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How to Know if You Have a Leaky Chimney

Does Your Chimney Have a Leak?Spring rains, along with melting snow and ice, can lead to problems with your chimney — namely, chimney leaks. After a winter’s worth of freezing temperatures, high moisture, and high winds, your chimney can become weakened in a variety of ways that allow water to leak into your home through your chimney. If chimney leaks aren’t addressed quickly, they can lead to serious and expensive problems with your fireplace, your chimney, or even your home structure. To head off chimney leaks before they cause major problems, you should be looking out for the signs of a chimney leak this spring.

Water or rust in your firebox

After a major snow melt or heavy rain, you should take the time to inspect your firebox. Look for signs of moisture or puddles in the bottom of the firebox to be sure that water isn’t coming down the chimney flue. Also, keep your eye out for rust. Even if you don’t see water coming in through the chimney, check all of the metal chimney components, such as the fire grate, fireplace doors, and damper, for rust or warping that could indicate that water is seeping in through the chimney. Chunks of chimney tile at the bottom of the firebox also can indicate that a leak is damaging the interior of your chimney.

Water damage to interior walls or ceilings

When your walls and ceiling start to warp or stain, it’s obvious that water is getting into your home, but it can be difficult to pinpoint the damage. Many people fail to check the chimney for leaks, but the chimney is often to blame. Dark stains, peeling wallpaper, and wavy wallboard on the walls and ceilings near your chimney can indicate that water is leaking in and around the base of your chimney, or even through the chimney walls.

Discoloration on the exterior of the chimney

Staining on the outside of the chimney also can be a sign that your chimney is taking on water. If your chimney masonry shows black, white, or green staining, it’s an indication that the chimney masonry is absorbing and holding water. Rust stains down the side of a masonry or manufactured chimney can indicate that the chimney’s metal cap or chase cover is rusting away, which could allow water into your chimney.

Deterioration of the chimney masonry

After a winter of freezing and thawing temperatures, chimney masonry can begin to break down and let water into the chimney structure and your home. To keep your chimney and your home safe from water damage due to a leaking chimney, the exterior chimney structure should be examined each spring for crumbling mortar and cracked or deteriorating bricks or stone. Any signs of weakness should be inspected by a professional to ensure that water isn’t making its way into the chimney through cracks or holes in the chimney walls.

A leaky chimney is a serious issue that needs to be addressed before it jeopardizes the structure of your chimney or the structure of your home. Take the time this spring to look for the signs of a leaking chimney. If you notice signs that your chimney is leaking, be sure to call the Chimney Care Co. to have your chimney inspected by a professional before the problem gets worse.

How to Operate Your Chimney Damper

Improper use of your chimney damper can cause a lot of frustration. If the chimney damper isn’t open before you light a fire, it can cause smoke to come pouring back into your home. A damper that isn’t fully open can hinder your fire’s ability to burn. A damper that’s left open and forgotten can fill your home with cold drafts and send warm air flowing up the chimney, making your home uncomfortable. Enjoying your fireplace begins with the proper operation of your chimney damper.

When to Open and Close Your Chimney Damper

First and foremost, know when to open and close your chimney damper. Obviously, open the chimney damper  before you light a fire, or you will fill your home with smoke. After fully extinguishing the fire, you should close the damper as soon as possible. Open chimney dampers allow warm air to leave your home through the chimney, which can have a significant impact on your home heating bills. You also should know how to use your individual chimney damper. Most chimney dampers simply need to be opened and closed; however, some chimney dampers can be partially opened to control the airflow to and the intensity of your fire.

How to Operate Your Chimney Damper

Chimney damper operation varies from fireplace to fireplace, as there are a few different types of chimney damper mechanisms. Some common chimney damper mechanisms include:

• Levers. Levers are probably the simplest chimney damper mechanisms to operate. The levers are typically located at the top of the chimney box. They open and close the damper when pushed back and pulled forward.

• Rotary. As the name implies, a rotary-controlled damper opens and closes based on the twisting of the damper handle.

• Double ratchet pivot. The double ratchet pivot requires two motions to open and close the damper. The damper handle is pushed upward to disengage the control, then the handle is pushed or pulled to open or close the damper.

• Poker damper. The tip of your fireplace damper opens and closes a poker damper. The poker tip is placed into the control slot, and a rapid upward push opens the damper.

• Chain for a throat damper. There are usually two chains; one for opening the damper and one for closing the damper. Pull the chain for the motion you’re looking for to operate the damper.

• Chain for a top-sealing damper. A chain inside the firebox operates top-sealing dampers. When the damper is closed, the chain is pulled in and placed on a hook to keep the damper closed. Releasing the chain from the hook allows the damper to open.

Chimney dampers are simple mechanisms, but they have a major impact on the function of your fireplace! Chimney dampers are often the first part of a fireplace and chimney system to fail. If you need help with your chimney damper, call the Chimney Care Co. to schedule an appointment today!

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

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