The Most Common Culprit behind Leaky Chimneys

Leaking is the most common problem facing home chimneys. More common than grout rot or drafts is the issue of water leaking inside a home through a chimney. Most often, the problem is not with a hole in the chimney grout but with a feature that is known as the flashing. Flashing is a layer of sheet metal that keeps the spaces between the roof and the chimney tightly sealed. It is the joint that connects the roof with the chimney, meant to prevent water from leaking into a home’s interior. So then, if leaking is the problem, the feature meant to protect against leaking is the probable culprit. Here are some facts about flashing and a possible solution to issues with it.

  • Flashing is made of water-resistant sheet metal. Water should not collect on it but should flow off of it and onto your roof tiles, which will then allow water to fall off of your home. It is slick enough that moisture should not collect on your flashing.
  • It is made of two distinct layers. Step flashing is the lower layer, a row of L-shaped joints that are woven into the shingles on your roof and are bound to the chimney itself. The second layer is the protective layer, called the counterflashing. This is secured into the mortar between chimney bricks and covers the step flashing along the lowest edge of the chimney.
  • Leaking problems are likely found on the corners of flashing. If the flashing was not laid properly, there may be a wide gap between the flashing and chimney, due to the fact that metal has been bent into a right angle to fit over the corner and around all four sides of the chimney. These gaps are meant to be filled with caulking, but no amount of caulking can fix poor handiwork. Water can easily seep into the gapped corners of the flashing and into your home. If this is a problem, you will need to find an expert to repair your roof flashing leak in Kennesaw, or in your city.
  • There are various types of metals, all in sheet form that can be used for chimney flashing. Galvanized steel is a strong but affordable material. Aluminum is the least expensive. Copper is often used as flashing because it lasts a very long time and can be soldered onto a chimney for a watertight seal, but it is the most expensive option.
  • It is wise to have a chimney inspected once a year for problems. The flashing is especially vulnerable to problems, so there is a chance that it can be deteriorating, even if you do not currently have a leak problem. The best type of care is preventative after all, so it is best to find gaps and have them professionally repaired before water begins leaking through them. Any other problems, like cracked mortar, can be easily filled with caulk and should not be a huge problem. Even though flashing is meant to protect against interior water damage, it is still a good idea to have a chimney itself sealed with a waterproofing finish. This will prevent water from seeping into the brick and then indoors, though resealing will need to be performed every couple of years, or whenever problems arise.

If you have a leak problem or just want to know if your chimney is ready for the rainy season, be sure to seek out an expert who can repair roof flashing leak in Kennesaw. Your chimney provides warmth and beauty to your home. Be sure that it stays strong and intact, so that it can serve you for many, many years.

03/20/15

4 Benefits of Replacing Your Chimney Liner with Stainless Steel

Chimney liners are a vital component of a safe chimney because they prevent gases and smoke from gaining access to your home. In addition, they help prevent house fires by keeping these hot gases inside the chimney and away from combustible materials in your home. When considering chimney relining, there are 4 key benefits of stainless steel liners you should think about.

Safer

A stainless steel liner is the safest material available because it won’t develop cracks the way clay tile liners do. The liner is completely sealed, protecting your home from harmful creosote, carbon dioxide, and smoke.

Durable

Stainless steel liners last for many years because they are resistant to corrosion. You won’t have to worry about damage to the surrounding masonry of your chimney because the seal on the liner is durable as well.

More Economical

Steel liners are much more affordable than other types of liners because the initial installation is less labor intensive. So not only do you save money on your initial investment, but you will save money down the road because you won’t need to make expensive repairs as you would with a clay liner. In addition, because steel liners are easier to keep clean and maintain, you won’t spend as much money having your chimney cleaned by a chimney sweep.

Efficiency

Steel liners can have additional insulation fitted around the liner, which can increase the efficiency of your home. This insulation makes it easier for the air to exit the chimney completely because it doesn’t cool down and allow creosote to build up. This additional insulation also reduces cold air down drafts when the fireplace or stove is not being used. Stainless steel liners also make it possible for you to have higher efficiency appliances because they often require a stainless steel liner. More efficient appliances combined with an efficient chimney liner can drastically reduce your utility bills. Contact us today for quality stainless steel chimney liner installation in Marietta.

