Company Blog

Water and Your Brick Chimney

Keeping It Dry

If you are the proud owners of any kind of fireplace you probably are already aware of the need for regular service whether it is inspections or cleanings in order to keep risk levels as low as possible.  It is recommended by all

water-and-your-brick-chimney-greenville-sc-blue-sky-chimney-sweepsrecognized authorities that we get our chimneys inspected and swept every season to prevent dangerous creosote buildup and to make sure that there are no animals nesting inside the chimneys or terminations.  One area where many home-owners are not expecting to hear about possible issues when they call for a “cleaning” is the exterior of their chimney. It is a surprise that they have damage to their chimney caused simply by water intrusion.

Water is, in fact, one of the leading causes of damage to chimneys.  Keeping as much moisture out of a chimney as possible is critical to lengthening its life.  Conversely, if a chimney goes unprotected from the effects of water intrusion, its life will be shortened.

A chimney is a masonry structure that is mostly exposed to the elements. If the chimney is an exterior chimney, the part above the roof and at least 3 of the 4 walls below the roofline are exposed to a battery of wind, rain, sleet, snow.  These and other climate conditions can cause serious damage to brick and mortar structures. Moisture can get into cracks and holes in the masonry and freeze and thaw causing expansion and contraction which can do structural damage. This will cause more cracks to appear allowing more moisture to get into a chimney potentially compounding problems exponentially. Over time, problems can develop that create a chimney that is unsafe to use and may in fact be in danger of collapsing altogether. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to minimize this risk.

The single most important thing you can do is to have a certified chimney sweep come out and inspect your chimney. Trained technicians are trained to look for signs of present or impending water damage.  Upon evaluation, they may suggest that your chimney needs a new waterproofing treatment.  The good news is, that unless you are seeing evidence of water entry into the home, there is usually time to budget for these recommendations.

While these treatments do not actually make the chimney entirely waterproof, they render it water repellant.   As smoke rises through the chimney, it cools and can produce creosote and moisture. If the chimney were to be rendered completely waterproof, there would be no way for the moisture to escape the chimney and the chimney would be left with a similar problem to water intrusion from the outside — due to the moisture collecting on the INSIDE of the chimney.   A proper chimney waterproofing treatment actually involves the application of a vapor-permeable sealant that allows moist air to escape the chimney but keeps rain and other forms of exterior moisture out. Again, it is very important to allow someone trained regarding chimney maintenance to apply the recommended products. Improper application could cause complications that may be costly to correct.

Another important step to maintaining a safe and dry chimney is to have a properly designed chimney cap installed. Chimney caps perform a variety of jobs.

  • Keeps rain and other precipitation from going into the hole at the top of your chimney.
  • Helps keep animals and debris from entering the chimney.
  • Over-sized lid directs water away from the sides of the chimney directly down the roof.

Another important way to in prevent costly water damage is to make sure that water drainage systems direct the water away from the chimney. If your roof slope directs water towards the chimney or traps in in pools around the base of the chimney, it is much harder to prevent that water from seeping into your chimney. If your roof does channel water toward your chimney

  • Look into gutter systems that can carry that water to another point and off your roof. This is a great opportunity to direct the water into rainwater buckets that can be used to water plants or wash cars.
  • Make sure that your chimney has a cricket (or saddle) if the size of your chimney and its configuration in relation to the roof.

The single most important thing to take away from all of this is to have your chimney inspected by a certified chimney sweep at least once a year.  It is much better to catch problems like these early to prevent a costly repair on down the line. If you take the proper preventative steps it could be the difference between having a safe and functional fireplace and having a pile of bricks on the roof or on the ground beside the house.

Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth can provide excellent service to insure preserving the wellness of your chimney. Our chimney sweep inspection services are just one of many useful services we provide. We have been serving SC’s Upstate Area for nearly 37 years now. It is our sincere pleasure to continue to help you keep fire in its place in your home.

3 Ways Water Ruins Your Chimney

Chimneys sure are high, but they are not necessarily dry. As one of Upstate South Carolina’s premier chimney service companies, those of us at Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps see water as your chimney’s biggest adversary.

3-Ways-Water-Ruins-Your-Chimney-Spartanburg-Greenville-SC-Blue-Sky-Chimney

You might be able to leave a leaky faucet alone for a while, but a leaky chimney is another story. Small chimney leaks can very quickly lead to big chimney leaks, and big, expensive problems.

Unfortunately, it’s not at all difficult for water to find its way into a chimney that has not been adequately protected from the elements.

While we can certainly find resolutions for your leaking chimney, your best bet will always be to prevent leaks from the beginning. Water intrusion left unmanaged, can cause significant damage to the chimney structure as well as areas adjacent to your chimney. This damage is often expensive to repair.

