Preparing your fireplace for Winter
With the cold weather here, you’re probably ready to start those fires and relax with your family, but winter fireplace prep is needed. There are a few tasks you need to add to your to-do list before you light the first match. You’ll want to start by calling a Best Cincinnati Chimney so that you can be confident that your fireplace is working as intended. Here are a few ways that you can get your fireplace ready for winter so that it’s safe and enjoyable.
Hire a Certified Chimney Sweep
To have fires and a relaxing atmosphere, you’ll want to enlist the services of a professional chimney sweep once a year. The best time to do it is before the cold weather hits and you should do this annually. However, if you can’t remember the last time you had your chimney swept then you need to call us immediately to have our techs come and take a look. To help prevent chimney fires, this task needs to be at the top of your list.
Have Your Fireplace Inspected by a Professional Chimney Company
Beyond having your chimney swept once a year, you’ll want to have a professional chimney sweep come in and inspect the outside of your fireplace to ensure that you don’t have any cracks or damage to the structure. We will check your caps, crown, tuck pointing and look for spalled bricks. Exterior Inspections help avoid preventable damage associated with using your chimney.
Chimney professionals will help you with more useful winter fireplace prep tips and tricks. During the inspection, the chimney professional should check if the proper chimney cap or cover is on so that you don’t have wildlife, rain, and debris entering through the chimney into your home. These preventative measures will give your chimney longevity, as well as keep your home’s value intact.
An Open Functioning Fireplace Damper
The fireplace damper needs to be in good condition and an open position when using your fire. We get calls daily from homeowners saying they lit the fireplace and smoke flooded the room. Most times it is because the damper was broken or was not open. Fireplace dampers allow the smoke to continue up the flue and out of the home, while also fueling the fire with oxygen. During an annual chimney inspection, the chimney professional will also look for creosote build-up.
Winter Fireplace: Have the Right Firewood
When you get ready to have a fire, you’ll want to be sure that you have the right firewood that doesn’t lead to creosote build-up in your fireplace as softwoods can. Please do your research before buying a cord of wood. Properly seasoned wood is the best choice as it won’t lead to an overabundance of creosote in your chimney and burn cleaner. Place it in a safe, dry spot that is easy to access, but also away from any loose sparks that can start an unwanted fire. Stick with smaller fires and build up to larger fires to allow the chimney liner to slowly warm up. A cold chimney when exposed to intense heat can cause cracking and damage to the chimney system.
Smoke Alarms & Carbon Monoxide Detectors on Every Floor
Another important task before you begin having fires is to make sure that you have smoke alarms on every floor of your home and that they are working properly. Check all batteries. Make sure your home is prepared by installing carbon monoxide detectors. This gas is often produced by using a gas fireplace, so it’s important to monitor the levels in your home.
Smoke Detector Pointers:
- Smoke Alarm Credibility: Be sure to buy smoke alarms that have a label from a well-known testing laboratory.
- Smoke Alarm Locations: Smoke alarms should be installed inside each bedroom, outside every sleeping area, and on every floor of the home, including the basement. On levels without bedrooms, install alarms in common areas like the living room or near the stairway to the upper level, or in both locations.
- Prevent False Smoke Alarms: Install smoke alarms at least 10 feet from a cooking appliance to reduce the number of false alarms while cooking.
- Operational Errors: Drafts may affect the smoke alarm’s ability to detect smoke. Don’t install smoke detectors near air ducts, windows, or doors.
For more information on proper smoke alarm installation visit the National Fire Protection Association’s website.
Have the Right Tools and Essentials for a Winter Fireplace
When you want to enhance your experience around the fire, be sure that you have the right tools and essentials on hand. If you burn wood, you will need to have a metal ash bucket and fireplace tools to do the proper daily maintenance. Remove cooled ashes into a fireproof bucket before lighting your next fire. Wood should never be burnt on the bottom of the firebox. Place all firewood directly on a grate. A fireplace screen should be in place to prevent embers from escaping onto the floor. Remove Christmas stockings when using the fireplace, as they are considered a fire hazard. Also, be sure that you keep decor and other flammable things away from this area. Don’t forget to have a fire extinguisher in a safe accessible location in your home.
