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Preventing Winter Damage

Winter may be your fireplace’s time to shine, but it can be the hardest on your chimney system. Winter damage can lead to unexpected costs when you need repairs in the spring. Like so many other household systems, it’s easier and cheaper to prevent damage than it is to repair it.

Chimney Leaks and Winter Damage

One of the most devastating things that can happen to your chimney is a leak. Because masonry is constructed of materials that are adversely affected by water, it is the one thing that can damage your chimney from the inside-out, oftentimes before you even notice!

When water penetrates the masonry, it causes rust, deterioration, mold, and more. When temperatures drop, it damages the masonry itself through a freeze/thaw cycle. First, water collects in cracks and crevices in the masonry. As temperatures fall, the water freezes and expands, breaking apart the masonry. When the chimney warms up either from a fire or because of the weather, the water melts and moves further into the newly damaged masonry. Temperatures drop again and the process continues. The freeze/thaw cycle can continue throughout winter, leading to structural damage, serious masonry damage, and chimney leaks that affect not only the chimney but also your home. Preventing Winter Damage - Seattle WA - Pristine Sweeps

Preventative Measures that Work

The best way to prevent winter damage is to make sure your chimney system is functioning properly and is in good shape. If the chimney has spalling mortar, a deteriorated crown, a missing or damaged cap, or flashing, it is more likely to be affected by winter damage. Many of these issues are overlooked by a homeowner who doesn’t know what to look for. If the chimney is seen by a professional, these issues can be repaired and the damage can be avoided.

Schedule Routine Maintenance – Both the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) recommend regular chimney sweeps and annual chimney inspections for the safest and most efficient chimney system. These appointments may be the only time an expert gets a look at your chimney system. Take their recommendations seriously.

Make Necessary Repairs Before Winter – If you have a small amount of damage to your masonry in the fall, it can be a large problem by the time spring arrives. The freeze/thaw cycle is only allowed to ruin your chimney if it’s first allowed to penetrate the masonry. Make chimney repairs as soon as you know they’re necessary.

Schedule Waterproofing Services – Let Pristine Sweeps apply a coat of ChimneySaver to your chimney. This vapor-permeable product is designed to allow gases out of the masonry, but prevents penetration by water molecules, even repelling it. When your chimney is coated with ChimneySaver, your masonry will not be affected by water. It doesn’t change the appearance of your masonry at all; however, it prevents stains that would be caused by water. ChimneySaver comes with a 10-year warranty and is eco-friendly. With all the benefits, there isn’t a reason not to let Pristine Sweeps waterproof your chimney.

Call Pristine Sweeps at 206-574-8414 or schedule online now.

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

Decorate Your Mantel Safely This Holiday Season

If you’re like many Americans, your holiday decorations are well underway. If you have a fireplace, the mantel may be the focal point of your entire holiday decor, and it may be the most dangerous. Before you light up the fire, make sure your decorations are not a fire hazard.

Check Tags on Decorations Decorate Your Mantel Safely This Holiday Image - Seattle WA - Pristine Sweeps

Check labels on your store-bought decorations for warnings against placing near flames. Some items such as Garland, stockings, pine cones, and branches will burn. Keep these items safely away from the fire.

The Top of the Mantel

If the mantel is constructed correctly, it is a safe distance from the heat of the fire and it should be safe to decorate the top without fear. Since the mantel is already higher than the fireplace, it isn’t a good idea to place tall decorations that may tip over, fall off, and land near the fireplace opening. If you decorate with loose items that can roll, like pine cones or nuts, make sure these items are in a dish of some kind. If using branches or flowers, make sure they are in an appropriately-sized vase that holds them securely and will not tip.

The Chimney

Hanging decorations on the chimney is a popular idea, and one that’s been around for many years. Homeowners like to hang family portraits or art on the chimney, and around Christmastime, wreaths are a common replacement. Before hanging anything onto your chimney face, you should be sure it’s safe. If your chimney gets hot to the touch while a fire is burning, it is not safe to hang any decorations. Also, this indicates a possible problem with the lining system designed to contain the heat. You should not use glue hooks to hang decorations onto masonry because these come off easily, causing your decoration to fall—possibly into or near your fire. If you’re unsure what type of fastener to use to hang your decorations, consult your trusted chimney professionals. Pristine Sweeps offers advice and services, and a chimney expert is only a phone call away.

Hanging Decorations

The traditional use of stockings is to hang them from the mantel. This is the original idea behind the stocking, since hanging by the fire was the easiest way to dry and warm wet socks. This is because the heat from the fire reaches them there! This is no place to hang your holiday stockings while a fire is burning. If a fireplace will dry a wet sock, imagine what it can do to a dry one made of a flammable material like those commonly sold in US stores. Whatever you use to fasten your stockings, make sure that they are easily removed so that they are safely out of the way when you light your fire. When you remove your stockings, make sure they are not placed near candles, scented wax heaters, or anywhere they may fall into the fire.

Before you decorate, it’s a good idea to make a plan so that a poor decision isn’t made in haste. Oversee children as they decorate and talk to them about fire safety. Place your tree away from the fireplace, keep it watered, and plan a fire escape with your family.

Pristine Sweeps wishes you a happy and safe holiday season! Call 206-574-8414 for questions or concerns about your fireplace and mantel.

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