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A Functional Chimney Cap Can Save You Thousands

Summer has officially come to a close and cooler weather is on its way. This time of the year marks the start of many things like school for the kids, leaves changing colors, and preparing for the upcoming holidays. Some of you may even have your fireplace on your mind because it will soon turn cold enough to light a fire. With the start of a new fire-burning season comes the usual appointment to have the chimney inspected and swept, but what about the other parts of your chimney? Your fireplace is more than a dirty chimney. It has many working parts that need regular attention as well to keep the system running smoothly. One part that many homeowners neglect too often is the chimney cap.

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The chimney cap is a small apparatus that sits at the very top of the chimney and acts as a cover to the interior flue. Usually made of copper or steel, these inexpensive contraptions may seem superfluous, but they actually serve some very important purposes. The main use for a chimney cap is to keep things out of the chimney that do not belong there.

One obvious guest you want your chimney cap to prevent is any kind of pest. Little animals like squirrels and birds are attracted to the warmth of the chimney during the frigid Massachusetts winters, and they have no qualms about settling into your flue. Unfortunately, this obstruction does not allow the chimney to properly vent the smoke and toxic fumes created by the fire. In turn, these gases backup into your home and cause a potentially deadly situation for you and your family. Having a properly fitting and functioning chimney cap will prevent this.

The chimney cap also keeps water out of your chimney. Water can damage your chimney in a number of ways. First, it will cause the steel flue lining to rust and deteriorate. This compromised structure then exposes the interior structure of the chimney to water. If you have a masonry chimney, the water will absorb into the materials and eventually degrade the structure through the freeze and thaw cycle of winter. The structure could eventually crack or even collapse. Water can also continue down into your fireplace and rust your damper assembly or cause water damage to your interior walls and ceiling. These repairs can add up to thousands of dollars and can all be avoided by a functional chimney cap.

When you have a mason out to clean and inspect your chimney, he or she should also look at your chimney cap. If the cap has experienced any kind of damage in the past year, or if it is missing completely, your mason can give you expert advice on how to proceed. Most likely, the least expensive route will be to simply have a new cap installed.

If you live in the Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth or Barnstable Counties of Massachusetts and you need your chimney cap inspected, contact Above and Beyond Chimney Service for a professional consultation.

Maintain Your Chimney Crown to Protect Your Chimney

The robust structure of chimneys, often made of brick or stone, deceives a lot of homeowners. Many people assume chimneys were designed to withstand the elements for years without suffering any damage. Unfortunately, this type of thinking can result in large, expensive chimney repairs for the unsuspecting homeowners.

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Despite being made of tough brick or stone, chimneys are surprisingly delicate. While they can resist immense heat and high winds, they are not indestructible. In fact, chimneys are astonishingly sensitive, particularly to water damage. Chimneys are designed to endure outdoor elements, but they require regular upkeep and inspection to prevent water from creating expensive damage.

Materials used for masonry chimneys, like brick and mortar, have large pores that absorb water. Over time, the water breaks down the integrity of the materials, and therefore, the integrity of the entire structure becomes compromised. Particularly during frigid Boston winters, the freeze and thaw cycle causes the water, and thus the masonry, to expand and contract, which is how the materials begin to break down.

Homeowners have several options available to maintain a safe, sturdy chimney. One of the most important options that many overlook is keeping the chimney crown in good repair. The chimney crown acts as a roof or umbrella for the chimney by directing water away from the structure. The ideal crown should hang over the outside of the chimney by two inches and should have a drip edge to catch water that runs under the overhang. Generally, the chimney crown is made of concrete but occasionally can be found as a metal, stone or steel-reinforced concrete.

Over time, the chimney crown will begin to deteriorate, which is when it needs attention. If the crown has suffered minor cracks, a mason can patch it with a chimney crown sealant. With larger cracks, the mason should first fill the damaged areas with high bond patching material, finishing with a chimney crown sealant. The waterproof sealant prevents water from seeping into the concrete, damaging the crown, and seeping into the masonry to cause additional damage there. If the damage is caught early, these repairs can add up to 15 additional years to the life of a lightly worn chimney crown.

