Chimney Repair Charleston SC endures year-round exposure to unforgiving weather conditions. While they’re built to withstand the elements, constant exposure can lead to damage and expensive chimney repairs.
Chimneys can also suffer from water leaks. This can lead to various problems, including rusted damper and firebox assemblies, water stains on walls and ceilings, and deteriorated exterior brick.
The masonry of brick chimneys is highly durable, but the mortar joints that connect the bricks are softer and more susceptible to moisture. This is why it’s important to regularly check for deterioration of mortar and to call a chimney repair contractor as soon as you notice a crack, spalling or crumbling of the mortar joints. The faster this issue is addressed the less likely it is to progress and a full chimney rebuild becomes necessary.
While many homeowners attempt to address this problem themselves by applying a masonry waterproofing compound, the process is best left to a professional. This is because waterproofing can be a messy process and if done improperly can actually increase the risk of water leaks in your home. Additionally, if you choose to use the waterproofing yourself, it’s important to follow established safety procedures when working on the roof, especially when extending ladders above the eaves.
Commercial chimney repair technicians can inspect and repair the mortar joints in your brick chimney to prevent water leaks, which can damage ceilings, rafters, insulation and more. During the process, they may also need to replace interior clay flue tiles, or install a chimney cap or chase cover.
While tuckpointing is a cost-effective option for the repair of existing chimneys, it is not an option when the brick deterioration extends below roof grade or if the chimney is leaning. Chimneys that are showing signs of leaning require immediate attention, as they are more prone to collapse and can pose a serious health hazard for the people in your home. In these cases, a chimney rebuild is necessary from the chimney crown down to the roof line.
Chimney caps aren’t just decorative accents for your roof, but safety features that extend the life of your chimney and keep hazards out of your home. They’re available in a wide range of styles to suit any home’s aesthetic, and they’re also made from a number of materials, including galvanized steel, aluminum, and stainless steel. To choose the right cap for your chimney, consider its size, construction materials, and location.
A well-installed chimney cap keeps rain, animals, and debris from entering the flue. This prevents moisture from soaking into the bricks and mortar and causing structural damage, which can lead to a chimney leak that seeps into walls, ceilings, and insulation, causing mold and mildew growth. These organisms can then be released into your living spaces, causing health issues, such as respiratory problems.
If you have a double-wall or B-Vent chimney, it requires a special type of cap designed to fit over the top of each of your flues. To ensure that your new chimney cap is the correct size for your flues, you’ll need to measure the height of each of the chimney’s exterior walls. Then, you’ll need to find a cap that’s sized to fit your flues and has a mesh screen large enough to keep out small debris.
If you live in a cold climate, you’ll want to avoid mesh screens smaller than 5/8 inch per opening to prevent ice from forming in the winter and blocking venting. You’ll also need to make sure that the chimney cap is rated for your climate and chimney structure and that it is properly installed. It’s recommended to use masonry screws rather than construction adhesive, as this will allow you to remove the cap if needed for inspection or repairs.
Flashing is metal sheeting that covers the joints where roof structures like vents, pipes, chimneys, and skylights protrude from a building’s roofing. It prevents water from seeping into the building at those points. Metal flashing can be made of lead, aluminum, copper or zinc alloys. Chimneys typically require two pieces of flashing: base flashing and counter flashing.
The base flashing is a long strip of metal that wraps around the chimney. It is then covered with a piece of counter flashing that overlaps the base flashing and is embedded into the chimney masonry.
The counter flashing helps to prevent the occurrence of dynamic wind load. This is a condition that causes chimneys to ‘lean’ and can be dangerous. It is caused by pressure differences between the windward side of a chimney stack and the lee or opposite side of the roof or wall. This condition creates a suction effect that pulls air into the house. The chimney must generate a sufficient draught to overcome this negative pressure to avoid a chimney leak and to prevent excessive creosote accumulation.
The quality of the flue lining is an important factor in determining whether or not a chimney will produce a satisfactory draught. The lining is designed to prevent the transfer of combustible gases from inside the flue to combustible materials around it, such as walls, ceilings and wood floors. It is recommended that a chimney that is in need of relining be inspected by a professional. A chimney that is not properly lined may leak or even collapse from a separation from the wall. This can cause a significant safety hazard and if left unchecked will require extensive chimney repairs or rebuilding.
A chase cover, sometimes called a top pan, is the metal cover that sits securely on top of a prefabricated chimney. It helps to deflect water, rust, and other environmental debris from getting inside the fireplace and chimney system. Chase covers should be replaced when they begin deteriorating or showing signs of wear and tear, such as rusted areas on the sides.
The lifespan of a chase cover depends on what material it’s made from and whether or not it was installed properly. Galvanized steel chase covers, for instance, tend to rust and corrode more quickly than stainless steel or copper ones. They often need to be replaced every five years or so, but they can last much longer if they’re not exposed to harsh weather conditions or a falling branch.
When a chase cover begins to break down, it can expose the chimney chase and flue to moisture, which can lead to extensive damage. This can cost homeowners a lot of money in repairs to the chimney, fireplace and flue pipe. Structural damages also make the chimney and fireplace a fire hazard.
When a chase cover is in need of replacement, it should be made from the highest-quality materials available to ensure longevity and durability. A stainless-steel chase cover is a great choice, as it can last the lifetime of the chimney and won’t rust or corrode. Other popular options include aluminum and copper chase covers, which are more affordable than stainless-steel ones. A stainless-steel chase cover can also be powder-coated to help improve curb appeal. A chimney chase cover that’s leaking can create problems with the surrounding wood framing of the fireplace and chimney. Moisture can cause wood rot and mold, which can be expensive to repair.
A cowl, also known as a chimney cap or chimney cover, plays an important role in protecting a chimney system and enhancing its performance. Chimney cowls are available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and designs to suit different chimney types and purposes. They are often made of metal, such as stainless steel, and are designed to fit on top of the chimney pot to prevent rainwater penetration and minimize chimney lining decay.
A chimney cowl can provide several functions and benefits, including bird deterrence, improved draft and airflow, and fire safety. However, it is important to determine the specific requirements of a chimney before installing one. A professional chimney sweep or experienced installer can conduct a thorough evaluation of a chimney to determine its needs and the type of chimney cowl that would be most suitable.
Chimney cowls can also be used on redundant chimneys to protect against ingress of precipitation (rain, hailstones and snow) which can damage a roof or cause damp problems inside a building. In addition, a chimney cowl can help reduce energy loss by preventing cold outside air from being drawn up the chimney when it is not in use.
It is also advisable to inspect a chimney cowl regularly for signs of blockages, birds’ nests, or small animal entry. In addition, the flashing that runs adjacent to a chimney should also be periodically checked for cracks or leaks. These can be repaired quickly and inexpensively using a special roof sealer.