar? Well, don’t burn yourself out figuring out how you’ll fit in yet another job. Simply give our experts a call to handle it all!

Chimney Inspections & Sweepings

Annual chimney inspections are essential when it comes to keeping your system standing strong for the long haul. All kinds of hidden dangers could be lurking and putting your home at risk, and it takes the trained eyes of a pro to spot and resolve them. Oftentimes, what homeowners think of as no big deal (even something as seemingly minor as a broken tile or brick) are actually quite dangerous.

Trust the Best With Your Fireplace & Chimney - Houston TX - Lords Chimney bricksWhen it comes to chimneys, the sooner any issues are spotted and addressed, the better. If there is a crack, it will only continue to grow. If mold shows up, it will only spread. If things aren’t heating correctly, this will only continue, costing you more to operate the appliance and putting your home at risk.

That’s why we urge all of our customers to book inspections at least once per year and always before kicking off your burning season. During these, our sweeps will look for any flaws, build-up, and imperfections, and then suggest any further maintenance, like sweepings or repairs, as necessary.

And what’s the importance of a chimney sweeping? To start, they remove any build up, excess debris, and creosote, which is the main cause of chimney fires. And apart from being fire hazards, blockages can lead to smoke in your home, carbon monoxide poisoning, and a lack of efficiency.

Repair & Restoration Services

Now, chimney sweepings and inspections are an important part of chimney maintenance, but they’re still just only one part of the equation. That’s why we offer a wide range of chimney, masonry, and venting services and repairs, all of which allow us to better serve our customers and meet all of their chimney and fireplace needs.

If your fireplace or chimney is worn down after years of use, we can help restore it to its former glory. Our fireplace restoration services can fix every part of your chimney, from the chimney cap at the top to the firebox at the bottom. Some of our many services include tuckpointing, leaky chimney repairs, chimney pressure washing, relining services, wildlife removal, troubleshooting, and even replacements or facelifts.

Not sure where you stand or what you need? Give us a call! We’d be happy to answer your questions and get you where you need to be.

Need Dryer Vent Services?

In addition to our chimney services, we can also clean dryer vents, as well as assist with installation and re-routing. Even if you regularly clean your lint trap, lint will still accumulate in your dryer vents and hoses over time, which can then create clogs and fire hazards. In fact, dryer-related issues cause thousands of house fires every single year. This one service well worth investing in.

Clean dryer vents can also help your dryer run more efficiently, wasting less energy and resulting in dryer clothes after each load. This saves you money month to month, and keeps your dryer and clothes from experiencing excess wear, too.

We’re Trusted Throughout Houston

At Lord’s Chimney, we have been proudly providing the greater Houston area with chimney, fireplace, masonry, and vent services for years. If you’re experiencing chimney issues, there’s no better crew to trust!

Trust the Best With Your Fireplace & Chimney - Houston TX - Lords Chimney certificationsWhy do so many turn to us time and time again? Well, for one thing, we make education a priority. We’re certified with the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), members of the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG), and maintain a long list of certifications, associations, awards, and 5-star reviews. One look at our credentials and it’s clear – we take what we do seriously!

In the end, when you hire a sweep for your chimney inspections, sweepings, and more, you deserve to work with someone you can trust. If your sweep is associated with reputable organizations, experienced, and has a strong relationship with the community it serves, these are all solid signs that they’ll have your back throughout it all. When you hire us, we’ll treat you and your fireplace with respect!

Keep Your Home Safer By Working With Us

A clean and well-maintained chimney and fireplace doesn’t just help with efficiency… it also ensures your home stays a safer place to live season after season. Stay out of harm’s way by reaching out to our highly trained and qualified staff today. When you work with Lords Chimney, you work with the best!