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What We Look For in a Chimney Inspection

Many national fire safety organizations like the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend that homeowners have their chimneys professionally inspected. The most important reason for this recommendation has to do with your safety. For over 15 years, Aelite Chimney Specialties has provided professional chimney inspection services to residents in the Chicago area. We follow the guidelines set by the NFPA in their three levels of chimney inspections when performing this service. You can trust us to look for anything that could cause your chimney to be unsafe. We would like to tell you more about some of the things we check for in a chimney inspection.

Water DamageChimney Inspection Image - Chicago IL - Aelite Chimney

Masonry chimneys are tough and durable, but they can suffer extensive and expensive damage from water penetration. One example of water damage that we look for in a chimney inspection is deteriorating or missing bricks and mortar joints. Cracks and gaps in the masonry work of a chimney allow even more water to get into the chimney, and if neglected, the entire structure of your chimney could be in serious jeopardy.

Carbon Monoxide Risks

During a chimney inspection, our CSIA-certified chimney technicians will carefully check to be sure there is nothing present in your chimney that could possibly lead to the toxic gas, carbon monoxide, leaking into your home. We will look to see that nothing is blocking the flue that could force carbon monoxide back into your living spaces. We will also take a close look at the chimney liner to see if there are any cracks, gaps, or other damage that could allow this poisonous gas to get into your home.

Chimney Fire Risks

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, your chimney most likely has creosote deposits stuck to the inner walls. Creosote develops naturally during the combustion process of burning wood, and it is so flammable that the CSIA has named it as a leading cause of chimney fires. During our inspection process, we will look for any excessive creosote buildup that could cause your chimney to have a dangerous fire hazard present. We will also look for signs of any chimney fires that may have previously occurred.

If we do find any type of damage during our chimney inspection, we will provide you with photos of the damage and a written estimate of the necessary repairs to make your chimney safe again. Beat the fall rush, and contact us today at Aelite Chimney Specialties to schedule an appointment for our professional chimney inspection services.

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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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Water Leaks Destroy Masonry Chimneys

If you have a masonry chimney, you may already know how badly water can damage the bricks and mortar. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) even states that water is the greatest enemy of masonry chimneys. Aelite Chimney Specialties understands how and why water leaks destroy the bricks and mortar of your chimney. Prolonged exposure to water speeds up the deterioration of masonry materials, but the worst damage is caused in the winter during the freeze/thaw process. When water leaks into the bricks and mortar of your chimney, it freezes and expands when the temperature drops. As that water thaws, it causes the masonry materials to crack from the cavity left by the expanded ice. If this type of damage is not repaired, your chimney Water Leaks Destroy Masonry Chimneys - Chicago IL - Aelite Chimineycould tilt and even collapse. Our CSIA-certified chimney technicians have years of experience with repairing water leaks as well as preventing these leaks from ever occurring. We would like to tell you about a couple of ways we can help stop water from penetrating into your masonry chimney to protect your chimney from destruction.

FLASHING

According to the CSIA, flashing keeps the water from rain and melted snow out of your chimney to stop it from leaking into the bricks and mortar as well as from getting into your home and damaging ceilings and walls. What exactly is flashing? The seal between the chimney and the roof, flashing consists of layers of sheet metal that overlap around your chimney where it meets with your roof. To work successfully, flashing should be professionally installed so that it can be custom-fitted to ensure an airtight seal. You can trust the chimney technicians at Aelite Chimney Specialties to do an expert flashing job that will protect the bricks and mortar of your chimney from damaging water leaks. Our technicians weave custom metal sheet work together, fold it against the chimney, and embed part of it into the mortar joints to create a superior flashing job. If you have noticed that your flashing has rusted, become loose, or if you have no flashing, contact us to learn more about our flashing services.

