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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

Chimney Leaks and Water Damage

There’s almost nothing worse for a chimney than water penetration. A small crack and tiny amount of water can become hundreds and thousands of dollars worth of damage. Consequently, this is over just one burn season. This is because the freeze/thaw process that water experiences widens cracks in the masonry.  Shifting bricks, a weakening mortar, and making way for even more water to enter is just some of what you can expect.

Chimney Leaks and Water Damage - Suffolk NY - Chief Chimney ServiceWater and Masonry

Masonry is constructed of a variety of materials, all of which are adversely affected by water. Brick, mortar, concrete, stone, flue tile, steel, and cast iron all deteriorate. In addition, they become altered when they come into direct contact with water, or are penetrated with water.

Once water is inside the masonry it can cause a host of issues including:

  • Rusted damper assemblies, fireplace accessories, and glass doors
  • Deteriorated metal or masonry firebox assemblies, central heating system, and flue lining system
  • Rotting adjacent wood and ruined wall coverings and ceilings
  • Water stained walls, ceiling, and chimney exterior
  • Clogged clean-out area
  • Decayed exterior mortar and collapsed hearth support
  • Tilted chimney structure and chimney settlement

This type of damage is solely caused by chimney leaks and can be prevented.

Diagnosing Your Chimney Leak

The damage caused by water penetration isn’t noticeable right away. In fact, by the time these things are noticed, there is extensive damage unseen to the homeowner’s eye.

Three signs that mean you may have a leaky chimney include:

  1.  A stinky chimney, especially one that smells musty is cause from a leaky chimney.
  2.  Less efficiency is generally caused because of an issue such as a chimney leak. Water causes parts to work incorrectly as well as the draft is less effective.
  3.  Stains on interior and exterior masonry means that water is causing discoloration and the mortar has been penetrated.
  4.  Leaks and stains on interior of the house including walls and ceilings. The walls and ceilings don’t even have to be near the chimney because water runs to the lowest place, and then leaks through the weakest portion of ceiling or wall. Water can run several feet or rooms away from the chimney leak itself before physically leaking through the ceiling materials.

Let the Chimney Professionals Repair Your Leaky Chimney

The most common causes of chimney leaks are relatively easy fixes. These include chimney cap repair or installation, replacing or sealing the chimney crown, and repairing or replacing the chimney flashing. All of these things work to keep water out, but none of them are permanent solutions. The best way to insure your chimney is properly waterproofed is to schedule your annual chimney inspection with Chief Chimney today. For the safety of your family and the longevity of your chimney system, it’s vital that you have your chimney waterproofed by a professional.

To learn more about waterproofing services, contact Chief Chimney Services today at 631-863-2460 or request an appointment online.

By John Pilger on November 10th, 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.