Santa's Friend Chimney Service

Santa's Friend Chimney Service Blog

Did the Winter Weather Damage Your Chimney?

Despite being in the South, our area has experienced some harsh winter weather this year, and we at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service have been very busy repairing a lot of damage caused by the past couple of very cold months. From water leaks to damaged dampers, liners, and chimney caps to masonry problems, the extreme temperatures of winter can be very destructive to a chimney. You may have even noticed some damage done to your chimney. The spring season is a great time to take care of these repairs, and you do not want to delay fixing winter-related chimney damage. We would like to tell you about some common post-winter chimney repairs and how our certified and experienced chimney technicians can fix these problems.

2015 Winter Weather Chimney Damage - Jackson MS

Leaky Chimneys

Causing possibly hundreds to thousands of dollars in chimney damage repair, water leaks are a chimney’s worst enemy. After a cold winter with below-freezing temperatures, we often see leaks caused by spalling. Water leaks from a chimney can be hard to locate, so call Santa’s Friend Chimney Service to schedule a professional chimney inspection to determine exactly what is causing them. You can see signs of a leaky chimney, which include:

  • loose or missing bricks and/or mortar
  • cracking and crumbling in the bricks and/or mortar
  • rusty stains
  • brick discoloration
  • water in the fireplace
  • damp odors

Damper and Chimney Cap Damage

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), the efficiency of these two parts of your chimney is crucial to saving energy and money. Additionally, these two components serve to keep water from penetrating into your chimney. If your damper is stuck open, it is the same thing as leaving a window in your house open. Cold air escapes, bugs get in, the rain pours into your house, etc. If the damper is stuck closed, you cannot start a fire because your flue is closed-off and unable to filter smoke and gases. Similarly, an undamaged chimney cap fitting correctly on the top of your chimney is essential because not only does it also keep rain out of your chimney, but it prevents stray animals from setting up home there.

Masonry Fireplace Damage

These classic chimneys are a bit more elaborate and require different types of maintenance, but Santa’s Friend Chimney Service specializes in repairing masonry chimneys and is glad to check these jobs off your repair list:

  • crown repair – Your crown is the chimney cap of your masonry chimney and can become cracked during the winter during extremely cold spells.
  • repointing/tuckpointing – When the bricks and mortar of your chimney are crumbling and falling apart due to deteriorating joints from spalling and water damage, we can repair (or rebuild, if necessary) your chimney using these techniques.

If you have noticed any of these or other chimney problems from the past winter, contact Santa’s Friend Chimney Service as soon as possible. We are ready to repair any damage as well as prevent further damage from occurring.

By Jim Robinson on March 14th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

The Anatomy of a Masonry Chimney

If you have a masonry fireplace, the anatomy of its chimney consists of many important parts. Many homeowners are unfamiliar with these parts and their functions, and knowing these parts’ names and functions can help homeowners identify exactly what is wrong with their chimneys. As part of our duties as Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps, we at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service enjoy teaching our customers about their fireplace and chimney systems. We would like to tell you the parts of a masonry chimney and explain what exactly they do to keep your fireplace working safely.

Masonry Chimney Anatomy - Jackson MS

As identified by the CSIA, the anatomy of a masonry fireplace and chimney system include the following parts:

