During the colder months of the year, nothing compares to warming yourself by a roaring fire. However, as we come out of the summertime and into these brisk nights, it’s the perfect time to check your chimney. All too often, homeowners never think to inspect their fireplace or chimney until there’s a problem. By then, it’s usually too late to avoid a sizable bill.
With that in mind, we at Ray Arnold Masonry want to share some of our top tips on maintaining your chimney. These methods will ensure that your fireplace stays warm and cozy all year long.
Inspect Your Chimney Inside and Out
Although the chimney isn’t too complicated, there are more places to inspect than you might realize. If you ever need help getting to a particular spot or you want a professional opinion, don’t hesitate to give us a call.
Depending on how often you use the fireplace, you might want to inspect these details more than once a year. However, if your usage is mostly limited to the coldest parts of the year, an annual checkup should suffice.
Your chimney’s cap is one of the most critical components for preventing maintenance. Often a chimney will have a flue liner cap that can prevent some rainwater from coming into the chimney but we recommend a full-sized chimney cap so that the entire top of the chimney stays dry.
This piece is designed to prevent rainwater and debris from getting into the chimney, as well as animals that might be looking for shelter.
When inspecting the flue cap or chimney cap, it may be damaged or worn especially if it is not a stainless steel cap. Wear and tear can happen for several reasons. For example, an animal might chew on it to get inside the warm chimney, or the damage could be weather-related.
Also, pay attention to any rust buildup on either the grating or the cap itself. Replacing a rusted cap is relatively simple, but you need to make sure that your new model is the correct material and installed properly.
As the wood burns inside your chimney, it will combine with the colder air outside to condense into a thick, tarry, black substance called creosote. Although creosote is a natural byproduct of burning wood, a buildup of the stuff can be highly dangerous. Since it’s flammable, you could be looking at a chimney fire, which could put the house at risk. Even if it doesn’t burn your roof, the fire will weaken the chimney’s masonry.
One of the most common ways for creosote to build up is improper ventilation. As long as the smoke can escape quickly and efficiently, you shouldn’t have to worry about this problem. Also, if you don’t use the fireplace too often, you can wait longer between inspections.
The best way to remove creosote buildup is to call a professional like Ray Arnold Masonry and we will connect you with a chimney sweep to get the job done.
Cracks and Crumbling Sections
Although brick and mortar are resilient building materials, they are susceptible to wear and tear. The heat from the fireplace, coupled with weather damage throughout the year can lead to small cracks in the mortar. Over time, these cracks will only get worse, until the whole chimney is compromised.
Fortunately, by catching this damage early, the fix is quick and straightforward. All you have to do is tuck point the mortar, and you should be okay for a while. However, be aware that the crack can continue to spread on the inside, so you’ll eventually replace sections of your chimney. When that happens, give us a call.
Damaged or Peeling Flashing
Flashing refers to the metal pieces that sit underneath your roof tiles. These components help prevent water from seeping into the roof and causing mold and wood damage. Wind and extreme temperatures can cause the flashing sealant to come loose. This will lead to problems during the next rainfall. In some cases, as the flashing comes apart, it removes the shingles, which worsens the situation.
Weatherproof Chimney with Siloxane Sealant
Ohio weather can run the gamut from hot and humid to cold and snowy. This can wear down your chimney a lot over the years. Fortunately, one of the simplest solutions is to weatherproof the materials with a Siloxane sealant. When applied correctly, you can go between three to five years between reapplications, saving you time and money in the long run.
Whether you want a professional inspection of your chimney or you discovered damage that needs repair, be sure to call us immediately. Using a worn-down chimney can create new problems, as well as worsen the ones already there. Don’t wait until it’s too late.