Chimney Leaks And What You Can Do

Your chimney is designed to last, but there are some factors that can cause serious damage, deterioration, and even require a rebuild. Water penetration is one occurrence that can shorten the life of your chimney and cost you a fortune in repairs. It’s easier to avoid the leak in the first place rather than repairing the damages that are inevitable if measures aren’t taken to prevent it.

Water and Your Chimney

Masonry chimneys are significantly affected by water penetration because of their make-up. Masonry is constructed of various materials, all of which are adversely affected by water. In fact, if water penetrates your masonry it can destroy the system from the inside out causing:

  • Rusted fireplace accessories and doors
  • Rot and decay of adjacent wood and wall coverings
  • Water-stained and weakened walls, ceilings, floors, and masonry
  • Deteriorated central heating and duct system
  • Damaged flue liner
  • Collapsed hearth support and chimney structure
  • Deteriorated metal or masonry firebox assemblies
  • Chimney settlement
  • Rusted damper and firebox assemblies
  • Clogged clean out area

What You Can Do

The best thing you can do for your chimney system is to schedule routine maintenance. When you schedule a regular chimney sweep and annual inspection, a system weakness is more likely to be caught before it becomes a leak. You may not notice that your chimney cap is crooked or that your flashing is loose, but a chimney expert will. Necessary repairs can be made before a leak occurs, causing a drop in efficiency, increased fire risk, and even health concerns. In addition to scheduling these important appointments, you can assess your chimney yourself at intervals that are convenient for you.

What To Watch For:

  • Listen for water.
    If you can hear dripping in your fireplace or distantly in the chimney system, then you have a problem. Call a professional.
  • Look for water.
    You can see signs of water on masonry. On the exterior you might see white stains on the brick. This means water has penetrated, leaving minerals on the outside surface. In the interior it can look like mold in the firebox – and it probably is. If you see or smell mold or mildew in your system, this is a health risk and means a serious leak has occurred. Call a professional!
  • Check that the chimney is capped.
    Don’t overlook the cap because it’s on the roof. You can see it from the yard, and will notice if it’s crooked or missing. You can even use binoculars to make certain it’s in good shape. Even between service appointments, Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep will come out and replace a missing cap.

Hire a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® (CCS)

Billy Sweet Chimney Sweeps repairs leaks, installs and replaces faulty caps, crowns, flashing , and damaged components. We put customer safety and comfort first, and we know that water leaks put families at risk. For good measure, we offer waterproofing services that gives your chimney the added protection it needs for another year of seasonal weather.

If you suspect a chimney leak, call Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep today at 800-248-4900 or request an appointment online using our online scheduling tool!

The Value of Obtaining a Work Permit

Want work done on your chimney? You can plan ahead if you have kept up with routine maintenance appointments. After an inspection, you should have gotten a report of necessary repairs that are needed before burn season. Plan ahead, and obtain a work permit from your municipal authorities. There are many reasons to obtain this permit, and it’s not just for the city.

Save Money

You can save money by following the correct steps for building and repairs in your community. You can avoid fees, as well as repairs in the future if you don’t adhere to regulations and hire a properly certified and licensed professional.

Protect Your Investment

Whether you are a first-time homeowner, property manager, or business owner, your holdings are investments. Any property that you own is a value, and any changes that you make should improve the property, thus increasing the value. If you fail to adhere to municipal codes and safety regulations it can actually decrease the value of your property, sometimes substantially.

Increased Safety

Municipal permits mean reduced potential hazards caused by unsafe construction and maintain a standard for public health and safety. Following code guidelines actually protects your contractor as much as it does your family and the neighborhood. Some cities that require mandatory inspections actually save you money, protect your investment, and keeps your family and home safe. This system of checks and balances doesn’t exist when doing things “under the table,” so all parties gain added protection through the permitting process.

Be a Responsible Homeowner

Part of being a responsible member of your community and your family means abiding by laws–all laws. If you’re a resident of a city, this means abiding by city ordinances as well as state and federal laws.

Your Insurance May Require It

Even if you’re making valid and drastic improvements to your home, by failing to obtain a permit, you may nullify portions of your homeowner’s insurance policy. This is a risk you might want to consider heavily. Work done in the summer can look different in the winter when your home and your safety depends on your chimney system working properly. It’s important to choose a professional and obtain the correct permits to get the work done and get it done right.

Choosing Billy Sweet

When you choose Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep, you don’t merely get a general contractor or even certified chimney sweep. We are chimney experts, operating in New England since 1978, and maintaining certifications and memberships in the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), the National Fireplace Institute, National Chimney Sweep Guild, and Massachusetts Chimney Sweep Guild. We pride ourselves on our experience and our goal is to put customer safety and comfort first. This is why we keep up with the safety regulations of the cities that we serve as well as the brands we install and the chimney industry itself.

To find out how Billy Sweet Chimney Sweeps can serve you, call 617-469-4528 or request an appointment online today.

