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Common Reasons Causing Chimney Leaks

Protect your home, family, and property by ensuring that your fireplace and chimney system are working properly before winter begins. Any time before winter is the right time to take care of any issues with your chimney. Addressing those issues before you need to use your fireplace prevents future problems. Deal with the small issues now before they turn into major problems. If your chimney is leaking from any of the following problems, you want to have it inspected and repaired when the weather is warm.

The fireplace flashing is cracked or torn. The flashing is the aluminum around the chimney that sticks up from your roof. It bends over the side of the chimney and the shingles. Its job is to keep water from flowing down between the chimney and roof.

Cracks in the mortar joints and bricks.

The mortar and cement that hold the chimney together may crack over time. If they are cracked water can fall inside the chimney and the house. Also, the chimney walls may stay wet after the rain and absorb this water.

Loose knots and cracks in wood siding.

If your house has wood siding knots in the wood may loosen or come off altogether. As well, the wood may get old, dry out, and split, which also lets water into the chimney and the house.

No chimney cover.

If your chimney has no cover, rain, pests, and wildlife can fall inside it. Make sure your chimney cover is working correctly and not letting in leaks.

Cracked chimney crown.

If the chimney crown cracks water seeps in.  If not repaired the water will freeze in cold weather, and it may crack even more from repeated freezing, which makes it even harder to fix.

Contact Complete Chimneys for repairs on your leaking chimney in Maryland. We inspect and solve any problems that are causing your chimney to leak.

 

 

 

Tips for Choosing a Chimney Contractor

Chimney Contractors in Maryland

When you are ready to have your chimney inspected and repaired, you want to choose the chimney contractors in Maryland that best suit your needs. After you have reviewed the contractor’s website and read the reviews, choose a couple that have the best reviews. Good reviews should mention “on-time completion, affordable, quality work.” Once you’ve narrowed down your options you can call the business during regular hours and ask some of the following questions:

  • Is the estimate free?
  • Is the price of the estimate firm?
  • How soon can the work be performed?
  • Does he carry most repair parts in his truck?

On the day of your appointment for the estimate, note if the contractor is on time, and if not, did he let you know he’d be late? Is the contractor’s truck organized with the necessary tools and parts? It’s critical that the contractor examine the chimney from the roof before you get the estimate. When you’ve chosen your contractor make sure you check that your contractor does the necessary preparations and actually does the work you have agreed to pay for.  For example, when a cement repair is needed, the contractor must mix the cement. Also, for a cap repair, make sure a new cap is being used.

How Long Does Chimney Cleaning Take?

Chimney Cleaning Maryland

A typical thorough inspection and cleaning of your chimney should take less than one hour, depending on how dirty the chimney is. While all flues are not the same, when you have the work done by two certified technicians, it should be done effectively and efficiently. If there is a blockage in the chimney, like a bird’s nest, the cleaning may take more time due to the amount of debris that has to be carefully removed. If you suspect there is a blockage in your chimney, let the chimney sweepers know so your service time can be adjusted accordingly. Rely on Complete Chimneys for the most thorough chimney cleaning in Maryland when your chimney flue and smoke chamber must be swept.

Whether you have a masonry fireplace or a wood-stove chimney, in most cases a two-man crew shouldn’t have to spend more than an hour sweeping the chimney in your home. However, a prefabricated fireplace chimney may take even less time, whereas a walk-in fireplace may take as long as two-three hours.

Contact Complete Chimneys at (410) 544-7600 for all of your chimney needs. Our reputable company offers products and services that include all of the following:

  • Chimney Construction
  • Chimney Repair
  • Preventive Maintenance
  • Chimney Rebuilding
  • Chimney Liners
  • Chimney Caps
  • New Wood Stoves

Choosing Natural Gas or Propane for Gas Fireplace Inserts

Gas Logs are either made to burn natural gas or liquid propane. There is a difference between the ways these two gases burn, so the burner systems must be made for the type of gas you want to burn. The biggest differences are in the burner orifices and safety pilot options.  For example, a burner for liquid propane gas cannot be lit with a match. Liquid propane is heavier than the air so it must be closed tightly with a manual valve or else a gas puddle inside the fireplace may flow into a room and create a fire hazard.