Winter Fireplace Prep by Best Cincinnati Chimney
By following these winter fireplace prep steps, you can be sure that your fireplace is ready to provide the warmth and ambiance of a cozy fire. Don’t forget to have your annual chimney inspection with a certified chimney sweep so that you can enjoy all of the benefits of having a working fireplace this winter.
Winter Fireplace Prep is a helpful way our team at Best Cincinnati Chimney & Masonry can help inform our neighbors. Call us at 513-474-1158 to get on the schedule.
Chimney fires can cause thousands of dollars of damages in your home and are caused by the flames migrating upward, melting, warping, or negatively affecting the masonry or chimney walls. This sudden combustion, in the majority of cases, can ruin houses and risk lives. These tragedies are normally preventable because you can have your chimney inspected, repaired, or cleaned. This way, the chimney will not be prone to malfunction or collect build-ups that can damage your roof and burn down your home.
A chimney inspection service from Best Cincinnati Chimney can prevent any of this from happening, and can keep you from losing person or property.
What is it?
Combustibles that you burn in the chimney only burn partially. It is hard to avoid incomplete combustion, but you can minimize the impact by properly burning seasoned wood if you have a clean chimney. The residue that comes from incomplete combustion builds up over time that lines the flue with creosote.
Creosote is combustible if it is at the right temperature. When the airflow is blocked or there is a damaged flue, it leads to poor airflow. If there is poor heat flow in your flue, it can cause trapped heat, the chimney heats up more than intended, and this ignites creosote. It burns up that fuel and seeks for more and that fuel may be your home. This chimney fire can be extremely dangerous.
Debris Causes Chimney Fires
Dust build up in your chimney can also cause fires. Leaves, animal carcasses, and other debris can cause flue fires as well. If you have not used your fireplace for a while, you should have it cleaned first.
Chimney fires create a popping noise and loud cracking, with a lot of dense smoke, and an intense and hot smell. Chimney fires burn explosively that are noisy and dramatic enough that can be detected by people or neighbors around you. Dense smoke or flames shoot from the chimney. Homeowners get startled by rumbling sounds that remind them of a low-flying airplane or freight train.
Flue Tiles Get Damaged
A lot of homes use clay flue tiles to line their chimney. This is rated to be able to withstand high temperatures. However, there are chimney fires that burn over 2,000 degrees that can be too hot for tiles causes damages such as cracking. A vertical crack is a true sign of a previous flue fire.
A crack in your flue liner is a big concern. It increases the possibility for combustibles nearby in the construction in your home. The cracked tiles allow a new pathway for the fire to get out of the flue, which potentially causes a house fire.
Exterior Masonry Cracks
Similar to flue tiles, the brick masonry of the chimney can be damaged by heat. If there is a chimney fire, the brick or mortar joints can open and crack new pathways for fire or heat. These types of cracks are repaired by filling in or “tuck pointing” the crack with new mortar. This is a reason why yearly chimney inspections become critical. These cracks are hard to notice and can cause disaster if it is not repaired before another chimney fire happens.
Most of them are Undetected
Slow-burning chimney fires do not have enough air or have fuel that becomes dramatic or visible and they normally go undetected until there is a chimney inspection. However, the temperatures they reach are high and cause a lot of damage to the chimney’s structure. In addition, the nearby combustible house parts are connected to this.
The chimney fire because of high heat can also scorch away the deposits in certain parts of the chimney. This is called glazing and leaves behind areas that only look clean, but are surrounded by combustible deposits.
You can go to bestcincinnatihomeservices.com to set an appointment for a chimney inspection.
April showers bring leaks in your chimneys. Isn’t that how it goes?
Spring time often reveals the leaks that have been caused by the freeze cycle of the previous years. The reason your Chimney is leaking may be a mystery, but what can also be unclear is exactly which direction you should turn for help. Should you call a roofer, a chimney company, or a brick mason? Well, that depends on what type of chimney repair you need. Each of these trades repairs specific pieces of the Chimney structure, and while there is some overlap in the work, all three trades are useful and needed somewhere within the chimney repair lineup.