  • Mortar Crown – Also known as a chimney crown, this part sits on top of the chimney to prevent water penetration of the bricks and mortar as well as water leaks down the flue and into your home.
  • Flue – Available in different shapes and sizes, the flue is a chamber that vents out the corrosive byproducts of combustion from the fireplace. A single chimney can have multiple flues if several fireplaces or stoves are connected to the same chimney.
  • Smoke Chamber – The area above the firebox and below the flue, the smoke chamber allows smoke to mix and rise up the flue. Most smoke chambers are made from terracotta tiles. This part is also known as the chimney throat.
  • Smoke Shelf – The smoke shelf functions with the smoke chamber to push smoke out the flue. This area is behind the damper and is the bottom of the chimney.
  • Damper – Usually located in the same area as the smoke chamber and smoke shelf, the damper seals your chimney shut when the fireplace is not in use. A very important part of your chimney, the damper needs to function properly to keep heated air from escaping out the chimney when there is no fire.
  • Lintel – A heavy piece of angle iron that holds up the bricks over the center of the fireplace, the lintel is embedded into the brick.
  • Firebox – A critical component of your fireplace and chimney system, the firebox is a two- or three-walled structure that contains the direct heat of the fire and guides the smoke into the smoke chamber. Since the firebox is exposed to such high temperatures, this part tends to deteriorate more quickly than other parts of the anatomy of your chimney. It is crucial that the firebox is constructed with the right materials and kept in good repair.
  • Ash Dump – Equipped with a door, the ash dump is located directly below the center of the firebox. When the ash dump door is open, ashes from the fire fall into the ash dump. The ash dump makes it simple to remove ashes from the firebox.
  • Clean Out Door – Most often located in the basement of your home, the clean out door allows you to clean out the ash dump more easily.

Have questions about your chimney’s anatomy? Contact Santa’s Friend Chimney Service or click here to ask our staff whatever you need to know about the parts of your chimney.

By Jim Robinson on February 27th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

What Causes the Most Damage to a Masonry Chimney?

If your home has a masonry fireplace, you may know that the Chimney Institute of America (CSIA) has named water as the biggest enemy of your chimney. For good reason as water penetration of your chimney is the biggest cause of expensive and extensive damage to the interior and the exterior of your home. Keeping water out of your chimney is key to prevent the deterioration of the entire structure. At Santa’s Friend Chimney Service, our CSIA-certified technicians are well aware of the damage water can do to a masonry chimney, and we can find the leak, repair the damage, and then prevent further water penetration of your chimney. Often asked by our customers how water can be such a big problem, we would like to share three ways water penetration can do lots of damage to a masonry chimney.

Masonry Damage - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney

1. Water leaks can cause brick and mortar spalling, which can lead to structural damage.

If the bricks and mortar of your chimney suffer a great deal of water exposure, the water will penetrate into the materials and begin eroding the masonry materials. When this trapped water freezes inside your bricks and mortar, the breaking apart, peeling, and flaking of masonry materials, known as spalling, occurs when the temperatures rise and the water thaws. The expansion of the thawed water can be too much for bricks to endure, which is why they become loose and/or break off of your chimney. Unrepaired spalling can lead to possible severe structural damage of your chimney. Water will also continue to invade your chimney through the holes provided by the spalled bricks and mortar, which will lead to even more damage. If you ever notice loose bricks or mortar on the exterior of your chimney, contact Santa’s Friend Chimney Service for a chimney inspection. We will repair the damage and waterproof your chimney to prevent spalling from occurring again.

2. Water leaks can cause cracks and other deteriorations to your chimney flue liner, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Water penetration not only affects the bricks and mortar of your chimney, but it causes damage to your interior flue liner as well. If you have a clay chimney liner, cracks will form due to water leaks, and if you have a metal chimney liner, rusting will occur from water exposure. Both of these problems can cause your liner to break apart and crack. A cracked liner can be a health hazard since your chimney liner serves to protect you and your family from the by-products of combustion, like toxic smoke and carbon monoxide, from entering your home. At Santa’s Friend Chimney Service, we can repair and restore clay chimney liners with HeatShield, and we can replace damaged liners with a durable stainless steel.

3. Water leaks can cause interior damage to your home, including stained walls and ceilings and mold growth.

Not only does water penetration of a masonry chimney cause many issues to the chimney itself, but a leaky chimney can also stain the ceilings and walls of the room where your fireplace is located. If you find water leak stains in your fireplace room, you should also consider the possibility of mold growth in the ceilings, walls, fireplace, and chimney. Contact Santa’s Friend Chimney Service as soon as possible if you ever see this sort of water penetration damage.

