Santa's Friend Chimney Service

Santa's Friend Chimney Service Blog

Keep the Water Out

Keep A Focus On Keeping Water Out Of Your Chimney

Along with having your chimney inspected every year and making regular chimney sweeping appointments to stay ahead of creosote, taking precautions to fight off encroaching water is one of the most important things you can do to keep your chimney system trouble-free.

Call us today and lets start making sure your chimney is working at its optimal level.

Call us today and lets start making sure your chimney is working at its optimal level.

A healthy amount of the time, when Santa’s Friend Chimney Service is called in with a chimney repair need, water is the culprit behind the damage. That’s partly because water can so easily take advantage of even the smallest chink in your chimney’s armor, slipping into the tiniest crack or gap and then, during cold snaps, expanding as it freezes and making a small problem into a big one. The fact that moisture is almost omnipresent in Central Mississippi doesn’t help either — moisture, over time, can just wear at masonry and metal.

But something to consider, too, is prevention. A lot of times, we don’t think about moisture’s effects on our chimney system until we’re dealing with a leak. But a few key things can help you minimize leaks and moisture damage — or even avoid them altogether.

Make Sure You Have A Properly Sized And Installed Chimney Cap

A chimney cap isn’t just adornment (though it does make a chimney look nicer and more finished). It helps to keep precipitation from coming directly into your flue opening, and slowly wearing away at the flue liner or masonry. If your cap is damaged or missing, Santa’s Friend can install a new chimney cap that’ll bring much-needed protection to your flue.

Consider Chimney Waterproofing

We highly recommend Chimney Saver’s chimney waterproofing sealant. It stops water from penetrating your masonry, but still allows that masonry to expel vapors from its interior, as it was designed to. That protection not only helps you avoid leaks, but adds to your masonry’s longevity too (and in that, minimizes your headaches). Santa’s Friend techs can tell you more about this product, and apply it to your chimney.

Remember When We Mentioned Chimney Inspections?

Keeping up with your annual inspections is key to minimizing chimney leak problems. It’s not uncommon for the parts of your system designed to fend off water — like the chimney crown at the top of your flue or the flashing installed where the chimney and the roofline meet — to develop small imperfections. Your crown may crack under the strain of sun and rain, and the caulking around your flashing can loosen or come off. When you have your chimney inspected regularly, Santa’s Friend can catch those small issues before they get worse, and make the repairs to avoid a serious leak.

If you have any worries about moisture getting into your chimney, call Santa’s Friend. We’re always here to help with information, service, repairs, installations — anything you might need for the care and maintenance of your chimney system.

The Quiet Threat

When people have a chimney they think of the nice warm nights during the winter and the idea of Santa entering their homes.  It never crosses our mind that a fireplace can affect the air quality throughout the house, causing health problems for the whole family.  Often times this occurs when people fail to get their chimney swept on schedule and creosotes begin to build up in the unit.  Luckily Santa’s Friend Chimney Service has a group of experienced professionals that can inspect and sweep your chimney!

What is Carbon Monoxide and how can it be harmful to me?

If there is anything blocking proper draft in your chimney, you are at risk for harmful gases coming back into your home.

If there is anything blocking proper draft in your chimney, you are at risk for harmful gases coming back into your home.

Carbon Monoxide is a clear gas that cannot be smelled.  Because of this, it can be toxic since large quantities are able to enter the blood stream and compete with the body’s oxygen levels.  CO levels can fill up an area so quickly that they can become fatal before you are aware that they exist.  Small levels are a little less harmful and have mild side effects similar to the flu such as nausea, dizziness, headaches, and fatigue.  Depending on your age and how long you are exposed to the gas, your symptoms may worsen.  If you have any heart problems, you will begin to experience chest pains.

How is Carbon Monoxide poisoning diagnosed?

If you or someone near you begins to feel these symptoms, you should have the area checked immediately.  If you feel like you may have CO poisoning, make your way to a doctor immediately.  If you are experiencing minimal symptoms you may be able to be treated in office, but worse symptoms may require hospitalization and an addition of clean oxygen to your system. If you are unsure, go see your doctor.

