Our Company Blog

Why Does My Chimney Deteriorate?

Your chimney is built to last. Professional chimney sweeps and master masons build chimneys that are both beautiful and durable, but even those that are well-made can deteriorate over time. The cause of deterioration can be a wide range of things, but it may be easy to diagnose and prevent with professional care.

Water Damage

Your chimney is most affected by water. Because masonry is made up of many materials (all of which are adversely affected by water), you can count on quite a bit of damage when water is allowed in the system. In fact, if water penetrates the system, it can lead to major deterioration, ranging from simple rust to gaps and voids in the liner and serious structural concerns. Water doesn’t just damage the chimney either, it can cause leaks and damage in all other areas of the home. If you have a leak in your bathroom or kitchen ceiling, you may assume it’s a roof problem and call a contractor, when you should be calling your chimney professional. The first thing we’ll check is your flashing. It’s the most common point of water penetration, and will be the best prevention of deterioration and damage.

Winter Damagecauses of chimney deterioration

If even a small amount of water is allowed into the masonry, the freezing temperatures in winter can cause serious masonry damage. This winter damage is caused from a freeze/thaw cycle in which water enters through small cracks and gaps, then freezes–expanding and breaking apart the mortar around it. When the chimney warms up again, the water melts and moves further into the damaged masonry, repeating the process all winter long. A minor leak or small amount of damage in the fall can become serious damage by the end of burn season.

Natural Occurrences and Fires

Over time your chimney can become deteriorated on the outside because of sunlight, weather, storm winds, and seismic activities. On the inside, your chimney system can become deteriorated when regular maintenance is neglected. The system should be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent corrosion caused from soot, creosote, and moisture. If left in the flue, the liner can become damaged, putting your family and home at risk, allowing carbon monoxide into the living space, and igniting combustibles.

Chimney and Masonry Repairs

No matter what the problems is, big or small, we can repair it at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep. Whether your chimney is new or old, even if it’s historic, we are experienced and trained in repairs and restorations. We complete crown repairs, repointing, relining, and more.

For all of your chimney repairs and preventative needs, Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep has the expertise and materials to get the job done and to get it done right. We stay abreast of fire safety codes and industrial advancements, and all of our techs are CSIA certified chimney sweeps. Call Billy Sweet at 617-469-4528.

We Can Rebuild Your Historic Chimney

New England has a lot of special features, and many of them have to do with the historic area. Parks, museums, colleges, lighthouses, and even trees are celebrated for their historic relevance. If you’re lucky, your home falls into the historic category with its own history and stories to share. Historic homes can definitely be whimsical and beautiful, but may also be a handful–especially if it has a chimney.

Historic Homes: Blessing or Curse?

Your home may be a beautiful colonial that predates the statehood where you have your residence. You can determine if your home and chimney are historic by contacting your state or local historic society. It may have the original crown moldings, high ceilings, sliding doors, and hardwood flooring. If your historic home was well-built, your historic chimney may be still standing, but that’s not to say it doesn’t need some updates. In fact, if it’s been neglected, your chimney may need serious repairs and possibly a rebuild. Getting the historic society involved may also determine if the chimney is in fact historic, or if it was constructed later, or if it was rebuilt or restored.

Where to Start

If you’re uncertain of the condition of your historic chimney, if you’ve noticed signs of trouble in your chimney or a decrease in efficiency, or if it hasn’t been inspected or serviced in the last 12 months, now is the time to call a professional. Only a professional can determine if your chimney is safe to use, or not.

Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep will complete a diagnostic inspection to determine the condition of the chimney system and use video scanning to survey the hidden portions of the chimney. This will give detailed view of the flue from top to bottom. Once a report is compiled, complete with digital imaging, we can work together with you to create a course of action for repairs or rebuild.

Why Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep

At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep, we specialize in historic homes, and we care about the integrity of your chimney as much as you do. Common problems we see with historic chimneys include noncompliance with current residential codes and safety standards, neglect, and deterioration of the masonry due to coastal air and storms.