03/04/15

Fixing Masonry Chimney Damage

Your chimney is a beautiful feature in your home that makes a powerful statement. Not only is it pleasing to the eye, but it provides vital, natural heat to your home. Of course, this means that your chimney must be kept up and protected. Unfortunately, most people are not aware that a chimney is nearly always exposed to damaging elements.

A traditional masonry chimney, built from brick, is not like the outer walls of your home. It is not protected by a roof or awning, it is exposed to strong heat and smoke, and it is not insulated. For this reason, nearly every home’s chimney will need repair at some point. If you are in this situation, with need for minor repairs, or if you have water leaking around your chimney, then the professionals can help get your chimney back to the heat-producing and beautiful architectural feature it was built to be.

To better understand how masonry chimney damage is fixed, here is a brief explanation of how damages can occur.

If your chimney cap is damaged, missing, or was never added, then water can leak through the chimney down into your home any time it rains. Water can also leak through the grout and indoors over time, as all brick grout is vulnerable to eventual cracking, holes, or even mold damage over time. Because masonry is porous, it will absorb any moisture it is naturally exposed to, and the moisture will attack your chimney from the inside. It is a slow process, but once it occurs, you may notice water leaking into your home the next time precipitation occurs.

Chimney repair experts can repair the brick and mortar that has been water damaged, and can even protect it from future damage with products like crown coat and chimney saver water base, which keep moisture outside where it belongs. If you notice water around your chimney, call for repairs as soon as possible to prevent water damage to your interior floors, furniture, and other parts of your property.

02/19/15

What to Do after a Chimney Fire?

Chimney fires are incredibly scary and happen more than most people think. These fires can be explosive or they can smolder, undetectably, for days. While these fires are certainly dangerous, the good news is that they are easily preventable. By working with a chimney sweep in Alpharetta, GA, it is possible to keep your chimney in good working order and fire free. If, however, this news has come a bit too late, we want to relate some advice on how to recover from a chimney fire.

Step 1: Acceptance

We cannot overstate that the most important step in recovering from a chimney fire is recognizing there has been one. As previously stated, there may never be flames or even noticeable smoke, so homeowners will have to look for other clues. Most chimney fire evidence involves a substance called creosote. Creosote is the black or brown by-product of combustion that coats the inside of a chimney. Creosote may be flaky and crusty, or it may be tar-like and drip down the sides of the chimney chute. If the creosote coating the chimney looks like the outside of an over roasted marshmallow, the chance is pretty good that there has been a chimney fire. Other creosote-related evidence of a chimney fire is if someone finds it on the roof or ground, or the roof has been mysteriously damaged. Other signs of chimney fires include damage to the flue, rain cap, TV antenna, and/or masonry.

Step 2: Ask for Help

Upon discovering evidence of a chimney fire, it is extremely important to call a certified sweep to come assess the damage. If the damage from the chimney fire is not attended to, another fire could start, or the chimney/fireplace could malfunction in a number of other ways. We want to be clear that malfunctioning fireplaces can often be deadly.

Step 3: Gather Information

When the chimney sweep arrives, he or she will do an assessment of the damage and recommend the appropriate course of action. In many cases, the sweep will do an external evaluation of the damage and may also use a camera to get a better look inside the chimney chute. Depending on the damage caused by the fire, the fix may be as easy as replacing a rain cap or as involved as completely replacing the chimney and the chase. Common repairs we often have to make after a chimney fire include replacing flue tiles, patching masonry, and rebuilding masonry. Only a certified sweep will be able to tell how much work needs to be done.

Step 4: Act

If the sweep believes there has been a chimney fire, it is probably a good idea to call the responsible homeowner’s insurance company. While chances are that damage caused by chimney fires is covered, there are always exceptions to the rule. If an insurance adjuster says there is nothing the company can do, we recommend going over the policy personally before giving up.

