Chimney Repair: Chimney Crown Series -part 1

Crowns are a common source of chimney problems that result in chimney repairs.  From Silver Spring, MD to Annapolis and everywhere in between, chimney crowns are a cause for concern.  The is part 1 of a 3 part series concerning common chimney crown repairs.  

What is a chimney crown?

The chimney crown is the layer of concrete sitting on top of the last row of brick and its purpose is to shed water away from the chimney. It’s normally 3″-4″ inches thick and starts high around the flue liner then slopes down to the edge of the bricks. The chimney crown is the first line of defense for the masonry chimney, once the crown fails the chimneys become prone to leaking, and the masonry below will soon fail after. If caught early on the crown can be sealed to preserve it and prevent further damages. 

Chimney Crown Sealant

There are many different crown repair/sealant products available to us, and we’ve tried them all. Over the years, we’ve found that Crown Guard is a superior product for preserving and sealing the crown. 

Failed Crown Sealant

These two chimney crowns were sealed with another type of crown sealant, and both of them failed!

1) The first one was applied to a crown that needed to be rebuilt. The existing crown was so severely damaged that some areas were not even covering the bricks. The sealant started cracking (not suppose to happen) and peeling off. We rebuilt the concrete crown.

2) The second one was applied to a crown that was in fairly good shape. They sealed the crown in an attempt to stop a leak. As you can see the crown sealant is peeling off and the leak came back. We ended up rebuilding the concrete crown.  

Crown Guard

Crown Guard is applied when the crown is cracked but is still structurally intact.  The surface area of the current crown is first cleaned, then the Crown Guard is applied over the existing crown and covers all the surface areas of the crown.

Before Chimney Repair with Crown Guard

This chimney crown is cracked but is still structurally sound. Crown Guard is the appropriate fix for the situation.

After Chimney Repair with Crown Guard

Crown Guard is clear and can be applied with temperatures ranging from  -40 degrees to +140 degrees Fahrenheit. It won’t crack or peel like other crown repair/sealer products in the market, and it resists water immediately.

Leak Test After Crown Guard Application

crown guard leak test

As you can see here, the water is repelled and does not soak into the crown at all.

As a respected chimney repair company in Silver Spring, MD All Pro Chimney Service only uses the best products for sealing chimney crowns. 

Related crown repair articles

9 Common causes of chimney leaks

Chimney Repair- Chimney crown series part 3

Chimney repair – chimney crown series part 2

 

 

 

Questions for chimney repair companies about chimney inspections

chimney inspection

Every year homes across Washingon DC and its Maryland suburbs are bought and sold.  Regardless of whether the home is in Washington DC, Silver Spring, Annapolis, Columbia, MD or any other part of the Maryland suburbs, every home with a chimney must have a level 2 inspection prior to the sale being finalized. We previously discussed how 3 things to look for in a chimney repair company.  There are additional things to be asked when it comes to chimney inspections.  In this soot-free blog, we discuss some of the questions that you should ask any chimney repair company before hiring them for chimney inspections.

1. Are you licensed? 

Hiring a licensed chimney repair company to perform your chimney inspection is important.  Licensed chimney repair technicians are better equipped to access chimney problems.  There are many unlicensed chimney sweep companies in Maryland offering inspections.  Failure to hire a licensed chimney company could result in the home owner being liable for problems that are missed by the poorly trained inspector.  Such errors could result in fires that could result in property damage, injury and death.  Don’t take chances.  Only hire licensed chimney repair companies to provide your chimney inspection. 

2. Do you use video imaging during your inspections?

Taking video images of chimneys during inspections is the standard in the industry.  Unfortunately, some companies cut corners and fail to use video.  The best chimney Inspection companies take video recordings of their inspections and provide you with a detailed report.  The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) which is the standard bearer for the chimney industry recommends that video be used during level 2 inspections.  Level 2 inspections are a required part of selling any homes with chimneys.

3. How soon after the inspection will I get my inspection report?

The best companies send reports within 48 hours. However, some companies can take a week or longer to send the report to you. Long delays in receiving the report delays home sales and can cost home sellers the interest of a potential buyer. Quality reports in a timely manner helps you move on with your home sale. 

4. Is Your Company Insured? 

Insurance is important in case the company should damage your home, chimney, or property.  Picture this scenario: A home owner gets a level 2 chimney inspection and provides the report as part of the sale of the home.  A few months after the home is sold the house catches fire due to a preexisting problem with the chimney that the inspector missed.  At this point lawyers get involved.  Their goal is to sue whoever has the most money.  Typically, the costs would be handled by the chimney inspection company’s insurer.  What if the company does not have insurance?  Who do the lawyers go after?  The most likely person is the original home owner that failed to hire a reputable company to perform the inspection. 

