The homeowners just purchased their Owings, MD home and they knew from the home inspection that the chimney needed some masonry repairs. As you can see the bricks are spalling (spalling happens when moisture gets into the bricks freezes and pops the brick faces out). This crown was in a condition similar to a chimney project that we rebuilt in Ellicott City.
Why the home needed a chimney rebuild?
This happens because of the design flaws in the construction of the chimney. Below is I will list some of the flaws based on the arrows.
Green arrow– They did not install an expansion joint around the flue liners. When the flue is in use and heat is going through it, it will expand. Without an expansion joint the flue liners will eventually crack the crown as they expand during the heating process. You can see that has happened here with the large cracks running from the chimney liners to the edge of the crown.
Yellow arrow– The crown is pitched to the edge of the bricks leaving it fragile. The crown itself isn’t thick enough, to begin with, but when they pitched it off to the edges it leaves a very thin surface where water will collect, freeze and crack the edges.
Red arrow– The bricks at the top of the chimney are corbelled inwards (stepped in). This leaves a place for water to sit and soak into the chimney. This is also a place where you can have vegetation growing on the chimney like the one above. The vegetation can and will have the roots destroy the chimney if left unattended.
All this damage to the to the top of the stack will also cause leaking into the fireplace. You can find out more about common causes of chimney leaks in our previous article.
How we rebuilt the chimney
When we build or rebuild chimneys, we will corbel the bricks out, and from there we will build a new floating cast concrete crown that sits on a stainless steel sheet, re-enforced with mesh and has the expansion joints around the flue liners. You can learn more about floating cast concrete crown here.
Once the chimney was rebuilt, we applied Chimney Saver waterproofing to prevent the same moisture issues from occurring.
Job Complete – Rebuilt Chimney
We also installed new counter flashing which in tucked into the mortar bed joints of the chimney.
Rebuild completed! We were able to get a pretty good match on the brick and mortar. Another satisfied customer from All Pro Chimney Service.
When you own a home with a chimney, it’s important that you practice maintenance throughout the year. This will make it easier to prevent costly chimney repairs. Otherwise, you could end up spending a significant amount of money to repair your chimney.A recent job that we did in Ellicott City, MD is an excellent example of how acting quickly can reduce chimney repair costs. Many of the most common repairs can be avoided when you know what needs to be done.
1. Use the Right Fire Wood
There are many types of wood that you can burn in a chimney. Any seasoned hardwood can be used. If it hasn’t been properly dried, the moisture can lead to problems, including creating more soot and ash that will lead to a clogged chimney. It will also increase the risk of fire inside the chimney, which is a danger. Here is a good article on how to tell if your firewood is seasoned.
“Green” wood should be avoided. If you buy firewood, look to see that it is seasoned so you can avoid issues.
2. Clean Out Ash from your Fireplace
Ash should be removed on a regular basis. Every time ash reaches the bottom of the grate in your fireplace is an indication that you need to clean it all out. It will make it easier for you to keep the air flow moving correctly. It only takes a few minutes after the fireplace has cooled, and can make a big difference in the long run. Cleaning supplies are sold everywhere, too, making it a simple task.
3.Get an Annual Chimney Sweep
Hire a professional chimney sweep once a year. They will be able to come in, provide a thorough cleaning of the chimney, as well as look for any potential issues. The sweep will know what to look for and can catch issues before they become problematic. This will also keep you “in the know” regarding the health of your fireplace. We recommend considering our services.
4. Call for Chimney Repair When You See a Problem
The moment you see a problem, call for a repair. Some of the most costly repairs are because homeowners ignore the problem. Further, don’t focus on cost alone when choosing a chimney repair service. The “cheapest” repairs are often cheap for a reason – and you don’t want to pay twice to get the job done right. Be sure to ask the chimney sweep company these questions.
5. Don’t Try To Fix Your Chimney Yourself
A DIY approach can be dangerous, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s best to hire a chimney sweep contractor who has a good reputation in your area. Also, one who uses floating cast chimney crowns is desirable because of having quality techniques to get the job done right.
In the end, you’re in control of the maintenance performed on your home. Having a fireplace and chimney can be a great feature in the colder weather, however, you need to know what can be done so you can avoid costly repairs throughout the life of your chimney and your home.
Our team at All Pro Chimney Service believes in supporting local businesses. Looking for a roofer in Ellicott City? If so, we’ve got some great recommendations for local, reputable companies that can serve your residential roofing needs. Here are our 5 favorite roofers in Ellicott City, MD.
Dominion Roofing Co.
Dominion Roofing Co. is based in Kensington, but serves Ellicott City and the surrounding areas; with more than 25 years of roofing experience, this Better Business Bureau accredited company has won a number of awards for their service, including the Angie’s List Super Service Award. They can provide a number of common residential roofing services, such as:
- roofing inspection
- roofing repair
- full roof replacement
They also install gutters and siding, making them a great one-stop shop for many of your home’s exterior needs.
DWM Roofing, Inc.
DMW Roofing, Inc. sets it’s sites on being Maryland’s premier roofing company, and they pride themselves in being locally owned and operated. They provide a 10-year labor warranty, as well as a 10-year maintenance-free guarantee on new roofing. Homeowners appreciate their honest free estimates. From roof installation to roofing repair, they do it all. They also offer gutter and skylight services to suit your home’s needs. DMW Roofing is also known for giving back to the community, being proud contributors and participants in such charities and organizations such as:
- St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital
- The Special Olympics
- community 4-H programs
- local food drives
Horizons Unlimited is a family-owned and operated roofing business that’s been serving the community since 1993. Over the years, they have served more than 7,000 customers and have built quite a strong reputation for themselves. This company really does it all, ranging from custom kitchens and bathrooms to roofing, siding, and more. However, their specific roofing services include:
- gutter care
They also offer a wide variety of roofing types, such as metal and even rubber roofing. For residential customers with flat roofs, this is another area of expertise for Horizons Unlimited.
Located in Severn and proudly serving Ellicott City and the surrounding areas, RoofPro‘s motto is “Roofing it right the first time.” This licensed and CertainTeed-certified roofing company specializes in full roofing replacement, roof repair, and skylights—though they also provide deck and patio services. Whether you’re in need of a second opinion on a roofing inspection or have a roofing emergency, you can reach their team and request an appointment for a free consultation or estimate. They’ve been proudly serving Ellicott City area residents since the company was first founded in 2003, and have built a strong reputation for quality work.
For more than 20 years, the experts at Shanco Roofing have been serving the community with their roof installation, repair, and replacement needs. They have been recognized by several top roofing manufacturers, including CertainTeed, EcoStar, GAF, and others for their expertise and quality labor. Shanco Roofing also prides themselves in being able to service any number of roofing types, including:
Whether you’re in need of repair, installation, waterproofing, or even storm damage repair, their experienced team has you covered. Plus, all their roofing work comes with a labor warranty, so you can enjoy additional peace of mind and confidence with your purchase.
The project required repairs to the wood fireplace and the chimney. The fireplace repairs were minor compared to the chimney. However, there was a significant difference between the appearance of the fireplace before and after repairs. The chimney work included installing a new crown and new flue liners.
Part 1 – Installing custom steel arch plate fireplace door
Before replacing screen and andirons
After installing arch plate fireplace door.
We removed the old fireplace screens and andirons and installed a custom steel arch plate fireplace door. The new hardware gave the fireplace a more modern look.
Part 2 – Floating cast concrete crown installation
Before floating cast crown installation
After floating cast crown installation
The old crown was deteriorating and falling apart. We knew this job required a crown similar to what we installed in a previous repair project in Ellicott City, MD. We rebuilt it with a new floating cast concrete crown. Which is 5″-6″ thick, sits on a stainless steel sheet, reinforced with mesh, has PWR waterproofing powder added to the concrete mix to waterproof it and has an expansion joint around the flue liners. You can learn more about float cast concrete crowns here.