When we experience leaks, we usually call the roofing company. However, there are many reasons we encourage you to start by calling your chimney company first:
Should you call a roofer?
It’s raining outside, and you happen to notice water dripping down the side of your fireplace. Upon closer look, it appears to be coming from the ceiling. Since it seems to be a roofing problem, you may be inclined to call a roofer. But when you are experiencing chimney problems like a water leak, you really need to call a qualified chimney contractor first, not a roofer.
While roofers do a great job repairing and replacing roofs, they don’t always have the extensive knowledge or experience required for chimney inspections and repairs. A reputable roofer often advises the homeowner to contact a chimney specialist to repair leaks.
Why is My Chimney Leaking?
There are several reasons why your Chimney may be leaking:
Damaged or Missing Chimney Cap
The chimney cap is affixed above the crown at the very top of the Chimney. Its purpose is to keep small animals, debris, and water out of the flu. Water can leak inside the exposed Chimney if the cap is missing or damaged.
The crown is a cement structure at the top of the Chimney (just below the chimney cap). Its purpose is to seal the edges and direct water away from the flue liner to prevent water leaks. The chimney crown deteriorates with age, and cracks allow water to penetrate the Chimney.
Spalling or Missing Bricks
The brickwork at the top of the Chimney, especially where it meets the roof line, can become damaged after years of exposure to rain, sleet, snow, wind, and even debris. The hard outer shell becomes porous, absorbing moisture and causing bricks to decay. This can result in cracked and missing bricks that allow moisture to penetrate through the ceiling above the fireplace.
The chimney flashing is a thin strip that transitions the Chimney to the roof with a metal seal. When the flashing is damaged or bent, you lose the seal, and water can leak through any exposed air pockets. We can treat this problem with a product called flash seal that is a Elastomeric sealant and will create a barrier around your flashing.
Repairing Chimney Leaks
Best Cincinnati Chimney’s team are certified specialists with extensive training and knowledge of the entire chimney system. They also have the tools and equipment to conduct a thorough inspection of the Chimney to identify the source(s) of chimney leaks and make any necessary repairs. We are experts in all chimney repairs, including sealing, repairing chimney caps and crowns, replacing missing bricks, and rebuilding chimneys.
Many types of chimney leaks can be avoided with an annual chimney inspection. During an annual inspection, our certified specialists visually inspect the entire chimney structure from top to bottom, inside and out. Our specialists often spot potential problems before they develop into more expensive repairs.
Thinking of getting a new roof?
- It is very important to schedule your chimney inspection before you do a roofing job.
- A chimney inspection before a new roof is essential to ensure the structure is in good condition.
- By inspecting first, potential issues that may require repairs before installing a new roof can be identified.
- Inspecting the Chimney ensures that things like flashing, and the brickwork are sound so that the proper shingles can be securely installed.
- Inspecting a chimney before getting a new roof reduces the risk of leaking or other damage resulting from an improperly installed surface.
- Furthermore, often roofing companies do not want anyone walking on the roof after a new installation.
Contacting us first for chimney leaks can save you a lot of time and money too!
Call us today at 513-474-1158
Having a brick home or chimney that is made with masonry is something that a lot of people find visually attractive. Bricks can be a very sturdy building material with a look that always looks beautiful in its own way. Even chimneys that are on the older side can still be pleasing to the eye. But a “vintage” look can sometimes actually be a sign of a problem.
If you have a chimney with bricks that are in bad shape, it may mean that you need to schedule a visit with Best Cincinnati Chimney. This is especially important if you notice spalling bricks on your chimney.
Here is what you need to know about getting repairs for problematic masonry.
What Are Spalling Bricks?
After years of handling freezing temperatures and then springtime thawing, your bricks will start to form micro cracks in the masonry. When water gets inside the cracks and freezes it expands the crack and allows more water in the next season. After a few years this water can work itself into the brick itself and when it expands with freezing, it will pop the facing off of the brick. This is known as spalling. This allows moisture to get into the brick even more and even into your house. This can cause much damage. This will cause other bricks to crumble, flake, peel, or even fall out of the exterior of your chimney completely.
Sometimes bricks split from top to bottom and cause the same problems.
Why It’s a Problem
As you can imagine, the loss of bricks around your chimney flue or house isn’t a good thing.
First, the worse some of the bricks get, the more they will impact the other bricks around them. Secondly, the risk of bricks coming out of your chimney is a safety hazard for anyone walking around outside the house. This can also cause damage to your shingles or flashing. This can cause water damage into the walls and ceilings of your home. On your walls, spalling brick will cause other bricks to spall and will deteriorate your walls. Thirdly, when your chimney develops spalling brickwork it can compromise the integrity of the flue itself, creating airflow problems and even creating spots for leaks.
Spalling Brick Repairs Are a Must
If you notice that the masonry that makes up your chimney and brick walls are in poor shape, it is best to reach out for repairs promptly. The state of your chimney and walls will only worsen and become a bigger threat to your safety and the wellbeing of your home.
Brick repairs may sound like a big time investment but when the repairs are performed by a professional it will be a worthwhile investment. A professional technician can assess the issue and provide comprehensive and effective solutions. For example, if the issue that caused the spalling bricks originated from bad mortar, they can replace that mortar and fix the bricks to get your chimney back into shape.
Additional brick repairs that we can make include:
- Fixing chimney crowns to create a drip edge
- Chimney and wall tuck pointing
- Replacement of spalling brick
- Repairs to Lintels around windows and garage doors
- Chimney and brick wall water repellent sealing
With Best Cincinnati Chimney, you are guaranteed to get the repairs you need done right the first time around. This means better performance from your fireplace and chimney this winter and less stress all around on your brick home, along with improved safety and comfort.
Getting into the habit of routinely maintaining the different parts of your home is essential for maintaining its value and ensuring that it remains a safe place to live. Most homeowners are familiar with the basic things that they must do to keep a home in shape. However, it is important to know what you might be missing when it comes to maintenance and repairs around your home.
Chimneys and fireplaces are commonly forgotten when it comes to maintenance and cleaning. As long as they are functioning properly, homeowners tend to adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy in this regard. However, keeping these parts of your home well-maintained is essential for avoiding damage and costly repairs down the road.
Let’s look at some of the basic things that every homeowner needs to know about fireplace and chimney maintenance.
Clean Out The Chimney
Chimney cleaning is a dirty but necessary task to protect your chimney from damage and to keep your home safe. The buildup of creosote in your chimney, from wood burning, has the potential to create a fire hazard or a ventilation blockage.
Depending on how frequently you use your fireplace, chimneys need to be cleaned out at least once or twice per year. If you notice that your fires are burning less vigorously or you find that creosote is visibly starting to build up around the fireplace, then it is likely time to call in professional fireplace cleaners to assist.
Beyond the chimney itself, it is important to keep your fireplace cleaned out as well. Sweep out or vacuum the ashes if they are starting to build up. This will help to preserve the integrity of your brickwork and prevent particulate matter from circulating in your home.
Installing a cap on your chimney with proper sealing will also keep unwanted things out of your chimney from the outside, such as small animals or rain, and will protect the chimney’s crown. Powerwashing can also help to keep the exterior of your chimney clean and looking great.
The brickwork of your chimney also needs periodic inspection and care in order to remain secure and aesthetically pleasing. The mortar in your chimney usually has a life expectancy of approximately twenty-five years. After that time, it can start to corrode or deteriorate.
Once this happens, water and moisture can infiltrate the structure of your chimney and cause damage. Moisture may even leech into the interior of your home and cause paint and wallpaper to peel. This damage and the cost of painting again can be expensive!
To prevent this from happening, you need to replace the deteriorating mortar with a fresh supply that will seal out water. Tuckpointing is a procedure to extract the old mortar and apply new mortar to ensure that your chimney remains in top condition.
Call In The Professionals
Professional roofing and chimney repair companies have experience in servicing many different fireplaces and chimneys. If you need help keeping your home in good shape, then contact the pros to assist.