Your roof’s most prominent feature is also ironically its biggest threat. Problems stemming from a poorly maintained chimney – whether it be bad masonry, cracked edges, or even a possible chimney fire – can cause major damage to the rest of your house, especially your roof. We were recently contacted by a homeowner in Columbia, MD who had a damaged chimney that affected their roof.
Many homes have a chimney, even if they no longer have a fireplace. Some homeowners like to keep their chimney because of the character it provides their home, while others have one because they still have an active fireplace.
No matter what side you fall on, there are several things you need to know about chimneys even if you don’t use your fireplace all that often. Basic things like weather damage can wear down your chimney over time, often leading to other major problems down the line. And when it comes to your roof, a poorly maintained chimney can cause roof damage, which can be extremely costly.
Let’s set the record straight.
Routinely maintaining your chimney and calling in professional chimney sweepers goes a long way to preventing a ton of costly roof repairs in the future. In this article, we are going to discuss:
- The different problems related to bad chimneys
- Various causes for these problems.
- The types of damage they can cause your roof if left unchecked.
When it comes to protecting your roof, knowledge, and awareness are key. The sooner you can detect major problems, the sooner you can solve them, and prevent additional damage.
Chimney fires are unfortunately common for homeowners who neglect essential maintenance. A chimney fire can spread to your roof and the rest of your home easily.
What Are Some Signs That It’s Happening?
Common indications include:
- Loud crackling and popping
- A low rumbling sound coming from the fireplace
- Dense smoke
- A pungent, burning scent invading your home
However, some chimney fires are barely audible and hard to notice early on, so taking the right preventative measures is vital.
What Can Cause It?
Over time, heavy weather can break down the structure of a chimney. However, flue lining damage is a major culprit for fires. Flue lining is the material used in masonry to prevent heat from becoming trapped in the chimney. Seeping water can damage this lining, causing thin slices of tile to collect at the bottom.
Also, creosote, a black material with a tar-like texture that collects in your fireplace, can build up as well. Creosote forms naturally the more you use your fireplace and can thicken to several inches over time. The material itself is flammable and thus a major fire hazard. Creosote buildup can also choke your chimney of airflow, making your fireplace much less effective.
How Can I Prevent It?
Calling a sweeper is one method. Damage to flue lining can be difficult to spot, so professional chimney sweepers use specialized cameras to check for cracks and other damage within the chimney itself.
Also, you’ll want to consider getting stainless steel flue liners, which are popular with homeowners since they tend to last a long time and come with generous warranties.
But in general, you can’t beat regular inspections and cleaning. Like anything in life, being proactive will save you a lot of headaches down the line.
Whether we like it or not, masonry does break down over time. Depending on which region you live, your masonry will wear down from the effects of weathering.
What Can Cause It?
Inclement weather can chip away at stone and brick, especially near the mouth of your chimney. Even basic rain can seep into the cement between the bricks, which, when frozen in cold weather, contributes to cracking.
How Can It Damage My Roof?
Broken cement can fall onto your roof. Plus, the chimney’s weakened structure can collapse over time, posing a threat to not only your roof but also passers-by on the ground.
If your chimney does break off and collapse, it can cause extensive damage to your roof as the weight of it can collapse other areas of your roof, damage your shingles and tiles, and much more.
Water damage is one of those things that terrified homeowners across the world. When it comes to your chimney, water damage can erode it, causing it to crack, and in extreme cases, break off completely.
How Can It Damage My Roof?
As stated on sheltonroofing.com, sometimes cement and tar aren’t enough to keep water out. If your chimney is leaking water, the damage can eat into the roof around the chimney quickly. If water is gathering around your chimney, there is a good chance that it will rot your roof away with it.
What Can Cause It?
Decayed chimney flashing is a leading cause. Flashing is the material applied to the base of the chimney to prevent water from seeping into your attic.
What Are Some Signs That It’s Happening?
- Chimney spalling, or the flaking of brick and stone. This symptom is easily seen on your roof where shards of your chimney collect.
