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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

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