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Closing out your fireplace and chimney for the season

Closing Your Fireplace & Chimney Photo - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care CoHave you burned your last fire for the winter season? If you haven’t yet, you likely will soon. As the annual fire-burning season ends, it’s important that you properly close out your fireplace for the spring. When you’re sure you won’t be burning any more fires for the spring, there are a few things you should do to ensure that your fireplace and chimney will be in good shape when the fall rolls around.

Look for any signs of damage

With whipping winds, freezing temperatures and plenty of wet weather, winter is hard on your chimney. Spring is the time to examine your chimney and fireplace for any signs of damage. On the outside of your home, walk around your chimney and look for cracked or crumbling bricks and mortar, stains or discoloration on your chimney, or any other changes to your chimney. If you are able to see your chimney top, or easily venture onto your roof to check it, make sure that your chimney cap is damage free and securely in place, that your chimney crown or chimney chase cover is in good repair and that the flashing remains securely against the base of your chimney without any signs of cracks or corrosion.

Inside the fireplace, look for rust on fireplace doors, grates and the damper, and make sure your firebox is free from any cracks, crumbling tiles or other damage. Check the ceiling and walls for any discoloration or signs of a leak. If you spot any damage, don’t wait to call in a chimney sweep! Spring and summer are the best time for repairs.

Clean and close out your fireplace

Don’t be tempted to leave ashes or other fireplace debris in the firebox for the summer. Ashes are corrosive, and can cause undue damage to your firebox if they are left to sit. When you know the ashes have fully cooled since your last fire, use a fireplace broom and shovel or an ash vacuum to clear the ashes and debris. Ashes can be thrown away with your regular trash or turned into fertilizer for your lawn or garden.

If you have a gas fireplace that doesn’t require cleaning, make sure you turn off the pilot light. In all fireplaces, you will want to make sure that the damper is closed for the summer. A closed damper will ensure that conditioned air stays in and that any animals or pests that might make their way into your chimney stay out of your home.

Have your chimney swept

Fall might be the traditional time for a chimney sweeping, but spring is a good time for a chimney sweeping, too! You will want to have your chimney swept in the spring if you missed your fall cleaning, if you used your fireplace heavily this winter or if you notice foul smells coming from your fireplace in warmer weather. If your chimney was swept in the fall and shouldn’t need a spring cleaning; think ahead — Schedule your fall chimney sweeping and inspection now so you don’t have to worry about it as summer is drawing to a close!

If you notice chimney damage, or to schedule your chimney sweeping and inspection, call the Chimney Care Co. today!

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

How Cold Weather Can Damage Your Chimney’s Masonry

Winter weather can be rough, and it can be especially rough on your masonry chimney. Snow, sleet, ice and freezing temperatures can all damage your chimney during the winter months, and it’s important that you are aware of the signs of winter chimney damage so you can stay on top of needed repairs.

The Freeze-Thaw Cycle and Your Chimney’s Masonry

Cold weather can damage your chimney’s masonry much like it damages the roadways and causes potholes each winter. Water penetrates your masonry’s porous surfaces. Once trapped inside, that moisture freezes and expands, causing your chimney’s masonry to crack and crumble.

That cracking and crumbling can have a major, negative impact on your chimney and your home. First and foremost, it can cause your chimney to look unsightly, harming your home’s aesthetics. Secondly, cracks and weaknesses in your chimney’s masonry can allow water to gain entry into the chimney’s interior or into your home’s structure, which can cause serious damage to walls, ceilings, your fireplace or heating stove, and your chimney flue. Finally, if left unchecked and allowed to progress, the cracking and crumbling of your chimney’s masonry can cause the chimney structure itself to become weakened and even fail.

Spotting Cold Weather Damage

It is important to be on the lookout for winter chimney damage so that you can have any damage addressed as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration. Some signs of freeze-thaw and winter water damage include:

  • Crumbling mortar
  • Spalling, or the popping off of pieces of chimney bricks
  • Cracking or crumbing of the chimney crown
  • Staining on walls or ceilings around the chimney
  • Crumbling pieces of chimney flue tiles found inside the firebox
  • Rusting of the chimney damper, fireplace grate or fireplace doors.

