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We Fix Leaky Chimneys!

Whether it’s a musty or moldy smell, a soft drip-drip sound coming from the chimney, or a puddle of water at the bottom of the firebox, a leaky chimney is a problem that cannot be ignored. Left unrepaired, even minor chimney leaks can create major damage throughout your fireplace system.

Thankfully, leaky chimneys don’t have to be a chronic problem. Identifying the source of the water entry and fixing your leaky chimney as soon as possible can prevent serious water damage to your fireplace system or home.

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What causes chimney leaks?

Chimneys are built to stand strong against the elements; however, there are still a number of points where water can work its way into the chimney system. The following are some of the most common causes of chimney leaks.

Chimney cap: The chimney cap protects the top of the chimney and keeps moisture, animals, and debris from falling into the chimney. A damaged chimney cap can allow water into the flue, causing damage throughout the fireplace and chimney structure.

Chimney crown: Often confused with the chimney cap, the chimney crown is a mortar slab that seals the top of the chimney. Chimney crowns should have small overhangs as well as be built with slightly sloped edges to prevent water from pooling on the top. Chimney crowns can deteriorate over time due to prolonged exposure to the elements; this creates cracks that allow moisture into the chimney.

Flashing: Flashing is the watertight metal strips that seals the joint between the chimney and the roof. Over time, flashing can lose its seal due to overexposure to the elements; flashing can also be damaged by storms or animals.

Masonry damage: Without regular maintenance, bricks and mortar can begin to deteriorate over time. The freeze thaw process – which causes water in bricks to freeze and expand – is the most common cause of water damage to masonry.

Fixing a leaky chimney

When it comes to fixing a leaky chimney, the most important step is to find and repair the cause of the chimney leak. Repairing the water damage without first removing the cause of the chimney leak will only lead to recurrent water problems. By uncovering the root cause of the chimney leak, you can rest assured that the water damage will not return once the necessary repairs have been made.

For chimneys with damaged masonry, tuckpointing may be used to repair or replace damaged bricks and mortar. During the tuckpointing process, small areas of damaged masonry are carefully removed before the new bricks and mortar are put in; this can help strengthen the chimney structure and help avoid the costs of rebuilding the entire chimney.

Another great way to prevent chimney leaks and water damage is by having your chimney waterproofed. Professionally waterproofing a chimney can seal and protect the masonry from water damage while still allowing the bricks to retain their semi-porous nature.

If you have a leaky chimney, trust the experts at Lords Chimney to repair it. Contact us today to schedule an appointment so we can help resolve your chimney leaks!

Identifying Chimney Discoloration

When stains appear on the sides of a chimney, many homeowners falsely assume it is a natural part of an aging chimney. Unfortunately, chimney discoloration is often more than just a simple eyesore. Chimney stains and discoloration may indicate the presence of damage or other problems. The following are five of the most common kinds – and causes – of chimney discoloration.

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Black stains

Black stains on interior masonry are caused by soot buildup. Soot staining is often the sign of a chimney that has not been properly cleaned or maintained. Likewise, soot stains can also be caused by burning the wrong materials, such as green wood or paper and cardboard.

While soot stains are relatively common on older masonry chimneys, gas fireplaces should never have soot stains. Soot stains, especially those around the top of the chimney, indicate that there is a problem with the gas fireplace and the fuel is not burning correctly; soot staining on gas fireplaces can sometimes indicate a carbon monoxide leak.

Brown/black stains

Brown and black staining around the chimney cap or down the sides of the chimney structure is one of the most common kinds of chimney stains. While most homeowners assume this kind of discoloration is simply staining from soot, it is typically caused by excessive creosote buildup in the flue. If a chimney is not regularly swept, creosote can build up to the point where runoff stains the top and sides of the chimney. Because creosote staining is so similar to soot staining, a chimney sweep may be needed to evaluate the difference between the two.

Green stains

Green or dark green discoloration on a chimney is caused by the growth of mold and algae. This kind of green staining is most commonly seen in areas where water directly flows. Chimneys without a lip on the chimney crown may be particularly susceptible to algae or mold growth as the water travels over the masonry.

Red/brown stains

Red and brown rust stains are almost exclusively seen with prefabricated or metal chimneys. Because factory build chimneys have metal chase covers, they are prone to rusting. When this occurs, dark brown, red, and orange rust stains will begin to streak down the sides of the chimney chase. If rust staining is noticed, the chimney should be inspected immediately for signs of water damage caused by a chimney leak.

White stains

White stains on masonry structures are known as efflorescence. As water in the brick evaporates, it leaves behind mineral salt which then creates powdery white or crystalline discolorations on the masonry of the chimney. Exterior efflorescence is usually harmless and caused by ground or rain water. However, interior efflorescence may indicate the presence of a chimney leak.

Chimney stains do more than just affect your home’s curb appeal; they can also indicate the presence of a serious chimney problem. Schedule an appointment with Lords Chimney today to find out if your chimney discoloration is cosmetic or caused by something more serious.