Part 3 Install Chimney Flue Liner
Before chimney liner repair
After chimney liner repair
The flue liners for the fireplaces were cracked and shifted and needed to be relined. The new stainless steel lining systems were installed and we sealed the bottom of the liners with Chamber Tech 2000. The smoke chamber for both fireplaces we built properly and had a smooth transition leading up to the flue liner so all we had to do was seal the bottoms of the liners. We also installed 2 Lock Top II dampers for the fireplaces.
The Finished Chimney and Fireplace Project
This is the completed before and after pictures. The most noticeable difference is the new floating cast concrete crown. This chimney will outlast any other chimney in this neighborhood simply because of how the crown was rebuilt. It will protect the masonry below it for years to come.
Before rebuilding the chimney
After rebuilding the chimney
We were called to do an estimate for chimney repairs in Ellicott City, the home of Mrs. Whelan . Before we got there, she had already received 2 or 3 other estimates from other companies. The estimates she received had differing opinions on what was needed to be done. Needless to say, I’m sure she was expecting to get more confused with what we were going to find and was probably a little skeptical about the whole process.
When we arrived I just simply went on to do my evaluation of the chimney and fireplace as I normally would. Throughout the process as I found issues and defects in her chimney and fireplace I would go over them with her, so she fully understood what the situation was and how we needed to correct them. I quickly discovered that this was going the chimney was in need of more extensive work than an earlier job that we did in Ellicott City.
The first issues we found were in the smoke chamber and the flue liners for the fireplace. The smoke chamber was corbelling and not parged smooth as required by the NFPA 211 and the IRC. The second issue was that the first flue liner was cracked. I explained to her that the smoke chamber needed to be parged smooth with Chamber Tech 2000 and that the flue needed to be relined to correct her issues.
Here is the new stainless steel liner installed and the smoke chamber after it has been parged smooth with Chamber Tech 2000. This will allow for better air flow in the chimney and minimize the amount of creosote buildup in the chimney.
Before floating cast crown installation
After Floating Cast Crown Installation
The top 21 courses of the chimney had bricks that were starting to spall. The hairline cracks were already visible, and it was only a matter of time before the faces of the bricks would start to pop out. A lot of the damage started from the crown and worked its way down the chimney. Once we rebuilt the chimney, we installed a new floating cast concrete crown with a 1.5″ overhang that sits on a stainless steel plate to allow water to run off the drip edge if it ever penetrated the 5″-6″ on concrete. With this crown, the water will never run down inside the chimney from the crown. All Pro Chimney Service understands that the crown can make or break the chimney that why now we only install floating cast concrete crowns on chimneys we rebuild to ensure that it will last for years to come to protect your investment. You can learn more about floating chimney crown installations here.
Mrs. Whelan, also wanted us to look at the B-Vent chimney for her gas boiler and water heater. She had several companies tell her that all she needed to do was replace the top section of B-Vent above the roof and replace the chimney surround (fake metal chimney). Upon my inspection of the situation, I found that the existing B-Vent was disconnected and did not meet the proper clearance requirements needed to combustibles.
The B-Vent at some point got disconnected and as a result had the vent leaning against the top plate framing. It should maintain a 1″ minimum clearance to combustibles per the manufacturer’s specifications. Also in the attic, the chase cavity did not have a fire-stop installed. I also determined that the B-Vent could just go straight up through the roof instead of having an off set in the attic which just meant more materials and more restrictions in the venting. I explained this to Mrs. Whelan and her family, and we determined that the best option was just to have the B-Vent terminate straight up. We patched up the hole for the old vent location and installed new flashing for the new B-Vent.
*The roof will be getting replaced next.