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Plan Your Masonry Repairs Now

Spring is a great time to jump into annual cleaning: carpets, garages, yards, and more. While you are in spring cleaning mode, don’t forget about your chimney. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)  recommends periodic chimney sweeps and annual inspections. It’s at these appointments that a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® will be able to detect a problem before it becomes a bigger problem.

There are a couple of reasons why spring is the perfect time for your masonry repairs.

Plan Your Masonry Repairs Now - Smithown NY - Chief Chimney

Season Changes and Weather

The weather is finally warm enough to light your last fire. This is a great time to have your chimney cleaned, so that your fireplace or furnace doesn’t stink in the heat and humidity of summer. Having your chimney swept and inspected in the spring also leaves you the summer to make extensive repairs if damage is detected.

Spring also starts the off-season for chimney sweep companies. You can schedule routine maintenance and repairs easily, as chimney sweeps have less emergency calls at this time. Some masonry repairs can be completed in as little as a day, and others may take more, but scheduling during the off-season allow homeowners more freedom in availability.

Common masonry damage includes:

  • Water damage which leaves holes and gaps in the masonry, causing internal deterioration and discoloration of the bricks
  • Poor design and improper installation causes smoke problems in the home, as well as fire hazard
  • Age causes regular wear-and-tear on masonry chimneys
  • Environmental changes such as storms, natural disasters including tornadoes and earthquakes, and drastic temperature changes can dramatically reduce the life of your chimney
  • Chimney crown damage or improper seal can cause a leaky chimney, which wreaks havoc on masonry

If your chimney has damage that needs to be addressed, this is the time to repair it. A wet spring is not a good combination with a damaged or leaky chimney. Scheduling your repairs today will save you money in the long run because damage only gets worse with time.

Common Masonry Repairs

Some masonry repairs may be more cosmetic than anything—repairs you’d consider before putting your home on the market or renovating. These repairs are also best scheduled at this time of year. The weather and temperature make it possible for the chimney sweep to work easily, and the chimney to remain cool during the repair. Cosmetic repairs can range from mortar repairs, brickwork, and restorative stonework, to minor cleaning and water proofing.

Other repairs can include tuckpointing, which is needed when the mortar between the bricks is cracked or damaged. The mortar is carefully removed and new mortar is packed in. The chimney sweep works meticulously to match the color, composition, and strength of the existing mortar so the finished product looks seamlessly matched. Brick re-facing is a masonry repair in which bricks are removed and replaced one-by-one because they have begun to spall or lose its facing.

No matter your masonry repair needs, there is no better time than spring, and with chimney repairs, sooner is better than later. Schedule an appointment with Chief Chimney Services today.

By John Pilger on April 22nd, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Tell Me About Chimney Mold

Water in your chimney allows molds to thrive. This is not a good thing. Make sure to waterproof your chimney.

Water in your chimney allows mold to thrive. This is not a good thing. Make sure to waterproof your chimney.

As chimney professionals, a lot of what Chief Chimney Services technicians will talk to homeowners about regularly focuses on preventing fire hazards, maintaining proper draft and keeping up with regular maintenance. It’s also important for us to talk about something that might seem a little less obvious with your chimney system: mold growth.

Mold can and will grow and spread just about anywhere it gets access to moisture and food (like the building materials that make up your home). So if moisture makes its way into your chimney — through damaged masonry or other damaged components — that dark, enclosed and moist space can make a perfect home for mold. Since our chimneys are largely dormant for months out of the year, and Long Island humidity contributes a healthy share of moisture just about year-round, we need to be particularly aware of chimney mold here.

Why Do I Need To Know About Chimney Mold?

Mold growth creates stains and smells, and those annoyances are reason enough to not want it in your home. But related health issues are more concerning. Airborne mold spores have been shown to contribute to a variety of health issues, including respiratory problems, skin and eye irritation and longer-term illnesses. Certain types of mold — so-called “black mold” — are toxic, and have been linked to severe issues from pulmonary illnesses to nerve damage and more. People who already struggle with asthma and other respiratory illnesses or have weakened immune systems have been found to be particularly susceptible to the effects of mold. So it’s important to know about mold growth, and to deal with it quickly if it’s found in your home.

How Do I Know If There’s Mold In My Chimney?