If you have more questions on what types of damage water penetration can do to a masonry chimney, contact Santa’s Friend Chimney Service today. We are happy to help you repair and prevent this kind of damage to your fireplace and chimney.

By Jim Robinson on February 13th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Why We Recommend Top-Mounted Dampers

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), a damper is a “must item” for every fireplace. A damper is essential for an energy-efficient home as it keeps the heat in and the cold air out of your house, which also saves you money on heating bills. You can also use your damper to control the flow of heat and smoke up the chimney. Dampers are available in two different types: the throat damper and the top-mounted damper. Also known as the traditional fireplace damper, a throat damper is installed right above the firebox. However, this type of damper has many flaws and issues. At Santa’s Friend Chimney Service, we strongly recommend the top-mounted damper over the throat damper. We would like to share with you why we like top-mounted dampers and tell you about the benefits of these dampers.

With dual functions, a top-mounted damper is a “two for the price of one” chimney component.

One of the best benefits of a top-mounted damper is that it also serves as a chimney cap when the damper is closed, and, honestly, it actually gives you better protection than an ordinary chimney cap. Equipped with a silicone rubber gasket to seal in heat and air conditioning as a damper, a top-mounted damper also provides you with an air-tight seal to keep out water, debris, birds, squirrels, and raccoons — just as a chimney cap should. Santa’s Friend Chimney Service recommends installing a top-mounted damper to our customers who need to replace a damaged chimney cap. Some models of top-mounted dampers come with caps, so even when the damper is open, your chimney is still protected from debris and animals.

A top-mounted damper saves both energy and money.

Throat dampers just cannot completely seal as well as top-mounted dampers. You do not have to worry about cold air, ice, and snow entering the flue and chase to create a cold core in your chimney. A cold core tries to cool your home at the same time that your heating system is trying to warm it up, which causes you to waste fuel and money. Since a top-mounted damper sits on the top of your chimney, cold air never even has a chance to get anywhere inside your chimney because your entire flue is sealed air-tight with the silicone rubber gasket. Trust us when we say you will save money on both cooling and heating bills when you install a top-mounted damper.

Top Mount Damper - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney

A top-mounted damper is easy to open and close.

With some throat dampers, you have to practically stick your head up the fireplace to open and close the dampers. When you have a top-mounted damper, opening and closing the damper is simple and hassle-free. A cable from the damper drops down the chimney and connects to an easily-accessible handle that is mounted inside the firebox. Different models have different opening and closing methods, but Santa’s Friend Chimney Service guarantees you will find all easy to use.

Want to know more about why we love top-mounted dampers so much? Contact Santa’s Friend Chimney Service to find out even more advantages to this type of damper.

By Jim Robinson on October 29th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , | Leave a Comment

How a Chimney Cap Keeps Your Chimney Safe

Is your chimney uncapped? Or is your chimney cap cracked or damaged? If you do not have a chimney cap or if your chimney cap is deteriorated, your chimney is at risk for several problems. The purpose of a chimney cap is to protect your chimney’s interior from intruders like water and animals. An important part of your chimney system, your chimney cap serves to keep your chimney safe. At Santa’s Friend Chimney Service, we understand how essential a good chimney cap is for your chimney. We also know the importance of proper installation of a chimney cap, and our expert technicians will provide you with a perfect, customized chimney cap installation. We would like to share with you five reasons why chimney caps are so important, according to a blog on Angie’s List.