- Efflorescence, an official term used in construction to refer to salts encrusted on brick and mortar that show up when water seeps through the masonry.
- Damaged wallpaper in the house near the chimney
How Can I Prevent It?
Even well-designed chimney flashing needs to be maintained every now and again, so call a professional team like the All Pro Chimney Service team if you ever notice rusty spots or holes in the flashing.
Also consider getting a chimney cricket, a small feature on your roof that diverts rainwater and debris away from the chimney as they flow down the roof.
What Can Cause It?
When your chimney cap is damaged or missing, the open and exposed chimney mouth is practically an invitation for squirrels, rodents, insects, and other wildlife to enter and make a home. Birds can also build nests in chimneys, causing a blockage.
How Can It Damage My Roof?
Animals living in your attic can chew at your insulation and other parts of your roofing, so get that cover repaired as soon as you can. Additionally, a chimney cap can also prevent water from entering.
Calling the Experts
A lot of the damage-inflicting your chimney and roof are difficult to see from the ground, and since climbing onto the roof, yourself is dangerous. If you’re inexperienced when it comes to roof repairs, we recommend you call an experienced roofing company. Like chimney repairs, an experienced roofing company will know how to fix any problems you are experiencing with your roof properly.
All Pro Chimney Service offers dedicated roof repair services to customers in the Baltimore and DC Metro areas. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about your chimney, its condition, and how you can maintain and stay ahead of potential problems.
As a homeowner, it is important to schedule yearly professional chimney inspections. In addition, it is wise to keep a close eye on your chimney in-between inspections. We recently received a call from a homeowner in Columbia, MD who noticed that her chimney was damaged. Seeing the problem and getting her chimney repairs early saved her a lot of money. Watch for these six problems, which typically indicate that your chimney needs repairs.
1. Damaged Mortar Joints
This is a problem may need to be seen from the rooftop in order to be noticed. As as result, it may be best handled by a professional chimney sweep company. A good repair technician will look for any kind of damage to the mortar joints between the masonry of the chimney. If there is damage, it needs to be repaired as soon as possible given the following:
- Mortar joints that are damaged cause the bricks to suffer from exposure to moisture.
- Moisture that enters small cracks can lead to larger cracks.
- Freezing and thawing over the course of the winter speeds up this process.
- Failure to repair damaged mortar could result in the chimney collapsing.
2. Rusted Damper or Firebox
Moisture in your chimney or fireplace is a clear sign that your chimney is not working properly. You can check for this problem by being vigilant for the following:
- Checking to see if there is rust in the firebox or damper.
- Another sign of rust and excess moisture in your chimney is if your damper becomes challenging to operate or doesn’t seem to be sealing correctly.
- Rusting indicates that there is too much moisture in your chimney, which is a serious problem. Rust can damage the chimney liner. Flue tiles can crack, and this cracking and deterioration in the flue lining can lead to a house fire.
3. Spalling Bricks
Spalling happens when water gets into brick, concrete, or natural stone and causes the masonry’s surface to either peel off or pop out. Salt is also known to cause spalling. You can identify spalling by the observing bits of masonry coming off from the chimney. Without repairs, spalling can lead to more crumbling and, ultimately, the destruction of the chimney.
4. Shaling Flue Tiles
Shaling is another problem and sign of chimney damage that you should check for inside your fireplace:
- Shaling can occur when your chimney liner is damaged. Liner damage results in bits of tile from the chimney piling up at the bottom of the fireplace.
- Shaling flue tiles are more easy to spot than cracked flue liners. Often, checking for cracked flue liners involves a professional chimney sweep using a special camera. The camera allows the chimney repair tech to identify potential problems in the flue that cannot be easily spotted by other means.
- If you notice shaling or suspect cracked flue tiles, your chimney needs repairs.
