Our Company Blog

Don’t Wait to Fix Chimney Leaks

Ahh, springtime! The snow is melting, the trees are budding, the flowers are blooming, you’re stuck at home; and your chimney is leaking. Have you been spending more time at home and heard a persistent, unfound dripping? After a Colorado winter, with months of snow and ice sitting against your chimney, spring is when we notice the new leaks. Call your local fireplace and chimney experts to fix it.

Our Chimney Safety Institute of America Certified technicians will perform a thorough leaky chimney inspection to determine where the water is coming in, and how to stop it. We are an essential business and are still open to make sure your family is safe and warm. If you suspect your chimney of allowing water into your home, don’t wait, call us today. We can solve your chimney problems!

Exposure to the Elements Causes Chimney Leaks

Most people are unfamiliar with the parts to a chimney system that can allow water in. The weak points of a chimney vary depending on whether it’s a masonry or factory-built chimney. Most parts of the chimney degrade with time, UV rays from sunlight, hail damage, and the repeated freezing and thawing of a Colorado spring. There are usually several suspected weak points when there are signs of water intrusion. This fact makes identifying exactly where the water is coming from a challenge. Often, the location of apparent water damage does not reveal the actual location of the source of the leak.

Weathering in masonry joints and bricks is a common source of chimney leaks in Colorado.
Weathering in masonry joints and bricks is a common source of chimney leaks in Colorado.

Why do masonry chimneys leak?

If you have a masonry chimney you may believe that it will last forever, but that is simply not true. Masonry chimneys are susceptible to degradation and chimney leaks just like any other material. This degradation happens faster than most people expect with the unpredictable winter and spring weather in Colorado. We see damage to masonry chimneys from rain and hail; however, the freeze/thaw cycle is most destructive, that is why it’s so important to keep water flowing off and away from your chimney.

Masonry chimneys are made of flue tiles which are supported by cinder blocks and stone or bricks. They also have a concrete crown at the top. The concrete crown is designed to be the “lid” to your masonry chimney, it keeps water out and sheds the water away from the sides of the chimney. Concrete crowns should have 2-inch overhang with a drip edge which prevents water from running down and eroding the mortar joints between the stones or bricks. If you’re missing a 4-5” thick concrete slab with an overhang and drip edge atop the masonry, that’s a strong indicator of water intrusion problems. We can pour a new concrete crown for your chimney or apply Crown Coat to seal any cracks you may have in your chimney crown.

When your crown isn’t deflecting water away from the sides of your chimney, water seeps through your mortar joints. This problem becomes even larger when the moisture freezes and expands. Freezing water expansion exerts tremendous pressure on surrounding masonry materials, creating cracks which then allow more water in. As this cycle continues, the damage compounds with each freeze and thaw. Eventually there may be no mortar left at all, allowing rain or snow melt directly into your home. Our chimney experts can repair water damage to masonry and mortar, keeping your chimney leak free and maintaining the integrity of your home.

What causes factory-built chimneys to leak?

If you don’t have a masonry chimney, you’re still at risk of chimney leaks. If you have a framed wooden box, called a “chase” enclosing your venting, those materials can also wear out and allow water into your home. The top of a chase system must have a proper cover, chimney cap, and storm collar. The weakest point of the chase is the sheet metal chase cover.

Chase covers are more susceptible to rain and hail damage than masonry chimneys. Over time, dents form and the cover sags on top, collecting water and rusting through. A new chase cover is sloped from the center with drip edges designed to shed water away from chase. If water runs down the sides of your chase, it can enter through gaps in the façade on your chase. Chases are also flashed to the roof line, that can be another area water sneaks its way into your home.

A CSIA-Certified chimney sweep from Mountain Man Fireplace & Chimney inspects a chimney for leaks.
If your factory built chimney or the chase around it is leaking, you should seek the help a CSIA-Certified professional like the technicians at Mountain Man Fireplace & Chimney.

What do I do about chimney leaks?

Whether your chimney is masonry or you have a chase and factory-built chimney, a proper chimney cap is your first line of defense against a leaky chimney. If you look up at your chimney and there isn’t a cap, call us right away! The structure around your flue may be tight but if you’re missing your cap or you have a damaged or improperly sized cap, it allows water straight into the home. Water intrusion from a chimney leak due to a missing cap can damage both masonry and factory-built chimneys. This damage has repercussions that affect not just your fireplace and chimney system but other parts of your home as well.

Our leaky chimney inspection evaluates your entire chimney or chase. If you don’t address damage from a chimney leak quickly, it only gets worse. That’s why it’s crucial that any leaks are located and repaired immediately. If you notice any suspicious water stains, or hear dripping and can’t find the source, protect your home and your investment, call us right away!

Call us if your chimney is leaking!