As natural gas is lighter than air, if the manual valve is left slightly open, most of the leaked gas goes up the chimney, without causing a fire risk. However, liquid propane gas must have a safety pilot, which prevents a valve from being left open. Also, to get the correct air-to-fuel mixture and prevent the gas from puddling, the density of the material that covers the burner pan matters. Propane gas logs usually use vermiculite in the burner pan whereas natural gas logs use a special grade of silica sand.

You may be wondering what kind of gas to use in your fireplace. If your home is already equipped with gas, it makes sense to run a line from your gas main to your fireplace and use the same type of gas. If that’s not possible for some reason, you may want to install a propane tank right outside the fireplace. For information about adding or changing out gas inserts in Baltimore, MD, contact Complete Chimneys. We service customers throughout Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Water Damage & Your Chimney

Water may cause brick-and-mortar spalling, which is when the bricks break off into small pieces and fragments. If the chimney brick spalls there’s a great chance for structural damage to occur.  Have the

brick and mortar of your chimney suffered from excessive exposure to water? If so, look to Complete Chimneys to provide brick repair in Annapolis, MD, and the surrounding areas.  Our chimney repair technicians can repair any water damage and waterproof your chimney to protect it from spalling again. When it comes to water damage and your chimney, the following do’s and don’ts are highly recommended:

  • Don’t assume your chimney is strong enough to endure excessive amounts of water.
  • Do realize that whatever masonry material your chimney is constructed of, water damage poses a serious threat.
  • Do schedule maintenance so water won’t cause your chimney to deteriorate and become a fire risk for your home.
  • Explore replacing or adding a chimney cap to keep water from damaging your chimney. A chimney cap is the safest means of protecting the chimney from water damage.

Don’t hesitate to get repairs if you notice any signs of water in your chimney or fireplace. That’s the time to have the damaged assessed and ensure that no more water flows into your chimney.

Benefits to Cleaning Your Chimney This Spring

Spring is a good time to clean your home as well as your chimney. While many people wait until fall to get their chimneys ready for winter, spring cleaning ensures your chimney is cleaned and prepared for winter. When you have your chimney sweep inspect and clean the chimney as part of your spring cleaning routine, you can also take care of any chimney repairs that are needed, which could prevent extensive damage from happening in the future. If your chimney does have damages that need immediate repairs you can take care of them in the spring and not have to wait to use your fireplace once winter comes around. Other benefits that come with cleaning your chimney in the spring include:

  • Most professionals are not as busy in spring as they are in fall and winter, which makes it easier to schedule the work. For example, the chimney sweeps in Baltimore, MD, at Complete Chimneys are available to provide efficient, effective services when you need them in spring or summer.
  • Spring cleaning may prevent a chimney fire from thick creosote that can spark a fire in the chimney. Cleaning the chimney after a season of heavy use can prevent a house fire. Also, the buildup of creosote produces a strong, unpleasant odor that is noticeable throughout your home.
  • Winter ice, snow, and rain may have entered the chimney and corroded the chimney liner, which leads to damage that could be identified and repaired in spring.

 

Common Reasons Why Chimneys Leak

The most common cause of a leaking chimney is a covered (no chimney cap) top that is open to rain, snow, sleet, and hail. One of the main advantages of a chimney cap is to keep moisture out, along with birds, animals, leaves, and other debris. Also, and most importantly, if a chimney is blocked at the bottom, there is the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning. Following are other common causes of chimney leaks:

Cracked Chimney Crown: The chimney crown on your chimney is a slab of concrete that covers the top of the chimney. It’s meant to keep water from seeping into and damaging the chimney masonry walls by rerouting the water to the outside of the chimney. The crown also needs to be protected because it inevitably has cracks caused by poor construction, a shifting structure, and concrete shrinkage.

Outside Condensation: The crown may also be damaged from water freezing and thawing, which expands and contracts the masonry and results in cracking. Most chimney crowns have small cracks which derive from allowing water to flow in. In the winter the cracks become larger as the water freezes and thaws. Water enters through large cracks and causes extensive damage.

Chimney Flashing:  The flashing keeps water from going into the place where the brick structure comes through or close to the roof. If that gap between the bricks and the roof is not properly sealed water pours through that hole. Aluminum flashing is meant to go between a few bricks and bent to stay on top of the shingles. After that a waterproof sealant is applied.

Call on the chimney contractors in Baltimore at Complete Chimneys when you need the crown on your chimney repaired. We fix the cracks so that your chimney crown works as it should. Prevent a cracked chimney crown now in order to stop the cracks from growing larger and more expensive in the future.