1/22/15

Avoid Chimney Cleaning Scams this Winter

Here at Atlanta Chimney Doctor, LLC, we believe in every person getting a fair price and a good value on their chimney services, whether it be repair, cleaning, or replacement. Unfortunately, there are some dishonest people out there who want to take advantage of people when it comes to their chimneys, so here are 5 tips to avoid chimney-cleaning scams this winter.

Ask for and Contact References

When someone approaches you about providing chimney cleaning or inspection services, make sure you ask for and contact a number of their references. This is probably the first thing that you can do to make sure the company is reputable.

Avoid the “Too Good to Be True”

If a deal sounds too good to be true, it just might be. Make sure that you do not fall for a low price. Instead, contact some other chimney services and get estimates from each. This will give you a better idea of how much you should actually pay for these services.

Take Your Time

You might feel pressured by the chimney cleaner to take action quickly. This may be a sign of a scam. Make sure to take your time and do some shopping around. Despite what the company might be telling you, if they solicited your business in the first place, you have time to do your own due diligence.

Licensure and Insurance

The company should have an up-to-date license and insurance. If they are hesitant to provide these right away, it is probably best that you steer clear. Every chimney sweep should be able to provide copies of their license and insurance right away.

Do Your Own Research

There are a number of online sources that you can check. By doing a simple internet search, you can find a lot of information about a company’s reputation. You can also check the Better Business Bureau website to review any complaints filed against the company or find out if they even exist.

1/22/15

Reasons for Repairing a Chimney Chase

During this time of year, most people have fond thoughts of fireplaces and chimneys. Whether these thoughts have to do with warmth or jolly fat men doesn’t matter. All that matters is that, during the winter, people enjoy the comfort and ambiance of a beautiful fire crackling away. What few people realize, though, is that a fireplace comes with many parts and pieces that make it work and make it safe.

Where Is the Chimney Chase?

One of the most important parts of the whole fireplace construction is the chimney chase. This is the big, long part of the chimney that is easily seen on the side of houses with fireplaces. The chimney chase is responsible for covering the portion of the chimney that expels noxious gases from the home. Without this covering, all people would see would be a big, ugly metal chute attached to someone’s home. In order to make chimneys more visually appealing, home builders usually encase them in the same material from which the home is built. So if the home is made from brick, chances are the chase is brick as well.

Can They Be Damaged?

Unfortunately, there are several things that can damage a chimney chase including chimney fires, water, debris, and age. Chimney fires are a scary reality for anyone who has a chimney. The good news is, however, that they are easily preventable with routine chimney maintenance. The cause of chimney fires is simple: the chimney was dirty. Unfortunately, the repair is not simple as it may require building an entirely new chimney.

Damage by Water

More common reasons for needing expert chimney repair include acts of Mother Nature. Water is a homeowner’s worst enemy and it is no different for chimney chases. Water can easily find its way into the nooks, crooks, and crannies of a chase. Once there, it begins to expand and contract causing the chase to start breaking apart. Water can also cause mold, mildew, and rot to occur inside the chimney which is difficult, but not impossible, to repair.

Damage by Tree

Debris damage can occur from any number of things, but the most common is storms. Just like the rest of a home, chimneys can be severely damaged by falling branches. After a severe storm, it is always a good idea to have a certified chimney sweep come do an inspection of the chimney and all its parts. Many times, structural damage is easier to fix than water damage.

Damage by Time

Time is certainly no friend to a home. While it seems that appliances have a life span of about 10 years, chimneys usually last much longer. The key to making sure that a chimney lasts the lifetime of the house is finding a company that specializes in repairing chimneys. At Atlanta Chimney Repair, we provide thorough routine inspection and maintenance to make sure that a chimney stays in good repair for years to come.

1/14/15

What Causes Smoke Problems with Your Chimney?

Nothing ruins a relaxing evening by a cozy fire more quickly than a suffocating draft of smoke blowing into the house. Not only is this situation potentially dangerous to your physical health, but it will also likely harm your clothing, upholstery, carpets, and walls. Instead of enjoying a peaceful night, you now face the annoyance of removing smoke stains and stench from your home. Fortunately, we can explain the common causes of this issue so that you can easily avoid it. A chimney sweep can inspect your fireplace area and remedy any potential problems.