We not only pride ourselves on offering expert services throughout our service area, but also our status as CSIA certified chimney sweeps and our experience rebuilding historic chimneys for our customers and neighbors.

If you’re afraid to put your historic chimney in the hands of an amateur, we understand! That’s why we field train our technicians before they take on historic jobs. They’re certified chimney sweeps, experienced masons, and will treat you with professionalism and courtesy. Don’t settle for mediocre when you can have the real deal. Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep has been operating in the area for over 30 years. Our techs are easy to identify, driving company trucks and wearing clear ID tags and uniforms. When the job is complete, our work will speak for itself.

Call us at 781-593-2333 or schedule online today.

Waterproofing and Lining Repair

There are a lot of things that can go wrong during the life of your chimney including age, natural disasters, and more. The most detrimental thing that can happen to your masonry chimney is water penetration. Your chimney is constructed of a variety of masonry and metal materials, all of which are adversely affected by water. Therefore it is vital to keep them maintained, which most importantly includes waterproofing.

Professional Services, Professional Standards

When you trust a professional with your chimney, you get what you pay for. There are waterproofing products and services that are specially formulated for chimney use. Keep in mind they should only be applied by a professional who is experienced and educated!

Common waterproofing services that Billy Sweet offers include:

  • Sealant
    These are professional-grade chemical products that should only be applied by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® (CCS). This breathable sealant seals your chimney from water penetration from the outside. Also, the sealant still allows the vapors and smoke to be released through the porous masonry from the inside. This process is important and should not be missed while waterproofing your chimney.
  • waterproofing-and-lining-repair-bostom-ma-billy-sweet-chimey-sweep-w800-h600Flashing
    Flashing is made up of thin sheets of metal, placed strategically and specifically for your chimney to keep water out. It is placed around the intersection of the chimney and roof. This can be very easily damaged over time. Only a professional chimney sweep knows the best material and best placement of the metal sheets for your chimney and slant of your roof. Choosing the wrong material or placing them improperly can cause shifting and rusting. This allows your chimney to leak.
  • Chimney Caps
    Although they may seem optional, the chimney cap is essential for chimney efficiency and the life of the chimney. It also keeps your family and property safe. The chimney cap keeps rain water and snow from falling into your chimney flue, while still allowing vapors out. The chimney cap can often be damaged or installed improperly, allowing water to fall into the chimney. This can result in rusting parts and damaging masonry through a process of freezing and thawing. Chimney caps also keep wild life out of your chimney, which can cause blockage and fire.
  • Chimney Crown
    The chimney crown works with the chimney cap to keep water from entering the chimney flue. The chimney crown is a concrete piece that reaches from the flue across the top of the chimney to the edge. It is constructed specifically for your chimney, with a slant to direct water away from the flue and onto the roof. If your chimney sweep reports only minor damage, cracks and pits in your crown, he can recommend and apply a crown coat sealant that will repair and prolong your crown’s life. If more extensive damage exists, your chimney sweep can remove the damaged crown and construct a new, durable crown that will last for years.

When Should You Waterproof?

To avoid damage, high cost repairs, and loss of life and property you should make chimney maintenance a priority. Scheduling your regular chimney sweeps and yearly inspections is the best way to catch a problem before it becomes a problem. By the time a homeowner notices a leak, stain, spalling, or other signs of a leaky chimney there is probably extensive unseen damage. A Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep is experienced and trained to notice risk factors and issues that pose a risk to your chimney system. We put safety first always, and we’re certified to get the job done right.

Call Billy Sweet today or contact us online to schedule an appointment!

FAQ: Chimney Crowns

Your chimney system is made of many working parts, that together do a very important job. Without your chimney the byproducts from your fire would be released into your home, causing health risk and increased chance of faq-chimney-crowns-img-boston-ma-billy-sweet-chimney-sweepfire. An important part of the chimney that keeps it working properly is the chimney crown, and it should not be overlooked.