5. Cracked Chimney Crown
The chimney crown is the top part of your chimney. The crown serves a critical role in protecting the chimney structure from the elements. As such, it is important that the chimney crown is kept in good condition. Checking for damage requires that you go to the rooftop or hire a professional chimney sweep. The following problems can occur if the chimney crown is damaged:
- Water can get inside, freeze and thaw, and create bigger cracks.
- Moisture can come into the space between the chimney and liner, which can lead to deterioration of the masonry.
- Weatherproofing the chimney crown as well as the chimney is a helpful step you can take to guard against this problem.
6. Damage to Wallpaper
Damage to wallpaper that’s close to the chimney may be due to excess moisture in the chimney. If you notice this problem, make sure your chimney is inspected and repaired as soon as possible.
Being on the lookout for these issues and contacting a professional chimney sweep at the first sign of these problems can save you from your expensive
As the weather gets colder, people start thinking about getting cozy in front of a beautiful fire. Even if you had your chimney cleaned at the end of last winter, it is a good idea to ask a certified chimney sweep to inspect before you start using your fireplace. No one wants to experience the cold season in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia without being able to use their fireplace safely. Their many reasons why waiting until the winter for a chimney sweep is not the best idea.
Things Can Change In Your Chimney Over The Summer?
An unused chimney is not a vacuum-sealed space that stays in perfect condition until you open it up for the winter heating season. Things happen both inside and outside that can change your chimney or fireplace needs.
- Animals like squirrels love places like chimneys. If your chimney cap was damaged or missing, you made an open-door invitation to nest builders and nut storage. Animals in your chimney threaten the safety of your home.
- If a chimney swift has built a nest in your chimney, it issues by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and will usually be gone when cold weather arrives. If it is still there, your Chimney Sweep can answer your questions about your options.
- The storms that your chimney encountered during the spring and summer can cause damage to masonry and flashing. Heavy rainfall and wind drive water into those damaged areas. Your chimney could already be damaged.
Why Not Wait Until Winter?
While winter is the time that we use our fireplace and chimney, it’s not a good time to do inspections and repairs. Chimney service companies are busiest just before the winter holidays because people start a fire on the hearth then realize that the chimney isn’t clear and call in a panic.
- Your chimney could have small cracks in the mortar and flashing. These cracks turn into leaks once the freeze-thaw cycle of winter starts. It is always best to catch problems early. Small cracks quickly turn into major problems. Repairs now save you money.
- Many chimney repairs need good weather and a specific temperature window to be done correctly. Fall weather is warm enough for repairs to be completed quickly.
- If you wait until winter to call, you might have to wait longer for the sweep to come and risk waiting for needed repairs past the time you wanted to enjoy your fireplace.
- If you use your chimney without inspection, you risk the health and safety of your home. You don’t know for sure if your chimney is safe.
Why Not DIY?
Cleaning your chimney yourself is a bad idea. Certified sweeps are the best choice to do an inspection. The reasons are simple.
- Certified sweeps know what to look for and what to do about it.
- Certified sweeps have the equipment to see deep into your chimney and vents.
- Professional chimney sweep technicians have the experience and training to see current problems in addition to identifying potential problems. Early detection saves you money.
- If repairs are needed, they often can do those repairs in the same visit or schedule a time before the winter hits.
If you have a chimney, you need a sweep every year. Make sure your home is protected by selecting a chimney service professional who is fully certified and call for an appointment before the busy season starts. Waiting until the winter could be too late.
Pumpkins and decorative gourds. Golden and crimson leaves. Warm days and nippy nights. It’s promising to be a beautiful fall, full of decorating inspiration. Your fireplace is the warm heart of your home, and that bare mantel is just begging to be spruced up with seasonal displays. We always notice the beautiful mantel decorations while we are sweeping chimneys. There are many options for decorating a fireplace mantel for the fall. Stuck for ideas? Here are a few fireplace mantel projects for people of every skill level:
Play With Colored Lights
Transparent vessels of colored glass beads are a classic for a reason. When they catch the light, they cast gorgeous colors throughout the space. Best of all, this fast and easy project makes a big impact.