If you notice any of these signs of chimney masonry damage, it is important to call in chimney professionals to have your chimney inspected and repaired. When you ignore winter chimney damage, it only get worse over time.

Preventing Cold Weather Masonry Damage

To prevent winter masonry damage, your primary goal should be protecting your chimney from water and moisture. A chimney cap prevents water from running down your chimney flue and doing damage; make sure that your chimney cap is in place and in good repair. Your chimney’s crown deflects water away from the chimney flue and should provide some protection to the exterior sides of your chimney. During your annual chimney inspection, make sure you ask your sweep if your chimney crown has been properly constructed and is free from damage. Finally, chimney waterproofing provides a protective barrier for your chimney’s masonry that seals out water to prevent freeze-thaw damage.

If winter’s cold weather has been hard on your chimney’s masonry, call the chimney experts at The Chimney Care Co. We can evaluate wintertime chimney damage and restore your chimney’s look and function.

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Replacing Your Chimney Chase Cover

When it comes to keeping your chimney and fireplace system safe and sound, keeping water out should be your No. 1 priority. When water is allowed to make its way into your chimney, it can damage your flue liner; rust your replacing-your-chimney-chase-cover-img-cincinnati-oh-chimney-care-codamper, firebox or fireplace doors; or even cause water damage to the walls and ceilings that abut your chimney.

If you have a manufactured fireplace, your chimney top should be enclosed with a chimney chase cover. Each fall, as you prepare your chimney for the fire-burning season, it’s important to make sure that your chase cover is firmly in place and damage free. If your chase top is corroding, it’s crucial that you have your chase cover replaced.

What is a chimney chase cover?

Unless you have visited your roof, you’ve likely never seen your chimney chase cover. It’s a flat metal box that encloses the top of your chimney. It should be fitted with a chimney cap that allows smoke to escape the flue while keeping water from running down the chimney flue.

What does a chimney chase cover do?

Your chimney chase cover should seal your chimney’s chase. That is, the box framing that surrounds your prefabricated chimney. The chase cover prevents water, animals and debris from entering the chimney flue. It also keeps water from seeping down between the sides of the chimney and the sides of the chase, which can cause water damage to your home’s structure.

Why do chimney chase covers need to be replaced?

Like anything, chimney chase tops will wear down over time. When homes are built or fireplaces or heating stoves installed, contractors often will keep costs low by installing the cheapest possible materials. Because of that, many chase covers are made from cheap galvanized metal. That metal breaks down within the span of about five years, rusting and corroding and failing to keep out water.

How can you tell if your chimney chase cap needs to be replaced?

Often, the first sign of a failing chimney chase top is a water leak within your chimney. If your chimney chase cap has developed a hole or crack, you might notice water pooling within your firebox, rust around your damper or a discolored wall or ceiling near your chimney. To avoid a leaking chimney, it’s important to have your chimney inspected annually! Your chimney technician will check your chimney chase cover and warn you of any signs of weakness.

What should I look for in a new chimney chase top?

At The Chimney Care Co. we recommend installing a chimney chase cap made from a durable metal that will protect your chimney for years to come. We install chimney caps made from stainless steel or copper, both of which will provide a beautiful finish to your chimney and keep your chimney dry.

If you’ve noticed water leaks in your chimney, if you’ve noticed rust or corrosion on your chimney chase cap, or if you are due for your annual chimney sweeping and inspection, call The Chimney Care Co. to schedule an appointment today.

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Your Smoke Chamber & Why it Matters

Chimney parging ranks as one of the most common chimney repairs, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), but it is a repair that most people know little about. So what is smoke chamber parging, andAre All Fireplaces Created Equal IMG-Spartanburg SC- Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps why is it so important?

About your smoke chamber

The smoke chamber is the area just above your firebox. It angles from the wide area of your fireplace to the narrower opening of your chimney to funnel smoke from the firebox into the chimney. An improperly sized or improperly constructed smoke chamber can impede the flow of smoke into your chimney, causing a bad draft. When your chimney isn’t drafting correctly, smoke flows back into your home rather than up your chimney.