A Soiled Chimney

Creosote buildup is a natural product of repeated fires, but it also presents a serious fire hazard. In addition, it causes an interruption in the normal flow of gasses, which results in smoke ebbing back into your home. We recommend that you have a chimney sweep remove the residue from the inner surface yearly, or more frequently if deemed necessary. An added benefit of this process is that it allows a professional to check for any damage to the flue, which is another frequent source of dangerous fires and smoke issues.

Damper Obstruction

A damper or chimney cap can become stuck in an improper position, restricting proper gas flow. Debris may also become lodged in these places, preventing normal exchange. A professional sweep can adjust and clean both parts as needed, while inspecting the rest of the inner parts to check for clogs.

Good Home Construction

Ironically, a sturdy and well-insulated house prevents the very flow of gasses necessary for proper smoke ventilation. If opening a nearby window seems to fix your draft problem, your home is probably not allowing enough air exchange. Simply leaving the window slightly open may solve the problem. If this remedy is not desirable, a professional mason can probably install an air vent in your fireplace.

Another home upgrade that may disrupt the proper current is the forced ventilation system. Your fireplace may function best when no interior fans are being used. This is most true when the air return is in the same room as the fireplace.

Good Weather

Again, a seemingly ideal situation is not always ideal for the use of a fireplace. When it is not particularly cold outside, the difference in temperature between the inside and the outside air will not be very pronounced. This situation can prevent the chimney from drawing smoke outside as well as it will on a very chilly day. If this problem occurs repeatedly, you may want to consider waiting until the outdoor temperature drops just a little before you light a fire.

1/06/15

The Importance of Waterproofing a Chimney

Forever immortalized by Mary Poppins, Harry Potter, and Santa Claus, chimneys seem to be the magical epicenter of the home. It makes sense really. There is certainly something special about a fire on a cold winter day, and the long, black tunnel seems to lead nowhere (much like a wardrobe). No matter how old someone is, it is easy to dream up fantastical happenings around a fireplace and chimney. Even though real fireplaces are few and far between, chimneys remain equally important for those homes with gas fireplaces. As many homeowners have become painfully aware, taking care of chimneys is vitally important to make sure fireplaces, either wood-burning or gas, are properly ventilated

Keeping Out the Elements

As most people are aware, chimneys are designed to channel smoke and carbon monoxide out of the home. What few people ever really ponder is how chimneys let those things out but keep rain and snow from falling in. When it comes to preventing precipitation from falling into a home, there are a few things at play keeping the fire dry. The first thing is that when there is a fire in the fireplace, there is an updraft of warm air. This warm air shoots through the top of the chimney, blowing away any rain or snow that might be trying to make its way into the chimney. Another way chimney’s keep precipitation at bay is that most of them are curved, which catches any stray raindrops or snowflakes long before they douse any flames. Finally, many people put one of a number of waterproofing devices on or in their chimneys. The most popular of these devices is called a chimney cap, which is like an umbrella for chimneys.

Leaks Will Happen

Despite the fact that chimneys are well designed and protected, it is certainly possible for them to leak. When chimney leaks happen, it is important to call a professional chimney sweep about repairing the leak and any damage it caused.

When it comes to a leaky chimney, there are a lot of things that could be causing the problem, such as cracks in the crown, flashing, or masonry work, or lack of a chimney cap. In order to fix such problems, we utilize a variety of products and techniques. The most obvious fix for a leak is the installation of a chimney cap. The type of chimney cap a chimney sweep will install depends entirely on the size and shape of the chimney and whether the top of the chimney is flush with the rest of it or has a crown.

Repairing Leaks and Damage

Another thing the chimney sweep will look for is any structural damage. He or she will examine the type and extent of the damage and then decide on the appropriate chimney repair techniques. Once the damage has been fixed, the chimney sweep will use any one of a number of waterproofing products to make sure the damage doesn’t reoccur.

1/05/15

Safety Tips for Having a Wood-Burning Fireplace

A wood-burning fireplace is a great feature to have in any home, but as with anything else, there are a number of safety precautions that you need to take into consideration. Wood-burning fireplaces can also be a serious hazard to you and your family, particularly if there are young children in the home. Therefore, it is essential that you keep some important safety tips in mind. Read on as we share our top 5 safety tips for having and using your wood-burning fireplace.

