Our Company Blog
Of all the things that can shorten the life of a perfectly good chimney, water is the worst. Not only does water wreak havoc on masonry—the very substance your chimney is made of—but it is everywhere. Water comes in different forms all year round. When temperatures fall, water in the chimney is even worse. Fortunately for our customers with masonry chimneys, there is something we can do to prevent water damage during all seasons, and year after year.
Water and Your Chimney
Because of the materials that make up masonry, water is best avoided. The porous nature of masonry is perfect for venting your fires, allowing smoke, gas, and heat to release through the brick and mortar. This also allows water in through the masonry—unless it’s prevented. At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep, we recommend preventing chimney leaks before damage occurs.
Your chimney leak can lead to:
- Rusted parts and assemblies
- Tilted/collapsed/settled chimney
- Cracked/damaged flue liner
- Deteriorated central heat
- Clogged clean-out system
- Rotting adjacent wood/wall coverings
- Water stained bricks/walls
In addition to physical damage, your leaky chimney may also result in a drop in efficiency. A drop in efficiency means a rise in fire risk, putting your home and your family at risk.
Prevent Leaks From the Top Down
In order for your chimney to be truly waterproof, it must have all the necessary parts installed and in proper working order. The first thing we check when we get a call about a leaky chimney is the flashing. It is often improperly installed and a common point of water entry. The chimney must also have a chimney cap and crown to shed water from the top of the chimney.
Once all these components are in place, we can take it one step further by waterproofing the masonry itself. Our waterproofing agent is vapor-permeable which means the heat and gas produced by your fire will still be able to escape but water molecules will not be allowed in. This barrier penetrates deeply into the masonry so even cracks and gaps are protected from water penetration—and this protection lasts ten years!
When to Schedule Waterproofing
If you have never had your chimney masonry waterproofed or it has been more than a decade, it’s time to schedule this important appointment. Other water repellants and sealants from your local hardware store are not enough. In fact, most of them do more harm than good. Most sealants and repellants may keep water out, but also seal gases and moisture IN. This leads to a host of other problems. Let our team at Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep do the job, and get it right the first time.
We also install chimney caps, repair and install flashing, replace throat dampers with new, top-sealing dampers with an airtight seal, and repair and seal damaged crowns.
Don’t wait. Have your chimney waterproofed now, and you won’t have to worry about the water freezing in your masonry this winter. Worry about the rest of your summer, and leave the chimney up to us!
Call our Boston, North Shore, or Portland location today.
Your chimney may look healthy from the outside, but it may have a hidden problem that is wreaking havoc on all of the unseen parts. Because of the porous nature of masonry and the materials it is made of, masonry chimneys are highly susceptible to water penetration and damage, which may go unseen for many weeks or even months before anyone notices signs of a problem. By this time there is usually serious unseen damage within the system–damage that is 100 percent preventable.
Whether it falls in through an exposed flue, penetrates through the masonry, or seeps in through damaged flashing, water will produce the same result–damage. Water doesn’t only damage parts of the chimney itself, but usually results in other leaks that affect your home. When water comes in through the chimney system, it will travel through the structure of your home, in ceilings, floors, and walls until it pools in one low area where it will form a leak. For this reason, if you have a leak anywhere in your home, even rooms away from your chimney, it’s important to call a chimney professional. The chimney is the first thing that should be checked because it’s usually the culprit. Besides damage to the home, walls, floors, and furniture, the chimney takes on damage that is costly to repair.
Water causes serious damage to the chimney, including:
-Rust to parts, assemblies, ducts, and connections
-Deterioration of assemblies, masonry, mortar, and mortar joints
-Rotting adjacent wood, wall coverings, walls, and floors
-Water stains in home and masonry (interior and exterior portions)
-Cracks and damage to flue lining system
-Collapsed hearth support and foundation damage
-Leaning, tilted, or collapsed chimney structure
-Odors, spores, and mold affecting breathable air in the home
Preventing Water Damage
At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep we understand the importance of water damage prevention due to our sometimes harsh winters and proximity to ocean waters. Falling precipitation isn’t the only water that can penetrate the chimney system. Moisture in the air, especially corrosive moisture such as salt water, can be just as damaging to the masonry. It’s important to schedule routine maintenance with a chimney professional in order to make sure your chimney is protected against water penetration. At Billy Sweet we offer chimney inspections year round that will identify problems and hazards that put your chimney and home at risk. We also diagnose leaky chimneys, and the first thing we’ll check is the flashing because it’s often installed incorrectly. Billy Sweet will also check that your flashing, cap, crown, and masonry is in good shape and will keep water out. To add extra protection to the masonry, we apply a waterproofing product that will keep water out year after year.
