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Spotting Masonry Damage

While you may not be a fireplace experts, many homeowners know more about their chimney systems than they realize. Because of this, you may be able to recognize potential problems with the masonry of your fireplace and chimney. The following are three common masonry problems that homeowners may notice about their masonry. If you spot these kinds of masonry damage, it may indicate a larger problem within your fireplace system.

Broken, Chipped, or Cracked Masonry

Spotting Masonry Damage - Memphis TN - Coopertown ServicesSome masonry damage is only seen when up close on the roof. However, large cracks, chips, or sections of missing bricks can often be spotted from the ground and may indicate your chimney is suffering from water damage. Bricks are naturally porous; while this makes them ideal for fireplace construction as gas can pass through them, it also means that water can seep into the bricks over time.

The freeze-thaw process can cause significant damage to the masonry. This process begins when the bricks absord small amounts of water. When the temperatures drop below freezing during the winter, the water expands as it turns to ice. This creates progressively larger cracks and holes, allowing more and more water to be absorbed until significant damage is done to the masonry.

Tuckpointing repairs masonry damage caused by water entry or the freeze-thaw process. During tuckpointing, damaged bricks and mortar are carefully removed and replaced with matching masonry. Likewise, applying a masonry-specific waterproofing product can also help protect your chimney.

Stained or Discolored Masonry

Brown, black, red, white, or even green stains on the side of your chimney affect more than just your home’s curb appeal. The color of the stain or discoloration can give clues as to what kind of chimney issue is occurring. Excessive creosote buildup in the flue causes brown or black stains; an annual chimney sweeping can prevent this kind of staining. Red stains, often with orange or brown, may indicate a metal chimney component is rusting. Red rust stains are most common in manufactured chimneys with metal chimney chase covers.

White staining both inside or outside is caused by efflorescence, or the phenomenon in which evaporating water leaves salt deposits behind. Mold or mildew growth cause green staining, particularly in areas around the chimney that receive little sunlight or have experienced water damage.

Chimney Odors

Don’t just cover up chimney odors with air fresheners or sprays! A variety of different chimney issues cause smells. Excessive creosote buildup causes strong smoky smells, particularly during hot or humid weather. Mold growth causes damp or musty odors; in addition to indicating an underlying chimney leak, mold growth in the chimney can negatively affect your home’s air quality. Sharp rotting smells, especially when accompanied by scratching or scurrying sounds, indicate a trapped or nesting animal in the flue.

While the walls of our chimneys can’t talk, they can help us spot different kinds of masonry damage. For more information about identifying masonry damage or to schedule a chimney inspection, contact Coopertown Services today.

By Christina Robinson on February 12th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Is Your Flashing In Good Condition?

Flashing is commonly used around our homes. Whether its sealing around leaking windows or drafty doors, flashing keeps outside air and the elements out of our homes. Our chimneys also have flashing. Therefore, it is important that you have reliable flashing that can protect your chimney and roof for years to come.

Is Your Flashing In Good Condition - Memphis TN - Coopertown ServicesWhat is flashing?

Chimney flashing is created when strips of metal are layered with waterproof barriers such as caulk. Located on the joint where the roof line meets the masonry of the chimney, flashing creates an important watertight seal. This seal protects your masonry, roof, attics, and ceilings from water damage.

How flashing is damaged

Whether it is because of the elements, animals, or improper installation, there are a number of ways that flashing can lose its watertight seal. The following are just a few of the common causes of flashing damage.

  • Animal entry: Aggressive animals – especially raccoons – seeking to get into your attic or chimney can bite, scratch, or claw at flashing and pull it apart.
  • Overexposure: If one side of a roof or chimney is harder hit with sun or wind, this overexposure can damage the flashing.
  • Weather or storms: Extreme weather conditions caused by storms including flying debris, high winds, lightning, or ice and snow can affect flashing.
  • Settling: As a house settles over time, small shifts can cause the flashing to twist or shift.
  • Changes to the roof: If you have had your roof repaired or replaced, the flashing may need to be replaced as well; the watertight seal can be broken if shingles or tiles are the chimney structure are affected.
  • Incorrect installation: Using poor quality materials or installing flashing wrong, including using too few layers or adding too many nail holes, can all affect its watertight seal.

