Welcome to part 3 of our chimney repair series dealing with chimney crowns. In parts 1 of the chimney crown series we discussed crown sealing. Part 2 of the chimney crown series concerned replacing concrete crowns. In this final part of the chimney repair series about chimney crowns, we will review building a floating cast concrete crown. Floating cast concrete crowns are very common in Silver Spring, MD and other parts of Montgomery County. However, we are starting to see them across the region.
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, once the crown fails the chimneys become prone to leaking, and the masonry below will soon fail after.
Floating Cast Concrete Chimney Crown
Floating cast concrete crowns are a great option when rebuilding a chimney crown with a leaky history. This type of crown does not make contact with the bricks below it. We install a stainless steel sheet over the bricks then pour the concrete on top. This ensures that the crown will not leak. If the water penetrates the crown, it will shed off of the stainless steel sheet underneath. The casting for the crown gives it a 1 1/2” overhang past the bricks below to give it a drip edge so water does not run down from the crown. Be sure to read this article about a floating cast concrete crown that we installed in EllithEllicott City, MD.
How to install a floating cast concrete chimney crown
- The original crown on top of the chimney is removed, the surface is cleaned, and we check the top course of bricks to make sure that they are not loose.
- We build the form for the crown using 2×6’s and 2×4’s to give it a 1 1/2″ overhang past the bricks below it.
- We set the stainless steel sheet over the bricks and wrap the flue liner(s) with foam for an expansion joint.
- We set the rebar on top slightly elevated to reinforce the concrete.
- We mix the concrete and add PWR waterproofing powder to the concrete mix. Mixing in this way ensures that the new crown is waterproof as soon as it’s dry.
- We pour the concrete tap on the form to make sure the concrete settles in.
- Once it’s dry, we come back to remove the form and seal the expansion joint
Before Floating Cast Chimney Crown Repair
This chimney in Takoma Park, Maryland had a severe leak issue. The right side of the chimney is pretty much hollow below the soldier course and every time it rained water would leak into the ceiling next to the fireplace. The homeowners had the crown rebuilt and repaired by different companies, but it still leaked. The last thing done to it was a crown sealant the cracked, peeled and failed. They even had the chimney tuckpointed and waterproofed in hopes that it would stop the leak, but it didn’t. When I came out for the site visit, I determined that the problem was the crown and my recommendation to them was to do a floating crown.
During Floating Cast Chimney Repair
Here we have the forms for the crown built with 2×4’s and 2×6’s. The stainless steel sheet is in place. The pink foam around the flue liner is for the expansion joint, and the rebar is set but not raised yet in the picture to the right.
After Floating Cast Chimney Repair
Here you can see that the crown has the overhang around the chimney and is about 4″ thick at the edge.
Here you can see the stainless steel sheet underneath the chimney crown. We did seal the space between the brick and the stainless steel, but we purposely do not seal between the crown and the stainless steel allowing the water can run off if it penetrates the crown. Adding PWR waterproofing powder to the concrete mix has waterproofed the crown.
** The tuckpointing repairs on this chimney were performed by another company before All Pro Chimney Service repaired the crown.
This is part 2 in our chimney repair series about chimney crowns. In part 1 we discussed chimney crown sealant. We also discussed that chimney crowns are the concrete layer that sits above the brick that is used to shed water away from the chimney. The Chimney crown runs around the flue liner and extends to the bricks. Failing chimney crowns is one of the common causes of chimney leaks. Without professional chimney repairs, leaking chimney crowns can cause the masonry to crumble and fail.
In this blog, we will go over what takes place when replacing the concrete crown. Concrete crowns must be replaced when the original crown has failed and cannot be sealed.
How All Pro Chimney Replaces Concrete Crowns
- Remove the original crown, clean the surface and prep it for the new concrete. This is done to allow the brick and new crown to adhere correctly.
- Apply a bonding agent with a brush to the entire surface area.
- Waterproof the new crown by mixing PWR waterproofing into the concrete mix along with a bonding agent. This step ensures that the crown sticks to the bricks properly.
- Reinforce the crown by applying a concrete base and setting a wire mesh.
- Use additional concrete as a finishing touch as needed and pitch of the brick edges.
Before Cement Crown Chimney Repair
The original crown was cracked and caused leaking into the fireplace. Another company came out to seal it which was the appropriate fix for the problem, but the product they used did not hold up. The sealant cracked and peeled and as a result, the leak came back, and the original crown got worse and needed to be rebuilt. Fortunatley, the case in the picture was not as bad as a previous job that required rebuilding the chimney. .
During Concrete Crown Chimney Repair
We removed the existing crown and cleaned off the surface thoroughly.
Then we apply the base layer of concrete after brushing on the bonding agent to the surface area and then we set wire mesh on top to reinforce the crown.
After Concrete Crown Chimney Repair
Here is the new concrete crown. We also reset one brick on the corner and tuck pointed the 3rd course below the crown with a pitch to allow water to run off instead of sitting on the bricks. The roof was cleaned and washed afterwards.
Stay tuned for part 3 in our chimney crown repair series: Floating Cast Chimney Crowns. If you are in need of chimney repairs, please consider our company.
Related crown repair articles
Crowns are a familiar 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 typically 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, 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 reasonably 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 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. 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.
It is important to choose a chimney repair company like ours who only uses the best products for sealing chimney crowns.
Related crown repair articles
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 homeowner 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 is 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 delay home sales and can cost home sellers the interest of a potential buyer. Quality reports in a timely manner help 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 homeowner 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 homeowner 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 cornerstone of 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.
Want to learn more about chimney inspections and sweeps? Read this article.
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
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.
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
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.
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.