How Can Carbon Monoxide poisoning be prevented?

 Since CO can build up during the use of everyday appliances such as generators, vehicles, and chimneys, you should evacuate a room if you begin to feel symptoms of poisoning.  Even if you turn off the unit causing to problem, the room will still need to air out.  Having a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified chimney sweep conduct an annual sweep can help reduce the build-up of creosote.  You can also buy alarms to put throughout your home to let you know that levels are rising.  The alarms can also be connected so that when one sounds, the rest of the house is alerted. It is important to remember that these should not replace smoke detectors.



Your Chimney Liner’s Job

Your Chimney Liner Is An MVP

A chimney liner’s name doesn’t necessarily accurately convey the heavy lifting it does, or its supremely important role in your chimney system. We usually think of liners as add-ons — the shelf liners in our cabinets make things look a little cleaner, our jacket liners make things a little more comfortable, but it is different with chimney liners. If the chimney industry was going to be a little more clear about the importance of the chimney liner, we might call them chimney suits of armor for their protective properties, or chimney foremen for how they make the system work well.

The Chimney liner defends the exterior of your chimney wall from too much heat.

The Chimney liner defends the exterior of your chimney wall from too much heat.

Overall, from the vantage point here at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service, a clean, strong chimney liner is definitely an MVP.

What Your Chimney Liner Does

If we were to boil it down, the chimney liner was developed to solve three key problems with chimney systems: the heavy wear-and-tear of heat and moisture on masonry; the susceptibility of building materials behind that masonry to heat and moisture; and the impeded draft that comes with inconsistencies in damaged flues.

First, your chimney liner provides protection. Whether your liner is made of terra cotta clay or stainless steel, it stands up to heat from your fire and potential moisture intrusion, allowing the masonry that makes up your chimney itself to stand stronger, longer. It also provides a needed extra layer of protection between the flammable beams and building materials in your walls behind the chimney, lessening the chances of a fire hazard.

Protection is just part of the chimney liner’s role, though. The liner also contributes immensely to performance, and draft. Air needs to flow smoothly up and out of your flue for the chimney to properly vent. If you think of your flue kind of like a straw, you’ll get a sense of why “smoothly” is so key. If you try to use a cracked straw, the pressure necessary to draw up becomes near impossible to create. The same kind of thing happens when cracks or gaps are present in your flue. A smooth, properly sized and intact flue liner creates a surface that encourages draft, and makes your chimney work more efficiently. (That’s part of why it’s so important to maintain your flue liner too, and to have damaged flue liners repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

A Flue Liner’s Size Is Important

A damaged clay tile liner is often the reason why Santa’s Friend Chimney Service technicians end up relining a chimney. But damage isn’t the only thing we look for when we’re inspecting a chimney system. A chimney needs to have a clean and intact liner in order to function correctly, but that liner also needs to be the right size. A flue that’s too big or too small for the appliance it’s venting will result in poor draft, increased byproducts and other issues.

To resize an incorrectly sized flue, we’ll install a stainless steel liner. These are great products that will last through years and years of use (when installed by a professional, most carry lifetime warranties).

If you have any questions about what a flue liner does, or what the process of relining or liner repair is like, Santa’s Friend is always willing to help. Give us a call with any questions, or to book an appointment with our experienced technicians!

By Jim Robinson on December 23rd, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Put Your Damper On Top

Dampen Your Chimney Problems for a Merrier Christmas

Now that we’ve put away our Halloween costumes and emptied our pantries of all those candies we’ve prepared, it only means one thing – Christmas is coming. The universally loved and awaited holiday not only by kids but by adults as well. Christmas carols are in the air, malls filled with glittering decors of green and red with that joyous glint of silver and gold. Households are busying up to get ready for the holiday festivities. So that means; food, presents, decorations, and possibly an intimate get together with family and close friends. But aside from the standard things we have on our Christmas to-do list, we shouldn’t forget about one important thing – get the chimney ready.