In more serious cases, the chimney crown may be missing large pieces or have shifted structurally. Here, replacing the weakened structure instead of patching it is the best course of action. A good mason will walk you through choosing the right type crown for your chimney. Most likely, a concrete structure with a two inch overhang is a safe, effective choice. Although rebuilding is more costly than patching, rebuilding will save you significantly more money in the long run by preventing extensive water damage to the chimney.

As part of your yearly chimney sweep and inspection, the mason should examine the crown for any wear or damage. This will let you know when you need to have the crown repaired. If you live in Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth or Barnstable Counties in the Boston area of Massachusetts, call Above and Beyond Chimney Service for a professional consultation. These experts will help you properly maintain your chimney and fireplace for years to come.

Water Damage and Your Chimney

Unfortunately if your chimney isn’t equipped with a chimney cap or top-sealing damper, of if your chimney brick and mortar has seen better days, there’s a chance that your chimney is leaking and causing water damage to your home. This water damage is nothing to sneeze at—or turn a blind eye to—as a little damage can quickly become a lot of damage and end up causing you to have to pony up big bucks for repairs to your ceilings, walls, floors, and even furniture. Not to mention the cost of fixing the problem so that your chimney won’t leak again.

If water finds it's way to the inside of your chimney, call us quickly. Don't wait until further damages arise.

If water finds it’s way to the inside of your chimney, call us quickly. Don’t wait until further damages arise.

The truth is that a chimney without a cap or a damper is like a house without a roof; in other words, you’re essentially inviting the great outdoors inside your home. Even if you never use your fireplace or stove, you are going to want to make sure that the tip-top of your chimney is capped to keep rainwater, debris, and critters out of your chimney and out of your home. Furthermore, in spite of brick’s reputation for being extremely durable, it requires maintenance over time to keep it watertight.

There are lots of economical and effective ways to waterproof your chimney. Far less economical? Making repairs to your home after the damage has already been done. The chimney technicians at Above & Beyond Chimney Service are big on prevention and early detection when it comes to leaky chimneys.

Signs That Your Chimney May Be Leaking

It’s not always easy to detect whether a leak is coming from the chimney or the roof, but here are some signs that it’s likely your chimney that’s causing the damage you’re seeing:

  • A dripping noise
  • Rusted chimney cap or damper
  • Discolored or crumbling mortar
  • Stained or mildewed chimney brick
  • Musty or mildewy smell
  • Stains on the ceiling around your chimney
  • Water around your fireplace

We recommend calling a chimney technician and not a roofer to repair your leaky chimney, as C.S.I.A. certified chimney pros will be better to able to detect what’s causing the leak and know just how to repair it. For more on leaky chimneys and waterproofing your chimney, click here.

Solutions for Leaking Chimneys

Chimneys leak for various reasons. Perhaps the leak is coming from the cap, crown, or chimney cover, which may be broken, rusted, or improperly installed. We also often find that the flashing—which is the metal banding that’s designed to create a watertight seal at the point where your chimney meets your roof—is to blame. In other words, each leaking chimney demands a different solution. However, here are some solutions that Above & Beyond commonly offers to our customers:

Waterproofing your chimney will not only protect your home from damage but it will add significantly to the life of your chimney, prevent stubborn odors from establishing themselves in your chimney, and protect your chimney from unsightly and damaging efflorescence, mildew, and fungus. Call us today to learn more about chimney waterproofing.

Will My Insurance Cover Water Damage from My Chimney?

This is, of course, a question best asked of your home insurance provider. However, we often find that our customers’ home insurance company will cover the cost of damages inside the home as a result of a leaky chimney but will not cover the cost of having the chimney repaired. Unless the interior damage is extensive, you may not want to file a claim, however, and risk having your annual insurance bill increase as a result. One more note on insurance and chimneys: Companies may cover leaky chimney damages as the result of a storm or a downed tree but usually not if the chimney is just old and worn out. Yet another reason to invest in leak prevention.

If your chimney is leaking, don’t wait to do something about it. Call us today to stop further damage and save yourself additional costs and headaches. At Above & Beyond Chimney Service, we serve customers throughout Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth, and Barnstable counties. Reach us at 781-383-0415 to schedule an inspection. You can count on our team to be truthful, fair, and reliable.

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