Chimney Works’ masonry repair crew has been serving the Cincinnati area since 2001. We provide all masonry services from simple chimney repairs to complete chimney rebuilds and chimney restorations.
YEP, WE DO THAT
We’ll come out and take a look at any chimney problems you may have. We’ll do an 8 point exterior chimney inspection, a flue inspection to detect water damage and we’ll provide photos & a written report.
All of this at no cost to you.
A properly constructed chimney has a very long life span, however, even a well-built chimney may periodically require maintenance and repair. Some common signs that your chimney is deteriorating are cracks in the bricks, cracks in the mortar joints, missing mortar from the joints, rubble around your chimney or on the roof, discoloration, and water leaking into your home. Of course, if you are like most homeowners and do not spend a lot of time on the peak of your roof looking at your chimney, you may not even notice the damage. The best way to be sure that your chimney is not developing an expensive problem is to have a qualified technician do a multi-point inspection and make honest recommendations on any required repairs. If you are curious about the major causes of chimney deterioration, we recommend you read about the freeze-thaw cycle over at our blog.
This brick chimney has seen better days. Here an entire brick has crumbled leaving room for water to enter and cause a leak.
This chimney has spalled and left rubble all over the roof.
Chimney Restoration and Reconstruction
Whether the chimney is in need of minor repairs or complete reconstruction, Chimney Works technicians and masons are trained to help you determine the appropriate course of action. No job is too big or too small, and you’ll appreciate our professional craftsmanship and care for your home.
Many of our jobs are partial rebuilds. We only tear down the chimney as far as we need to and rebuild it from there.
Your masonry team will provide options
for chimney repairs. We educate you on your choices and let you decide.
Flashing Replacement And Repair
When flashing pulls away due to storm damage or settling, we can either replace or repair it. Flashing is one of the major causes of a chimney leak. Many roofing crews improperly install chimney flashing or never bother to seal it properly. Like most things in construction, there is a right and wrong way to do things. Chimney flashing can feel and look like a work of art when done correctly. We’ll never recommend you replace your chimney flashing unless we think you need it. We provide options and educate you on your choices.
From old flashing like this…
To new flashing like this. But only if you really need it.
Our full-time masonry crew has been helping Cincinnati, Dayton and Northern Kentucky residents prevent chimney damage for decades. A typical masonry chimney should have a very long life, but like most things and ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Read on to learn more about water damage and what you can do to protect your chimney.
Mortar and bricks by nature are porous, which means they let water in. Once water is inside, it can freeze and expand, which causes cracks or can even break the face of the brick off, otherwise known as spalling. Even hot dry weather can cause the chimney structure to shift, which can leave a way for water to get in later. In chimney crowns, small gaps may become big ones once water gets inside. Even if you do not end up with a structural problem, you could have staining, a loss of insulation value, and general deterioration.
A quick rundown of what we do when investigating leaky chimneys:
First, we evaluate is where the water is appearing. Sometimes the area shows up as discoloration in the drywall or wood structures around your chimney. Finding where the water is appearing helps us look for the water entry point.
Next, we examine the flashing, the roof around the chimney, the chimney cap and of course the condition of the chimney itself including the chimney crown.
Common Causes Of Chimney Leaks
A chimney with a missing cap is an invitation for the rain to come into your home. Caps keep birds, animals, and rain out of your chimney and out of your home. We’ll make sure your cap is present and installed properly.
Chimney crown cracks are a common source of chimney leaks. This concrete ‘roof’ of your chimney has the sole job of keeping water out of your chimney. Without a chimney crown, you would have a very large open surface area for water to enter your home. Chimney crowns are sloped to let the rain roll off and fall harmlessly onto your shingles. When a chimney crown is cracked or damaged from age or storm damage, water can get in. Chimney Works can fix cracked crowns by a simple repair and sealing, however, once the damage reaches a certain point, we may need to remove and re-lay the concrete chimney crown.