A top sealing damper keeps critters and moisture out - luckily Santa has all kinds of secret ways to deliver presents.

A top sealing damper keeps critters and moisture out – luckily Santa has all kinds of secret ways to deliver presents.

Aside from being a place to keep you warm, it is also popularly known as Santa Claus’ mode of entrance during this season. So there is a high chance that your children will be hovering around your fireplace waiting for a fat man in a red suit to pop out. It is therefore important for you to make sure your chimney is safe and secure. Not only to keep your children safe, but also to safeguard your entire household.

There are number of things that could go wrong in that tiny area. If ignored, chimneys could potentially be the cause of a house fire. Also, if you don’t take the necessary precaution, you might end up with a foul smelling house. If left unchecked, you wouldn’t be aware that there are water leaks that are beginning to come down the flue. The water then starts dripping into your fireplace giving off that foul odor.

Aside from fixing the problems, you have to make sure that your chimney is able to do its main function properly; and that is to keep you and your family warm. To achieve this you need make sure that the damper you have installed in your chimney is fully functional and effective. For those who aren’t familiar, the damper is like a door that is opened when burning a fire or smoke, and closed when the fireplace isn’t in use. This keeps the warm air in and the cold out, which is very important during cold seasons. Traditionally, there are two types of dampers; the Throat Damper and the Top Mount Damper.

At Santa’s Friend Chimney Service they make use of Top Mount Dampers. It is the go to guy when the original damper of the chimney has been worn out. It is also the most commonly used during repairs because it is virtually air tight due to its altered seal location. The seal is strategically placed on top of the flue therefore keeping the outside air outside. Aside from that, the Top Mount Damper also seals off the flue entirely when your chimney isn’t used. So it prevents the flue from competing against your AC and heating system therefore lowering your energy costs by a significant fraction. Other than this you can also keep those pesky bugs, insects and small animals from getting inside your house through your chimney. It saves from the worry and hassle of having to clean up annoying animal droppings on your living room. Throat Dampers are also as effective as the Top Mount Damper. The main difference between the two is their location. The Throat Damper is located at the base of the chimney, more towards the fireplace area, while the Top Mount is located at the upper end. The disadvantage of the Throat Damper is that when damaged, it is far more expensive to replace or repair.

You wouldn’t want your holidays to be ruined over a small chimney problem, now would you? That is why it is essential to have a top sealing damper installed. Not only does it keep you and your family warm, but it also saves you from having to spend a lot of money. So you best remember to call a certified chimney company such as the Santa’s Friend Chimney Service before you start getting busy with the festivities. These guys will definitely take care of you and your chimney. So why deprive yourself of having the perfect Christmas? Go ahead and get your chimney checked and have a top sealing damper installed today.

Yes, You Need a Chimney Cap

Using Chimney Caps to Protect Your Home, Neighbors and Wildlife

Many people install chimney caps on their chimneys because they think it improves the look and line of their roof. Although this is true, there are many more important reasons to make sure that the chimney has a cap. In addition to looking nice, these simple pieces can help protect the home, local wildlife, and even the homes of neighbors. As simple as it looks, it is actually very important to get the right size chimney cap and to have it installed properly.

One of the primary reasons for installing a chimney cap is that it keeps wildlife from building nests inside of the chimney. It is common to find chimney swifts, a species of bird that can only perch vertically, in a chimney. However, many people also find that rodents of all sizes have set up homes in their chimneys. This is not only dangerous for the animals themselves, but it can cause significant damage to the structure of the chimney. In addition, the presence of animals may put the family at risk for a host of diseases.

A chimney caps keeps out both critters and moisture, ensuring proper draft.

A chimney caps keeps out both critters and moisture, ensuring proper draft.

In addition to keeping animals out of the chimney, a chimney cap protects against excess moisture. If rain or snow is allowed to get into the chimney, it can cause the clay or brick interior to weaken and flake away. This compromises the integrity of the structure and makes it more likely that there could be a collapse. This would impact the entire foundation of the home and cause a serious safety risk for the entire family.

