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Diagnosing Chimney Leaks

Water in your fireplace and chimney – whether it is a few small drops or a large puddle – is never a good thing. And because chimneys have many different components, identifying the exact cause of a chimney leak can be difficult. However, it is important to identify – and repair – the underlying cause of the chimney leak in order to prevent further water damage from occurring.

Diagnosing Chimney Leaks - Seattle WA - Pristine SweepsCommon causes of chimney leaks

The following are four of the most common causes of chimney leaks. Because every chimney system – and leak – is unique, a professional chimney inspection is often needed to identify the exact cause of the leaky chimney.

  • Chimney cap: Made of a solid metal top with mesh or wire sides, the chimney cap is designed to keep water, animals, and debris out of the flue. If the chimney cap is ill-fitting, incorrectly installed, or damaged in any way, water can begin to leak into the chimney.
  • Chimney crown: While chimney caps protect the top of the flue, chimney crowns seal the top of the chimney. Made of masonry, stone, or concrete, chimney crowns often bear the brunt of the exposure to the elements; their flat top means they are especially prone to water damage from rain, ice, and snow. Because of this, chimney crowns can crack and allow water in, causing a chimney leak.
  • Flashing: Flashing seals the joint between the roof and your chimney. Made by layering strips of metal to create a watertight seal, leaks caused by faulty flashing are often blamed on roofs instead. Whether it was installed with too many nail holes, was jostled while the roof was being repaired, or has simply been exposed to the elements for too long, leaky flashing can damage the roof, masonry, ceilings, and walls surrounding the chimney.
  • Masonry: Your bricks and mortar themselves can let water in. Because masonry is naturally porous, small amounts of water and constantly being absorbed. However, the absorption of too much water can damage the masonry; this leads to masonry holes and cracks that can create leaks.

Preventing chimney leaks

Oftentimes the best way to prevent chimney leaks is through regular chimney maintenance. Annual chimney sweepings and inspections can insure that no parts of your chimney are damaged – and that there are no unseen areas of water entry.

In addition to annual inspections, waterproofing may be able to protect your masonry against water. During the waterproofing process, specially designed masonry water repellants are applied to the bricks and mortar. These products penetrate deeply into the masonry, keeping new water out but allowing old water to evaporate.

Don’t let a leaky chimney cause damage to your fireplace and chimney system. Instead, have a chimney professional diagnose – and repair – the cause of your chimney leak. Contact Pristine Sweeps today for more information on how we can repair your leaky chimney and the damage to your fireplace it may have caused.

By Aaron Woodward | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Storing Wood For The Spring And Summer So It’s Ready For The Fall

During the warm months of spring and summer, firewood is probably the last thing on your mind. However, how your store your firewood during the “off season” can have a big impact on whether or not it will be ready to burn in the fall.

Storing Wood for spring and summer so its ready for fall - Seattle WA - Pristine Sweeps

Tips for storing firewood in the spring and summer

The following five storage tips will make sure all of your firewood is ready for the fall.

  • Store it outside: Small amounts of firewood should only be brought inside immediately before use. This means that during the spring and summer all wood should be kept outside. Keeping wood outside during warm weather helps any residual moisture in the wood evaporate, leaving you with highly seasoned firewood in the fall. Likewise, storing wood inside can give dormant insects in the wood access to your home.
  • Find the right location: To avoid moving your woodpile twice a year, place wood in an area that is both out of the way for the summer and convenient for the winter. The ideal wood storage location is close enough to the house to walk to during cold weather, but not so close that the wood presents a fire hazard to the home.
  •  Elevate the wood: Even during the summer, wood should never be stacked directly on the ground. Stacking wood on the ground can allow groundwater from rain to soak up and into the wood. Likewise, on the ground a woodpile is more likely to become home to vermin such as snakes, mice, and insects; when elevated, these unwelcome guests are less likely to get into the wood stack.
  • Cover the pile: April showers can also affect your woodpile. Keep the top of the pile covered to prevent water from over saturating or soaking into the wood. However, the sides of the wood stack should always be left open. Doing this allows air to freely flow through the pile, furthering the seasoning process and helping any rain water in the pile to evaporate.
  •  Stack wood for airflow: Wood should be uniformly stacked in order to maximize airflow through the pile. Likewise, the woodpile should be placed in an area where it will have access to air circulation; garages, sheds, and other enclosed spaces block this type of air circulation.

Buying the right firewood

How you store your wood is important, but the kind of wood you buy can have an equally big impact on the quality of your fires this winter. While many homeowners prefer to buy wood that has already been seasoned, buying firewood in the spring allows it to season – or have the moisture removed by an exposure to sunlight, wind, and air – during the spring and summer and be ready to burn by fall.

You may not use your fireplace during the spring and summer, but how you store your firewood during these months can have an impact on the quality of your wood in the fall. If you have questions about the right way to store your firewood so it’s ready for the fall, contact Pristine Sweeps today.

By Aaron Woodward | Tagged with: Tags: , | Leave a Comment