Chimney flashing stops water from going into your home where the chimney meets the roof. If the flashing has pulled away due to your house settling or was improperly sealed to begin with, we can either reseal your chimney flashing or install new flashing to prevent further leaking. This is a very common cause of chimney leaks.
The bricks and mortar that make up your chimney can age and cause chimney leaks. We’ll inspect the bricks and mortar to make sure that everything is in order, and if required replace bricks or tuck point the mortar joints.
Last, we examine the resistance to water of the brick and mortar itself. Applying a sealant will help ensure your chimney lasts longer.
This type of comprehensive troubleshooting approach allows us to make smart recommendations rather than just trying to make a quick sale and be on our way. Our certified technicians will go over their findings with you and make appropriate recommendations based on those findings.
Water penetration can lead to damage costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars to repair. Don’t let this problem go unresolved.
To learn more about water damage, visit our blog: Common Leaking Chimney Causes And How To Fix Them
Chimney Works has helped thousands of customers protect their chimneys throughout the years, however, we would like to emphasize that we cannot guarantee that any repairs we do will stop the water problem. Water is tricky and can have many entry points, some of which are out of our control. We always attempt to address problems in the least expensive way possible first, in accordance with our desire to never sell you anything you don’t really need.
Cracks in the chimney crown are a common point of water entry.
This chimney has several bricks that are spalling. Too bad a breathable sealant was not used.
The firebox of your fireplace is where all the action is, holding an open flame and coals that can easily exceed 1000 degrees. Obviously, any loose or cracked bricks need to be replaced right away. Mortar joints that are eroded back more than 1/2 inch will also need to be repaired with refractory mortar. Or, perhaps its time for fireplace insert.
Fireboxes are built to handle a roaring fire, but even they are not indestructible.
Smoke Chamber Repair
The area just above your firebox and throat damper is called the smoke chamber. This area is often overlooked by homeowners because it is not visible, but it is critical to proper chimney function. Its job is to help smoke find its way up the chimney flue. Often rough masonry impedes the smoke and creates turbulence, which leads to more creosote build-up, which in turn leads to chimney damage. NFPA 184.108.40.206, says that the inner surfaces of the smoke chamber should be parge coated smooth, with an insulating refractory mortar.
From rough masonry like this…
To a smooth parge coat like this.
Chimney Crown Repair
The crown of your chimney is the surface on the very top that is sloped to move water away from the flue and keep water where it belongs. Proper construction is key, and sadly we see many crowns that are made of the wrong material or are missing expansion joints. Cracks or breaking of your chimney crown can lead to water damage. The worst thing about this type of chimney damage is that it can start off small and turn into a big problem quickly, especially after several freeze/thaw cycles when water freezes and expands and makes small cracks big ones, letting more water in and the cycle repeats. Good news though, most crowns can be repaired or a specialized waterproof product called CrownSeal can be used to address the problem.
Hairline cracks like this get bigger and deeper when water enters, freezes and expands.
This crown had hairline cracks and has been painted with CrownCoat and will last for years to come.
A steel form is set on top of this chimney just before we pour the chimney crown out of high-grade cement.
Chimney Damper Installation And Repair
Hopefully, your chimney has some type of damper. A damper is a device inside or on top of your chimney that can be closed when your chimney is not in use. Closing your damper stops the heat from your home from going up the chimney, or cold air from outside coming down the chimney. Chimney Works offers throat dampers and top-sealing dampers and damper cap combinations to ensure your home is as efficient as possible.
Throat dampers are hard to see since they are at the very top of your firebox and often covered in soot. This diagram should help.
A view of a throat damper from below.
Even the most well-built chimney is still prone to deterioration due to weather, but only if it is left unprotected. To protect your chimney we repel water away from your mortar and bricks with a specialized product called Chimney Saver. Chimney Saver is a water repellent and will not trap moisture in your mortar. This highly specialized product that is for professional application only, and the product itself comes with an extended warranty. There are also other specialized products we can apply to your chimney crown, the mortar joints, the smoke chamber, and the flashing. To learn more about Chimney Saver, visit their product page.
