Our Company Blog

Common Points To Troubleshoot Your Chimney

While it is never recommended to work on your own chimney, hire amateurs, or use a damaged chimney, there are things you can do to troubleshoot. If you still experience issues after troubleshooting, contact a professional chimney sweep as soon as possible.

Common Points To Troubleshoot Image - Seattle WA - Pristine SweepsSmoky Fireplace

A smoky fireplace can mean a few things. It means your chimney isn’t venting, and is exposing your family to smoke and harmful chemical byproducts.

Find the fix:

  • It could be that your house is “too tight”. Try and open a window in the opposite end of the house.
  • Check the damper. It should be in the open position to allow smoke to rise up the chimney.

When to call the professional:

If the smokey fireplace persists, your damper is damaged or you have an obstruction stopping airflow. If the smoke gusts out of your fireplace, it’s possible you need a new chimney cap. A CSIA certified sweep can solve either of these problems.

Stinky Chimney

A fireplace, appliance, or chimney can stink year-round under various circumstances. Since it shouldn’t, it always means there’s a problem. Don’t worry. It’s fairly simple to pinpoint the issue.

Finding the fix:

  • BBQ or smokey smells mean the fireplace and chimney are dirty. This smell is soot and creosote sitting on the chimney’s interior surfaces. This smell is often noticed doing the summer because summer humidity adds to the issue.
  • Moldy or mildew-like smells from the chimney means there is moisture there, and possibly standing water in some portion of the system. Water in the chimney is never a good thing, and can cause costly damage to your chimney and home.
  • Foul odors that indicate decomposition can be the worst. This means there is likely a dead animal inside your chimney system, but can also mean debris such as twigs and leaves are decomposing there.

When to call the professional:

If the chimney is stinking, it is time to call a professional. You may need a standard chimney sweep to clean away the soot, debris, or blockage, or a chimney leak diagnosis and repair.

Leaning Chimney

While less common, a leaning chimney is one of the most overlooked chimney problems. Many homeowners and handymen think there is a simple fix, but in actuality a leaning chimney is a serious issue.

Finding the fix:

  • Check the chimney for “plumpness”, meaning the chimney is straight up and down on all sides. You should use levels, because your eyes can play tricks on you.
  • Check the seam between the chimney and the house. If a crack exists, your chimney is leaning.
  • Check for pressure on building materials. If your chimney is inside your house, check the attic and spaces where your chimney comes into contact with your house. Check for buckling and shifting at the points of contact.

When to call the professional:

A leaning chimney is cause to call in a certified chimney sweep. Many general contractors boast tools and technology that can correct a leaning chimney, but unless they are certified chimney professionals, they cannot adequately assess or repair one.

For more information about troubleshooting your chimney, check out this handy list from CSIA, or speak with a chimney expert from Pristine Sweeps! Call today at 206-574-8414.

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

Fix Winter Masonry Damage

Winter Masonry Repair Photo - Seattle WA - Pristine SweepsWhen winter snow and ice begin to melt and winter weather turns to spring, it can be hard to detect winter damage. Most of the chimney system is hidden, especially to the untrained eye, so unless there are noticeable changes to the system. The best way to diagnose winter damage is to schedule your annual CSIA chimney inspection now. Only a certified chimney expert knows the signs of winter damage, is familiar with the Seattle climate, and knows when best to makes repairs before they become a problem.

Common Winter Damage

At Pristine Sweeps our technicians often diagnose winter damage that ranges from minor, seemingly cosmetic damage like staining, to serious structural damage like spalling and deterioration.

Spalling Masonry

When water penetrates the masonry during winter it undergoes a process called the freeze/thaw cycle, resulting in serious damage. First,the water penetrates the masonry and freezes, causing it to expand and damage the bricks and mortar. It then thaws, moving further into the damaged masonry and repeats the process. This type of water damage should be repaired before spring rains and summer humidity appear. Pristine Sweeps repairs spalling chimneys through a process called tuckpointing in which a certified expert removes mortar and bricks piece by piece and replaces it with new mortar of equal consistency, strength, and color. Pristine Sweeps specialize in masonry repair and all of our masonry work is backed by a five year labor warranty.

Damaged Cap or Crown

Serious snow accumulation can take a chimney crown from a tiny crack to a gaping hole during a full winter of freezing temperatures. A chimney cap, however, when installed correctly should withstand normal winter weather, but sometimes animals and high winds can loosen the caps, causing leaks and winter damage. Pristine Sweeps offers chimney cap repairs and installation that can return your chimney to full protection from weather and wildlife.

Chimney Leaks

Many issues with the chimney can result in chimney leaks. Leaks are best avoided because they don’t only damage your chimney, but can also stain, rust, weaken, and damage materials in your home including ceilings, walls, floors, coverings, and more. A chimney expert from Pristine Sweeps is able to diagnose and repair damage from chimney leaks, but also correct the problem that made the leak possible. The last step to chimney leak repair is to waterproof the chimney to avoid an occurrence later. This is a simple preventative measure that can save homeowners substantially in the future.

The best way to diagnose and repair chimney leaks is to have the chimney inspected at the end of winter. This gives you ample time to make repairs before burning season returns in the fall, and means you can spend the summer knowing that your chimney is taken care of.

Call Pristine Sweeps today at 206-574-8414 and have your chimney assessed for winter damage.

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