Our technicians are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fireplace Institute. They have the experience to take on your leaky chimney problems and any other fireplace or chimney needs you have. We also have industry specific techniques, such as special flashing for sealing the uneven edge where masonry chimneys meet the roof line. Put our 22 years of experience working on chimneys in the foothills to work for you!

If the one thing about spring that you are not enjoying is a mysterious water leak, we can help! We can also take on your other fireplace and chimney needs from sales and installation to annual service and repairs. As a business that is essential to your home and family’s safety, we’re open for business and booking appointments. Give us a call today at (303) 679-1601. You can also reach us at Office@MtnHP.com.

Originally posted on MtnHP.com, our sister site.

What Do Chase Covers Do?

Prefabricated fireplaces have become a popular alternative to full masonry fireplaces. They are often less expensive to install, allowing more and more homeowners to enjoy the beauty and comfort of having a fireplace in their home. However, it is important that prefabricated fireplaces receive regular maintenance and upkeep in order to continue burning safely and efficiently. One important component of the prefabricated fireplace is the chimney chase cover.

What do chase covers do-Evergreen, CO-Mountain Man Fireplace and Chimney, Inc -w800-h800
What is a chase cover?

The flue of prefabricated fireplaces need to be covered and protected; while masonry chimneys have bricks and mortar built around their flues, prefabricated fireplaces have chimney chases. The chase is built around the flue of the prefabricated fireplace – often using the same siding or materials as the rest of the home’s exterior – to protect the flue as well as create a more aesthetically pleasing look for the chimney.

At the top of the chase is the chase cover. The chimney chase cover is typically made of metal such as aluminum, copper, or stainless steel. Chase covers are designed to extend over the sides of the chimney structure; this allows water from rain, ice, and snow to drain onto the roof and safely away from the sides of the chimney.

What does a chase cover do?

The purpose of a chimney chase cover is to protect the top of the chimney, especially from leaks and other forms of water damage. Because the chase cover seals and protects the top of the flue, any damage or deterioration can lead to problems such as animal entry or leaks. Water entry can be particularly damaging; a leaky chase can cause damage to not only fireplace components, but also the walls and ceilings of your home. Likewise, long term exposure to moisture – coupled with dark and often cool environments – can encourage mold and mildew growth; this can create extremely unpleasant odors in the chimney as well as affect your home’s air supply.

Is my chase cover damaged?

Because chase covers are not at eye level, it can be hard to tell how they are holding up. One of the most common signs that your chase cover may be experiencing a problem is discoloration or rust on the sides of the chimney chase. While more expensive materials such as copper or stainless steel may not rust, less expensive chimney chase covers made of galvanized metals like aluminum – which often come standard on most prefabricated fireplaces – are more likely to experience issues. Red, orange, or brown staining on the side of the chimney chase is therefore often one of the signs of chase cover deterioration; when rusting or staining occurs, there is a chance your chase cover may already be leaking.

While it is easy to overlook, your chimney chase cover has an extremely important role in keeping your fireplace burning safely and efficiently. If you live around Lakewood, Denver, or the surrounding area, and want more information on how to maintain your chase cover through preventative maintenance, contact Mountain Man Fireplace & Chimney today!

By Jake Johnson on March 29th, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

The Advantages of Keeping your Chimney Cap Clean and Free of Debris

The chimney cap is one of the most important parts of your chimney. In addition to keeping hot coals and embers from flying out onto your roof, it also prevents animals, debris, and moisture from getting into your chimney.

To keep working well, chimneys and chimney caps should be regularly inspected and maintained. A chimney cap that is clean and free of debris will work more efficiently and minimize potential hazards.

chimney-cap-maintenance-image-evergreen-co-mountain-man-chimney

What is a chimney cap?

A chimney cap is a metal covering designed to protect and cover the top of the flue. Made of clay or metals such as stainless steel or copper, chimney caps also have mesh or wire sides that prevent animals or debris from getting into the chimney structure.

Chimney caps are important in that they protect your chimney. Water entry can cause serious damage to nearly every part of your chimney and fireplace, and debris can clog the chimney and become a fire hazard.

How do chimney caps become clogged?

The same wire or mesh that prevents animals or debris from getting into your chimney is also the reason your chimney cap may be clogged. If the spacing in the mesh is too large, small birds or mammals may be able to squeeze through and into the chimney. If the spacing is too small, it may become clogged from the inside with creosote, soot, or ash.

Likewise, over time leaves and debris may blow onto the outside of the chimney cap and get stuck, restricting airflow. During winter storms, the mesh may also be blocked by accumulating ice or snow.

Advantages of keeping your chimney cap clean

Because chimney caps play such an important role in protecting your fireplace and chimney, it is important that they receive regular upkeep and maintenance. A chimney cap that is clean and free of debris allows open airflow into the chimney. This allows fires enough oxygen to start quickly and burn fully. Likewise, a clean chimney cap reduces potential fire hazards as there is no creosote to be accidentally ignited by stray sparks or embers.