ChimneySaver repels water while letting your chimney ‘breathe’ and expel water vapor.
Chimney Caps & Guards
There are many reasons why a chimney cap should be present on all chimneys. The primary function of a chimney cap is to keep animals and weather out. Leaving your chimney without a chimney cap leaves your chimney and masonry susceptible to water damage, increased possibility of a roof fire, not to mention critters getting in.
A chimney cap stops rain, snow, and downdrafts from entering the chimney. Rain and snow which enters the flue can cause an internal damper and parts of your firebox to rust which could lead to expensive repairs. The chimney cap will also keep water away from sensitive parts of the chimney crown and flue area. When water enters any small gaps and then freezes, the water expands which can crack or damage the mortar or bricks. When water finds its way down to the mortar joints of your clay flue tiles, it may crack the mortar joints or completely push them out, which means a potential chimney reline. Many chimneys without caps can experience downdrafts, or wind coming down the chimney. There are some models of chimney caps that can actually induce an updraft, which is very helpful for areas prone to downdrafts.
A proper chimney cap will not allow birds, bats, squirrels, raccoons or other animals to enter the chimney. This may not seem like a big deal, but you would be surprised how often we see critters in chimneys. There is also a possibility you could end up with a protected species nesting in your chimney, like Chimney Swifts. If these guys get in your chimney, their nests and young can not be disturbed while it is breeding season. While this might not seem like a big deal, Chimney swifts can be quite loud and disrupt your peace and quiet.
A proper chimney cap will include wire mesh or some other mechanism to help prevent ash and sparks from being blown onto rooftops and the ground outside of your home. Even the smallest spark can start a fire under the right conditions, and given the price of a chimney cap is so low when you consider its life span, it is an easy decision to make.
Not all chimney caps are created equally. Chimney Works deals in quality, stainless steel chimney caps, many with a lifetime warranty. Proper installation is crucial, as chimney caps that fly off during storms can cause damage to your roof or elsewhere on the home. If a regular chimney cap does not fit your flue or isn’t right for the application, Chimney Works can recommend specialty caps. Some caps can even help lower your heating bill by locking tight when your fireplace is not in use.
A chimney liner protects the inside length of a chimney from the various factors that can cause corrosion or decay. Liners also stop heat transfer from the chimney to combustible surfaces in your home, such as wood. Liners also have many other benefits and are now required by almost all fire codes. A liner should not be considered optional even if your local codes do not require it.
Chances are, your chimney probably already has a liner, even if it is a traditional clay flue. However, what do you do when your trusted chimney sweep detects damage in your existing liner? Thankfully, Chimney Works can provide you with options that will keep you safe without breaking the bank. Your chimney can be relined, which will either repair the damage or drop an entirely new liner down your chimney.
We’ll cover the types of liners in a moment, but first, we’ll review the reasons why you might want to consider a chimney reline.
Why should I reline my chimney?
- You do not have any type of chimney liner in your chimney
- You spot very visible damage to your chimney, caused by a chimney fire or a lightning strike
- A certified chimney sweep spots damage during a chimney inspection
- Damage is found due to your home settling
- An existing liner has deteriorated and needs to be replaced
- To adjust the size of the chimney opening for a new appliance; such as converting from oil to gas heat, or putting in a wood insert.
- To prevent excessive creosote buildup when venting a wood stove or wood insert through an existing fireplace.
This chimney has no liner.
This clay flue liner has a crack in it, likely due to thermal shock.
THINK YOU NEED A LINER?
