Our Company Blog

Leaks and Crown Repair

If you are a homeowner in the Boston, North Shore, or Portland area, you may have a chimney that has taken on winter damage. This type of damage may first manifest as a chimney leak or roof leak, but it’s likely a result of winter damage. Most likely the chimney crown is the problem.

The Chimney Crownwhite chimney with blue sky

The chimney may be the largest system in your home, but it can be brought down by water intrusion. In fact, water can destroy a chimney system from the inside out. This damage leads to rust, stains, odors, mold growth, deterioration, shortened chimney life, and more. The chimney crown is an important component that helps to prevent water intrusion and damage. When the chimney crown is constructed improperly, it can become damaged over time due to sunlight and weather exposure. The crown, which is supposed to protect the chimney from the flue opening all the way to the edge of the chimney can become cracked, begin flaking, and even crumble. When the crown becomes damaged, the water from rain and snowfall can go directly into the chimney causing water damage and leaks throughout the entire house.

Diagnosing the Chimney Crown

If your chimney seems to be leaking, it’s time to call a professional. We will check all the parts of the chimney system that might be the cause of the leak. If the crown has cracks, gaps, or flaking, it will definitely contribute to a leak and will need to be fixed. Fortunately, if the crown is made from the appropriate materials and is the right size and shape, it will not have to be recast. We can fix a chimney crown fairly easily, getting your system back to working order before burn season. In order to fix a broken crown, there are two options:

  • We can cover the entire chimney crown in a waterproof sealant which closes up all the gaps and cracks, restoring the crown back to proper function.
  • We can construct a completely new custom crown with the appropriate slant, thickness, and drip edge to conduct optimal water flow away from the chimney.

Prevent Damage Before It’s Too Late

You can prevent water damage and even prevent the need for a new crown construction by scheduling routine chimney sweeps and annual inspections. Your chimney expert will get a good look at your crown during these preventative service appointments, and minor repairs can be made before major damage occurs. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), chimneys that are serviced and inspected annually are the safest and efficient. At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep we know that chimneys that are serviced regularly and repaired as needed are also the longest lasting chimneys.

Schedule your routine service or chimney crown repair with Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep today. Call us at 781-593-2333 or stop by our Boston, North Shore, or Portland location.

The Problem With Old Chimneys

Here in our community, we have beautiful, historic homes lining streets and neighborhoods. These homes are some of the oldest buildings in the United States, some dating back to the early 1800s, and they are well-worth saving. At Billy Sweet, we take safety seriously, and we think it’s important to preserve and protect these beautiful fixtures in New England. That’s why we strive to offer professional and affordable chimney services and specialize in historic chimney care.

Historic HomesHistoric homes need chimney services too!

Many systems in historic homes need to be updated, for comfort and efficiency, but also safety. You might have a home that was updated with electricity, gas, or central heat and air, and most likely has had the plumbing updated in recent years as well. This is because old systems are less efficient and may be unsafe. Your national and local safety codes may require updates in order for the home to be insured or zoned properly. They may need to be updated in order to work with new water or waste systems, or in the case of the chimney, to reflect new knowledge of chimney and fire science.

It’s important to hire a professional when your home needs work, and a certified professional has a responsibility to report code violations, safety hazards, and any damage observed. This presents a problem where chimneys are concerned. Though chimney fires account for 25,000 house fires per year, homeowners continue to neglect professional chimney care, believing it a waste of money.

Historic Chimneys

All or nearly all chimney fires are preventable with routine chimney care and swift repairs when necessary. The problem with historic chimneys is that when fire safety codes are updated, it may require an update to old chimneys. When a homeowner purchases a historic home with an old chimney, and updates haven’t been made for many years, it may not be code-compliant. It’s our responsibility to bring the chimney system up to code. This is required by your municipal government, HOA, fire marshal, and homeowners insurance.

At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep we take safety seriously, and it’s our goal that all our customers and neighbors are safe and warm this winter. That is why we offer routine chimney sweeps and annual inspections year-round, so you aren’t surprised by a repair in the fall. We recommend all systems be up to date and the chimney code-compliant before burn season, so we’ll complete your inspection and provide a report, so that plans can be made for repairs and updates.