Closing Out Your Fireplace and Chimney for the Season

When the weather turns warm and you only periodically burn a fire, you begin thinking about closing the fireplace or furnace down for the season. Spring can be stressful as you think about spring cleaning along with home, lawn, and auto maintenance, but you can’t overlook the chimney.

Have the Chimney Cleaned

A certified chimney sweep company will offer a thorough cleaning that includes the entire chimney system. Billy Sweet’s chimney sweeps can be scheduled year-round and include:

  • Assessment of accessible portions of chimney’s interior and exterior
  • Assessment of factory-build units for cracks
  • Sweep your chimney with special brushes
  • Check your chimney liner for cracks, gaps, and missing joints
  • Scrub yours chimney’s smoke chamber, smoke shelf, and damper with hand tools
  • Sweep the firebox and clear any ash
  • Remove and brush the grate
  • Check for any fire safety hazards

When your chimney is thoroughly cleaned of soot, creosote, and any leftover debris, you can rest assured knowing it won’t stink through the warm, humid days of summer. By having this sweep done in the spring you will also know it is ready when burn season returns in the fall.

Have the Chimney Inspected

As part of your chimney sweep appointment, you can also schedule a CSIA chimney inspection so that you are aware of major issues with your chimney. If your chimney is damaged it is susceptible to water damage as we enter the wettest months of the year—spring. Water is a nuisance through winter because of the freeze/thaw cycle that can damage your masonry. Water can also be a hazard through the warm months because it can cause mold which can affect the air quality in the house and cause respiratory illnesses.

Seal Off the Chimney

You can lose cool air up the chimney during the summer causing you to spend many times as much on utilities. The best way to prevent conditioned air loss via the chimney is to close the damper. The standard cast iron damper installed at the throat of the chimney doesn’t have a tight seal. Because of the money saved, many homeowners are opting for a top-sealing damper, also called an energy-saving damper. This damper is installed on the top of the chimney at the flue opening and acts as a chimney cap while open. When the damper is closed it has a rubber air-tight seal which closes the chimney off completely from the top. This doesn’t only save on utilities, but also prevents humidity and moisture in through the top of the chimney.

By scheduling routine maintenance now, you allow time to make necessary repairs before burning season. A chimney expert can get work done quickly, but if it’s put off until the “fall rush” it is hard to get an appointment. Avoid problems with your chimney this summer, and make sure it’s prepared for burn season by calling a chimney sweep today at 207-773-7933 or request an appointment online.

How Cold Weather Can Damage Your Masonry

There are a few factors that can quickly destroy a chimney. Water can wreak havoc on a masonry chimney, penetrating it, causing rust and weakening the mortar. During cold weather the damage can be catastrophic.

Freeze/Thaw Cycle

The masonry of your chimney is especially sensitive to moisture penetration due to what is called the freeze/thaw cycle. First, water penetrates the chimney system by way of cracks in the chimney, damage to the crown, improper flashing, or a broken or missing cap. Once water is inside the system it is subject to the temperature of the chimney. When the chimney cools the water freezes, expands, and breaks the masonry further. The chimney warms and the water melts, flowing through the damaged masonry further until the water freezes and expands again. The process can repeat over and over throughout winter if leaks are not repaired.

Common Winter Damage

At Billy Sweet we often see leaks due to snow accumulation around the flashing and on top of the chimney crown. It’s also common to find spalling.

Repairing Winter Damage

You don’t have to wait until spring to have repairs completed. In fact, we recommend repairing damage sooner rather than later, so that the repairs will take less time and materials, and will cost you less money. Fixing the damage now prevents the freeze/thaw cycle during cold weather as well.

Replacing Parts

If your leak is due to a damaged or missing part like the chimney cap, flashing, or damage to the crown, these parts can all be repaired or replaced. A chimney cap is a fairly simple part to replace. The flashing is more tedious, but an experienced chimney sweep is able to get the job done quickly and satisfactorily. The chimney crown can be more complicated to replace, but if it only has some cracks or holes a certified chimney sweep can actually seal it with an industrial water proof sealant. Of course, it may be necessary to recast the chimney crown, replacing it completely. When done properly a new chimney crown should last the lite of your chimney and prevent water, debris, and more from entering the chimney.

Repairing the Damage

If water has penetrated your masonry, especially in winter, you probably have damage including spalling. Spalling is when mortar cracks and masonry crumbles, resulting in holes and structural problems. This can be repaired by tuck pointing, a procedure when the chimney technician removes the existing, damaged mortar, and replaces it with new, equally strong mortar, and replaces the bricks for a beautiful finished product. This process takes an experienced professional because if the new mortar doesn’t match in consistency and strength, the structure will be weakened. The mortar should also match in color so that the finished job looks like nothing every happened to the chimney.

During any time of the year it’s best to avoid and prevent damage. You can do this by scheduling chimney sweeps and inspections. The key is to prevent chimney leaks during winter especially.

You can schedule with a Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep today to discuss your winter damage and prevention.

