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Is Your Chimney Leaking?

Have you noticed noticed peeling wallpaper or water stains on the walls or ceiling? If so, you most likely have a leaky chimney. Signs of a chimney leak also include: standing water in the firebox, a musty odor, and damaged or missing bricks and mortar joints on the exterior chimney. It is important to take care of this type of problem as soon as possible. If you don’t, you could end up with extensive and expensive chimney damage!

Is Your Chimney Leaking Image - Chicago IL - Aelite Chimney SpecialtiesAs the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) warns, water is the biggest enemy of masonry chimneys. When you see any signs of a chimney leak, give us a call at Aelite Chimney Specialties. Schedule an appointment with one of our CSIA-certified chimney technicians. You can count on us to give you a fair and honest estimate with evidence of any damage that is causing the leak. In addition, an explanation of how we will repair that damage to fix the leak. We would like to tell you more about a couple of the most causes of chimney leaks.


Not having a customized flashing system to protect the most vulnerable spot for leaks, where the chimney meets the roof, is one of the most common causes for chimney leaks. Even if you have flashing installed on your roof and chimney, it may not be doing its job if it has not been properly constructed. Over our years of working on chimneys in the Chicago area, Aelite Chimney Specialties has seen how poorly built flashing can even cause chimney leaks. We take great care when measuring your chimney. Aelite can cut metal sheeting in the right sizes to protect your home from water leaks. We also make sure that all of the corners have been caulked to keep water from entering in those areas.


Since your chimney crown sits on the top of your chimney, it is directly exposed to all of the water from rain and melted ice and snow. Your crown is made from mortar that can withstand this type of exposure. However, it can still develop cracks and other types of erosion damage over time. If your crown is cracked and damaged, water can easily get into your chimney. One of the first places Aelite Chimney Specialties will look for the source of a chimney leak is the crown. If we find cracks in your chimney crown, we can repair them. If your crown is damaged beyond repair, we can construct a new one that will protect your chimney from water penetration for years.

Have you seen any signs of a chimney leak in your home? Contact us at Aelite Chimney Specialties today to schedule an appointment for a water leak inspection of your chimney!

By Nick Wagner | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Is Your Chimney Leaking?

The Anatomy of a Masonry Chimney

Image courtesy of Rudi Oosting of Oosting Masonry Construction

Image courtesy of Rudi Oosting of Oosting Masonry Construction

If you have a masonry fireplace, many important parts make up the anatomy of its chimney. Many homeowners are unfamiliar with these parts and their functions, and when something goes wrong, it can be invaluable to know the names of each part and what these parts do. As part of our duties as Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps, we at Aelite Chimney Specialties enjoy educating our customers about their fireplace and chimney systems. We would like to tell you the names of each part of the anatomy of a masonry chimney and explain what exactly each part does to keep your fireplace working safely.

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

MORTAR CROWN — Also called a chimney crown, this part sits on top of the chimney to prevent water penetration of the bricks and mortar as well as water leaking 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 — An extremely crucial 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 Aelite Chimney Specialties to ask our staff whatever you need to know about the parts of your chimney.

By Nick Wagner | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on The Anatomy of a Masonry Chimney

Your Chimney Needs a Cap

Why Chimney Caps Are Important

Anyone with a fireplace in their home has, at one time or another, most likely had some trouble with their chimney. What they may not realize is that many common chimney problems can be quickly solved by installing a small piece called a chimney cap. A chimney cap protects the opening at the top of the chimney, which can be the starting site for a number of problems that arise frequently. They are inexpensive and it is easy to have them installed.

One of the most important reasons to have a chimney cap is that it helps keep excess water out of the chimney. Water often finds its way into the flue in the way of rain or snow and then accumulates within the chimney liner. This can cause mold that leads to dangerous illnesses and, in some cases, can compromise the structural integrity of the chimney. A chimney filled with water is also likely to become a breeding ground for pests. A chimney cap is a simple way to avoid the issue completely.

One of the most destructive things for the structural integrity of your chimney is when moisture gets in. It can loosen and weaken masonry. A chimney cap minimizes the flow.

One of the most destructive things for the structural integrity of your chimney is when moisture gets in. It can loosen and weaken masonry. A chimney cap minimizes the flow.

Another common chimney problem is that animals make their way into the chimney and set up their homes there. Not only will this cause annoying scratching sounds, but it can actually be dangerous for the people living inside of the house. The animals that live in chimneys often carry diseases and they do not have to enter the home to pass them on to the people living in it. If they do make their way into the house, there is always a chance that they could bite someone, causing both illness and injury. When there is a cap on the chimney, they cannot get in there in the first place.