Is my roof leaking – or is it flashing?

It can be difficult to differentiate between leaking flashing and a leaking roof. This is because both appear in similar areas of the roof and attic. If you see water on the walls or ceilings near your chimney, consider calling a chimney sweep before a roofer. This is especially important if you have any of the risk factors for chimney flashing damage listed above.

Having your flashing inspected may be a less expensive option. This is especially true when compared to the cost of a roof repair or replacement. Even if your roof has been recently worked on, a chimney inspection may be important. Having the flashing checked after changes to the roof line can ensure the watertight seal is still in place.

Flashing protects your masonry and your chimney against water. In addition, it also protects your roof, ceilings, walls, and other building materials. Because of this, it is important that flashing has a consistent watertight seal with no gaps, holes, or damage. For more information about the importance of flashing, or to have your flashing inspected or repaired, contact Coopertown Services today!

By Christina Robinson on November 23rd, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Fireplace Rebuilds

A beautiful fireplace can add warmth – and value – to your home. According to the National Association of Homebuilders, fireplaces are the 2nd most popular feature buyers look for in a house. Because of this, keeping your fireplace in good condition can help add future resale value to your home.

If your fireplace has begun to look dated, has been damaged, or is otherwise past its prime, it may be time for a fireplace rebuild. Rebuilding your fireplace can leave you with a beautiful heating appliance that also improves your home’s value. Below are some reasons to consider having your fireplace rebuilt.

Fireplace Rebuilds -Memphis TN - Coopertown Services

1. Improve safety and efficiency

When fireplaces or chimneys undergo major damage from leaks, chimney fires, or other issues, oftentimes the only way to make the fireplace usable again is to have it rebuilt. Rebuilding the fireplace can allow you to continue using it instead of relegating it to a purely decorative purpose. Likewise, rebuilding, improving, or upgrading your existing fireplace may also improve efficiency and help you save money on heating costs.

2. Upgrade to a new appliance

Many homes have older fireplaces that function well but are often woefully inefficient. During a fireplace rebuild, a newer or more efficient fireplace can be installed. Installing a new fireplace insert can improve efficiency and reduce air pollution; closed-system inserts operate using closed-system combustion, allowing them to burn more fuel with less heat lost up the chimney. Inserts are available in a number of styles, sizes, and fuel choices to meet the heating needs of any home.

3. Add value

Fireplaces are valuable selling features in any home; surveys have shown that buyers are willing to add as much as $1,400 to the purchase price of a home with a fireplace. However, just having a fireplace isn’t enough. Only 31% of buyers believe that quality is a fireplace’s most important trait, while 46% of buyers believe looks are a fireplace’s most important aspect. By rebuilding, improving, or upgrading your fireplace you can add value to your home that will reflect in the list price if you decide to sell.

4. Match your design style

If you favor sleek, modern design, a traditional fireplace can stick out like a sore thumb. Having a fireplace rebuilt can be a way to match the design of your fireplace to the rest of your home. Whether you want contemporary, traditional, or something in between, a custom rebuild can make your fireplace the focal point of your home.

Rebuilding a fireplace can be as minor as installing a new insert or as major as tearing down an existing chimney and building it again from the ground up. Whether you want to make a little change or a big one, trust Coopertown Services to rebuild you the fireplace of your dreams. Contact us today for more information on fireplace rebuilds and what we can do for your fireplace and chimney.

By Christina Robinson on April 14th, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

The Effects Of Freeze/Thaw On Your Chimney

The cold months of winter are the heaviest use period for your fireplace; unfortunately, these are the same months that can cause the most damage to your chimney. The combination of moisture from rain, snow, and ice along with freezing temperatures can cause damage to your chimney through what is known as the freeze/thaw cycle. However, there are steps that homeowners can take to protect their chimneys and minimize damage.

The Effects of the Freeze Thaw On Your Chimney - Memphis TN - Coopertown Services

What is the freeze/thaw cycle?

The freeze/thaw cycle is a process of repeated chimney damage caused by the combination of moisture and freezing temperatures. Damage from the freeze thaw cycle can show up in as little as one winter, but is commonly seen when the chimney deteriorates year after year.

