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.
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!
Is your chimney leaking? We’re willing to bet that if you’ve found this blog post, you may be trying to find an answer to why there are water stains on the ceilings or walls around your chimney or why you smell mold or hear a drip-drip-drip sound coming from your chimney. A chimney leak can be caused by any number of things, but here in Houston, Lords Chimney’s certified technicians have seen it all; from our many years of leak resolution, we now know that most chimney leaks can be attributed to one of the following four issues:
All chimneys—whether they’re brick, stone, or prefab—require some type of maintenance to keep water out of them. We’re happy to advise you about which waterproofing method(s) are best for you and your home.
1. Gapping or Rusted Flashing: Flashing is the metal band that is woven around the base of your chimney where it meets your roof. In most cases it is partially embedded in your roof’s shingles—so that new flashing is often installed at the same time as a new roof. This junction point is a vulnerable one, hence the flashing is installed to give it added armor from potential leaks. However, flashing is notorious for gapping or rusting over time, especially if caulk has come loose or if the flashing was installed improperly. If we determine that faulty flashing is the cause of your leak, Lords Chimney can either repair your existing flashing or custom fit new flashing onto your chimney.
2. Inadequate Protection Up Top: A chimney without a chimney cap or a top-sealing damper is not unlike a house without a roof. In other words you’ve got a recipe for disaster, as your chimney is inviting water into your home. A chimney cap or top-sealing damper will not only keep water out but also keep animals and debris out, keep sparks in, and in the case of a chimney damper, save you money on energy bills.
3. Cracked Crown: At the very top of your chimney sits your chimney’s crown, which seals your chimney from the chimney’s flu(es) to the edge of the chimney. According to the CSIA, “The crown should provide a downward slope that will direct the water from the flue to the edge of the crown. The overhanging drip edge, by directing the run-off from the crown away from the chimney, helps prevent erosion of the brick and mortar in the chimney’s vertical surfaces.” Many chimney crowns are built with an inadequate mortar mix that too soon chips or cracks, allowing water to seep in. In many cases existing crowns can be repaired, though we sometimes determine that a crown needs to be completely rebuilt.
4. Masonry Problems: Surprisingly porous, brick and mortar—if not professionally waterproofed and maintained—can actually act as a sponge to draw water into your chimney. In addition, chimney brick can crack and spall over time, making your chimney more susceptible to leaks. If this is the case, tuckpointing or other repairs may be necessary, along with the application of a waterproofing sealant.
Lords Chimney serves the entire Greater Houston area. Having chimney problems? We hope you will call us first.