Chimney Care Company's Blog

What’s that sound coming from my chimney? Probably chimney swifts.

Are you suddenly hearing a lot of loud noises coming from your chimney? Does the sound of rustling movement and constant chirping have you worried about what’s lurking within? Your chimney likely is playing host to chimney swifts!

Probably Chimney Swifts Image - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care Co.What are chimney swifts?

Chimney swifts are birds that are native to North America’s woodlands. Once, they nested on the vertical interiors of dead, hollow trees. As American cities took hold and their natural habitats were largely demolished, chimney swifts adapted by finding shelter inside chimney flues.

How do I know if it’s really chimney swifts?

Of course, chimney swifts aren’t the only animal or bird that can make a home in your chimney. They are, however, extremely common during summer months. To determine if the noise in your chimney is, in fact, caused by swifts, first listen hard. Swifts moving around are often described as causing a rattlesnake-like sound. They are very vocal birds. Meaning you will hear a lot of chirping, especially when adult birds are feeding baby birds inside the chimney. Finally, watch your chimney in the late evening, close to nightfall. That’s when you’re most likely to see a chimney swift. It has a cigar-shaped body and curved wings, and it loves diving into your chimney to take refuge for the evening!

What do I do if it is a chimney swift?

If you are hosting a family of chimney swifts in your chimney, there is nothing you can do. Due to their diminishing numbers, chimney swifts are federally protected birds. Therefore, it is illegal to remove nesting chimney swifts. Fortunately, chimney swifts are migratory birds that will vacate your chimney and move along, once the hatch-lings are old enough. Are you hearing the young chimney swifts chirping in the chimney? If so, you’ll likely only have to wait a few weeks until the swifts move on. In the meantime, you can focus on the positive: Chimney swifts eat up to one-third of their body weight in insects a day. This means your resident chimney swifts will help lower the insect count in your yard this summer!

What do I do once the swifts have moved on?

Once you are sure that the chimney swifts have vacated your chimney, you will need to have your chimney swept and inspected. Their departure likely will coincide with your fall chimney maintenance. Chimney swifts generally don’t damage chimneys in any way. However, you will want to make sure that all remnants of their nests, and any droppings they have left behind, have been safely removed from your chimney. The inspection that follows the sweeping will ensure that your flue hasn’t sustained damage from chimney sweeps!

If your chimney has been occupied by chimney swifts this summer, call the Chimney Care Co. once the swifts have vacated your flue! Our sweeps will be sure to clear away any signs that the swifts were there, and they’ll make sure that your chimney remains in safe, working condition.

 

Water damaged chimney? We repair them!

The Chimney Safety Institute of America has deemed water a chimney’s No. 1 enemy. That’s because nothing can damage a chimney like water. When water makes its way into your chimney, it can damage every chimney component, from the masonry chimney structure, flue liner and firebox to the metal damper, fire grate and fireplace doors. Protecting your chimney from water damage means knowing how water can damage a chimney and spotting and repairing water damage as quickly as possible.

Water damaged chimney Image - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care Co.How Water Damages A Chimney

Masonry is porous. When your masonry chimney is hit with rain, sleet or snow, it absorbs the moisture. When temperatures drop, the water within the masonry freezes and expands, causing the mortar, bricks and cement to crack and crumble.

Some common victims of masonry chimney damage include:

  • Chimney crowns.
    Cracked chimney crowns are incredible common, especially if the chimney crown wasn’t constructed from the right materials to begin with.
  • Mortar.
    One of the most common signs of chimney water damage is crumbling mortar. Mortar crumbling from in between chimney joints is unsightly, and it can weaken your chimney structure.
  • Chimney bricks.
    Moisture making its way into your chimney bricks can cause the faces of the bricks to fall or crumble away.
  • Flue tiles and fire box bricks.
    When water manages to make its way into your chimney’s interior, it can cause cracking and spalling of the tile chimney flue liners and the bricks that line your firebox.

Water that invades your chimney’s interior also can cause problems with the metal components of the chimney. It can cause chimney dampers and fireplace doors to rust and stick in place, and it can cause fire grates to rust away.

What To Do About Chimney Water Damage

If you’ve noticed signs of water damage in your chimney, the Chimney Care Co. can help! We repair chimney water damage! If you see signs of a chimney leak or signs of water damage, it’s crucial to call in the professionals immediately! When chimney water damage is ignored, the problem can grow and intensify. Your overall chimney structure can become weak and unsafe, and water leaking in through the chimney can spread to the abutting home structure, causing wood rot and mold.

The Chimney Care Co. also can help you stop chimney damage before it starts.

We can protect your chimney from water damage in several ways, including:

  • Installing a chimney cap.
    Chimney caps are the best defense against water damage. Chimney caps ensure that water doesn’t flow down the interior of your chimney.
  • Making sure your chimney crown is properly constructed.
    Chimney crowns are meant to direct water away from your chimney flue and keep water from running down the sides of your chimney, but they are often improperly constructed and fail to perform their functions. An improperly constructed chimney crown should be rebuilt to protect your chimney from water damage.
  • Waterproofing.
    One of the best ways to protect your chimney from water damage is with a waterproofing treatment. Chimney waterproofing blocks moisture from entering your chimney’s masonry while still allowing your chimney to breath.

If you see signs of water damage on your chimney or if you’d like to protect your chimney from water damage, call the Chimney Care Co. to schedule an appointment today!

Masonry Repair To Your Chimney

Summer will soon be drawing to a close. Soon, homeowners will begin to prepare their fireplaces and chimneys for the fall. Have you noticed damage to your chimney? If your chimney sweep notices damage during your annual cleaning and inspection, you could be in store for some masonry chimney repair. Know that masonry does break down over time, even with the best care. Additionally, there are some common masonry repairs that are performed time and time again.

Masonry Repair To Your Chimney Image - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care CompanyTuckpointing

Tuckpointing, or repointing, is perhaps one of the most common masonry chimney repairs. The good news is that it’s an incredibly gratifying repair to have performed on your chimney. Not only does it restore the structural integrity of your chimney, but it also restores the overall appearance of your chimney. Tuckpointing involves removing damaged, crumbling mortar from in between the masonry joints of your chimney and repairing it with fresh mortar to strengthen the chimney structure.

Chimney Crown Repair

A chimney crown, the masonry top to your chimney, takes a lot of abuse. As the chimney crown protects the rest of the chimney from water, the crown itself comes into contact with precipitation. This can damage the crown’s masonry! On top of that, many chimney crowns were not properly constructed to start, allowing chimney leaks. They can also cause the chimney crown to break down prematurely. If your chimney crown is cracked, crumbly, or improperly constructed, you will be in need of a chimney crown repair.

Relining

Inside your chimney, the masonry flue tiles can crack or crumble. This can be caused from the extreme heat of your fireplace or from contact with moisture. Eventually, your chimney will need to be relined, either with a stainless steel chimney liner or with a specialized poured cement.

Firebox Reconstruction

Just like the tiles in your chimney liner, the bricks that line your firebox can crack or crumble from exposure to heat and moisture. If the cracks in your firebricks grow too wide, your firebox will need to be reconstructed so that it continues to protect your home from the fires built within.

Chimney Rebuild

Has your chimney has been neglected too long? If crumbling mortar and bricks weren’t replaced or cracks were left unattended, your chimney structure can begin to fail! A failing chimney structure can damage your overall home structure or leave your home open to the risk of a chimney fire. If your chimney structure has failed, you might require a complete or partial chimney rebuild.

If your chimney requires any of these repairs, or if your chimney is due for its annual sweeping and inspection, call the Chimney Care Co. to schedule your chimney today! We can spot and perform any needed masonry chimney repairs and have your chimney ready to operate safely this fall.

Elements of a proper chimney crown

Chimney Crown Image - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care CompanyThe chimney crown provides vital protection to the chimney structure. When properly constructed, the chimney crown channels water away from the chimney flue and prevents water from flowing down the outer walls of the chimney. Too often, chimney crowns have been improperly constructed from the wrong materials, leaving your chimney and fireplace at risk for water damage. Knowing the elements of a proper chimney crown can help you to ensure that your chimney and your home are protected.

Cement construction

Often, when chimneys are being constructed, builders will cut corners by using the same mortar that goes between the bricks to construct the chimney crown. This mortar is too weak to stand up to the elements, and it will crack and crumble quickly, leaving your chimney susceptible to water intrusion. Chimney crowns should be constructed of strong cement, which will hold up to wind, water and freezing temperatures to protect your chimney year after year.

Slope

The purpose of a chimney crown is to funnel water away from your chimney flue to protect the inside of your chimney and fireplace from water intrusion. To help direct water down and away from your chimney, the chimney crown should be sloped.

Overhang

Your chimney’s porous masonry can absorb water. Over time, that water can deteriorate the chimney materials and, eventually, the chimney structure. A simple overhang of the chimney crown can help to protect the exterior chimney walls from water. The underside of the overhang should have a groove around the parameter to prevent water from following the surface of the overhang and flowing onto the chimney walls.

Gap against the chimney flue

If your chimney flue contains a tile flue liner, the flue liner needs to be isolated from the chimney crown. Tile liners become extremely hot when the chimney is in use, and they can expand. The expanded liners put pressure on the chimney crown, which can cause cracks. The chimney crown should be constructed so that it does not touch the chimney liner, and the chimney liner should be surrounded with thin foam and then caulked with a specialized masonry caulking.

Flashing

Wherever there are seems in your home, whether around windows or doors, in your roofline or around your chimney, there needs to be flashing to seal the gaps and keep water out. Your chimney crown should be completed with a layer of flashing where the crown meets the top of the masonry chimney. The flashing will ensure that water cannot seep into the chimney between the chimney structure and the chimney crown.

If your chimney crown is letting water into your chimney and your home because it was improperly constructed or because it has deteriorating over time, call the Chimney Care Co. to schedule a consultation today! We can reconstruct your chimney crown the right way to ensure that your chimney and your home are protected from water damage.

By Jeff Keefer | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Chimney Health Hazards You Should Know About

Fireplaces are warm and cozy, and it’s easy to understand why the hearth often serves as the heart of the home. Unfortunately, the reality of fireplaces is that they aren’t always the ideal feature for a healthy home. There are some chimney health hazards you should know about.

 

Chimney Health Hazards You Should Know About Image - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care CompanySome chimney health hazards include:

  • Particle inhalation.
    When you burn a fire in your open-hearth fireplace, fine particles are released into the air within your home. These fine particles can make eyes burn and itch, noses run and cause lung infections like bronchitis. Regular, long-term exposure to the particles from wood-burning fires can lead to lung diseases. The health risk is greater for small children, the elderly and people with chronic lung conditions.
  • Creosote exposure.
    Each time a fire burns, creosote builds up within the chimney. That creosote can become a hazard if it breaks free and begins to flake into the fireplace and find its way into your home. Creosote can irritate skin, the eyes and the lungs. Chronic, long-term exposure can lead to organ damage.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning.
    When a chimney becomes clogged, carbon monoxide from your fireplace can’t exit your home, and the levels of carbon monoxide in your home can build up to dangerous levels. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause faintness, dizziness, nausea, confusion, organ damage and even death.
  • Disease exposure.
    Birds and bats often find their ways into chimneys and leave behind their droppings. These droppings contain a variety of bacteria. Cleaning bird droppings from your fireplace is especially dangerous because it sends the disease-causing spores airborne.

Health hazards associated with a chimney could be enough to scare any homeowner away from using their fireplace. However, you don’t need to go to extremes to keep you and your family healthy. There are several ways to protect your family from chimney-related health hazards.

To mitigate chimney health hazards:

  • Have your chimney swept at least once per year.
    When it comes to operating a chimney safely, keeping your chimney clean has the greatest impact. A clean chimney drafts more efficiently, drawing smoke and fine particles away from your home more effectively. A chimney sweeping also removes dangerous creosote, any chimney clogs that could prevent carbon monoxide from being vented and disease-carrying bird droppings or other animal waste.
  • Upgrade your appliance.
    There are other options to warm your hearth in a healthier way. You could install gas logs or a gas insert in your open-hearth fireplace. Gas burns hotter and more cleanly, reducing the amount of pollution released into your home. If you love the look of burning wood, you could consider an EPA-certified wood-burning insert, which creates less particulate matter and creates a barrier between the fire and your home.
  • Burn only dry, seasoned firewood.
    Dry, seasoned firewood burns hotter and more cleanly. That means less pollution released into your home and a slower creosote buildup within your chimney.
  • Install a chimney cap.
    A chimney cap can keep birds, bats, animals, and the diseases they carry, out of your chimney.

If you’re looking to reduce chimney health hazards in your home, call The Chimney Care Co!

Whether you need to have your chimney swept, want to upgrade your appliance, or are in need of a chimney cap to keep critters out, we can help!

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Chimney Care Company | 413 Wards Corner Road, Loveland, Ohio 45140