Our Company Blog

What is Chimney Flashing?

For our service area of Seattle and surrounding areas, the rainy season begins now and will continue on through spring. Between the rain and the cool temperatures coming our way this winter, your chimney is in for some work. The chimneys work constantly while fires are burning, but they work year-round to keep water and weather out.

Keep Water Out With FlashingWhat is Chimney Flashing Image - Seattle WA - Pristine Sweeps LLC

Flashing is made up of many thin layers of metal, laid in a specific pattern in order to keep water out. It is used to reinforce the area where the chimney and roof meet–the weakest part of the entire chimney system, and most susceptible to water penetration. When flashing is missing or damaged, water has a direct route into seams and cracks that lead right into the home and chimney.

Water and Winter Damage

Once water has penetrated the chimney system, it can ruin masonry from the inside out. Because masonry is constructed of materials that react poorly with water, the entire structure is affected by water, and homeowners often can’t see it until it’s too late.
Water causes damages including:

  • Rusted damper assemblies, fireplace accessories, hinges, and handles
  • Rotted and ruined wood and wall coverings
  • Deteriorated firebox assemblies and central heating system
  • Stained and decayed exterior mortar (spalling)
  • Deteriorated flue lining system
  • Collapsed hearth support and chimney structure
  • Settlement

During the winter water damage turns to winter damage. The water then enters the masonry chimney system in the home and cools, then freezes, and expands, damaging the structure. When it warms up, the water melts and moves further into the damaged area, repeating this process until serious structural damage occurs.

Hire a Professional

You can avoid water damages by hiring a professional for all of your chimney needs. Schedule chimney inspections annually, so that a professional can get a look at your chimney in the areas that are out of sight. When a certified chimney sweep sees your flashing is shifted or missing, it can be corrected before major damage occurs and any damage can be repaired.

Only a professional should install flashing because it is a meticulous process that is often done incorrectly due to lack of general knowledge and experience. The flashing is laid specifically so that no nails are visible (for water to access), and placement differs based on the slant of the roof and the roofing materials. If this isn’t done correctly, it will not last and it will leak.

If your chimney sweep finishes a flashing installation and you see nails or a covering of tar or paint, then you have a problem. Many amateurs cover the flashing with other sealers in order to prevent water penetration when they haven’t completed the job correctly.

We have a long rainy season ahead of us here in Seattle, Washington, and it’s our goal at Pristine Sweeps that every household in our service area has a safe and efficient fireplace this winter. Talk to Pristine Sweeps to ask about our flashing repairs and installation. Call 206-574-8414 or make an appointment online.

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

Spotting Problems with Your Chimney and Fireplace

The chimney can be hard to troubleshoot, especially for the novice, new homeowner, or even an experienced one! This is because the largest portion of the chimney system is hidden, inaccessible to even a certified chimney sweep, who has to use specially made tools and cameras to get the best look into your chimney system. So it’s important to do all you can, and allow them to do what they can.

Spotting Potential Problems with Your Chimney and Fireplace Image - Seattle WA - Pristine SweepsWhat You Can Do

The average homeowner won’t notice a problem with the chimney system until it’s a serious one. There is usually unseen damage for weeks or months that goes unnoticed before it’s visible. This is why homeowners should be vigilant about fireplace and chimney upkeep and looking over the system when they use it.

Look for signs of a problem:

  • DRIPPING OR STAINING
    This means you have water in your chimney system. This can be the result of damaged masonry or can simply mean the chimney cap or flashing is missing or damaged. Since water can wreck your masonry you should call a professional as soon as you notice a problem.
  • A SUDDEN DECREASE IN EFFICIENCY
    May mean many things, but it always means there’s a problem. When your chimney system stops working well it can be anything from a draft problem or your firewood, to a serious hazard like an obstruction or flue damage. You can try to diagnose a draft problem by cracking a window in your home and you can make sure you’re burning only properly seasoned wood. If the problem persists you should call a professional for an assessment.
  • A DRAFTY OR SMOKY FIREPLACE
    This is a serious indication of a problem and can mean there’s an obstruction or a problem with the damper. If you troubleshoot and the problem persists, there is a bigger problem and you need an expert.
  • HOT WALLS OR SUPPORTS NEAR THE CHIMNEY
    More than likely, this means the flue liner isn’t doing it’s job of protecting your home from the chimney’s heat. You probably need a chimney relining.
  • CRACKING, SPALLING, OR HOLES IN MASONRY
    Often caused from water damage, and this type of damage can be a serious hazard. It can be repaired by a certified professional with proper training and experience.

Schedule Routine Maintenance

This includes annual chimney inspections and regular chimney sweeps. These appointments are the only time a professional will see your chimney system unless you have a problem. You don’t want your first call to a chimney expert to be when you have a fire or when you need a repair. Even the most affordable and fair companies will charge more for repairs than diagnostics. The old saying is true: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Inspections and sweeps help you avoid hazards that can lead to catastrophic cost later.

If you haven’t had a chimney inspection this year, this call can be the best thing you can do for your chimney and your wallet. A chimney expert at Pristine Sweeps is standing by to be your chimney choice. Call Pristine Sweeps at 206-574-8414 today.

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