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Leaks & Your Chimney: What You Need To Know

Whether you are experiencing leaks around your chimney and roof, deterioration throughout your brickwork, water in your fireplace, or something else along these lines, there is no doubt that water-related problems throughout your chimney structure is something you need to address right away. Fortunately, our team can help.

Learn more below, then contact us for your chimney repairs, inspections, fix-ups, sweepings and more. The Lords Chimney team will always have your back.

Causes Of Chimney Leaksbrick chimney flashing

So, what is making your chimney leak in the first place? Well, a lot depends on the type of fireplace you own. The metal chase of your prefabricated unit could be rusted, for example, or if you have a masonry chimney, your crown could cracked, crumbling, and breaking down. Other times your chimney was simply designed or installed wrong to begin with. All in all, it is about getting our team in there to figure it out, so we can provide solutions.

Some of the more common things we see? It is not rare for a homeowner to have a damaged or missing chimney cap, in which case a new one will need to be installed. Without a proper covering over your flue, water can easily get in and wreak havoc. Other times, we notice the flashing is rusted, bent, or cracked. Because your flashing is meant to protect the area where your roof and chimney meet, this can lead to problems in a hurry.

We often realize that the brickwork has broken down, too. Because your masonry is so absorbent, it is important to protect it with waterproofing services. Without this layer of protection, moisture will get in and stay put, triggering all kinds of decay and deterioration over the years.

Water Damage & Your Chimney

So, what kind of damages will occur if your system is left unaddressed? Well, you won’t be able to use your fireplace safely or efficiently, that’s for certain. If you own a prefabricated fireplace, you will likely notice rust all throughout the inside of the unit, in which case the whole system will need to be changed out. This is expensive and time-consuming, so investing in preventative care from the get-go is always a better bet.

Along with this, sheetrock damage can occur, and you may notice the woodwork in your home rotting, swelling, and/or buckling. If there are leaks in your fireplace, then trust us – it won’t be long before you notice them in other places, too. It is also advised to keep an eye on your walls and ceilings, as these may show signs of staining or discoloration when too much water is present.

Notice some white powder around your home? This is called efflorescence and, while many falsely assume it is not associated with leaks, it actually is a big sign that water damage is present in your home. It is what is left over when the water dries up, and it is a big indicator that you have leaks somewhere throughout the area.

Combine all that with a crumbling masonry structure, and you have got a lot of issues on your plate that are costly to repair. Fortunately, our team can help you through it, no matter what stage you are at. Whether you have damages that need addressing, are eager to invest in some preventative measures, or simply want to have us come out and take a look, we can lend a helping hand. Call today, so we can set something up.

How Can We Help?

So, what can the CSIA certified sweeps at Lords Chimney do to help out citizens in the Houston area? Well, a lot will depend on your specific situation. We are not roofers, but we can do some basic roofing repair, and we offer flashing services, as well. If you are looking for something more cost-effective and temporary, we could offer a seven-year patch, which will buy you some time until you can get a new roof put on.

When it comes to your actual chimney, though, there is a lot we can offer, and it mainly depends on if you want to invest in a major repair job or simply patch up the problem to get you by for a while. If you are going to be in your current home for many more years to come, then investing in a long-term solution is likely the best route to take.

Depending on what type of problems you are experiencing, we may need to fix the holes in your mortar and brickwork, then apply waterproofing products, or we might need to install a new chimney cap or chase cover to ensure water stays out of your flue. Flashing work can also take you far, as can a drip edge, so that water does not run down the sides of your masonry structure.

The Importance Of Annual Inspections

All in all, the best thing you can do to keep your fireplace and chimney in good shape for the long haul is invest in annual inspections. By having our experts look things over every single year, you help ensure that problems are spotted and resolved well before they become major issues that put your safety at risk. We can recommend preventative measures and let you know of any concerns we have about the current state of your structure, giving you the peace of mind and satisfaction you deserve.

Ready to set something up? So are we. Call today to get your appointment on the books.

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!