Here are just a few ways that water can harm your chimney:

  • Water weakens your chimney’s masonry. There are a number of ways that your chimney brick and mortar may react to rainwater.
    Crumbling, cracking, or bricks falling apart altogether.
    Spalling (when the face of the bricks appears to have popped off).
    Holes in header joints
    The more your masonry breaks down in this way the more easily water will be able
    to get into your chimney and, possibly, into your home.Water creates cracks and/or voids inside and out.
  • Water creates cracks and/or voids inside and out. Water can cause both on the inside and the outside of your chimney.
    The relentless freeze/thaw cycle can also cause the bond to break between the brick and the mortar.
    Water washing over the exterior surface of the brick can erode out thin mortar joints.
    Water washing over the inside of your chimney can cause gaps to develop between the flue tiles. This would allow toxic gases attack the brick and mortar of your chimney from the inside out. In some cases it could cause the gases to leak through into your living space instead of venting safely outside.
    In some cases the damage may permit water to get inside your home, where it can stain the walls, ceilings, and floors around the chimney.
  • Water can cause mold, mildew, and lichen to grow on the exterior of the chimney.

If you find yourself dealing with water issues with your chimney, call Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth at (864) 682-5422 or fill out our online form to make an appointment with us today. We can help!

We are proud members of the South Carolina Chimney Sweep Guild, the North Carolina Chimney Sweep Association, and the National Chimney Sweep Guild. We are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fireplace Institute.

 

Fall is here! Winter is On the Way! Again.

Wintertime is better with fire and it is our goal, here at Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth, to help you keep hearth fires in their rightful place in your home! Chimney and fireplace inspection is an autumn leavesimportant part of that process. If you haven’t yet set up your appointment for this season yet, give us a call or click here!

Here are a few tips that can help make your appointment with us run smoothly.

Appointment Tips

If you are scheduling your annual maintenance, please keep in mind that during the Fall and Winter, we tend to have fuller schedule than Summertime and waits for appointments can be longer.

  • The sooner the better as far as getting on the schedule.
  • Be patient if the first available appointment seems to be a long way off. We have a plan to make this situation more workable. We will work to move your appointment forward to a sooner spot with the first schedule change that allows an opportunity to do so.

When preparing for your chimney service appointment with Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps, be sure to:

  • Remove all items within 6 feet of where we will be working.
  • Allow the appliance being serviced 24+ hours to cool before our visit.
  • Please keep your pets safely out of harm’s way during the appointment.

Following these simple appointment tips will go a long way to make your scheduled appointment go smoothly. Contact us today.

To review –

  • Call now – take the first available appointment and if you want it done sooner, ask to be put on the list to be moved forward at the first possible opportunity.
  • Secure a spot on our schedule – with that appointment comes a promise to get your service done as soon as we possibly can.
  • Try to be patient — Please know that we will be working as hard as we can to get your hearthside ready as quickly as possible.

Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth sincerely wishes you and your family a warm and cozy Winter season!

FIREPLACE REBORN!

There are many reasons why fireplaces are decommissioned.

  • Dust and debris
  • Too hard to get wood
  • Allergies
  • Damaged chimneyFIREPLACE REBORN! - Greenville SC - Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps

 

….and then there are some folks who just believe that a fireplace is an outdated and inefficient way to get heat for your home and prefer more modern technologies and the convenience of full

house systems. While it is true that most modern built fireplace are inefficient to use as a primary heating source, many who hold these “outdated fireplace” beliefs have never really experienced the comfort and satisfaction that comes from the warm glow of a roaring fire in the hearth.

Many of us who have — are hooked! If you are among the fireplace connoisseurs of the world, there are things you need to do to get your fireplace back into service BEFORE YOU NEED IT. If you wait until the week before you want to use it or (heaven forbid) the day before a winter storm is due to hit, you may find some insurmountable obstacles impeding your frantic efforts.

  • All the good chimney service companies are booked out for 3-4 weeks.
  • ALL the chimney sweeps in the world are booked a week or more out.

In short, BEFORE IT GETS COLD is the time to get your fireplace, gas logs and chimney checked out. Here are some good steps to take NOW.

  • Have your chimney and fireplace inspected and thoroughly cleaned if it needs it. Call a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep. Lack of service is the primary cause of potentially dangerous buildup of creosote in chimneys. Chimney fires are NOT FUN and can cause costly damage to your chimney and possibly the rest of your home.
  • Make sure that your gas logs, stove fans, etc. all work well before the time comes to use them. Remember — a large part of “everyone else” will have waited till the last minute and will be vying for the same hard-to-find spots you will be looking for, if you wait.
  • Get your fuel lined up. Check your gas. Buy your wood now. Locate your pellet source.

These steps are a good idea even if you only plan to use your fireplace for special events. Remember those special times of year are pretty much the same for everybody. Let us – here at Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps and Bless Your Hearth – help you enjoy your hearth experience safely and with confidence. Schedule your fireplace, gas log and chimney services right away.

P.S. If you have an inefficient fireplace that you love and you are interested in more heat from your fireplace experience, ask us about it. There may be options for improving your hearth experience.