The freeze/thaw cycle begins when your masonry absorbs small amounts of water. Because bricks are naturally porous, this water can be absorbed from a number of sources including rain, snow, ice, and even sprinklers and hoses. While brick in good condition will only absorb a miniscule amount, masonry with any sort of cracks or chips can absorb significantly more.

As the temperatures outside drop, the water trapped inside the masonry will freeze. The freezing water then expands, creating a larger hole or crack in the bricks. When the ice melts, the brick will now be able to absorb more and more water, creating larger and larger holes with each freeze. This freeze/thaw process can cause masonry to crack, chip, and spall.

Preventing freeze/thaw damage

Since none of us can control the weather, it is important to find other ways to prevent or minimize the effects of freeze/thaw damage on the chimney. One of the best ways of preventing this kind of damage is by having your chimney waterproofed. Special masonry sealers are applied to the chimney, allowing it to retain its naturally porous properties while creating a waterproof barrier on the masonry. While waterproofing is good preventative maintenance for any chimney, it is especially recommended for homes that have begun to show signs of water damage from the freeze/thaw cycle as it can protect the chimney against further deterioration.

Regular chimney inspections are another way to minimize the effects of freeze/thaw damage to your chimney. Because chimney cracking and spalling caused by freeze thaw damage starts of small and gets progressively worse over the years, it can often be spotted in its early stages during annual chimney inspections. Identifying freeze/thaw damage early can allow preventative measures – such as waterproofing – to be taken, as well as for bricks and masonry to be repaired before they damage the structure or stability of the chimney.

Don’t let your chimney suffer negative effects from the freeze/thaw cycle. Contact Coopertown Services today to learn more about how moisture and freeze/thaw can affect your chimney structure or to schedule your next preventative maintenance appointment today!

By Christina Robinson on March 31st, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Damage Caused To Chimneys From Animals

As the weather outside becomes colder and colder, most people gravitate towards their home’s warm interiors as a way to ward off the winter chill. Unfortunately, animals feel the same way; during the winter, animals are more likely to seek shelter from the weather outside in your chimney structure.

To many birds and mammals, a chimney presents itself as a warm, sheltered, and safe place to escape the winter weather. However, getting stuck in the chimney can be extremely dangerous to animals – as well as extremely damaging to your chimney.

How do animals get in?

Damage Caused To Chimneys From Animals - Memphis TN - Coopertown ServicesThe most common way that animas get into a chimney is if the chimney is uncapped. Uncapped chimneys have nothing to protect the entrance to the flue; this can allow animals – and the elements – to easily get into the chimney structure.

Damaged chimney caps are also more susceptible to animals getting in. Holes, dents, missing screws, or damaged mesh can all create spaces for small animals to get into; likewise, larger mammals like raccoons are often sometimes able to claw or bite weak areas on the chimney cap to create a hole large enough for them to crawl through.

How do animals damage my chimney?

Even tiny animals can create big problems for your chimney system. First, animals can cause or worsen damage to the chimney cap when they attempt to get it. This leaves your chimney system vulnerable to water and debris, as well as other animals entering in the future. Next, the sharp claws and talons of small birds and animals can scratch and chip the slippery chimney tiles in the flue. Damage to the tiles of the chimney liner can expose the surrounding building materials to heat from the fire and may require the chimney to be relined. Animals can also carry in bacteria and bugs; their presence in the chimney can expose your family to disease or affect the air quality in your home.

Unfortunately, many animals that find their way into the chimney cannot get back out, becoming disoriented and distressed in the tight, dark environment. If this occurs, you should never attempt to “smoke out” an animal. Trapped animals – especially any babies present in nests – are often killed before they are able to escape. Likewise, this can also cause debris and nesting materials in the chimney to ignite and create a chimney fire. Instead, use noise to attempt to draw the animals out or call a wildlife removal group.

How do I keep animals out?

The best way to keep animals out of the chimney structure is to have a well-fitting, quality chimney cap installed. Likewise, regular yearly chimney inspections can help ensure that the chimney cap remains in good condition and there are no areas of damage that may allow animals to find their way in.

While they may view it as a safe haven from winter weather, animals can cause serious damage to your chimney structure. If you think you have animals in your chimney – or simply want to make sure they stay out – contact Coopertown Services today at 901-358-7777!

By Christina Robinson on December 7th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment