It's important to make sure your homes chimney is cleaned on a regular basis in order to keep it in great working order. Beyond general cleaning, you need to have your chimney inspected for brick or mortar damage from smoke buildup to avoid problems inside your home. Water damage such as leaks can also cause deterioration to your chimney. Our services include chimney rebuilding, chimney relining, caulking, flat wall and parapet wall rebuilding as well as thought chimney inspections.
|Chimney Inspection showing decay|
Doing a self inspection of a chimney is easy and is a good way to know when to call a professional to do a full inspection of your chimney's exterior and interior. Make sure your chimney is safe. First do a visual inspection inside the chimney using a flashlight. You will want to check for things like bird's nests, tree limbs, debris and cracks.
If you take notice of the chimneys flue, the inside of the chimney, that is usually finished with smoother tiles. Check for water damage by looking for cracks on the inside of the fireplace. From the outside, take notes of anything unusual, if you believe that your chimney top is leaning, look for any loose mortar in-between the cracks, loose bricks or any significant cracks in the chimney wall itself.
If you notice any issues, then it's time to give us a call! We will perform a more detailed inspection of your chimney, fireplace, the firebox, the flue, the chimney cap or crown and the mantle. Depending on your issues, we can come up with a couple of ways to repair your home's damaged chimney or rebuild it to your home's original condition.
|Chimney firebox and exterior being remodeled|
The firebox is the area where your fire itself resides. It can be made of brick, stone or metal like steel. A common problem with the firebox is that it can often times have a large buildup of creosote, a natural result of burning wood that builds up in the firebox and chimney flue.
Mortar within a firebox can break down due to poor construction or breakdown can be caused by excessive heat the fires produce. The expansion and contraction of the firebox can loosen the mortar in the firebox or worse, flames can get through the cracks and into the wood of your home causing a fire.
The solution to this, is to have tuckpointing done in the interior chimneys firebox. Tuckpointing is the process of removing old, cracked or loose mortar and replacing it with new mortar. This cost-effective method saves you money by not having to completely replace the chimney's firebox.
Chimney cracks are the most common issue to the chimney's exterior. Chimney walls can break down, leaving gaps in the chimney or the chimney crown which leads to it deteriorating. The most common reasons for your chimney cracking include water damage from harsh Chicago weather over the years, the hot sun baking down on the bricks and mortar in the summer time and the winter weather battering them during the cold season.
Additionally, using the chimney doesn't help with cracking either. Vast temperature changes can cause the bricks and mortar to slowly expand and contract over time, thus creating these gaps and cracks in the brick wall. Tuck-pointing can correct many of these issues by filling in cracked areas or replacing missing bricks and mortar. In addition to tuckpointing, installing a chimney cap can also help slowdown process of chimney decay and should be considered when repairing your home's chimney.
|Chimney with damage to cap, brick and mortar|
Another common issue that you may see with your chimney is the chimney stack leaning. Many factors can take part in why your chimney is leaning, usually it is a structural problem. Sometimes the footing of the chimney is incorrectly installed or the original construction of the chimney was incorrect to begin with. You generally see newer homes with this issue. To correct this, you tear down the chimney and rebuild it from the ground up.
Because chimneys are extremely heavy, sometimes the ground itself can cause a chimney to lean on one side. This is generally caused by poor ground conditions of the foundation, sometimes water erodes the chimney's foundation taking claim to the lean. Some home chimneys also experience soil erosion under the foundation leaving the weight to be held up by the softer ground, thus the lean in the chimney forms.To correct this, you need to rebuild the foundation portion of the chimney and slowly lean it back until it is level.
Water seems to be the most common factor of a chimney needing repair. With higher winds that mix with rain, it only takes a small loose area to become wet, loosening the affected area. Combined with those hot and cold temperatures of a chimney throughout the year, the small hairline crack suddenly grows and begins to weaken the chimney's structure.
As water gets into the joints of the brick and mortar, it eats away at the former solid foundation. A professional is needed to fix the chimney. Water isn't always an easy thing to spot either, sometimes the water penetration can be at the chimney's cap or crown, where the flue liner meets the chimney walls. Installing the aforementioned chimney cap can help push water away from the cap and help to prevent moisture from entering in the chimney that way.
Damaged Chimney Caps & Crowns
|Chimney Cap & Crown Repair in Progress|
Chimney caps act as a roof for your chimney and help protect it from the weather such as wind, rainwater, snow or even animals and insects. These rain covers as they are sometimes called also help with any larger sparks that might fly up into the flue, helping to extinguish them before they get out into the open air.
The crown on the other hand is also known as a chimney wash and it covers the flue liner to the edge of the chimney. The idea of the crown is to further protect your chimney against weather elements. There is usually some sort of overhang to the chimney crown and a slope that helps divert water to the chimney cap. The cap and crown work together in order to help protect and safeguard your home. They also improve the longevity of the chimney itself.
When either the cap or crown becomes damaged you need to get them both repaired at once. Chimney cap or crown damage is a sure sign that there maybe another underlying issue with the chimney. An inspection with our staff is usually recommend at this point.