Our Company Blog

Chimney Crown Deterioration

If you have a masonry chimney, you most likely have a chimney crown at the very top. This essential chimney component covers the opening of the chimney to keep water from entering your home. Because the chimney crown is directly exposed to the elements, it can suffer from erosion damage and deteriorate. When your chimney crown is cracked and damaged, it cannot properly do its job.

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), water can do a lot of expensive damage to a masonry chimney and a home. You should be sure your chimney crown is in good condition. Aelite Chimney Specialties provides chimney crown repair and construction services to residents in the Chicago area. We would like to tell you a bit more about what we do to protect your chimney and home from water penetration.

How does a chimney crown work?Chimney Crown Deterioration Image - Chicago IL - Aelite Chimney Specialists

Sealing off the chimney from the flue liner to the chimney’s edge, the crown should be built with a downward slope so that water will be directed away from the flue. That makes the water run off the edge of the chimney. There should also be an overhanging drip edge that will help to prevent erosion damage to the bricks and mortar of the chimney.

Common Mistakes

What is a common mistake made when constructing chimney crowns?

Over our years of working on chimneys, Aelite Chimney Specialties has seen some poorly built chimney crowns. The most common mistake we have seen is a crown with an inadequate drip edge. When we construct chimney crowns, we always make sure each crown has the required two-inch overhang that projects beyond each side of the chimney. We also ensure that the flue liner tile also projects at least two inches above the crown.

We Can Help

What kind of mortar does Aelite Chimney Specialties use when constructing chimney crowns?

You can trust us to always use a Portland cement-based mixture when we build and repair chimney crowns. Another mistake we often see is chimney crowns made from a mortar mix that is not as durable as a Portland cement-based mixture. The Portland cement mixture can withstand years of exposure to water without chipping, cracking, or deteriorating.

If you cannot remember the last time your chimney crown has been checked out, contact us at Aelite Chimney Specialties. We can make you an appointment for a chimney inspection. We can repair any cracks your crown may have, and if your crown is beyond repairing, we can construct and install a new one to protect your chimney from water penetration.

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Try Masonry Tuckpointing This Spring

Winter weather can be brutally tough on masonry chimneys, especially here in the Chicago area. The bricks and mortar joints naturally absorb water, and when the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, any water that is trapped inside your bricks and mortar joints will freeze and expand. As the weather warms up, this water will thaw out and cause your bricks and mortar joints to crack, break apart, and even become loose. Repeated freezing cycles can cause quite a bit of damage to masonry chimneys, and to best repair this damage, Aelite Chimney Specialties recommends masonry tuckpointing from our experienced masons. If you neglect to have this type of damage repaired, it can cause more problems as water from rain can easily get into your chimney through the gaps and cracks in the masonry structure. The last thing you want to deal with this spring and summer is a water leak in your chimney. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), water is the greatest enemy of a masonry chimney, which is why you need masonry tuckpointing to prevent further damage. We would like to tell you more about tuckpointing and how it can repair the damages of winter’s wrath. Try Masonry Tuckpointing This Spring - Chicago  IL- Aelite Chimney Specialties LLC-w800-h800

What exactly is masonry tuckpointing?

Known as the age-old art that makes the bricks and mortar look neat and tidy, masonry tuckpointing can repair crumbling and cracked bricks and mortar. This technique gets its name from masons using pointed tools to tuck mortar in between bricks. Aelite Chimney Specialties uses tuckpointing to transform the look of older chimneys and to improve the look of a poorly-designed chimney.

What can I expect from Aelite Chimney Specialties’ masonry tuckpointing services?

One of our CSIA-certified chimney technicians will first inspect the condition of your chimney and will be looking for damaged bricks, cracked mortar, and gaps between the bricks. Then, he or she will remove any damaged mortar to replace it with new mortar that has been customized to match the strength, color, and composition of the existing mortar. Our masonry technician will use tuckpointing tools to tuck the new mortar into any gaps between bricks. We will then finish the job by using tools to match the look of the original brick. You will never have to worry about our tuckpointing work looking like a patch-up job because we take great care to do this technique with a lot of thought. We recommend waterproofing your chimney after the tuckpointing work has been completed, and we offer this service with a 100% vapor permeable formula that will create a barrier against water penetration of your chimney.

