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Spotting Potential 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

Your Leaking Roof may need a Chimney Sweep!

When homeowners find water leaking onto their ceilings and walls, their first reaction is often to call a roofer. However, the source of the leaking may be coming from your chimney, not the roof!

Oftentimes homeowners with suspected leaky roofs will spend thousands of dollars on new roofs or shingles – only to discover that the leaks are still occurring. When this is the case, the roof isn’t the culprit – the chimney is!

Leaky chimneys can sometimes mimic the same symptoms as a leaky roof, which makes it difficult to determine whether it is the chimney or the roof that is leaking. This is especially true when the water entry occurs in areas surrounding the chimney. Calling a chimney sweep may help you save thousands of dollars by identifying the leak as a chimney issue, not a roof issue.

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Causes of a leaky chimney

Figuring out what is causing a chimney to leak can sometimes be a difficult process. When water is present in the flue or firebox, the solution is easy – it is typically from an uncapped chimney. If water appears on the ceilings and walls, however, the source of the leak can be much more difficult to find. Below are some of the most common causes of chimney leaks that could be disguising themselves as a leaky roof.

Flashing: Flashing is the material used to seal the gap between the roof and the chimney. Improperly installed, damaged, or deteriorating flashing is often the cause of chimney leaks. Because the flashing connects the roof to the chimney, leaks caused by defective flashing may mimic those of a leaky roof: water in the attic or on ceilings or walls. Likewise, leaky flashing can also cause damage to your roof by allowing water to pool underneath the shingles.

Chimney crown: The chimney crown is the masonry slab that covers and seals the top of the chimney. More so than any part of the chimney, the chimney crown is constantly exposed to the elements. Because of this, the crown may deteriorate more quickly than other parts of the chimney, especially when improperly constructed. Likewise, because the chimney crown cannot be seen from street level, damage may not be noticed until water has begun leaking in your home.

Masonry: While masonry is built to withstand the elements, water can be an extremely damaging force. Over time, water can cause extensive masonry damage, especially when left unrepaired or unchecked. Mortar joints are particularly susceptible to water damage; if deteriorated, the masonry joints may also let water in to damage the surrounding bricks as well as the underlying building materials.

Repairing a leaky chimney

If a leaky chimney has caused water damage in your home, you may be eager to repair the damage as soon as possible. Repairing the water damage without finding the source of the leaking, however, is often a futile exercise. If the source of the leak is not found and repaired first, the water damage will continue to come back. By identifying the source of the leak – whether it is the fault of the chimney or the roof – and having it repaired, you can rest assured that your home will be safe against further future water damage.

If you’re experiencing leaking on the walls and ceilings around your chimney, don’t immediately call a roofer – your chimney may be to blame! Contact the expert at Pristine Sweeps today to have your chimney professionally evaluated for signs of leaking or water damage.