What is a Chimney Crown

The chimney crown is a masonry slab that covers the top of the chimney from the flue liner to the edge of the chimney. The crown is designed to keep water from entering the flue, and guides the water instead to the roof. The chimney cap prevents water from entering the flue from the sky, and the crown prevents water from entering the flue from the edge of the chimney.

The chimney crown should be professionally installed, and is made specifically for each chimney. If the chimney crown is not the correct size or installed incorrectly then water will not only enter the flue, but can also pool around the chimney and penetrate the flashing.

Water and Your Chimney

Water damage is the single worst enemy of your masonry chimney. It can cause parts to rust, masonry to weaken and crumble, walls and ceilings to leak, and more. Avoid this costly damage by getting the job done right the first time.

Hire a Professional

A general contractor may be unfamiliar with chimneys, chimney crowns, and other vital chimney parts. To ensure that you’re getting the proper taper, overhang, and materials call Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep. A proper chimney crown should be constructed of a Portland cement-based mixture and cast or formed so it provides an overhang projecting behind all sides of the chimney by a minimum of two inches. Also, the flue liner should project above the crown a minimum of two inches.

A CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® (CCS)  can not only construct a proper chimney crown, but is also experienced in assessing damaged crowns as well as repairing them.

Signs Your Chimney Crown Needs Repairs

Cracks, crumbled masonry, or chipping and flaking—known as spalling—as well as chimney leaks and leaks around the crown itself is cause for repair. An experienced and professional chimney sweep can assess damage and offer a fair rate to repair or replace the chimney crown. If damages are not extensive, our technician can apply a simple crown coat sealant, which will seal cracks, creating a water-proof barrier.

Your trusted chimney sweep will quickly assess damage and offer a repair plan that you can feel comfortable with. Our top priority at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep is the safety of our customers. We do not cut corners with training, experience, or work. We are licensed, ensured, and guarantee the best.

Call a Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep today, and make sure your chimney crown is ready for fall and winter!

Fireplace Restoration and Why You Can’t D-I-Y

There are many reasons to have a chimney inspection, including new property, damage, fire, and more. When you schedule a professional chimney inspection you should receive a report on the condition of your fireplace and chimney, along with a recommendation for needed repairs.

Fireplace Restoration and why you cant diy - Boston MA - Billy SweetProblems with the Fireplace

Common issues with the firebox can include cracks, water damage, and deterioration to the masonry. Some minor problems can be repaired quickly and easily, but more extensive damage calls for further inspection, and sometimes restoration.

Since cracks in the masonry are considered a fire hazard by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) it is vital to repair them immediately. Not only do cracks allow creosote to form on interior walls, but they also allow more water damage into the firebox. When damage becomes irreparable, a professional will recommend fireplace restoration, which will restore your fireplace to safe use.

Another reason a fireplace may need restoration is because the firebox dimensions do not allow for proper ventilation, causing smoke to fill the room. With the growing use of prefabricated fireboxes, the art of chimney construction has been a dying one. Many general contractors aren’t trained or experienced in the ins and outs of building a properly-dimensioned fireplace and chimney system, and should always consult a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® (CCS)  during construction.

Don’t D-I-Y

Only a Certified Chimney Sweep® constantly trains in and implements the safety standards of the industry. At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep we strive to offer the best service to the Boston, North Shore, and Portland areas, while upholding the safety codes of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). When you hire a Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep you get a detailed cleaning, a thorough inspection, and an expert recommendation. Your fireplace restoration should leave you confident in your system’s safety, beauty, and efficiency. Because we know how important your home is to you, we work with homeowners closely to insure they’re not only pleased with the final result, but it adheres to the standards of home owners insurance, and safety codes.

In this do-it-yourself world, there are just some things you don’t chance. The safety of your family and property is one of them. Only a profession is experienced and trained in chimney safety and repair, and only Billy Sweet Chimney Sweeps have thirty years of experience servicing chimneys in New England.

When you hire a Billy Sweet professional we will take before and after photos for insurance or real estate purposes. We also invite homeowners to review our services on Google and Yelp so that you know what you’re getting when you hire us to come into your home or business. We let our service speak for itself.

