Our Company Blog

How to Tell if Your Chimney is Leaking

The problem with a chimney leak is as simple as 1, 2, 3.
1. It ruins your chimney.
2. It ruins your house.
3. It costs you money.
The good news is that chimney leaks are 100 percent preventable. With routine maintenance and annual inspections, your trusted chimney professional will spot a problem before it turns into a leak.

Signs You Have a Leak

Some signs are less noticeable than others. The average homeowner will overlook a chimney leak simply because the affected portion of the chimney is hidden from view. This is why it’s important to hire a certified chimney sweep to clean, inspect, and repair your chimney system.

  • Sounds of dripping or visual evidence of dripping in the chimney
  • Discoloration of interior or exterior masonry
  • Smells of mildew or staleness
  • A leak in any part of the house

Even if you don’t see signs on or in the chimney itself, a leak in another part of the house is an indication of a chimney leak. When water is allowed into the home by way of the chimney, it can run for several feet before it stops at the lowest point and forms a leak. This may be several rooms away from the chimney! If you have a leak in any part of your home, call your chimney sweep first. A contractor or handyman may repair the damage, but will not find the cause, because only a chimney professional knows where to look and diagnose the problem.

Let Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep Have a Look

At Billy Sweet, we offer chimney inspections, sweeps, and repairs year-round. You can call today, and we’ll send a technician out to diagnose your chimney problem. The first thing we’ll check is the flashing. Flashing is a collection of thin metal sheets placed along the intersection of chimney and roof to shed water away from this weak point. Oftentimes the flashing is installed incorrectly, has shifted due to weather or animal tampering, or is just worn out. The process of installing flashing is meticulous and must be done by an experienced professional. If your flashing is installed incorrectly, placed incorrectly according to the roof slant or roofing material, or if nails or seams are exposed, it will eventually leak. These types of issues could be identified during a chimney inspection, however, which is why it’s important to schedule one annually.

Other factors that may cause a chimney leak include a faulty, damaged, or missing cap or a cracked or spalling crown. At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep we install chimney caps, repair and replace chimney crowns, and offer waterproofing services to prevent leaks.

You can schedule waterproofing services now and ensure your chimney is protected from spring showers, summer storms, and a full winter ahead. Don’t let the weather affect your chimney any longer. Schedule services today to have your leak diagnosed and repaired.

Call 617-469-4528 today.

Cold Weather And Your Chimney

Like most regions of the country, New England is experiencing a slow start to winter. Your chimney, even when not in use, is still affected by the weather. Our customers in Boston, North Shore, and Portland can expect temperatures to drop toward winter lows by the end of November. In order to avoid winter damage, homeowners should understand how the chimney works, and how water affects masonry.

Winter Damage

Most winter damage is actually water damage. Water simply acts differently in the winter, causing more damage, and wreaking havoc on masonry.

The Freeze/Thaw Cycle

When water penetrates the masonry, it seeps into cracks and voids. As the chimney cools or temperature drops, the water freezes, expanding and breaking apart the masonry. When the chimney warms up again, the water melts and moves further into the damaged masonry. This process continues throughout winter, damaging the chimney itself, and the rest of the system.

Water Damage

Water will ruin a masonry chimney from the inside out. It causes rusted parts and components, stained walls, deteriorated flue lining system, and more. A chimney leak can even cause a leak in any other part of the house when water runs through floors and walls, costing in repairs and even causing respiratory issues when bacteria grows in walls and flooring.

Spalling

Common winter masonry damage includes spalling bricks and mortar. Spalling masonry is when the mortar between bricks cracks and falls away. Homeowners might not notice spalling masonry until pieces of mortar or whole bricks fall into the yard! This is not only a hazard, but allows water into the system to cause damage. A certified chimney sweep can repair spalling masonry through a process called tuckpointing, or re pointing. First, the technician removes the affected mortar, then replaces it with new mortar. This job must be done meticulously, because if the new mortar is not the same consistency and strength as the old, it can result in weakened masonry. If the color is off, it can also affect the visual aesthetics of your chimney.

When you have a chimney, it’s important to protect it from winter damage, including spalling and water damage. You can prevent this occurrence by scheduling your annual chimney inspection with Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep. When your chimney is inspected, your technician can report weaknesses and repair them before cold weather hits. You can also schedule chimney waterproofing to protect your masonry against water damage. This industrial water repellent forms a barrier that keeps water out, while letting vapors escape. When it comes to prevention, waterproofing is a great investment, and is long-lasting.

To schedule you inspection, preventative services, or repairs, call Billy Sweet today. Call 617-469-4528 and talk to a chimney expert about protecting your chimney from the cold.

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!