It’s possible that you’ll see the signs of mold on or around your chimney — like discoloration of the masonry or adjacent building materials, or flaky and crystallized white efflorescence, which isn’t mold, but does point to a moisture intrusion problem. More often, though, if mold is growing inside your chimney where it isn’t in plain sight, the first indication will be a musty odor. We all know the smell of mold — it’s what most of us think of as that dank and unpleasant old-basement smell. If you notice an odor, Chief Chimney Services can inspect the chimney to assess whether there’s a moisture issue and mold growth.

How Does Mold End Up In My Chimney?

Mold spores are everywhere, and if they get a dark space to thrive and moisture to feed on, they’ll grow. So mold growth in your chimney is a sure indication that there’s a moisture issue — and dealing with that moisture issue is the key to dealing with your mold.

What Can I Do To Get Rid Of Mold In My Chimney?

The most effective way to get rid of chimney mold: Call Chief Chimney Services. Since breathing mold spores can be dangerous, it’s generally not advised to clean mold yourself on a space that’s any larger than 10 square feet (about a 3 by 3 square). If there’s mold growth inside your chimney, it’ll require special tools to properly get to it, as well. But beyond that, cleaning mold without addressing the moisture intrusion or leak issues is a temporary fix — the mold will grow back again. We can inspect and clean your chimney, find any leaks or moisture intrusion issues (which can be anything from degraded masonry to a cracked chimney crown  or damaged flashing) and provide solutions and repairs.

If you have any questions or concerns about chimney mold, we’re always here to help. Just give Chief Chimney Services a call!

Holy Smoke! My Fireplace is Smoking!

It’s one of those nice cool evenings when you just want to sit back and enjoy the warmth of your fireplace. You gather up the wood and get the fire started, but just as you’re getting comfortable a waft of smoke floats by your nose, and then more and more smoke is building up in your home. That definitely is not a good sign. Something is preventing your draft from working properly and smoke is escaping your fireplace.

If you notice smoke thickening in your fireplace and slowly spreading throughout your home, that's not normal! Have it inspected to know what's causing it.

If you notice smoke thickening in your fireplace and slowly spreading throughout your home, that’s not normal! Have it inspected to know what’s causing it.

Of course smoke should go up the chimney, not into the living area. That’s the very purpose of the chimney, to allow the harmful gases from combustion to exit the house not dwell in it. As you might have already figured out, your smoky fireplace might be an indication of an underlying problem.

Possible Causes

Moist Wood

The first thing that you can do by yourself is to check the kind of wood you are burning. Certain types of wood just naturally produce more smoke – the more moisture the wood contains, the more smoke (and production of creosote). That is why a drying process is necessary before using any kind of wood to burn in your fireplace.

Chimney Problems

Other more critical issues that could cause a smoking fireplace are chimney related, particularly pointing to the airflow, or the lack of it. When proper airflow is impaired smoke easily flows back into the house causing a lot of problems for homeowners, ranging from discolored furniture to severe health risks. That’s why you always want to make sure your fireplace and chimney are well-kept by having them inspected annually.

The most common impediment to proper chimney function is the presence of obstructions within the flue. These can come in the form of creosote buildup, dead leaves, and unusually, small animals. Creosote buildup is an inevitable occurrence with chimneys that are frequently used. Creosote is a normal byproduct of burning wood and over time it mounts up on the walls of the flue, narrowing the passageway of smoke as it tries to get out. This is the very reason why a regular chimney sweeping should be done because creosote is also very flammable and might even cause an unnecessary chimney fire. As for leaves and animals, having a chimney cap or crown installed will help you solve your troubles as it provides a barrier against these unwanted visitors inside your chimney. These accessories also hit two birds with one stone by complimenting the waterproofing of your chimney as well.

If you have a chimney damper installed, also make sure that it is still functioning properly. Otherwise, replace it because if it is always closed or will not open anymore, it defeats its purpose of controlling the amount of air flowing down to the fireplace. Instead it will be a trap for the rising smoke, which will have nowhere else to go but back down into the fireplace.

Whatever the reason for your fireplace and chimney woes, Chief Chimney Services, Inc. is ready to serve you. Contact us today for an inspection so we can help you determine the root of the problem. After which our licensed experts will do what they do best until your fireplace and chimney seem almost brand new. Soon you’ll be back having relaxing nights by your fireplace.