Don’t Let Santa Slide Down a Dirty Chimney

You might not give your chimney’s cleanliness a second thought through the holidays—that is, unless you have to be in it! If you wouldn’t slide down a dirty chimney, don’t expect Santa too! Schedule your chimney sweep now and have a squeaky clean chimney for the holidays. dont-let-santa-slide-down-a-dirty-chimney-boston-ma-billy-sweet-chimney-sweep

Why a Clean Chimney is Important

A dirty chimney can bring a host of problems to the homeowner that may not be expected, and definitely unwanted! These problems can range from big to small and can cause substantial damage or minor unpleasantness. When you love your fireplace, have put together your dream home, and have transformed it into a Christmas wonderland for the holidays, you want to have the perfect holiday experience. Don’t leave it to chance. Have your chimney swept regularly.

How Often Should You Schedule a Sweep?

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend regular chimney maintenance such as chimney sweeps and annual chimney inspections. This important preventative maintenance insures your chimney is at its safest and most efficient. What’s more, you shouldn’t do this work on your own. Only a certified chimney sweep has the training and expertise to get the job done, and get it done right.

Schedule a chimney sweep now and avoid:

  1. A stinky chimney. Soot buildup in the chimney can create unpleasant odors that can be unwelcome while you’re hosting holiday get-togethers, dinners, and family visits.
  2. A smokey fire. You may have a buildup or obstruction in your chimney that compromises the updraft causing smoke to escape out the fireplace and into the living space.
  3.  Increased risk of fire. If your chimney hasn’t been regularly serviced you may have a creosote buildup that you aren’t aware of. This increases the risk of fire, putting your home, family, and guests at risk.

Of course there are other perks to having a squeaky clean chimney, fireplace, and hearth. At Billy Sweet we know what’s really important during the holidays. Family. While your family is visiting for Christmas consider taking a family photo in front of a beautiful hearth and mantel. We know that the focal point of most holiday festivities is the fireplace, and we make it our goal to keep your family comfortable this season!

Your chimney works the whole time a fire is burning in your fireplace, and we will work for you too. We’ll do our part, and we need you to do yours. Pick up the phone and call Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep and you’ll get professional services every time, fireplace and chimney experts with over 30 years of experience, and your neighbors in the North Shore, Boston, and Portland, ME area. Call Billy Sweet at 617-469-4528 or schedule an appointment online today.

Is Your Chimney Ready for Santa This Year?

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the housePreparing Your Chimney for Santa Photo - Boston MA - Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
I heard St. Nicholas let out a horrible sound.
He was stuck in the chimney, I could only see his foot!
Dangling out of the chimney, blocked with ashes and soot
I knew once he got loose, there’d be no presents for me
Why didn’t I just call Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep?!”

The most important time to have your chimney inspected and swept is before the wintertime. This is when you will use it most. Not only will it help Santa deliver your presents, but it will also keep your home safe and your chimney working efficiently!

Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep offers a variety of services to keep your chimney in tip-top shape:

  • Chimney Sweeping

It may sound like a simple task, but it’s not. When it comes to clearing your chimney of ashes, soot, and debris, hiring a professional is your best bet. This will keep your home safe and warm. According to, “Dirt can block your chimney’s flue, causing smoke to back up into your home and make your fireplace noxious. Excessive creosote can potentially ignite and cause an uncontrolled fire hazard.” Having your chimney swept annually can not only keep you safe, but will save you money in the long run. In addition, it helps prevent the buildup of creosote and damage beyond normal use.

  • Chimney Inspection

It’s important to have a professional check for cracks in your chimney. This is because they pose a safety hazard, and can even leak harmful gases into your home. According to Home Advisor, “ The smoke from a fire can contain dangerous gases, among them carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas that can cause illness, or even death, in large amounts. Cracks in a chimney can leak heat into the surrounding walls, and lead to structural damage or even house fires.” Annual inspections will help you know whether or not your chimney is in a good state, or if it needs to be serviced, repaired or restored. Knowing is half the battle, and Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep is here to help!

  • Chimney Lining

Your chimney liner helps prevent damage to your chimney’s masonry or mortar joints. It helps prevent emissions of harmful gasses, and keeps heat away from flammable materials in your home. Whether your chimney doesn’t have a liner and needs one installed, making sure your liner is in good shape helps extend the life of your chimney and keeps your home safe.

  • Chimney Leaks

If your chimney is leaking, three common areas to check are the cap, crown, or flashing. The chimney cap, or protective cover at the top opening of the chimney, helps keep water and debris out of your chimney. In addition, sometimes this part may be damaged or missing. Below the cap is the chimney crown, which is built to keep the elements away from the chimney opening. The crown may also have cracks or spalling, which could result in water leaks. Lastly, damaged flashing, where your chimney meets the roofline, is another common area for water to sneak into the chimney. Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep can inspect your chimney for leaks and even waterproof your chimney by applying a protective sealant to ward off the elements.


If you haven’t gotten your chimney ready for Santa yet, what are you waiting for? Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep is here to help with all of your chimney needs whether you need a sweep, inspection, new liner, or all of the above! Contact us today to keep your family safe and warm this winter.