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Homestead Chimney Service Blog

Common Chimney Repairs

These Things Happen

Many people do not give any thought to chimney repairs until it becomes clear that there is something wrong. If the chimney is starting to smell strange or is producing a great deal of smoke, it may be time to hire a certified chimney professional to investigate. A chimney specialist is a critical piece, because their training and experience give them the ability to see problems, or potential problems that you don’t notice or cannot interpret.

So you know you need to call a chimney professional, how often does your chimney need an inspection?  This should be done on an annual basis, not just when there seems to be a problem. In fact, having the chimney inspected each year is the best way to avoid most common chimney problems before they become major issues. This can save you money and prevent any damage to the structure of your home.

Annual inspections are critical for safety reasons, but also so that an expert pair of eyes can identify small problems before they become big and expensive.

Annual inspections are critical for safety reasons, but also so that an expert pair of eyes can identify small problems before they become big and expensive.

Replacing or relining the flue liner is a common repair. The liner protects the inside of the chimney from corrosive gas, chemicals and general wear and tear on the flue. In many cases, chimney specialists find that the liner has started to detach from the flue, making it ineffective. Older homes may not have a flue liner at all and, if this is the case, the chimney should not be used until one is properly installed.

A great deal of chimney damage is caused by excessive amounts of moisture that collect within the flue. This may be the result of rain or snow that makes its way into the chimney and collects there. A simple way to fix this problem is by having a chimney cap installed. This little piece fits right over the top of the chimney and prevents unwanted material from getting inside. This can prevent damage such as deteriorating bricks, dangerous molds or damage from critters setting up a home in your chimney.

Sometimes, a chimney inspection will show that there are cracks inside of the chimney as a result of foundation settlement. This is a serious issue that a homeowner would not likely know about if they did not have a proper inspection. In this case, it may be necessary to have the entire chimney refurbished or replaced. This may seem like a major undertaking but, if it is not addressed in a timely manner, the damage could spread throughout the foundation of the home.

It is important to remember that even the simplest of chimney repairs should only be handled by a professional chimney repair person. The average person who tries to repair their chimney may end up causing more problems instead of solving them. In addition, they put themselves at serious risk for bodily injury if they are not used to climbing up on the roof. The Chimney Safety Institute of America is a great place to find professionals who are trained to deal with many of these issues. Annual cleaning and inspection is a must-do for homeowners wanting to save money in the long term. Catching little issues before they become catastrophic is why expert eyes are needed.

Do You Know the Clearance to Combustibles of Your Fireplace?

There are different combustible clearances for your fireplace that are highly dependent on the type of unit, how your home is constructed and the codes and standards in place where you live. To try and list them without having all of this information is non-productive at best. If you are looking to install a new unit, retro-fit a new appliance where an old one now sits or tear out one kind of system and replace it with another, your best bet is to hire a professional chimney specialist. The person you are looking for is versed in the maintenance of fireplaces, inserts and wood stoves as well as knows a thing or two about masonry for chimney systems.

Clearance to Combustibles - South Georgia - Homestead ChimneyA fireplace and chimney specialist will know and understand the autonomy of the system and what will need to be done for your project to turn out the way you envision  That means starting with safety first followed by performance and then decor. If you don’t think this way you will end up with a beautiful fireplace that everyone admires that doesn’t work very well and may not be as safe as it needs to be.

We see problems with clearance to combustibles in new construction where brick layers are hired to build the fireplace and they just don’t have the knowledge to do it correctly and when people do additions or renovations and don’t pay attention to the details that make a unit safe and function well while they were “getting it to look right”.

At its best you will have a fireplace that may or may not work properly. At its worst you will have a fire.

This can happen when short cuts are made and wood to frame another room or act as support runs are placed too close to the flue or up in the attic next to the chimney. The heat from the fire that runs up that flue can catch the wood on fire and easily catch the home on fire. This is why clearance to combustibles is not something you should miss and chimney specialists know it.

Different clearances may also be specified by manufacturers of various components of different fireplaces. If all homeowners have to rely on are the manufacturers instructions, they can easily miss something important. Knowing the clearance to combustibles  and being able to access those areas to determine if they can be met or not are also things a specialist will do.

Luckily, homeowners do not have to learn the variable numbers imposed by residential codes or ascertain the compliance of their house with those regulations. That is what fireplace and chimney professionals are for, fully informed of the specifications of both city codes and manufacturers. They are the ones who will check clearances to combustibles, both those that can be easily reached and those that require research.