Chimney caps that are clean and free from blockages also prevent smoke or gasses such as carbon monoxide from backing up into your home.

How can I tell if my chimney cap is clogged?

Identifying a clogged chimney cap may be difficult because of their location. However, there are a number of signs that you may be experiencing a clogged chimney cap. Because a clogged chimney cap restricts airflow into the chimney, homes where the cap is partially or fully blocked may have issues starting or maintaining a fire in the fireplace.
Homeowners may be able to identify a clogged chimney cap without getting on the roof. Excessive creosote buildup on a chimney cap may cause discoloration to the surrounding bricks and mortar. Likewise, if the chimney cap is visible from the ground, you should be able to see light through the screen. If it is opaque or if there is visible debris on the exterior of the chimney cap, it is most likely clogged.

If you think your chimney cap is clogged or simply need to have an annual chimney sweep or inspection performed, contact Mountain Man Fireplace and Chimney today!

Keep the Water Out

Look Up: Preventing Leaks Can Start At The Top

Your chimney is a complex (and pretty remarkable) system, and every component plays an important role in its performance, safety and longevity. But when we get on the subject of understanding and preventing chimney leaks, it sometimes helps to start by looking up.

What do you need to do to ensure that your chimney stays dry? We have answers.

What do you need to do to ensure that your chimney stays dry? We have answers.

The top portion of your chimney, up above the roofline, tends to be both your chimney’s first line of defense against moisture intrusion and moisture damage and the most heavily bombarded part of your chimney — between rain, snow and baking sun. Making sure that all the parts of your chimney system that live above the roofline are in top shape goes a long way toward keeping chimney leaks at bay. And that’s something we want to help you do at Mountain Man Fireplace & Chimney, because chimney moisture damage is a serious, and seriously frustrating problem.

The Top Portion Of Your Chimney: A Breakdown

Chimney Caps

If you’re looking at your chimney from the street, the first thing you notice up at the very top should be a chimney cap. These are installed atop your flue opening, and their role is multifaceted: Chimney caps not only help to keep rain, snow and other forms of precipitation from diving right into your open flue, they also keep nesting animals out, which helps prevent a whole other kind of damage and annoyance.

If you don’t have a properly sized chimney cap at the top of your flue, that’s one big piece of prevention missing, and one big step closer to moisture problems in your chimney.

Chimney Crowns And Chase Covers

If you have a masonry chimney, you’ll have a masonry chimney crown built up top, right below where your chimney cap is installed. It’s in a tough spot — horizontal, in the direct line of sun and precipitation — and it does an important job, directing and diverting water away from your flue opening. Given all the stress your crown is under, it’s not uncommon for cracks to form. But once cracks do form, bigger trouble begins — moisture can make its way into small cracks, expanding as it freezes and more or less bursting the masonry apart from the inside. The longer it’s left uncorrected, the more damage occurs, and the more moisture gets a chance to make its way into the interior of your chimney and your home.

That’s part of why we’re so vocal about keeping up with your annual chimney inspections — if we’re checking your system closely each and every year, we’ll find those small cracks and make repairs before you’re left with a crumbled and spalling crown that needs to be completely rebuilt.

If you have a pre-fabricated or factory-built chimney system, you’ll have a chase around the upper portion of your chimney, topped with a chase cover that performs a role similar to a chimney crown. Chase covers are constructed with metal, so you’re not dealing with spalling masonry, but instead with the potential for rust and corrosion. Homeowners with galvanized metal chase covers most often have that problem — and rusty, corroded chase covers are a just about surefire contributor to a chimney leak.

If you notice rust streaks on your chase cover in between chimney inspections, give Mountain Man Fireplace & Chimney a call. We can replace the damaged cover with a new one, and talk to you about different options for materials, like stainless steel and copper, which are far more durable (and are beautiful, too).

Chimney Flashing

Where your chimney comes up through your roof, you have seams — the places where the horizontal roof butts up against your vertical chimney column. Seams in just about any context — from your chimney to your chinos — can mean vulnerability when care isn’t taken to strengthen them. So in a chimney, we install flashing all around the chimney, sealing off and carefully protecting those seams from moisture intrusion.

Since its role in leak prevention is so important, damaged flashing is a big deal — if pieces of flashing tear or come off in a storm, or corrode over time, the likelihood of ending up with a leak certainly isn’t low. If there’s a problem with your flashing, Mountain Man technicians can do the careful, custom work required to getting it back in shape.

If you have any questions about your chimney, from its design and function to the best ways to protect it (and your home), we’re always glad to help. Call Mountain Man Fireplace & Chimney!