When smoke chamber parging is needed

In many chimneys, especially older chimneys, the walls of the smoke chamber are constructed from brick. The bricks are laid in a “stepping” pattern toward the chimney. The CSIA recommends that all smoke chambers have smooth walls, and most building codes require it. Jagged steps of older smoke chambers can impede your chimney’s draft. That means smoke can flow back into your home, and more heat transfer between your fireplace and the surrounding home structures. In the case of an uneven, or corbeled, smoke chambers, the CSIA recommends parging.

Additionally, parging can be recommended when the bricks of the smoke chamber break down. The walls of smoke chambers can be damaged by fire, or the inner core of the bricks can become exposed over time, threatening the strength of your smoke chamber. In cases where the walls of the smoke chamber are not smooth, or where the masonry of the smoke chamber is wearing down, the CSIA recommends parging of the smoke chamber to improve the chimney’s draft and strength.

How smoke chamber parging is done

To parge your smoke chamber, we use a refractory mortar to smooth out the “steps” of your uneven smoke chamber or to rebuild the walls of your damaged or deteriorating smoke chamber. The refractory mortar holds up to the heat of your fireplace, enhancing its strength, and the newly smooth surface will improve your chimney’s draft, preventing smoke from flowing back into your home.

Determining whether your smoke chamber needs to be parged

You may notice some subtle signs that your smoke chamber needs to be parged, such as smoke flowing back into your living spaces or soot stains forming at the top of your hearth, above your firebox. A peek inside the smoke chamber may reveal cracks or exposed bricks. The only way to determine whether your smoke chamber needs to be parged is through a chimney inspection. During your inspection, your certified chimney sweep will examine the smoke chamber to see whether it is corbeled or showing signs of wear or damage.

If you have noticed that your chimney isn’t drafting properly or if you are overdue for a chimney inspection, call the Chimney Care Co. today, and our chimney experts will help you determine whether your smoke chamber needs to be parged.

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Off-season chimney sweeping

When most people plan out their annual home maintenance schedule, their annual chimney sweeping and inspection is automatically planned for the fall, just before the start of the fire-burning season. That doesn’t have to be the case! In fact, off-season chimney services — in the spring and summer — have many benefits.

Off Season chimney sweeping - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care Co

Spot chimney damage early

Winter is hard on your chimney. Moisture, ice and low temperatures can cause cracks in your chimney’s structure and lead to water leaks in your chimney and into your home’s roofline.  By having your chimney swept and inspected in spring or early summer, you can spot problems early. That gives you time to plan, schedule and execute needed chimney repairs during the time of year that you don’t plan to use your chimney. When you have your chimney inspected in the spring, you can be sure that you’ll have it ready for the next fire-burning season.

Protect your chimney from creosote

You know that creosote raises your risk of a chimney fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Creosote also carries another hazard: It is acidic in nature, which means that it can cause corrosion and damage to your fireplace and chimney materials when it is allowed to sit for a long period of time. Removing creosote from your chimney as soon as you’re done burning fires for the season reduces that amount of time that creosote can damage your chimney. When creosote sits in your chimney during the warm, humid summer months, it also can cause an unpleasant smell to fill your home. A chimney cleaning will keep you fireplace, chimney and home smelling fine.

Keep your home and family safe

Regardless of the time of year you schedule it, your annual chimney sweeping and inspection is crucial for keeping your home and family safe. Removing flammable creosote from your chimney drastically reduces your risk for a chimney fire. It also allows the smoke and gases from your fireplace to safely exit your home, cutting your family’s risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.

Avoid the rush

Because most people plan to have their chimneys swept in the late summer or early fall, that’s our busy season. When you schedule a spring or summer chimney sweeping, you can beat the rush. With a spring or summer cleaning, you’ll be able to schedule your sweeping quickly. And, if damage is found and repairs are needed, you won’t have to delay repairs because of scheduling. We’ll be able to address your chimney problems immediately.

If you prefer to be on top of your home maintenance, call The Chimney Care Co. to schedule your chimney sweeping and inspection today! You’ll reap all of the benefits of an off season chimney sweeping; you’ll be able to spot and address any needed repairs, keep your chimney safe from the damaging effects of creosote, keep your family safe from the dangers of a chimney fire or carbon monoxide poisoning, and you’ll beat the fall rush for chimney services.

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