Chimney Cap - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney

  1. A chimney cap keeps your chimney safe from water penetration. The main function of a chimney cap is to keep water out of your chimney. One of the best protections from water penetration, a properly fitted cap will keep your chimney dry. Water is the number one enemy of a masonry chimney because of the amount of expensive damage it can do. If water gets into your bricks and mortar, you can end up with spalled bricks and chipped mortar. Water also can eat away at your chimney liner, which puts you at risk for carbon monoxide leaks. Water in your chimney can also cause your damper to rust. Another hazardous possibility is mold growth on your chimney walls.
  2. A chimney cap keeps your chimney safe from animal invasions. Birds, squirrels, raccoons, and other animals like to take up residence in chimneys because they mistake them for hollow trees. However, these animals are fire hazards because their nests are highly flammable. Animals can also get stuck inside your chimney and die, which can produce maggots, flies, and an unpleasant odor in your home. A chimney cap with metal mesh sides will serve to keep these animals from getting into your chimney.
  3. A chimney cap can block downdrafts. When the wind blows in a certain direction, it can cause a downdraft in your chimney. Without a chimney cap, a wood-burning fireplace can be negatively affected by a downdraft as it can cause smoke to blow into your home. The reason why chimney caps have flat tops is to help prevent downdrafts caused by the wind.
  4. A chimney cap can prevent sparks and embers from leaving the chimney. Some people refer to chimney caps as “spark arrestors” because they stop lit embers and sparks which travel up the chimney. If these sparks and embers jump out of your chimney, they can possibly catch your roof on fire.
  5. A chimney cap keeps your chimney safe from a buildup of debris. Without a chimney cap, leaves, branches, twigs, and other debris can get into your chimney and accumulate. These accumulations can become large enough to block your flue, which causes toxic gases to enter your home.

As you can see, a chimney cap is essential to keep your chimney safe from several things. If you need a new chimney cap, contact Santa’s Friend Chimney Service to schedule a consultation with our experienced staff.

By Jim Robinson on October 15th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

The Importance of Using A CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep

When you are looking for a professional chimney sweep company, you should always be sure the company is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), as we are at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service. This certification is so important because this credential is the industry standard and ensures you receive the highest quality service possible when working with a chimney sweeping company. We would like to tell you more about the CSIA and what their certification means so that you can understand the importance of only working with CSIA-certified chimney sweeps.

CSIA Certification - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney

What Is the CSIA?

Founded in 1983, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the education of the safety of chimney and venting systems. Dedicated to preventing and eliminating the hazards and dangers of chimney fires, carbon monoxide leaks, and other issues, the CSIA devotes many resources to inform the public, chimney professionals, and fire prevention specialists on how to reduce and correct problems in chimney and venting systems. Providing the only certification program in the chimney and venting system industry, the CSIA is truly the professional standard.

What Is the CSIA-Certification Process?

To receive certification from the CSIA, an employee or an owner must attend a six-day program at its training center at the headquarters in Indianapolis, IN. Combining classroom training at the technology training center with hands-on experience in homes the course provides over 30 hours of experience using the tools of the trade and working with different venting systems. After the completion of this program, most participants will receive the credential of being a CSIA-certified Chimney Sweep after passing certification exams.

What Are the Different Topics Covered in the CSIA-Certification Program?

During the six-day program, students will learn:

  • how to inspect and service chimney systems of all fuel types
  • about the different home heating appliances, including pellet stoves, wood stoves, inserts, factory-built fireplaces, furnaces, and central heaters
  • the standards of the National Fire Prevention Association 211
  • how to navigate the International Residential Codes, chimney performance problems, understanding draft and flow, diagnosing drown drafts, flow reversals, inadequate flow, stack effects, updrafts, pressure effects, and gauges
  • safety and health equipment and methods.

What If I Cannot Travel to Indianapolis to Attend the CSIA-Certification Program?

There is an alternative to taking the in-person program. CSIA also provides an online training session that people can take at home whenever convenient for them.

What Are the Other Steps to Becoming CSIA-Certified?

After completing the in-person or online training session, participants must pass an one-hour exam based on the CSIA textbook Successful Chimney Sweeping 2011 and NFPA 211 2013 and a 90-minute open book exam based on the 2006 International Residential Codes. After passing these exams, candidates must agree to pay the annual certification fee and sign the CSIA Code of Ethics.

You can depend on CSIA-certified chimney sweeps to do the best professional job possible. Contact Santa’s Friend Chimney Service to schedule your annual chimney cleaning with our CSIA-certified sweeps.

By Jim Robinson on September 13th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment