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The Importance of Good Chimney Flashing

Water can be a serious problem for your chimney system, and as such, many parts of the chimney system are specifically designed to prevent water infiltration. If these parts are damaged, installed incorrectly, or missing, it WILL result in a chimney leak. Chimney professionals are so sure about this that most will check the chimney first, no matter where the leak occurs in the house. At Chief Chimney Services, if there is evidence of a chimney leak, we will check the flashing first.The Importance of Good Chimney Flashing - Suffolk NY - Chief Chimney

Flashing

Flashing is the shiny metal you may see along the intersection of the chimney and roof. It is composed of many overlapping layers of thin metal and protects against water by directing it away from the chimney/roof intersection. The flashing should be professionally installed because it is a tedious job that only an experienced professional can understand or do properly. The flashing should be placed according to the roof slant and material, as well as hide any nails that are used during installation. Additionally, high-quality flashing will not require sealant of any kind and will lay flat against both the roof and the chimney. If the flashing is improperly installed, it can let water seep directly into the chimney and home, can be easily affected or shifted by winds and animals and may cost dearly in the long run.

Flashing Damage

When a chimney leak is caused by faulty flashing, there are a few reasons this can occur:

  • Improper installation. It may not seem like a big deal, but improper installation can lead to serious issues with your chimney system. Do not allow an amateur to install your flashing. Instead, hire a licensed, certified, and experienced chimney sweep company for all of your installations and services.
  • Animal tampering. Animals may scratch at your flashing, causing it to bend or shift. Once flashing is moved or separated at all from the installation point, it will continue to shift until it leaves the entire space vulnerable.
  • Strong winds and storms. Even properly installed flashing may shift due to high winds, especially during a storm. Extreme winds can blow your entire flashing from your roof if the conditions are right. Again, this leaves the entire area vulnerable.
  • House shifting/settling. Over time, structures shift and settle. This can cause flashing to separate from the roof even when it’s installed correctly. This settlement can occur over long periods of time, or quickly due to earthquakes. If your home experiences an earthquake or similar occurrences such as a tornado or hurricane, you should schedule an inspection to ensure all the parts of your system are working together to protect the system.

Preventing Water Damage with Flashing

While the chimney cap is the chimney’s first defense against water damage, the flashing is the last. Even when the cap and crown are in place and in good shape, if the flashing is faulty, there will be a leak. Many homeowners won’t notice a leak until it has already caused extensive damage behind the scenes.

Don’t hesitate. Spring is coming, and with it will come April showers that can lead to May chimney repairs if you can’t count on your flashing. Make an appointment with Chief Chimney Services today and get your flashing checked out before spring.

Ask about our other waterproofing services as well.

By John Pilger on March 12th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

The Freeze/Thaw Cycle and Your Chimney

Your chimney is built to last, but it will only last if it’s properly used and maintained. In fact, one of the worst things that can happen to your chimney is 100 percent preventable—water damage. Your chimney may be the largest system in your home, but it still goes forgotten in many cases because a large portion of it is hidden from view. Your chimney may continue to work while The FreezeThaw Cycle and Your Chimney - Suffolk NY - Chief Chimneyneglected or abused, but it will work less efficiently, and maybe even work with hazardous damage. A damaged chimney may work for a while, but will eventually lead to serious loss of property or even loss of life.

The Working Chimney

The thing that makes your chimney work so well (even while neglected and abused) is the very thing that makes it susceptible to serious damage. Your masonry is porous, allowing gases to escape and remaining unaffected by temperature fluctuations of the chimney structure. However, if you don’t take precautions, this porous material can be seriously damaged in one winter season.

Water and Your Chimney

All of the materials that make up masonry are adversely affected by water. If the chimney cap, flashing, or crown are damaged and not repaired, water will penetrate the system, damaging it from the inside-out. Water can rust damper assemblies, door handles, hinges, and attachments. It can leak into and cause leaks in ceilings, walls, and floors, can weaken structural beams, and even deteriorate the foundation.

Water and Winter Weather

A leaky chimney doesn’t have to start from the inside. Masonry can become chipped or cracked over time. Water can seep into these spaces as rain falls or snow melts, and when temperatures drop, this water freezes. When the water freezes, it expands, breaking apart the masonry (causing more damage). When a fire is lit and the chimney warms up, the water melts and moves further into the damaged masonry. This freeze/thaw cycle may continue throughout the season. The results may be:

  • spalling masonry,
  • damaged liner,
  • unsound chimney structure.

Chimney Maintenance and Damage Prevention

In order to prevent chimney damage and ensure your system is safe for another season of burning, schedule an inspection with a professional. During a NFPA chimney inspection, you can expect a full assessment of your system top-to-bottom. If there is a problem with your flashing, cap, crown, or masonry, it can stop there. Many chimney issues can be dealt with inexpensively when they’re caught in time.

If your chimney system is in good shape, we can add further protection with waterproofing services. ChimneySaver water-repellent is a watertight, vapor-permeable chemical that doesn’t change the look of the masonry, but keeps water out. Schedule waterproofing services now, and avoid water damage later. The freeze/thaw cycle that can damage your chimney will not be possible if water can’t penetrate the masonry.

Call Chief Chimney Services at 631-863-2460 or schedule an appointment online to make sure your chimney is ready for freezing weather.

By John Pilger on January 29th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Identifying Chimney Discoloration

What do your fingernails and chimney have in common? A trained professional can gain insight as to your health and that of your chimney by looking at their appearance. Changes in color and texture indicate the need for further attention. Look at your fingernails, if you see any of these symptoms, be sure to consult your physician. When it comes to discoloration of your chimney it may not be so easy to inspect. That’s why homeowners in the Long Island area call chimney professional Chief Chimney Services to look for any chimney discoloration and identify the cause and solution to prevent damage.

Chimney Discoloration Image - Suffolk NY - Chief Chimney Services 1You may not be able to see the discoloration on your chimney from the ground and the last thing an untrained homeowner needs to do is start climbing around on their roof. (Ladder accidents are one of the major causes injuries especially from folks who swore they’d be careful. Maintaining your safety and the health of your chimney are two of the reasons you call a chimney professional once a year for a thorough inspection and cleaning.) Simply washing the stains away without tending to the underlying causes puts you and your home at risk.

 

Discoloration on chimneys can be white, black, brown, green, or red depending on the cause.

White stains are caused by evaporated water. When you see the white powder or crystals it is an alert that further investigation is needed. The white substance, efflorescence, can be just simple evaporation from rain, snow, and ice. However, efflorescence can also be a sign that water is running inside your chimney or flue and you have a problem. The website InspectAPedia cautions, “Although efflorescence is not mold, it often indicates wet conditions that cause problem mold growth elsewhere in the same building. You’ll need to identify the sources of moisture or leaks and correct them, and depending on other building air quality complaints or health concerns it may be appropriate to inspect and screen the building for problem mold or other moisture or water-related problems. Efflorescence is always a cause for professional attention.”

Green, blueish, and black stains send out a loud SOS to have your chimney professional check for algae growth and or mold. Both thrive on moisture and cause serious health and infestation issues which are expensive to correct. It is imperative that water leaks are caught early, identified, and cured to prevent mold.

Rust colored stains are also the result of water leaks and the source must be identified and corrected.

Black and brown stains can appear on your chimney, roof, and on sides of your home; dark stains have a variety of root causes. These stains can be caused by clogged gutters, leaks and cracks in your masonry or actual chimney flue, or a missing, dislodged or no rain cap. None of which can be diagnosed from a ground level inspection. Black and brown stains can also mean you have a very serious health and safety issue that require immediate attention if the dark stains are the result of creosote and soot. Creosote and soot are highly combustible and may be the result of malfunctioning heating appliances. Dark stains can also indicate a fire occurred that you weren’t aware happened.

Take Away: No matter what color they are, stains on your home are not simply a cosmetic issue. Stains send a message that something needs the attention of a trained chimney professional before you jeopardize your health, safety, the integrity of your structure. Like most things in life, the longer the problem is left unattended, the more complicated and costly the cure becomes. If you live in Long Island, call Chief Chimney Services for help. If not, be sure you contact a chimney professional with strong credentials ASAP.

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!