 

The Benefits of Tuck-Pointing to Repair a Chimney

Depending on the conditions fireplace masonry can last more than two decades. If a brick fireplace has repeatedly been subjected to rain and snow, it has most likely been impacted and on a path of destruction.  Fireplace masonry that is cracked, crumbling, or falling should be fixed as soon as possible. Damage to brick fireplaces is often caused by moisture that has penetrated the masonry and frozen and thawed. When water freezes it expands and damages the brick and mortar. When the water thaws it moves the moisture deeper into the brick, which is dangerous to the structure and soundness of the whole chimney.

Chimney sweeps from Complete Chimneys provide brick repair in Annapolis, MD, with tuck-pointing, which is a cost-effective repair process that stops the destruction of the masonry. The process of tuck-pointing begins by removing the damaged mortar and replacing it with fresh mortar. The steps involved in tuck-pointing are:

  • Removing the old mortar at a uniform depth.
  • Filling in red mortar in the old grooves.
  • Forming grooves by cutting thin strips down the middle of the red mortar.
  • Filling in the grooves with a mortar color that matches the mortar on the outside of the structure.

Once tuck-pointing is completed, the appearance and stability of the chimney are like new. Tuck-pointing preserves the life of your chimney and provides the following benefits:

  • Stopping corrosion of the mortar joints.
  • Stabilizing the chimney structure.
  • Preventing water from seeping into the chimney.
  • Being more affordable than rebuilding a new chimney.
  • Improving the value of your home.

 

What Causes a Foul-Smelling Fireplace?

A roaring fire in a living-room fireplace is one of the most mesmerizing and comforting places to relax and feel a sense of serenity. The last thing you want is a foul odor emanating from a place that’s meant to provide warmth and beauty rather than discomfort. So, what has happened to cause odious smells to come into your home from the fireplace? Following are some of the most common causes of a foul-smelling fireplace:

Negative Air Pressure:  If your home is sealed too tightly there is no way for contaminated air to escape to the outside. You want the pressure inside your home to be lower than the outside pressure. The best way to prevent negative air pressure is to keep the fireplace damper closed when the fireplace isn’t being used. Also, you can install a top-sealing damper that is opened and closed by a metal chain inside the chimney hearth and keep it closed when the fireplace is not in use.

Excess Creosote and Soot: Creosote buildup causes bad smells. In addition, it is a flammable tar produced by wood smoke that results in black carbon powder. Creosote deposits must be cleaned from the chimney to prevent bad smells. Burning seasoned wood keeps your fireplace from too much creosote buildup.

Moisture: Water in the chimney produces a musty small.  If the chimney cap in our chimney is working correctly, you can eliminate moisture in your chimney.  With no chimney cap, rain gets in and causes odors, rust, and damage that prevent the damper from operating correctly.

Animals: Keep animal out of the chimney by using a chimney cap with mesh netting. If the chimney cap isn’t intact or the netting is damaged, unpleasant chimney smells could be animal dropping or a dead animal.  Raccoons, birds, and snakes are all commonly found in chimneys with easy access but no way to get out.

Contact the professional chimney contractors in Baltimore at Complete Chimneys. Call (410) 544-7600 for complete chimney services throughout Maryland.

Maintenance Tasks Needed on Your Gas Fireplace

 

Wood fireplaces are the centerpieces anywhere they exist in the home. However, they aren’t very efficient when it comes to improving the immediacy and cost of heating your home. Next to wood, the most popular fireplace fuel is gas. In order to keep the most effective benefits provided by your gas fireplace, it pays to have regular maintenance performed. Keep your gas fireplace warm and safe by having it professionally cleaned and inspected.

While gas fireplaces require much less maintenance than wood-burning fireplaces, you still want to have them inspected at least once a year. If you use your fireplace a lot, you want to keep it in optimal working order. Although these fireplaces burn cleanly, they still collect debris in the vents, flues, and inside the chimney. This debris needs to be removed before it blocks airflows and spreads a foul odor. Most of the debris in a gas fireplace consists of deteriorating ceramic or faux logs, which clings to the insert and gets trapped inside it.

Other parts that need attention on your gas fireplace include dirty glass doors and frames. Dents or excessive dirt on the glass may interfere with the heat output of your fireplace. You also want to be sure that the inside and outside of your fireplace are kept clean. You can follow the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning or work with a professional like those at Complete Chimneys. We offer service for gas fireplaces and numerous gas inserts in Baltimore, MD.