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Basic Chimney Sweep & Repair Blog

Keeping Water Out

We at Basic Chimney Sweep use a vapor-permeable waterproofing agent, which allows the chimney to breathe. Water is prevented from entering from the outside while still allowing water that has penetrated along with the vapors produced during usage to escape as well.

We at Basic Chimney Sweep use a vapor-permeable waterproofing agent, which allows your chimney to breathe.

Your chimney is potentially one of the most taken-for-granted parts of your home. You know it’s there but rarely pay it very much attention. It’s one of those things that you expect to be there for you when you need it but may not give it much thought in the meantime. Not very many homeowners give much thought to keeping the chimney’s exterior in tiptop shape; “it’s all just cosmetic,” we think. This thought process isn’t one to be ashamed of, but it is one to be corrected.

Your Chimney’s Inherent Flaw

Chimney materials – brick and mortar – are, by nature, porous. As such, they experience hastened deterioration as a result of prolonged exposure to and contact with water and the elements. The freezing and thawing process—during which time water that has penetrated the various chimney materials freezes and expands—quickly deteriorates the overall construction of your chimney.

Stopping the Dreaded Freeze-Thaw Cycle

One way to limit the impact the freezing and thawing cycle has on your chimney is to prevent as much water as possible from penetrating the materials as possible. Water in your chimney can also cause rust on steel and cast iron parts, ultimately weakening or destroying them over time. The exterior of your chimney is constantly getting battered from the weather. Harsh weather conditions can have a negative effect on your chimney.

Should I Consider Waterproofing?

By waterproofing your chimney, it will repel up to 99.9% of the water that would otherwise penetrate the brick and/or other materials. Waterproofing is a true preventative measure that can add years to your chimney’s life. Because it’s not a requirement, many homeowners de-prioritize it; this is a big mistake! There are many issues that can develop as a result of water being on and getting in to your chimney, and, as such, swift and immediate action should be taken to ensure that you’re not faced with unnecessary and avoidable repairs bills.

Unless you simply want to get rid of your chimney sooner or later, there really is no excuse for not waterproofing it. This one simple thing can help ensure that both the water outside won’t enter your house through the chimney and that you are able to enjoy your fireplace for many years to come. It’s time to look at the condition your chimney’s exterior is in, get it repaired if necessary, and have it coated with a waterproofing product. Contact the certified service professionals at Basic Chimney Sweep & Repair today for more information or to schedule an appointment!

My Fireplace Stinks!

What Is That Odor Coming from My Chimney?

Anyone who uses his or her chimney on a regular basis has most likely noticed an odor coming from it at one time or another. In order to know what to do about the problem, it is necessary to know exactly what is causing the problem. There are many different factors that may lead to smells coming from the chimney. Most of them can be easily fixed with some basic chimney maintenance.

A certified sweep can help you identify the cause of the odor and suggest ways to address the problem. Call Basic Chimney today to schedule an appointment.

A certified sweep can help you identify the cause of the odor and suggest ways to address the problem. Call Basic Chimney today to schedule an appointment.

If a chimney is not properly protected, it becomes the perfect place for birds and rodents to set up their homes. Once they have set up camp, there is any number of ways that odors can find their way into the home. Animal waste will eventually accumulate in the chimney as well as their fur and debris from their nests. A simple way to fix this problem is to install a chimney cap that will block animals from entering the chimney in the first place.

Another common cause of chimney odor is the accumulation of water in the chimney. Excess water often gets into the chimney in the way of rainfall or snow. It becomes a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, which not only smell unpleasant but can also be quite dangerous. Just as animals can be kept out with a chimney cap, this simple structure is a great way to keep excess water from entering the chimney and starting trouble.

When someone burns wood or coal that has been treated in their fireplace, it leaves behind creosote, a combination of chemicals. There are many side effects to a build up of creosote. For example, anyone who is exposed to it is at risk for skin and eye irritation as well as respiratory illness. However, creosote also leaves behind an unpleasant smell, which will eventually enter the home.

Of course, it is important for homeowners to keep in mind that some odor coming out of the chimney is perfectly normal. Whenever there are treated materials burning, there is going to be some ash and soot left behind. This is not something to be concerned about unless it is causing a disturbance in the home. If the smell becomes overwhelming or is irritating family members with allergies, it should be addressed immediately.

The best way to handle chimney odor and to avoid it completely is to have the chimney professionally cleaned at least once a year. This can be done at the start of fireplace season or at the end, it doesn’t matter — as long as it gets done. A professional chimney sweep will have the tools and skills to completely clean the chimney while, at the same time, checking for evidence of any problems that may occur in the near future.

Chimney odor is a perfectly normal part of using a fireplace and chimney. However, there are some instances in which the odor becomes overwhelming and needs to be taken care of by a professional. This may be caused by the accumulation of creosote, excess water, or even by animals that have set up their homes in the chimney. Some of these situations not only cause an unpleasant smell but also put the family at other risks, such as house fire or illness. Here at Basic Chimney, we have your safety and comfort in mind with everything we do.

Repointing a Chimney

A chimney is subject to a lot of wear and tear from the weather. It sticks up above the roof of the house and takes the brunt of all the wind, rain, and snow. This will quickly take its toll on any brick or masonry structure. As time goes on the mortar will crack and break off putting the structure of the chimney in jeopardy. If the structure of the chimney fails it could topple onto your roof and possibly fall through. Then you will have new appreciation for the term “hit you like a ton of bricks”. Luckily your certified chimney sweep is more than capable of fixing this issue before it ever gets to that point.

It isn't unusual for Mother Nature to loosen bricks and mortar over time.

It isn’t unusual for Mother Nature to loosen bricks and mortar over time.

If during the process of inspection your chimney sweep discovers cracked or broken mortar they will being repointing the chimney. Repointing involves removing old broken bits of mortar and replacing it with new mortar. While this sounds like a relatively straight forward process there are some intricacies that require a lot of attention to detail.

The first part of the repointing process is to determine how much of the mortar is damaged. The obvious missing pieces are easy to notice but what may be less immediately apparent is any mortar that may be cracked and/or detached from the existing mortar but still lodged between the bricks. Adhering new mortar to these pieces is essentially pointless as those pieces can just as easily fall out as the bricks expand and contract over time. Once the sweep has determined exactly which pieces are damaged they will remove them.

Once the chimney is devoid of all broken pieces of mortar your chimney sweep can begin to apply new mortar. It is very important to mix mortar that is of a similar type, consistency, and color as the existing mortar. The color is for purely aesthetic purposes but the consistency is another matter. If you try to bond 2 different types of mortar it is difficult to get them to adhere to one another permanently. Once the chimney sweep has mixed the appropriate mortar they can begin filling in the gaps left by the broken and faulty older mortar.

When filling in the gaps it takes special care to make sure that everything is done properly. Too much mortar will put uneven pressure on the bricks during the regular movement caused by weather and temperature change and can cause the bricks themselves to crack. Not enough mortar and they will not hold and the process will have to be repeated. After all this is done the chimney should be re-sealed to prevent water damage which can cause extensive damage to your chimney and if not managed the rest of your home.

It is always a good idea to check your chimney periodically for pieces of broken brick or mortar and if anything seems amiss call your local certified chimney sweep and they will come out and get to work. Of course it is important to have your chimney regularly inspected to make sure a problem like this does not get ignored and progress into an even bigger issue that can threaten the structural stability of your chimney and indeed your entire house.

By Ronald Caillais on August 27th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment
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