Chimney Liner Options
Stainless Steel Chimney Liner
This method of chimney relining involves installing a round or oval stainless steel liner in the chimney. This is by far the most popular option for relining chimneys and is generally used when damage to an existing clay flue is found or the homeowner has upgraded to a heating appliance (like an insert) that requires a smaller draft or a liner. These stainless steel liners can be either rigid or flexible. Flexible liners are used for chimneys with offsets or bends, where rigid liners will not work. Stainless steel liners are used mainly for wood stoves, wood inserts, oil, and coal furnace installations. There are even different grades of chimney liners. 304L, 316L, and 316TI are three popular grades. The L indicates low carbon and the TI indicates the steel is titanium stabilized. Each grade can handle different temperatures and has different lifespans in a corrosive environment like a chimney. Generally, the fuel you plan on burning determines which grade of chimney liner to use, with coal and oil requiring the 316TI. Based on local codes and specific needs, fireproof insulation can be wrapped around the stainless steel liner before installation. This insulating wrap can prevent heat transfer as well as increase the draft of your chimney. We recommend these wraps when there is damage to your flue tiles and if you are burning solid fuels. The addition of insulation can create complications if the liner is a tight fit in an existing chimney. On rare occasions, we have to use a special tool to destroy and remove the existing clay flue liner in order to get enough clearance to install the insulating wrap. Chimney Works can help select the right stainless steel liner for you. We offer UL Listed stainless steel lining systems that come with a manufacturer’s lifetime warranty. Take a look at this video to see what is involved with installing a stainless steel chimney liner.
Recoat Your Existing Chimney Liner
A clay flue liner has no coating when it is originally installed. If any damage is detected it can be coated with a specialized product called HeatShield as an option. HeatShield is a specially formulated “Cerfractory” sealant material that restores the integrity of your chimney’s flue to vent hazardous flue gases from your home. It eliminates the dangers in your chimney caused by gaps, cracks and spalling for years to come. By using either the Joint Repair System or Resurfacing System, depending on the defects found, your chimney will be restored to its original peak level of safety and efficiency. View the HeatShield® manufacturer’s website.
A clay flue tile before HeatSheild application …
A clay flue tile after HeatShield application. Any cracks in the liner and missing mortar are covered.
Aluminum Chimney Liner
This method of chimney relining is similar to stainless steel, but the liner is made of aluminum. Aluminum’s melting point is 1,221°F, while grade 316 stainless steel’s melting point is 2,500°F. Because of the lower melting point, aluminum liners can only be used to vent certain types of gas and direct vent appliances. Aluminum chimney liners are generally used when someone is switching from a wood stove to certain models of gas stoves. Note: Gas logs intended for installation in wood-burning fireplaces may not be vented with aluminum liners.
Install Flue Tiles
Used mainly in new construction, this method of relining may be suitable for short, straight chimneys. Given the superior options of the stainless steel liners, replacing cracked clay flue tiles usually does not make sense. What you will save in materials you will quickly spend in labor, as more often than not, the chimney has to be broken open every few feet to remove or set the flue tiles.
If the mortar in between your bricks begins to fail, we can help. And here is the great news: It will not require a full or partial rebuild. Even a chimney that is waterproofed may eventually require maintenance, and the mortar joints in between your bricks are often the weakest link and the first to fail. Our masons grind out 1/2 inch of the mortar and replace it with a process known as repointing, sometimes called pointing or tuckpointing. Once the old mortar is ground out new mortar is placed into the grooves with a grout bag or small trowel. After the mortar sets to exactly the right firmness, a mason will use a tool called a striker to expertly remove the excess mortar, leaving a uniform depression in between the bricks. Tuckpointing ensures that your chimney is back to a proper condition, both aesthetically and functionally. If a chimney with mortar damage is left unattended, water will begin to enter the chimney structure and make things worse in short order.
Well protected mortar in a chimney or other brick structures should have a functional lifespan of around 30 years or more. Homeowners will be relieved to know that repointing is a very cost-effective of extending your chimney’s life.
Not only does tuckpointing protect your chimney from water infiltration, but it also makes older chimneys look new.