Have Regular Professional Inspections

Have a qualified contractor experienced in chimney repair inspect your fireplace and chimney regularly. A good time to do this would be before you use it for the first time each year and after the season is over. Here at Atlanta Chimney Doctor, our experts perform thorough inspections to spot any issues.

Check Often for Buildup

As you use your fireplace, a substance known as creosote will build up in your fireplace and in your chimney. As it is safe to do so, check your chimney for excess creosote buildup and have a chimney sweep come to perform a chimney inspection and cleanup of this buildup so that you can continue to use your fireplace throughout the season without serious health issues and fire damage.

Only Burn Firewood

Often people will burn whatever wood they can find without really thinking about whether that wood has been treated. Pretreated and wood that has been treated or painted will release toxic fumes into your home if burned in your fireplace, so make sure not to burn these at all. Make sure that you are only ever burning firewood in your fireplace and leave any construction scraps, garbage, or wood that you are unsure whether it has been treated already out where it belongs.

Do Not Make It Easily Accessible

Many people have fire-related accidents in their homes because they simply did not take the proper precautions to protect their homes and families from the fire damage. Make sure that you have installed sufficient screens and fire-resistant glass doors in front of your fire that have locking mechanisms on it to keep small hands out of the fireplace, even when you think it is not hot enough to burn them.

Have Any Blockages Cleared

Make sure that there are no blockages in your chimney or flue that would prevent smoke and ash from escaping your home. Smoke inhalation is a very serious danger to home occupants and if you have young children in the home, this can be especially dangerous for lungs that are not completely developed yet. Professional chimney repair can help you determine whether your wood fireplace is safe to use as well as identify any blockages that might prevent smoke and ash from ventilating out and away from your home properly.

12/05/14

Things to Know about Chimney Liners

There’s nothing like a cozy fire when the temperature drops. Fireplaces and stoves are an excellent way to heat your home, but it’s important to maintain your chimney as well as your fireplace. It’s also important to keep your chimney liner in good condition or to have one installed if your chimney currently does not have a liner. Here are some things you should know about chimney liners.

Purposes

Chimney liners keep your home safe in three important ways. The first function of a liner is to keep heat from transferring to materials that could catch fire, including woodwork that surrounds the chimney.

The second function of a liner is to keep flue gases from going into the mortar and brick of the chimney. Fires have corrosive byproducts that can eventually wear away the chimney materials if the gases are able to penetrate these materials. This also increases the risk of dangerous carbon monoxide leaking into the home as the chimney wears away.

The final purpose of a chimney liner is to increase the efficiency of stoves and furnaces. If the liner is an incorrect size, gases won’t escape properly and the draft that aids in combustion won’t be optimal. This can cause creosote buildup and additional carbon monoxide.

Liner Materials

Older chimneys likely have clay tiles to form a liner. They work well and are not very expensive, but there are some disadvantages to clay. It’s more difficult for clay to absorb and distribute heat, which can cause problems in the event of a chimney fire. The tiles will crack, making the liner less effective and requiring replacement.

Stainless steel liners are much more common today for a number of reasons. They are an excellent choice for upgrading or repairing chimneys because they work for any type of fireplace, stove, or furnace. If you need a new liner, we can install a quality stainless steel liner.

Advantages of Steel

  • Most companies that install chimney liners recommend stainless steel as a replacement for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most appealing advantage of stainless steel is that it has a lifetime warranty, so it’s obvious that is a durable material
  • Another advantage of stainless steel is that it provides the best protection for your fireplace and home than any other material. You can cut costly chimney repairs because the brick and mortar will be protected from corrosive byproducts.
  • Since stainless steel liners are installed as one piece, there is no shifting or cracking that could allow dangerous gases to leak into your home.
  • Stainless steel liners can be insulated before insertion into the flue, or insulation can be added afterwards. This keeps combustion gases hotter all the way out the chimney, reducing creosote condensation. Cold downdrafts when not burning a fire are also reduced.

12/01/14