It’s unsafe to put latex sealant or other outdoor water repellent products on your masonry. They may keep water out, but the chimney won’t work properly, or safely. The water repellent that we use at Billy Sweet actually repels water, keeping water molecules from getting in, while still remaining vapor-permeable so that gas and heat can escape.
We not only waterproof chimneys year-round, but we offer this service free after exterior masonry repairs!
To schedule your waterproofing services, call 781-593-2333 or contact us online.
As summer winds down, the evenings become cooler and cooler until the A/C is off for good. The fall, leading into the holidays, may be the most popular for fireplaces. So start now, and you’ll be ready.
Follow the advisement of industry professionals and have your chimney routinely swept. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) also recommend annual inspections for the safest and most efficient chimney system. These appointments may be the only time throughout the year that a certified chimney sweep has access to your chimney, and can identify weaknesses, concerns, and hazards. Not sure you need an inspection? Familiarize yourself with the CSIA inspection and when to schedule yours.
Schedule Repairs NOW
You have a few more weeks to get repairs and upgrades completed before burn season starts. Scheduling necessary repairs and services now means you can avoid the fall rush. If you wait until fall, you may not get an appointment when you need one. Don’t get left in the cold. Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep offers all of our chimney services year-round because we know summer is a great time for chimney work!
Your chimney is subject to weather year-round, but is especially vulnerable during the winter, when snow sits on the chimney and flashing and melts slowly. During these months, water is also subject to a freeze/thaw cycle that can damage your masonry from the inside out. Once water penetrates the masonry, it freezes, expands, melts, and repeats this process, breaking through the masonry each time. This freeze/thaw cycle causes spalling and serious water damage to the chimney interior. If left unchecked, rain will have direct access to the chimney system this spring. The best way to prevent water penetration this winter is to make sure your chimney has an effective cap, crown, and flashing – all checked during your inspection.
Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep also applies a vapor-permeable sealant for added water protection. In fact, we apply this sealant for FREE on all of our masonry repairs because we know it works, and our first priority is your safety. This waterproofing sealant protects your masonry all winter long, decreasing winter damage and preventing chimney leaks. By protecting your chimney this winter, you will have a more efficient fire and safe chimney.
Is your fireplace and chimney ready for winter? Then the only thing left to do is to prepare your fuel. Do you have a wood fireplace, insert, or stove? Then you should have already started gathering properly seasoned wood. If you are unsure about fuel, appliances, tools, or fire safety, you can contact a Billy Sweet professional now. Call 617-469-4528 or use our convenient online form.
Spring isn’t just an ideal time for spring cleaning. It’s also a great time to complete your chimney checklist to ensure the safety and efficiency of your chimney system. As the saying goes April showers bring May flowers, and if your spring showers have caused you some chimney worries, you might have a leak, and a leak is a big deal.
It is important to call a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® (CCS) as soon as you suspect a chimney leak. By the time a homeowner notices signs of a chimney leak, it’s likely that it’s caused substantial unseen damage.
Some Signs of a Chimney Leak
1. Water stained walls and ceiling
2. Clogged clean-out area
3. Rusted parts
4. Dripping in fireplace
5. Fowl smelling chimney and fireplace
6. Stained Chimney
By the time these problems are noticed by the homeowner, the damage has been done. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) water can cause much more extensive damage that can be detected by a professional during a cleaning or inspection.
Why Hire a Professional
A general contractor or roofer is not the right professional to make this diagnosis. Calling a certified chimney sweep insures homeowners that the job will be thorough, and damage will be detected and repaired in a timely and professional manner. When water penetrates your masonry chimney it causes damage such as: deteriorated firebox, decayed mortar, cracked or damaged flue lining, collapsed hearth support, tilting or collapsed chimney structure, and chimney settlement.
Not only will a professional chimney sweep inspect and diagnose your chimney problems, but should offer the homeowner a detailed report and repair plan.
At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep, serving Boston, North Shore, and Portland area, we don’t only repair the damage, but trace the leak back to the source, and offer waterproofing services.
Waterproofing Your Chimney
Another reason to hire a professional chimney sweep is because prevention is cheaper than making repairs! At Billy Sweet Chimney Sweeps we apply a waterproof product on masonry chimneys that is created specially for chimneys to keep water out, but allows vapors to escape. We even offer FREE Waterproofing on exterior masonry repair.
Other Chimney Leak Prevention
While discussing your leaky chimney with a professional, don’t forget to mention these other preventative measures:
- chimney cap repair or replacement
- damper repair or replacement
- chimney crown inspection and repair
While planning your spring cleaning, do not neglect your chimney. Your annual chimney inspection is a great time to discuss waterproofing and leak prevention with a certified chimney sweep. A Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep is waiting for your call today.