Pumpkins are best known for Jack-o’-lanterns, but they also come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. You can buy an assortment of pumpkins, winter squashes, and decorative gourds and create an overflowing cornucopia on your mantel. Alternate light and dark colors for festive cheer, or organize them by shade for a more structured look.
You can also hollow out and carve the biggest one into Jack-o’-lanterns. Not interested in grinning faces? Many stencils on the market will let you create nighttime or autumnal scene lit up by votive candles.
Highlight Fall Foliage
There are two different routes you can go here. First, take advantage of the cooler temperatures to go for a walk, gathering autumn’s most stunning colors along the way. Once you get home, you can place these in a vase or float them in a bowl of water to highlight their natural beauty.
Secondly, if you aren’t a fan of how natural leaves fade quickly, you may want to use artificial leaves. You can get these from most craft stores.
You’re probably very familiar with Christmas Tree lights, but Halloween lights are a hot new trend. Look for ones in glowing fall colors such as orange, crimson, and yellow. If you aren’t using the fireplace yet, you can cascade these off of the chimney. Otherwise, drape these near your mantel and, in the evenings, bask in their warm, gentle light.
Flowers in the Fall
Here’s a great one for families with small children: make this Fall bloom by creating your own flowers. You can help the kids use construction or tissue paper, paint, glitter, glue, and markers to create the blossoms of their dreams.
Older children may be interested in trying out origami flowers. Origami has a reputation for being difficult to learn. However, many flower forms can be made with a few quick folds. Also, origami paper comes in a rainbow of lovely shades and patterns, perfect for this project.
Candles, whether pillars, tapers, or autumn-themed shapes like apples with wicks for stems, add instant comfort and sophistication to any space. They’re also one of the most versatile ways to decorate your mantel and surrounding area. Use the warm, flickering light of the candles to draw attention to architectural features like your chimney or highlight other items displayed on the mantel.
If you aren’t using your fireplace, you can also set them inside that space. Use multiple tiers at different heights to mimic leaping flames, or set a few votives down low to bring to mind glowing embers.
A gas fireplace is one of the easiest ways to add the appeal of flickering flames and warmth to your home. Gas fireplaces turn on at the touch of a switch or a preset temperature. They are clean, giving the heat benefits of a wood fire without the debris, ashes, or maintenance. In the Wasington DC Metro Area, installing a gas fireplace is a cost-effective way to keep your home comfortable whenever the weather outside is too cold for comfort. Gas fireplace are wonderful. However, they must be installed correctly or there could be serious problem. All Pro Chimney Service is committed to providing the best gas fireplace installation service in the region.
Why home owners choose All Pro Chimney Service to install their gas fireplace:
All Pro Chimney Service is a local family-owned company that knows the local codes and will comply with them.
All Pro Chimney Service is proud to be a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG) and the Mid-Atlantic Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) and holds to the high professional standards these groups represent.
Our service technicians complete ongoing training and recertifications to ensure they stay aware of the latest trends, techniques and technology in the chimney industry.
All Pro is not captive to a specific fireplace manufacturer. As a result, our customers have a wide variety of options. Customers can select the style, color, features and functions that are the best fit for their home.
All Pro estimators work with customers with the customers interest in mind. Conversations are focused on what is best for the customer. The estimators listen to their customers and then use vast industry knowledge to make customers fireplace dreams a reality.
We can install all brands of gas fireplaces, even those we don’t regularly carry. Do you have a fireplace that you already purchased? We can install it.
You need a service that believes you should receive personalized attention and that you should be able to be as involved with the process as you want to be; even if you want to work alongside the service team to have a hand in upgrading your home.
There are a lot of reasons to want a gas fireplace installed in your home. In order to keep enjoying that gas fireplace for years, you need a service that meets the criteria listed above. All Pro Chimney Service meets every one of those requirements and we would love to show you what we can do for you. Call us, we are always ready to serve.