5. Is your staff CSIA certified? 

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) is a corner stone in home safety for chimney services, repair, and education. Not all companies hold a CSIA certification, nor do all workers. Some companies and employees learn on-the-job and hope for the best.  The value of CSIA certification is that you will have the confidence that your chimney inspector meets or exceeds the industry standards.  You can have the peace of mind of knowing that you have an accurate chimney inspection that will not expose you to liability. 

Anything that involves your chimney should be taken seriously.  Things missed during an inspection could result in fires.  Asking the right questions is an important part of selecting a chimney repair company to inspect your chimney. Of course, we recommend our company.    

3 Things to look for in a chimney repair company

If your chimney needs maintenance or repair, it is in your best interest to find a reputable company to repair your chimney or install a fireplace.  Unfortunately, in many cases, this is far easier said than done.  Homeowners in Ellicott City, MD and Washington DC can find it a real challenge. Some chimney repair companies provide services that are not up-to-par in terms of quality of service.  In the case of fireplace installation, they may offer products that are not designed to meet the requirements of your home.  It is important to find a chimney repair or fireplace company that provides quality service.  Here are a few things you should look for when hiring a chimney repair company.

Focus on your needs vs Getting the lowest price

cheap chimney repairs

Another thing to consider when hiring a chimney repair company is whether they emphasize the needs of your home or a low price. Obviously, you don’t want to pay a fortune to have a company repair the chimney of your home. Therefore, chances are you aren’t hiring the chimney repair company that charges the highest prices for its services. However, you should be equally against hiring the chimney repair company that offers the prices that are seem too good to be true.   

If the prices are ridiculously low, chances are the chimney repair company cut a lot of corners to be able to offer such low prices. For example, they may reuse existing parts that should actually be replaced to get their prices lower.  They will replace the part that is leaking.  However, they will not address the rusted out part right next to it that will be malfunctioning any day now.  As a result, new problems arise in short order resulting in another service call.  They may also hire workers with inadequate training or expertise and equip these workers with equipment and products of low quality.  This can compromise the safety of the home because the job is simply not done well. If you hire a chimney repair company that offers incredibly cheap services, prepare to have the chimney repair job done twice because you may need to hire another company to fix the mistakes of the first.

Personalized Service

personalized chimney service

When looking for a chimney repair company to hire, one of the things you should consider is whether a company offers personalized services to their customers. Personalized service refers to the involvement of upper management in every project. You do not want to hire a chimney repair company that will send their employees to your home or business without performing any upper management control or quality checks. Unfortunately, many companies that repair chimneys or install fireplaces are like this in that they blindly send workers without the involvement of upper management.

Licenses and Certifications

certs

Believe it or not, but the chimney sweep industry is unregulated in many states. However, to ensure that you hire a chimney repair company that offers quality services, there are licenses and certifications from organizations that are nationally recognized that you can check for.

You also want to check whether a company has memberships with nationally recognized organizations. This demonstrates that the chimney company is aware of industry standards.  For example, National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG) and National Fireplace Institute (NFI) provide their members with tips when it comes to professionalism and expertise in the chimney repair and fireplace installation industry. A membership with these organizations signifies that a chimney sweep company is interested in improving the services that it offers whenever possible.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many things you should look for before you hire a company to repair your chimney or install your fireplace.   As long as you consider whether a company offers personalized services, focuses on quality over price, and has licenses and certifications from nationally recognized organizations, you can be confident that you will get a good chimney repair service in exchange for your money.  If you need chimney sweep, chimney repair or fireplace installation in Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Anne Arundel County or Baltimore, then you should consider calling us.  We are committed to exceeding your expectations of quality service. 

All Pro Chimney Repairs Chimney in Potomac,MD

We received a call to fix a leaky chimney in Potomac, Maryland. The customer informed us that they hired another company for chimney repairs but their chimney still leaks.  As a result, he thought it was a roofing issue.  A roofer came out to evaluate the situation and assured the customer that it was the chimney.  The customer was pretty upset with the other company. The customer started looking for a chimney repair company in Montgomery County that had a reputation for qualtiy work.  They decided to call us, All Pro Chimney Service.  After performing a chimney inspection we discovered that the only thing the other company did right was a chimney sweep.  There were still serious problems with the chimney cover and chimney cap.

chimney cap silver spring, md

(*The chase cover is the big rectangular piece on top.)

Here we have a picture of the chimney. The chase cover has been replaced with a stainless steel chase cover and the cap replaced as well with an aftermarket cap.

 If you look closely you can see the neighbors chase cover is rusted and will need to have theirs replaced as well. A rusted chase cover will not only cause leaks but also leave unsightly rust stains on the chimney.

 chimney leak silver spring, md

So with the chase cover having been replaced what else could the problem be? Well there are two issues’ here that were causing this chimney to leak.

First, the cap that was installed is not the correct cap for this fireplace/chimney. This fireplace uses a double wall ventilated chimney. This cap that was installed is designed for solid packed chimney which means that the cap does not have the air space build in to it to allow the chimney to ventilate properly and could cause it to overheat. The other issue with the cap is that it doesn’t completely cover the pipe so when it rains really hard and on windy days the rain can get in.

chimney collar silver spring, md

The second issue is that the storm collar is too small for the collar of the chase cover and is allowing rain to come right in. This storm collar looks to be the original one and was reused. The problem is that when they measured the chase cover they made the collar of the opening bigger than what was there initially so they should have replaced the storm collar with one that has a larger span to insure that water cannot leak in.

 new chimney cap and storm collar potomac, md

Here is a picture of the new cap and storm collar. This cap was made by the manufacturer for this fireplace/chimney system. It has the air space underneath the lid of the cap to allow chimney to ventilate properly. We installed a new stainless steel storm collar that completely covers the collar of the chase cover.

finished chimney repair potomac, md

After picture- The chimney repair in Potomac, MD is now complete.  We installed 2 of these at this house.  

The sad part of this story is that this customer had to pay twice to get their chimney repaired.  It is always better to hire a dependable professional chimney repair company the first time.  All Pro Chimney Service is the best choice for chimney repair.

 Tips and advice:

Things to ask the tech when gathering quotes for repairs:

1-      Are they licensed?

2-      Are they certified?

3-      What materials or parts are they proposing to use? If parts are going to be replaced will it be the same part or an aftermarket part. If aftermarket, ask why and will it affect the listing of unit being repaired.

4-      Ask for warranties on the products and services being provided.

5-      Ask for before and after pictures.

 

 

How to sweep a chimney

chimney sweep maryland

There is nothing quite as cozy and comfortable to snuggle up to on a cold winter’s night as a roaring fire in the fireplace. There is also nothing more disastrous than lighting that fire only to realize (too late) that your chimney is not in good working order.  Getting a chimney sweep is the best way to prevent this problem. As a result many smart home owners in Silver Spring and all over the state of Maryland hire chimney repair companies for annual chimney sweeps. 

That leads to an important question.  What exactly is a chimney sweep?

The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 (NFPA 211) recommends that chimneys, fireplaces, and vents should be inspected at least once a year so that the chimneys, fireplaces, and vents are sound, free from deposits, and that all clearances are met.  That is one of the many reasons homeowners should get a chimney sweep every year.  With such an important job at hand, it is vital that chimney sweeps only be performed by a certified expert that knows exactly what to look for and how to sweep that chimney in the safest, easiest and most efficient way possible.  Hiring a professional chimney sweep is the best way to ensure that your fireplace and chimney are in tip-top shape and ready for the season ahead.

What a Chimney Sweep Does

A professional chimney sweep does more than simply clean out the flue. Although an important part of the job, a licensed / certified chimney expert will also inspect the chimney structure and fireplace to ensure that both are structurally sound and free of obstructions and combustible deposits. This may include dangerous creosote deposits as well as soot and dust. A good inspection also ensures that your fireplace and chimney meets all local fire and building codes.

The flue will also be checked for damage during the annual inspection. Once the initial inspection is completed, the chimney sweep will clean the chimney and flue of all dust, soot and creosote found.

 How to clean a chimney

The primary purpose of a chimney sweep is to identify potential problems and remove dust, soot, ash from the chimney.  A chimney sweep can work from either inside (going in through the base of the fireplace), or from the top of the chimney. In some cases the sweep may utilize both entrances. Either way is acceptable and usually depends on the size and condition of the chimney, access availability, and weather conditions.

When cleaning the chimney, expect your sweep to follow these basic steps:

  •          Setting drop clothes in the area to lay equipment on and catch any dust or soot that may escape during the cleaning process
  •          Setting a vacuum to the contain the dust and soot in the fireplace
  •          Inserting a fitted brush inside the interior flue with flexible rod system to the brush to allow the sweep to make its way through the entire system
  •          Cleaning the interior of the flue and chimney, getting rid of all hazardous build-up
  •          Giving you a complete inspection report for your records
  •          Completing any small repairs to the system which may have been found during the initial inspection
  •          Scheduling your next inspection 

Getting your chimney is an important part of maintaining your chinmey and fireplace.  We recommend our chimney sweep company.   We provide chimney sweep service  in Silver Spring and most counties in the Washington DC and Greater Baltimore Metropolitan Areas.