Chimney water damage and the freeze-thaw cycle

You’re likely familiar with the damage the freeze-thaw cycle can do to the roadways; it’s what causes pot holes to appear each year! Water makes its way into the tiny cracks in concrete, asphalt, or stone. When the temperature drops, that water freezes and expands, causing the concrete, asphalt, or stone to crack or crumble. If you have a home with a masonry chimney, you should be aware that the freeze-thaw cycle can cause the same damage to your chimney’s bricks, concrete, and mortar.

freeze-thaw-cycle-image-boston-ma-billy-sweet-chimney-sweep

Water damage and your chimney

Water can cause many problems with your chimney. The freeze-thaw cycle can cause the mortar between your chimney to crumble; it can cause parts of your brick to flake off, which is referred to as spalling; and it can cause your chimney crown to crack and crumble. Over time, if water damage goes unaddressed, it can mean major problems for your chimney. Your chimney’s overall structure can fail, causing it to lean and become unsafe. A damaged chimney also will let water into the rest of your home, leading to water stains on your ceiling and walls, rotting wood on adjacent structures, collapsed hearth support, a damaged firebox, rusted fireplace accessories, and failing hearth structure.

Repairing water damage

The first step in repairing water damage is to find that damage. This is one reason your annual chimney inspection is so important. Your certified chimney technician can find signs of damage early, so that it can be repaired before minor water damage becomes major water damage. In many cases, it will take the work of expert masons, like those at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep to repair your chimney’s water damage. We provide services such as tuckpointing, chimney crown repair and replacement, and removing and replacing spalling bricks.

Preventing water damage

When it comes to water damage and your chimney, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Taking steps to prevent chimney damage now can save you from costly repairs later. Having a chimney cap installed atop your flue can help keep water from running down the interior walls of your chimney. Repairing a damaged chimney crown will keep water from running down the exterior sides of your chimney. It’s important to make sure the flashing around your chimney is secure, and if your chimney is located on a part of your roof that experiences a lot of rainwater or snow, a cricket — a tent-shaped piece of metal — can be installed to divert water away from the chimney. There also are waterproofing sealants that can be applied to your chimney. Those sealants keep water from seeping into your chimney’s masonry while still allowing your chimney to expel the gases created by your fires.

Ultimately, the key to protecting your chimney from water damage is working with your certified chimney sweep to make sure that any problems are caught and addressed early before you have major chimney damage. If you’re overdue for an inspection, or if you’ve noticed cracking masonry on your chimney, call the experts at Billy Sweet today. We also can talk to you about waterproofing applications to protect your chimney.

5 Important Reasons to Get Your Chimney Swept Before the Fall

Summertime is here, and homeowners are switching on the A/C, spending time outdoors and searching for ways to fight the heat. It’s no surprise that the state of your fireplace is probably the last thing on your mind; after all, you won’t be utilizing it again for at least a few months.

Once September rolls around, however, the temperatures can drop sharply, leading homeowners to consider utilizing their fireplaces for warmth and relaxation.
Unfortunately, many homeowners are unaware of the importance of having their chimney swept before starting that first autumn fire.
Check out these important reasons to get your chimney swept before the fall.

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Avoid the Rush

Once fall arrives, chimney sweeps are very busy; their schedules are typically backed up for days or even weeks at a time. Waiting until fall to schedule your sweeping could mean a long delay or having to shop around for another company that can accommodate you.

You can avoid the rush by getting your chimney swept before fall arrives. You won’t have to wait for an opening, and you can head into the colder season knowing your fireplace is ready for use.

Prevent Chimney Fires

Your chimney functions as the avenue through which dangerous flue gases and other fireplace by-products can pass safely out of your home.
These by-products include water vapor, hydrocarbon, wood particles, smoke, and tar fog, among others. As these by-products flow up through your chimney and mingle with the cooler temperatures at the top, condensation occurs, resulting in a tar-like coating on the walls of your chimney known as creosote.
Creosote is highly combustible, and building a fire in your fireplace when it has an excess buildup of creosote on its walls puts you at serious risk for a chimney fire. Getting your chimney swept regularly, and especially after a long summer of not using your fireplace, is the easiest way to get rid of creosote and prevent a chimney fire.

Prevent Unpleasant Odors

One of the main reasons homeowners invest in a fireplace is to add ambiance and luxury to their home; unfortunately, for homeowners who fail to keep their chimney clean, an unpleasant odor may begin seeping from their fireplaces into their homes during the summer months.
The heat and humidity of summer weather can cause reactions in the creosote and by-products of a dirty chimney, causing the emission of a sour, burnt odor that no homeowner wants to experience.
Getting your chimney cleaned during the summer can help minimize the presence of these bad odors and keep your home clean and comfortable.

Prevent Life-Threatening Gases from Accumulating in Your Home

A blocked or malfunctioning chimney is one of the leading causes of the accumulation of carbon monoxide in homes; in fact, carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for 200 deaths in the United States each year.
It is essential that you get your chimney swept on a regular basis, to ensure that your flue is venting and functioning properly. A regular sweeping will also prevent the accumulation of creosote, acidic water vapors and soot that can cause chimney blockages and thus the dangerous accumulation of noxious, life-threatening gases in your home.

Extend the Life of Your Fireplace

The accumulation of fire by-products in your chimney can cause damage to the structure of your chimney, your home and your fireplace. You’ve made an expensive investment and deserve to enjoy its benefits for years to come.