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!

Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

As the weather grows cold, more and more people turn to fireplaces, stoves, and other heating appliances to keep themselves, their families, and their homes warm. What many fail to realize is that these same appliances may create a health and safety risk if they are not properly maintained. One major concern, especially during the heavy use months of winter, is carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide poisoning kills as many as 400 people each year in the United States. Homeowners should be aware of what causes it, the symptoms of poisoning, and the simple steps they can take to prevent it.

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What is carbon monoxide gas?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and extremely toxic gas that is produced by burning fuels. Carbon monoxide is often called the “silent killer” because due to its properties, it is impossible to detect without specific equipment.

Its many sources include burning coal, wood, charcoal, oil, natural gas, kerosene, and propane. This means that most fireplaces, stoves, grills, space heaters, water heaters, furnaces, and even vehicles produce carbon monoxide gas. However, these appliances are normally either properly vented or located outdoors so they pose little to no risk to homeowners and their families.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

When exposed to small quantities of the gas, people suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning will begin to develop flu-like symptoms. This will include a feeling of sleepiness accompanied by headache and nausea. In medium concentrations or with prolonged exposure, these symptoms will continue to worsen in addition to impaired coordination and vision, shortness of breath, and dizziness. In extremely high concentrations, carbon monoxide poisoning can even lead to coma or death.

If you believe that you are experiencing the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, immediately move to a fresh air location. Ideally this is outside, but can also be next to an open door or window. Call Poison Control and local emergency services before reentering the building.

How to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning is entirely preventable by taking a number of common sense steps to avoid exposure. The primary – and easiest – way homeowners can protect themselves and their families against carbon monoxide poisoning is to install carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of the house and in areas near fuel burning appliances such as fireplaces, stoves, or furnaces.

Next, homeowners should have all heating or fuel burning appliances in the home annually maintained. This ensures that anything that could cause carbon monoxide poisoning is still in good working condition and has not been damaged in any way. Doing this also ensures that all venting and ductwork is clean and free from blockages, allowing carbon monoxide to safely exit the home.

Generators and grills should never be used indoors or in enclosed spaces such as garages or sheds. Likewise, they should be kept away from open windows as this may allow the carbon monoxide they produce to enter a home. In addition, stoves and ovens should never be used for heat. Finally, vehicles should never be left running to “warm up” in garages, even if the door is open. The large amounts of carbon monoxide exhaust that is produced can quickly fill the small space.

With regular maintenance of heating appliances and a few preventative measures, homeowners can easily protect their families against carbon monoxide. For questions about carbon monoxide and your fireplace or stove, contact Lords Chimney today!

Water Damage and Your Chimney

While a faint dripping sound or a little dampness in the firebox after it rains might not seem like a big deal, these seemingly minor issues can cause major problems if left untreated. Because chimneys are constantly exposed to the elements, including rain, ice, and snow, they sometimes deteriorate at a higher rate than the masonry in the rest of a fireplace system. Fortunately, almost all water-related issues are entirely preventable through proper upkeep and maintenance of the chimney structure.

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How is the water getting in?

Although a chimney might seem like a straightforward structure, there are actually many different parts that work together to prevent water from entering the fireplace. Because of this, it is important to have any leaks evaluated by a professional who can determine the exact cause of the water entry. With the latest technology, including closed-circuit cameras, the experts at Lords Chimney can find and repair any leaks.

While chimney leaks may be caused by a number of different issues, below are some of the most common causes of water entry.

Masonry damage: Because both bricks and mortar are naturally porous, they absorb a certain amount of moisture. This absorption, combined with the expanding and contracting caused by changing temperatures, can lead to the accelerated deterioration of a masonry chimney. Left unrepaired, what started out as small cracks may progress to the point of bricks falling off and even damage to the chimney liner itself.

Chimney cap: Because they are not visible without being on the roof, chimney cap damage is often not found until an annual sweep or inspection is performed. In addition to keeping water out of the chimney and fireplace, chimney caps also prevent squirrels, birds, raccoons, and other animals from entering and nesting in the chimney.

Flashing: Flashing is the metal band that protects the gap where your roof and chimney meet. While it is meant to create a watertight seal, it can be damaged by nail holes, falling debris, and exposure to the elements.

How to prevent water damage

The best way to protect your home, chimney, and fireplace against water damage is to take the proactive steps to prevent it. One of the most beneficial and long-lasting repairs a homeowner can have done is to have a waterproofing solution applied to their masonry. These specially designed compounds are intended to still allow harmful gasses out without letting moisture in.

An annual chimney cleaning and inspection is another way to prevent small, easily-fixable problems from turning into costly repairs. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.”

By spotting a problem early, it can be repaired before it causes major damage to the chimney structure or home. The expert technicians at Lords Chimney are highly skilled and knowledgeable professionals who have been trained to identify the source of a leak as well as to repair it. Call them today to schedule an appointment to discover the root cause of your leaky chimney or to ensure that water damage never happens.