Even simple materials such as leaves and twigs getting into the chimney can be dangerous. If the chimney becomes clogged, it will not properly vent. Instead of leaving the home through the chimney, smoke will remain in the fireplace and eventually enter the home. Clearly, this can pose a significant health risk, especially if there is a member of the family who suffers from asthma.

In addition to keeping things out of the chimney, a chimney cap protects the home and homes around it by keeping things in. The cap will make sure that all hot embers stay safely inside the flue and the fireplace, where they belong. Hot embers often remain warm enough to ignite for many days. If they pop out onto the roof, they can start a dangerous roof fire. This will not only impact the home with the fireplace in question, but these fires have been known to jump to the roofs of neighbors, causing fires in their homes as well.

Since there are so many ways that a chimney cap can help protect a home, it may seem as if it would be a complicated or expensive structure. In fact, these small pieces are relatively inexpensive and simple to install. Any chimney maintenance professional can quickly install one. They are also an excellent resource in terms of deciding what type of chimney cap will work best with the particular chimney.

Anyone who has a fireplace in their home should make sure that they have a chimney cap installed. These simple structures prevent animals from making their homes in the chimney as well as keeping other debris out. They ensure that the chimney vents properly but they also keep dangerously hot embers inside the structure to prevent external fires. This not only protects the home with the chimney, but surrounding homes. They are simple and inexpensive, and can be quickly installed by any chimney professional.

Does Your Chimney Need Repair?

Signs That Your Chimney Is In Need of Repair

One of the best features of many homes is a chimney and fireplace to enjoy a fire on a cold winter night. However, if the chimney is not in excellent working condition, it could actually be a source of peril rather than enjoyment. There are a few signs that any homeowner can look out for that would indicate a problem with their chimney. It is important to take these warning signs seriously because many of them can snowball into much more serious and dangerous situations.

One problem that can quickly lead to other problems is damage to the mortar joints. This is the place where the pieces of chimney masonry come together. It may be necessary to get up on the roof to see this damage, but it is well worth checking out. During your annual inspection, a certified sweep can take a look at your mortar joints for you, so that you don’t have to get up on the roof. If there is damage to the mortar joints, then too much moisture will be able to enter the chimney. Not only does moisture lead to many other problems with the chimney but, if it is not corrected, this could lead to a total collapse of the chimney.

Water in your chimney can cause many problems, including a collapse of your chimney.

Water in your chimney can cause many problems, including a collapse of your chimney.

Another issue that is best found from the chimney is a cracked or otherwise damaged chimney crown. The crown is the part of the chimney that keeps material out which should not be in the chimney. This helps prevent moisture in the chimney but also keeps things such as leaves and animals out. This may not seem important but allowing these foreign materials into the chimney can lead to much more serious issues.

If there is too much moisture in the chimney, one of the most obvious signs will be the development of rust. In particular, the damper and the firebox itself will have rust in the presence of excess moisture. When there is rust in the chimney, it can cause the flue to crack, which allows too much heat to enter the home when there is a fire in the fireplace. If this happens, the home is at an increased risk for a dangerous house fire.

Taking a good look at the firebox another good way to tell if there is too much moisture in the chimney. One obvious problem will be that the bricks on the chimney will begin to pop out, peel, or flake. Eventually, if it is not fixed, huge chunks of the firebox will start to break off. This could compromise the integrity of the entire structure, causing it to crumble completely.

If there are pieces of tile gathering at the bottom of the fireplace, it is important to consider where they are coming from. In most cases, they are coming from the flue liner, which is damaged. It is important to know that the fireplace should never be used if the flue liner is not intact. This is an extremely dangerous situation and should be remedied immediately. Many people in this situation choose to replace their tile liners with stainless steel, which is less likely to fall apart over time.

There are many different issues that may arise with a chimney and many of them can lead to other problems if they are not fixed in a timely manner. One of the most important things to look out for is excess water in the chimney. This can lead to deterioration that could eventually cause the entire structure to fall apart. If there is any sign that the structure of the chimney has been compromised, it is important to have it inspected immediately.