Company Blog

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.

 

Here we are again! Chimney fire “season”.

Two common causes for these fires occurring more often in late December and early January:

  • Burning of wrapping paper and old trees after Christmas.
    – Burning materials aside from the designated fuel can result in a devastating chimney fire, but in reality, even apparently safe burning can result in such an irritating inconvenience.
  • Lack of service (routine, regular chimney sweeping).
    – Our tendency for procrastination puts off annual service and then (at the last minute before the need for holiday fires) there’s no way to get an appointment and we think, “well, we really haven’t used it THAT much. It’ll probably be ok…..”

Chimney Fires Image - Greenville SC - Bless Your Hearth

Anatomy of a Chimney Fire

Anytime wood burns, it creates by-products of combustion. These materials include smoke, soot, carbon monoxide, and creosote. The build-up of creosote is responsible for chimney fires. Creosote can be black or brown in color and flakey or slick in texture. Any combination of traits is highly flammable. With every fire in the fireplace or stove, creosote condenses along the interior of the chimney, building to increasingly dangerous levels. A stray spark or ember, from burning wrapping paper for example, can easily ignite the creosote, turning an innocent, homely fire in your fireplace into a catastrophe.

Creosote burns at 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is four to five times hotter than traditional wood fires. This extreme heat and the other chemical traits of creosote make these fires very difficult to extinguish quickly. Resulting damage can include melted mortar, cracked bricks, cracked flue tiles and exposed woodwork in the house. Once the woodwork catches fire, the house could very well burn to the ground, costing thousands of dollars in damage and potentially injuring or killing people inside the house.

While chimney fires often create noteworthy displays of light and explosions, they can also be secretive and slow-burning, causing damage without alerting anyone. A chimney sweep will look for signs of a chimney fire, including smoke leaking through the masonry materials, honeycomb textured creosote, discolored chimney components, and heat damaged roofing. Generally, chimney fires will leave severe damage in their wake and require extensive repairs. Sometimes it could even require entire chimney rebuilds, in order for the chimney to function safely again. These are not inexpensive repairs, so avoiding chimney fires would be a worthy goal.

Fortunately, chimney fires are, for the most part, preventable.

  • First, current fire safety standards mandate an annual chimney sweep, which involves the removal of built-up creosote from the interior of the chimney.
    – For fireplaces and stoves that experience heavy use, experts recommend more frequent sweeps, if need is indicated.
  • Second, burning the proper fuel for the fireplace or stove goes a long way toward reducing creosote buildup in the first place.
    – Burning wood that has been properly seasoned cuts down on creosote buildup, as well as burning more hardwoods than softwoods. Avoid burning freshly cut wood – like an old Christmas tree – and any kind of papers or decorations, which burn very hot and can emit sparks and embers.

For more information on preventing chimney fires, visit our Company Blog page. In the search box on that page, type “chimney fire”. That will get you started.

To schedule a routine chimney sweep in Upstate South Carolina, contact Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps.

What’s the skinny on wood? Only burn hardwood? Fact or myth?

Everybody knows that dry hardwood is the only wood to burn.  Or do they?  Here’s another tidbit from SNEWS (Chimney Sweep News).

Click to Enlarge

Give Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps|Bless Your Hearth a call today to talk to us about servicing and maintaining your fireplace or woodstove and chimney.