If you have a problem with your fireplace or chimney system and are ready to make the necessary repairs before burning season, contact Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep today!

The Importance of Maintaining Masonry Chimneys

There are masonry fireplaces and chimneys and there are pre-fab fireplaces and chimneys. Masonry fireplaces and chimneys are made for mortar and bricks, block, or stone, while pre-fab fireplaces are made of metal and steel. Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep has specialized in maintaining chimneys and fireplaces for over 30 years and reiterates the recommendations of the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and Hamon Corporation.

chimney-masonry-maintenance-boston-ma-billy-sweet-chimney-sweep

The CSIA explains why proper maintenance of masonry chimney is so important. “All masonry chimney construction materials, except stone, will suffer accelerated deterioration as a result of prolonged contact with water. Masonry materials deteriorate quickly when exposed to the freeze/thaw process, in which moisture that has penetrated the materials periodically freezes and expands causing undue stress. Water in the chimney also causes rust in steel and cast iron, weakening or destroying the metal parts. Read more at the CSIA’s website.

Chimneys in New England are exposed to many months of constant freezing and thawing, along with exposure to rain, and intense heat, even lighting. Damage to your chimney structure means that the chimney cannot function properly and therefore exposes homeowners to fire risks, seepage of toxic gasses. Damaged masonry weakens the integrity of your home’s structure. Water causes more damages to chimneys than fires. It can cause both interior and exterior damage.

Out of Sight–Out of Mind

With such great risk caused by masonry damage, why is the proper maintenance of masonry chimneys so often overlooked by homeowners? Out of sight out of mind…until there is a problem.

Yearly inspections are the first step to maintaining your masonry chimney. During the inspection the chimney technician will look for cracks, missing bricks or blocks, water staining, and deterioration. If there are any signs of weakening, gaps, or damage, repairs can be made before small cracks become major issues.

During the inspection special attention will be paid to ensuring the chimney crown, also known as the chimney wash, is fully functional. As the CSIA explains in the homeowner’s resources section of their website, “Most masonry chimneys are built with an inadequate crown constructed from common mortar mix that is not designed for years of weather abuse without cracking, chipping or deteriorating. A proper chimney crown should be constructed of a Portland cement-based mixture and cast or formed so it provides an overhang projecting beyond all sides of the chimney by a minimum of two inches. The flue liner tile should also project above the crown a minimum of two inches.

When masonry issues are found, proper repairs should be done by a trained professional. The outside of the chimney needs to be thoroughly cleaned and all masonry repairs done before any waterproofing materials are used. Your chimney professional will know the best waterproofing agents to use to seal out water. Homeowners should not attempt to make the masonry or waterproofing repairs themselves and using paint or clear sealants instead of professional products will cause further damage by trapping the wetness rather than elevating it.

Commercial Masonry Chimneys Need Care Too.

From an industrial point of view, when it comes to maintenance, the chimney stacks at commercial and industrial sites are just as overlooked as they are on residential sites. Hamon Corporation is a group of international companies dedicated to providing “high quality innovative solutions to meet customer needs for energy efficiency and a clean environment”. Hamon urges plant and commercial maintenance teams to recognize that proper maintenance means “extended life for chimney and stacks. These passive structures are often over looked in maintenance schedules.” In an article by Arun K. Bhowmik from Hamon Custodis, Bhowmik cautions, “Chimneys are basically passive structures with few mechanical parts that require maintenance attention to keep them functional. Because of this, it is easy to overlook them – but doing so can be costly.” He goes on,” Chimneys and stacks have only one function: dispersing flue gas into the atmosphere. In the process of fulfilling that function, (chimneys) are exposed to harsh environments, both inside and outside. Flue gas, with its abrasive and corrosive characteristics, can damage the structural materials of the chimney or liner. Climatic conditions, ranging from high winds to extreme cold, place extreme stress on the structure.” To read his entire article on proper industrial chimney maintenance, click here.

When is the last time you had your masonry inspected? Are you guilty of the out of sight out of mind mentality? Don’t delay any longer; contact Bill Sweet Chimney Service today.