WATERPROOFING

To prolong the life of your masonry chimney, waterproofing is recommended by the CSIA as a preventive measure against the damage done by water from rain, snow, and ice. When Aelite Chimney Specialties arrives at your home to waterproof your chimney, you can expect our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps to begin by cleaning your chimney. Our sweeps then apply a 100% vapor permeable formula to the entire length of your chimney. This formula allows your chimney to breathe so that vapors do not become trapped inside the bricks and mortar of your chimney to cause further damage. After the application, your chimney will be watertight with a professional grade water repellent treatment that has been proven to reduce water leaks by 99.9%. Waterproofing is a smart investment that can save you money in costly masonry repairs due to water damage.

Want to know more about how Aelite Chimney Specialties can prevent water leaks from destroying your masonry chimney? Contact us at 815-363-1242 to talk to our expert staff about flashing and waterproofing.

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Three Ways Water Ruins Your Chimney

Water can cause serious problems to your chimney's masonry

Water can cause serious problems to your chimney’s masonry

As your chimney care company, Aelite Chimney Specialties spends a lot of time thinking about prevention. We sweep your chimney to prevent excess creosote buildup, to help prevent fire hazards. We inspect your chimney to stay ahead of damage, so we can help prevent fire hazards, chimney leaks and carbon monoxide intrusion. Ultimately, we just want you to enjoy your hearth appliance in the safest, most efficient and effective way possible.

We’re always here to talk with you about the many potential problems that can arise in your chimney. And since water is your chimney’s most consistent enemy, a lot of what we do and talk about is centered around arming your chimney to fight water off. Here, three ways that water can cause serious damage to your chimney, and what Aelite Chimney Specialties can do to repair, remediate or protect against it:

Water Erodes Your Masonry

If you have an older chimney, this is more of a concern for you. Think about river stones: They start ragged and craggy, but over years of water rolling over their surfaces, they’ll get worn smooth as glass. So year upon year, rainstorm after melting snow, your chimney masonry can fall prey to the same effect: moisture wearing the surface down. That can mean receded or damaged mortar joints, or worn bricks that begin to absorb moisture like a sponge, carrying it through to the inside of your flue (possibly the inside of your home, too).

What Aelite Chimney Specialties Does To Stop It:

If your damage is centered around your mortar joints, we’ll repair those joints with a process called tuck pointing, carefully removing those damaged joints and replacing them with fresh, strong new joints. If your bricks are worn and absorbing excess moisture, we can apply a waterproofing sealant that stops that absorption and protects the masonry going forward. (We highly recommend waterproofing if your masonry isn’t damaged too, because it can prevent that kind of wear from happening).

Water Rusts Your Metal Parts

Your masonry chimney has a mix of non-masonry components, from your metal chimney cap and chimney flashing to your throat damper. And those components don’t like water any more than your masonry does. Chimney leaks can cause your throat damper’s plate to corrode, get stuck or crack. Corroded chimney flashing can create a leaky chimney. If you have a pre-fabricated system with a rusty chimney chase cover, leaks are likely there too.

What Aelite Chimney Specialties Does To Stop It:

When metal components are damaged, we can install proper replacements. Beyond that, we can also point you to more durable options — stainless steel and copper, for instance, stand strong against water far longer than galvanized metal.

Water Gives Mold What It Needs To Grow

A chimney leak is a problem in and of itself, but leaks can also bring along a secondary problem: mold growth. Mold feeds on moisture, so when moisture is consistently present inside your chimney, it becomes a welcome home for spores to grow and thrive. Chimney mold is a serious concern — exposure has been linked to triggering asthma attacks, causing skin rashes and allergic factions and a variety of other problems.

What Aelite Chimney Specialties Does To Stop It:

Our technicians are trained to safely and thoroughly remediate mold growth. But more importantly, we can troubleshoot to find what’s causing your chimney leak, and make the repairs necessary to stop feeding that mold — which is really the key to stopping your problem.

If you have any questions about moisture problems, chimney leaks or anything else related to your chimney system, Aelite Chimney Specialties team members are always glad to help our valued clients. Just give us a call!