What are the benefits of masonry tuckpointing?

One of the best things about tuckpointing is the durability it adds to a restored chimney. This masonry technique is also the best way to keep water from being absorbed in between the bricks, and this prolongs the life of your masonry chimney. You can trust our chimney technicians because they have the experience, tools, and attention to detail with masonry tuckpointing.

Have you noticed cracked or loose bricks on your chimney this spring? Contact us at Aelite Chimney Specialties to schedule a chimney inspection today.

Winter’s Impact on Your Chimney

As residents of the Chicago area, we are accustomed to dealing with lots of snow and ice every winter. Knowing how to prepare your chimney from the damaging effects of this cold weather is essential, but if you neglected to take care of some preventive chimney maintenance tasks before winter arrived, Aelite Chimney Specialties is here to help you make the necessary repairs to be sure your fireplace and chimney will work efficiently and safely. You can trust our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified technicians to inspect any winter-related damage done to your chimney and to recommend the best and most affordable ways to take care of any problems. We would like to tell you more about the impact that winter can have on your chimney and how we can fix any damage done to your chimney.

How does cold winter weather affect my chimney?Winter's Impact on Your Chimney - Chicago IL - Aelite Chimney Specialties LLC

The most common winter-related chimney damage has to do with the deterioration of the bricks and mortar of your chimney’s structure. These masonry materials are very porous, and if you do not sufficiently protect your chimney with waterproofing and other water penetration preventive services, the bricks and mortar can absorb quite a bit of water. According to the CSIA, water penetration is the biggest enemy of masonry chimneys. The majority of water penetration damage occurs during the winter due to freezing temperatures. When the weather is very cold, the absorbed water in the bricks and mortar freezes and expands. As the temperature rises above freezing, this water thaws, which leads to the cracking and breaking of these masonry materials. After repeated cycles of freezing and thawing, this damage and deterioration gets worse, and if left unrepaired, your chimney will be unsafe to use and could even possibly collapse.

How can Aelite Chimney Specialties repair this winter damage?

To restore the condition of your chimney, our expert masons are trained and experienced in tuckpointing skills. We can replace cracked, broken, and missing bricks and mortar joints by tucking new mortar into the gaps and cracks. Our masons take great care to be sure these repairs do not look obvious by matching the look of the original brick. Our tuckpointing work will increase the durability of the structure of your chimney. After we have completed the repairs, we can then apply a waterproofing formula that will protect your bricks and mortar from further water penetration damage.

Have you noticed cracked, loose, or missing bricks from your chimney this winter? Contact us at Aelite Chimney Specialties to schedule an appointment for a chimney inspection today. You can also call us at 815-363-1242!

The Importance of Proper Ash Removal and Storage

If you have a wood-burning appliance, you know that after a fire, you will be left with ashes and ash residue left behind that will need to be correctly removed and stored. If you are unaware of the proper ash removal and storing procedures, you could end up with a fire ignited by the hot embers insulated within the ashes. At Aelite Chimney Specialties, fireplace and chimney safety is one of our highest priorities as CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, so we want to share with you some answers to questions on removing and storing ashes correctly to protect you from the possibility of a dangerous fire.

correct-disposal-of-ash-chicago-il-aelite-chimney

How Can Improper Ash Removal and Storage Lead to a Fire?

Often, people mistakenly think that simply storing ashes in a metal bucket with no lid is the correct way to store ashes after they are removed. However, when this bucket is sitting outside on your porch, strong winter winds can easily blow the bucket over, which causes all of the ashes to fall out onto your porch or yard. If this does occur, the ashes get stirred up, and the hot coals and embers could be reactivated. If your porch has a wooden floor, you might also possibly have a dangerous porch fire on your hands caused by the improper storage of ashes. Similarly, if the hot ashes end up in your yard, you may have to deal with an out-of-control brushfire.

What Kind of Container Should I Use to Store Ashes?

Aelite Chimney Specialties cannot stress enough to our customers the importance of using a proper ash container. We strongly recommend using a pail or bucket constructed from sheet metal that has a securely fitted lid. The lid is the essential key for safety. For an even safer ash storage container, the bottom of the pail should be slightly offset so that the actual bottom will not make contact with flooring and char the surface.

Where Should I Store My Ash Bucket?

Do not ever place your bucket on a wooden floor as this can be a fire hazard even if the bucket has an elevated metal bottom. Always store your ash bucket outside on a non-combustible surface such as stone, brick, concrete, or slate. Ensure the lid is securely closed.

Should I Remove Ashes After Every Fire?

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), you do not have to remove ashes after every fire. In fact, leaving a one-inch layer of ash on the floor of your firebox will make it much easier to build and maintain a fire. The hot embers within the ashes will add more heat to the fuel and reflect this heat back into the fire. A thin layer of ash can also protect the floor of your firebox. However, you should never allow this layer of ashes to get too deep. If these ashes should make contact with the bottom of your grate, it can cause the grate to prematurely burn out.

What If I Have a Wood-Burning Stove or a Pellet Stove? Do I Need to Store These Ashes Differently?

Ash storage procedures are still the same for these stoves. If your stove is long and narrow and burns from the front to the back, it will benefit from removing the ashes that are just inside the door. Then, you can move the hot coals to the back of the stove to aid in the quick ignition of a fire. The incoming air from combustion will reignite those hot coals and rapidly heat up the entire firebox. When all of the ashes are removed, it will be difficult to start a fire because all of the bricks in the firebox must be heated to saturation before your fire can really get going.

If you have any questions about how to remove and store ashes properly, contact Aelite Chimney Specialties to ask our staff. We are happy to help you with every issue involving fire safety.

Prepare Your Chimney for Winter Before the Fall Rush

Don't wait until it's cold and you need your fireplace to have your chimney swept!

Don’t wait until it’s cold and you need your fireplace to have your chimney swept!

Trying to schedule an appointment for your annual chimney sweeping and inspection in the fall can be quite difficult as everyone is thinking about getting his chimney ready for the cold winter months. Contacting a CSIA-certified company like Aelite Chimney Specialties before the fall rush to arrange a visit from our chimney sweeps is a smart decision. If you put this call off for too long, you will have to wait for weeks for an available appointment, and, by that time, it may have already been cool enough to use your fireplace. Strongly recommended by many fire safety organizations, your chimney should be cleaned and examined before lighting the first fire of the season. We at Aelite Chimney Specialties would like to share what our experienced technicians will be doing to prepare your chimney for winter.

CHIMNEY SWEEPING

Aelite Chimney Specialties cannot stress the importance enough of having your chimney cleaned before the weather turns cooler. Before the first fire is lit, our chimney sweeps will ensure your chimney is free of soot and creosote deposits. Both are highly combustible and could possibly cause a chimney fire, especially if the deposits are large. Cleaning out all of the debris in your chimney also protects you and your family from the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

CHIMNEY INSPECTING

Checking out your chimney for damages that need repairing is just as important as having your chimney cleaned. You may have some serious repairs needed before you can safely use your fireplace over the winter, and scheduling a chimney inspection before the fall rush is the best way to be sure these repairs can be completed in time. What exactly will Aelite Chimney Specialties be looking for during an inspection? According to the article “Getting Your Fireplace Ready for Winter” on the real estate website, Zillow, certain parts of your chimney need more scrutiny, including:

Exterior Masonry — We will be looking for loose bricks, chipped mortar, and other signs of water penetration damage. If we find any deterioration, our certified masons will make the needed repairs.
Chimney Cap — One of the best ways to keep water out of your chimney, a chimney cap also does the job of preventing animals and birds from entering your chimney to nest for the winter. If your chimney cap is cracked or damaged, we can either repair this damage, or, if it is beyond repairing, we can install a new chimney cap to ensure your chimney is protected.
Flue Liner — If you have cracks or holes in your chimney flue liner, we can also repair this damage as well as install a new liner if your old one cannot be saved. Your liner provides protection from toxic gases like carbon monoxide from leaking into your home and causing health problems for you and your family.

Do not delay in scheduling your annual chimney sweeping and inspection! Contact Aelite Chimney Specialties today to arrange a visit from our experienced technicians.