Common Updates to Old Chimneys

We often see historic chimneys that have minor problems and need minor repairs, however, there may be major compliance issues with your chimney. Many historic chimneys have old and broken clay tile liners–or no liner at all, making it a fire hazard as well as a carbon monoxide safety risk. Smoke chambers are often missing or ill-shaped, and must be updated to reflect new standards. Your historic chimney may need to be rebuilt, restored, or renovated, and we specialize in this work, keeping the integrity of your historic home in mind.

These services cost money, take time, and require planning and patience, but in the end, your home will be more valuable and your family will be safer after your historic chimney is serviced.

Schedule chimney services with Billy Sweet by calling 617-469-4528.

The Parts of the Chimney System

Your chimney is a focal point for home decor and necessary for home heating. Without the chimney, your fireplace would not have proper airflow to burn well, and would allow harmful smoke and toxic gases into your living space. In order to work properly, it must be properly constructed from top to bottom. Understanding the anatomy of your chimney will help you notice changes, suspect damage, and maintain it properly.

Foundation

Like the house itself, the chimney must be properly supported from beneath. Without a proper foundation, the masonry can shift, leading to cracks, leaning, and eventually structural damage.
Look for: signs of settling or movement, especially inside the firebox.

Ash Dump

The ash dump leads from the firebox through a type of trap door which makes it easy for homeowners to clean ashes from their fireplace by scooping it into the space below. The ash dump is a safe place for the ashes to cool and collect until it is too full to use.
Look for: ashes spilling out of the outlet or clogging the door.

Firebox and Hearth

The firebox is the space where the fire burns. It endures the most abuse–the highest temperatures and often the least attention. The hearth is the floor of the firebox which extends out toward the room. It is durable and usually decorative.
Look for: stains or cracks that indicate water damage.

Chimney Damper

Installed at the base of the chimney or a top mount damper installed at the top of the flue, the damper is essential for proper chimney function. It allows for adequate airflow to light and maintain a fire. A top mount damper and a throat damper can also prevent airflow during the off season.
Look for: drafts that affect your heating or cooling, a smoky fireplace, and animals in the flue.

Smoke Chamber and Shelf

The smoke chamber is the space above the fireplace where the heat and gases mix before continuing up the flue. The slanted wall directs the smoke upward, and the smoke shelf keeps the smoke and gas from falling back into the fireplace.
Look for: a smoky fireplace, rough walls, and dripping noises within the chimney that aren’t visible.

Flue Liner

The flue liner extends up the entire chimney and is made of clay tile, stainless steel, slip casting, and even HeatShield cerfractory sealant. It helps to properly size the flue for optimum airflow, protects the home from heat and gases inside the chimney, and protects the masonry from corrosive chemical byproducts inside the chimney.
Look for: pieces of clay tile inside the fireplace, chimney hot to the touch.

Chimney Crown, Cap, and Flashing

In order to maintain the integrity of the chimney, it needs protection against water penetration year-round. The crown is a mortar ceiling placed on top of the chimney, extending outward from the flue. The cap protects the flue opening, and the flashing protects the vulnerable intersection of the chimney and roof.
Look for: signs of water damage.

Every part of the chimney is essential and should be intacted for the chimney to work properly. Schedule an annual inspection to make certain the chimney is in good shape.

Call Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep at 617-469-4528 or request an appointment online today.

We Service the Portland Area

If you’re looking for chimney services in the Boston, Northshore, and Portland areas, look no further than Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep. We’ve been servicing New England chimneys for over thirty years, and we’re proud to offer the highest quality of workmanship and customer service to all of our customers here in Massachusetts and Maine; offering service to Boston Massachusetts, Portland Maine, the North Shore, and surrounding areas.

If you live near us, and you aren’t certain we’ll cover you, call and talk with an associate today. It’s our goal that every family, home, and business is safe and warm winter after winter. That standard starts with chimney maintenance.

Our Portland Location

At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep we don’t schedule teams to drive out and service Portland area. We actually have a location in Portland, Maine, and we continuously service Portland and surrounding areas and towns. Our Portland service area reaches as far north as New Gloucester, as far west as Limerick, as far east as Brunswick, and as far south as Biddeford.

Still not sure if we’ve got you covered? Check out our Portland service area page and find your city, town, or zip code. If you are close, but not listed, give us a call today.

Offering Expert Services in Portland, Maine

It’s no small thing to offer chimney services in Portland, Maine. Winters in this area can be harsh. We often see winter damage this time of year, and it’s important that inspections and repairs are completed before the next burn season. We don’t just do the bare minimum at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep. When you call us for your chimney sweeps, inspections, and repairs, you get our full attention and comprehensive chimney care for the life of your chimney.

When you schedule with us, you will have CSIA certified chimney sweeps completing services according to CSIA standards, as well as state and local codes. Our sweeps live in the area, know the area, and understand the standards in the area. We’ll show up in uniform with company trucks, wear ID tags stating our name and company, and will show your home, family, or business courtesy and professionalism every step of the way.

Hiring Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep also means you’re part of the Billy Sweet family. This means you can expect 24-hour emergency services, speedy responses, and guaranteed work at the price and time you were quoted.

Let us help you stay safe this year. Schedule services now, and you can rest assured that your chimney is safe and efficient. Schedule services this spring, and you can be sure your chimney is ready for next burn season. Don’t stress! Let us handle the mess.

If you’re in Portland, Maine or surrounding areas, call our Portland location today at 207-773-7933 or request an appointment online.

Beat The Fall Rush & Schedule An Inspection Now

Your chimney system should be in good shape to be both safe and efficient through the winter. However, if your chimney is damaged during the off-season, it can result in higher electricity bills, cause warm drafts, and even leaks and other damage in your house! The best way to protect your home and chimney from damage year-round? Schedule annual inspections. It’s at these vital appointments that a chimney expert assesses your chimney system, taking note of weaknesses and damage – often diagnosing problems before damage occurs.

Avoid The Fall Rush

If you schedule your inspection now, you will have time to make necessary repairs, preventative measures, and cosmetic changes before the fall rush. The “fall rush” refers to the months between October and January when chimney companies are busy, so it can be difficult to get an appointment. During this time chimney sweeps are busy with emergency calls and repairs. Due to the tight schedule during the fall rush, waiting to schedule your inspection can mean you don’t get the appointment time, technician, or even chimney sweep company you’d like. Don’t settle for second-best. Choose the best company and schedule today!

Allow Time For Repairs

By scheduling your chimney inspection now, you still have over two months to complete necessary repairs before cold weather returns. It’s a nuisance to make repairs during burn season. This is because you can’t light a fire safely until repairs are made. Efficiency will be down, and fire and health risk will be up.

Get your inspection, chimney sweep, and repairs completed during the off season! Then you can rest assure knowing your fireplace and chimney is ready for fall. In addition, you don’t have to worry about an unexpected issue. This is because our technician will diagnose and assess any potential hazards in the system and deal with them, before burn season. Making necessary repairs before the fall means you don’t have to dip into holiday shopping funds for chimney repairs. When you schedule your inspection during the summer, you also have more time to come up with the money for any necessary repairs.

Preventative Measures

The sooner you have your chimney system cleaned and inspected, the sooner you can close it out for summer. If you haven’t done this already, you need to! First schedule a chimney sweep and inspection with your trusted and certified chimney expert. Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep offers both services, paying attention to the likely problem areas. When our technician is finished with your chimney, it won’t be accessible to critters, won’t stink, and will be ready for fall in a few short months.

For more information about preventative measures that can prolong your chimney’s life, click here. We are always looking to help our customers stay safe in Eastern Massachusetts, Southern New Hampshire, and Portland, Maine. Find out how we can help you by calling now. Speak to an expert by dialing 617-469-4528 or schedule an appointment using our online scheduling tool.