When the chimney is left without a cap, it is easy for leaves, twigs, and other natural debris to build up inside of the flue. This may not seem like a big deal but it can actually be quite dangerous. When the chimney is clogged with these materials, it cannot vent properly and smoke often comes back into the home rather than exiting it. It also prevents dangerous gasses, including carbon monoxide, from safely leaving the home. In the worst cases, a clogged chimney can lead to a dangerous chimney fire that spreads throughout the home.

Whenever a fire is going in the fireplace, it is natural that there will be a bit of smoke. However, when the room is filling up with smoke, there is a problem. Oftentimes, the problem is negative air pressure when wind blows into the chimney. A chimney cap allows dangerous smoke and gas out, but it prevents the air that blows those gasses into the home from getting in. This is a vital part of enjoying a fire without filling the entire home with plumes of smoke.

A chimney cap is a fairly simple and inexpensive piece. In fact, it is so simple that many homeowners are tempted to simply install them themselves. However, this should be avoided in favor of a professional who has experience with these instillations. If the job is not done properly, the chimney cap will be ineffective and the home will still be at risk. In addition, it requires climbing on the chimney, which can be dangerous for a person who is not used to working at that height.

Leaving the chimney uncovered invites a host of problems, including animals living in the chimney and poisonous gasses entering the home. Instead of dealing with these serious issues, homeowners can have a simple chimney cap installed that will prevent them completely. Any homeowner who is not sure whether or not their chimney has a cap should have it inspected as soon as possible.

By Nick Wagner | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Your Chimney Needs a Cap

Anatomy of Your Chimney

Getting to Know the Parts of a Chimney

There’s that time of year when you’d want to snuggle up with your loved ones as you endure a cold day – a time when you need warmth and comfort. What better way to do that than in front of a cozy well-kept fireplace. Fireplaces and chimneys have been an integral part of homes for many centuries, especially in countries that are further north or south from the equator, or that have four seasons a year. During winter time, people are likely to experience freezing temperatures for a very long time. They need something that can keep them warm.

Understanding how the different parts of your chimney work together for maximum efficiency and safety is something every homeowner should know.

Understanding how the different parts of your chimney work together for maximum efficiency and safety is something every homeowner should know.

A chimney is not just a luxury or just part of a house’s aesthetic design; it is more of a need. There are essential things to learn because the presence of a chimney and fireplace can open the possibility of fires. If your house has a chimney, you have to know how it works as well as how to clean or inspect it to prevent such untoward accidents. In order to know these things, you must first be familiar with its anatomy. Do you know what it’s made of? It will be easier to address any concern regarding your chimney if you have the basic knowledge on its components.

There are six fundamental parts that make up a chimney:

1. Chimney Crown – This protects your chimney from water leaks in small areas. This is important because it can affect the performance of your chimney. The bricks that make a chimney must be protected to assure that there are no leaks and the mortar element will not deteriorate.

2. Flue – This part serves as a passageway for the smoke to come out into the open. It also has a specific area where the smoke is allowed to come in and out of.

3. Flue Lining – This makes sure that flue is properly held together. This also ensures that there is a minimal amount of dangerous debris that will accumulate.

4. Smoke Chamber – The purpose of this is to conduct the compression of some of the materials from combustion into a much smaller area so as not to cause a repercussion. Using slope walls will contribute to this as well.

5. Chimney Damper – These are lever activated doors if you have an automated chimney. They are closed when the other three seasons are fast approaching and are open once the winter season kicks in. This should be maintained throughout the entire year.

6. Smoke Shelf – This is located behind the chimney damper. It performs the duty of catching free falling debris and raindrops. This helps in the alteration of huge amounts of water into the area of the chimney.

These are the basic parts of a chimney. Like any other man-made infrastructure, it has it flaws and shortcomings. It may get damaged due to many factors. Perhaps it is already old, perhaps it’s overused, or perhaps you didn’t use the right kind of materials to burn. Another reason could be because you didn’t maintain it throughout the years. This is the reason why you have to constantly have it inspected. There might be need for it to be repaired. Companies like Aelite Chimney Specialties, provide the best services to fix, repair, and solve all your chimney frustrations. They are definitely the ones to call if you want to experience a whole new level of service.

By Nick Wagner | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Anatomy of Your Chimney