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We Fix Leaky Chimneys!

Chimneys are built to be strong and withstand the elements. Unfortunately, water can cause serious damage to both the interior and exterior of the chimney and fireplace system.

Water damage can manifest itself in a number of ways. Whether you have a few drops of water in the firebox, crumbling exterior brick, or a musty smell that won’t go away, a leaky chimney can cause a number of different problems throughout your fireplace system. At the first sign of a chimney leak, it is important to call a chimney sweep to troubleshoot and repair the cause of the water entry.

We Fix Leaky Chimneys Image - Memphis TN - Coopertown ServicesWhere is the Water Coming From?

Chimneys may look like a simple column of bricks, but they are surprisingly complex structures. Because of this, there are a number of places where chimney leaks can begin. The following are just a few ways that water can get into your chimney.

  • Cracks in the chimney crown.
    The chimney crown is a slab of mortar, concrete, or stone covering and sealing the top of the chimney. Chimney crowns are particularly susceptible to crack and water damage; because they create a large, flat surface on the top of the chimney, crowns receive more exposure to the elements than other chimney components. Well built chimney crowns have a slightly sloped top and edges that extend over the side of the chimney structure. This prevents water from pooling directly on the crown or from draining directly onto the chimney structure.
  • Water soaking through masonry.
    Bricks are naturally porous, making them an ideal building material for chimneys because smoke and gas can pass through the masonry. However, it also means bricks absorb the small amounts of water. Applying a waterproofing product can stop water damage to existing masonry and stop further cracks from developing.
  • Damage to the flashing.
    Flashing is created when strips of metal and weatherproofing materials are layered on the seam between the chimney and the roof. This protects both the chimney and the roofing materials from water damage; because of this location, damaged flashing is often confused for a leaky roofs. Overexposure to the elements, changes to the roof-line, or improper installation can all cause flashing to leak.

Repairing a Leaky Chimney

The first step to repairing a leaky chimney is identifying the cause of the leak. A chimney inspection completed by a certified chimney sweep can uncover the source of a chimney leak; by identifying the cause of a leaky chimney before making repairs, further recurrent damage from water can be avoided.

Preventative measures such as waterproofing protect your chimney system against water damage. In the waterproofing process, a barrier specifically-formulated for masonry is applied to the bricks and mortar of the chimney. These products allow gas to safely vent through brick but prevent absorption of water. Waterproofing can stop the progression of existing water damage as well as protect the chimney against future damage.

Don’t let a leaky chimney affect your fireplace. Contact us at Coopertown Services today for more information on how our chimney sweeps can repair your leaky chimney!

By Christina Robinson on November 10th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Does Your Chimney Flashing Need To Be Repaired?

Flashing is used throughout our homes to seal around doors, windows, and pipes. Flashing is also an important component of your chimney; reliable flashing protects both the roof and the chimney system from moisture and the elements. Over time, flashing may be damaged and need to be repaired.

 Chimney Flashing Need To Be Repaired Image - Memphis TN - Coopertown ServicesWhat is flashing?

Chimney flashing is created by layering strips of metal with other waterproof barriers and caulk. Flashing is primarily used to seal the joint where the chimney and the roof-line meet; this creates a waterproof seal that protects the chimney’s masonry as well as your home’s roof from water damage.

How damage to flashing occurs.

There are a number of ways that flashing can be damaged.

Whether it is improper installation or simple wear and tear, the following are some of the most common causes of flashing damage:

  • Animal entry.
    Both chimneys and attics are tempting places to hide for animals during both the summer and winter months. Because of this, flashing can become damaged as aggressive animals – especially raccoons – attempt to scratch, bite, or claw the flashing away to get into your home.
  • Settling.
    Homes can continue to settle for years after they are built. As the chimney settles along with the house, the shifts can cause the flashing to shift or twist and lose its watertight seal.
  • Roof repairs.
    Changes to the roof can cause the watertight seal to be broken. Whether an entirely new roof has been installed or a few shingles or tiles have been replaced, the flashing may need to be replaced as well.
  • Incorrect installation.
    Flashing can be damaged as soon as it is installed if it is installed improperly. Using too few layers, the wrong types of materials, or adding too many nail holes can all prevent a proper watertight seal from forming.
  • Overexposure.
    Overexposure to the elements over time can cause flashing to lose its seal. Likewise, one or two sides of the flashing can be damaged if that side of the chimney is harder hit by sun, wind, or rain.
  • Extreme weather.
    Severe weather such as high winds, lightning, or flying debris can all damage flashing.

Is the chimney leaking – or is it the roof?

The symptoms of leaky flashing often closely mimic those of a leaky roof. Due of this, it can be difficult to differentiate between the two. Instead of calling a roofer, it may be worth calling a chimney sweep if you have water on the ceiling or walls surrounding the chimney.

Flashing is an important part of protecting your chimney’s masonry against water entry and damage. However, it also protects your roof, ceilings, and walls; because of this, it is important to ensure flashing is undamaged and free from gaps, holes, or leaks. If you think your flashing has been damaged by age, overexposure, or changes to the roof-line, consider calling a chimney sweep! For more information about the importance of flashing, contact Coopertown Services today.

 

By Christina Robinson on October 30th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Using The Right Firewood

There are a number of ways homeowners care for their fireplace systems, including regular maintenance, damper position, and soot removal. However, many do not realize that the kind of firewood they use can significantly impact fireplace performance.

Types of Firewood Using The Right Firewood Image - Memphis TN - Coopertown Services

Not all firewood is created equally; various kinds of wood have their own burning characteristics such as smell, smoke production, burn temperature, and even how quickly it ignites. Firewood can be divided into two categories: hardwoods and softwoods.

  • Hardwood.
    Hardwoods are heavy, dense woods with leaves that change color in the fall and include species such as birch, ash, maple, and oak. Hardwoods are known for burning at high temperatures and producing little smoke. Because they burn well, are readily available, and are inexpensive, hardwoods are considered the preferred firewood for indoor fires.
  • Softwood.
    Softwoods are trees with needle leaves such as evergreens, firs, and pines.Softwoods are trees with needle leaves such as evergreens, firs, and pines. Softwood ignites quickly, making it ideal as kindling. However, softwoods also burn at lower temperatures and produce a large amount of fragrant smoke. Because of this, they are best used in outdoor fire pits or smokers.
  • Pretreated wood.
    Many homeowners try to recycle old fencing, decking, or other scrap wood by burning it in the fireplace. However, the Environmental Protection Agency, states “never burn coated, painted, or pressure-treated wood because it releases toxic chemicals when burned.”

Seasoning Firewood

After finding the best type of firewood for your home, it is important to make sure the wood has been properly seasoned. Seasoning wood is very different than the seasoning you do in the kitchen; instead of adding spices, seasoned wood is wood that has been cut, stacked, and allowed to dry while exposed to wind and sun. Most wood should be seasoned for 6-12 months before being ready to burn; if buying pre-seasoned wood, a firewood dealer should be able to tell you how long the wood has been seasoned.

Seasoning wood is important as it helps remove moisture from the wood. Freshly cut wood is made up of as much as 50% water; when this green wood is burned the fires ignite slowly, burn sluggishly, put off more smoke, and create additional creosote buildup in the flue. Seasoning the wood can reduce the moisture content to as low as 15%, making the wood ideal for use in indoor fireplaces.

Storing Firewood

How you store your firewood is just as important as the type of wood and seasoning process. Wood should be stacked outdoors either in a fireplace rack or on top of concrete or plywood; doing this ensures the bottom layer of wood does not come in contact with the ground which prevents rot and insect infestation in the woodpile. Likewise, the top of the woodpile should be covered while the sides are left often; this keeps moisture from rain and snow from seeping into the woodpile while still allowing air to flow through the wood pile and continue the seasoning process.

Using the right firewood can help your fireplace burn more safely and efficiently this winter. For more information on the right wood for your home contact Coopertown Services today!

By Joyce Robinson on October 16th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Prepare Your Chimney For Cold Months

Fall may have just arrived, but winter will be here before we know it! After a long summer of disuse now is the perfect time to ensure your chimney is ready for the arrival of cold weather. The following tips can help you get your fireplace ready for winter’s arrival.

First, Get a Chimney Inspection Prepare Your Chimney For Cold Months Image - Memphis TN - Coopertown Chimney

An annual chimney sweeping and inspection remains the most important – and most effective – way to care for your fireplace system. This regular maintenance ensures your chimney is in good condition, free from damage or deterioration, and ready to burn efficiently all winter long.

Chimney sweeping should never be considered a DIY job. Instead of attempting to do it yourself or using products such as chimney sweeping logs, rely on a true industry professional. CSIA certified chimney sweeps have the education, training, and skill to properly care for your chimney system. Likewise, sweeps use the chimney inspection as a way to troubleshoot ongoing chimney issues or identify new areas of chimney damage.

Second, Buy the Right Firewood

Not all firewood is created equal; the type of wood you use impacts the health of your chimney system as well as how the fire burns. The best wood for indoor residential fireplaces are hardwoods; elm, oak, and maple are popular hardwoods that burn hotter, longer, and produce less creosote and smoke than their softwood counterparts. Softwoods such as fir, pine, and spruce should be avoided in indoor fireplaces as they burn slowly and produce large amounts of smoke.

It can be tempting to throw cardboard, wrapping paper, or other forms of trash into the fireplace – especially when unwrapping gifts around the holidays. However, trash and paper products should never be burned in an indoor fireplace. Fires fueled by paper and cardboard can quickly burn out of control, damaging surrounding furnishings or walls. Likewise, burning products other than wood can release chemicals and compounds that cause damage to chimney components or affect interior air quality.

Third, Properly Dispose of Ashes

Whether you use your fireplace a few times each winter or burn nearly every day, it is important to properly dispose of the ashes. Fires should be allowed to extinguish naturally; stoking the ashes as they cool can prevent pockets of coals or embers from hiding in the ashes. After they have cooled, shovel the ashes into a special ash container. Ash containers should be metal, a handle for easy carrying, and should have a base that prevents them from sitting directly on the ground.

Ashes should never be stored in a flammable container such as a paper bag and should not be mixed in with other trash in trash cans or dumpsters. Embers and coals can remain active in ashes for up to three days; if ashes are mixed in with regular trash it can lead to accidental fires. Check with your sanitation company for their rules or regulations for disposing of ashes.

The winter burning season is just around the corner; follow our tips to make sure your fireplace is ready for the cold months. For more information on preparing your fireplace for winter contact Coopertown Services today.

By Christina Robinson on October 2nd, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

The Dangers Of Creosote

When it comes to keeping your fireplace and chimney clean, most homeowners understand the importance of removing soot and ash. However, there may be something more dangerous hiding in your flue – creosote.

What is creosote? The Dangers Of Creosote Image - Memphis TN - Coopertown Services

Creosote is a naturally occurring byproduct of combustion. All fuel burning fires create creosote during the combustion process, including wood, pellets, natural gas, coal, and propane; however, creosote creation is the most common and most prevalent in wood burning fires.

There are three stages of creosote. The longer the creosote is allowed to remain in the flue the more advanced the stage will become.

  • Stage 1: Light and fluffy like powder or soot. In this state, creosote is easily removed during a chimney sweeping.
  • Stage 2: Shiny, hard, black flakes. This requires the use of tools such as drills or rotary loops to remove.
  • Stage 3: Thick, hardened tar. Also known as glazed creosote, Stage 3 creosote is extremely difficult to remove and can damage the flue liner.

Why is creosote dangerous?

Creosote is dangerous because it damages your flue in two ways. First, because creosote is highly flammable it can accidentally ignite due to stray sparks or embers from the fire. Accidental creosote ignition is responsible for more than 25,000 chimney fires in the United States each year.

The second way that creosote damages your chimney system is by eroding and damaging the chimney flue liner. The longer creosote remains in the flue the more difficult it is to remove; removing stage 3 creosote, for example, often causes damage to the chimney flue liner underneath. Likewise, excessive creosote buildup can also cause smoky chimney odors throughout the home.

Preventing Creosote

As a naturally occurring byproduct of combustion, it is impossible to entirely prevent creosote buildup. However, there are a number of ways that homeowners can minimize creosote creation when using the fireplace.

  1. Use the right firewood. Burning seasoned hard woods creates the least amount of creosote. Freshly cut, green, or wet wood creates more creosote as it burns due to the high moisture content and lower burn temperature.
  2. Stop smoldering fires. Fires allowed to smolder or burn at a low temperature for a long period of time can create additional creosote. This is especially important for wood stove owners; purposefully maintaining a low temperature in the stove can create excessive creosote in the flue.
  3. Resize the flue. If you have changed fuel sources or installed a new insert, the flue may need to be resized. A correctly sized flue ensures that too must cold air is not pulled down; this can prematurely cool the creosote and cause it to harden faster.

There may be more in your chimney than just soot and ash. To prevent harmful creosote from negatively affecting your chimney system it is important to have it professionally swept at least once per year. For more information about the dangers of creosote or to schedule your next chimney sweeping contact the experts at Coopertown Services today.

By Christina Robinson on September 17th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment