Our Company Blog

The Importance of Chimney Flashing

Chimney flashing usually goes unnoticed until it fails. Flashing surrounds the base of your chimney to keep water from leaking in where your chimney structure meets your roof. When chimney flashing fails, water can seep in around the chimney, resulting in ugly ceiling spots, wavy wallboard, peeling wallpaper, and the rotting of your home’s joists. So how do you know if your chimney flashing will keep your home safe from water damage?

Proper chimney flashing installation

Many roofers, builders, and masons can rush the installation of chimney flashing, failing to follow the steps of proper installation and potentially leaving your home susceptible to water damage. When installed properly, chimney flashing features two layers. First, a layer of L-shaped metal is woven into your chimney’s shingles, with one side lying flat against your roof and the other side flat against your chimney. To completely seal the flashing, another layer of metal flashing is embedded into your chimney’s masonry with mortar, and then the metal is folded down over the bottom layer of flashing to keep water out.

Types of chimney flashing

There are several materials used for chimney flashing, and the type of metal used will affect the longevity of your flashing. In the north, lead is commonly used as flashing because it molds easily around corners. On higher-end jobs, homeowners will opt for stainless steel or copper, which won’t rust, corrode or develop holes like other flashing materials can. Copper has the added benefit of being able to be soldered at the corners, while other metals would form seams that need to be caulked to keep water out. Caulking is often the first thing to fail in the flashing, letting water into a home.

How to tell if your chimney flashing is secure

Unfortunately, the first sign that there’s a problem with chimney flashing is often a water leak. If you don’t want to be surprised by an ugly spot on your ceiling or discolored or warping wallboard, it’s worth having your chimney flashing inspected. You can ask your chimney sweep about the state of your chimney flashing during your annual inspection. Knowing that your chimney flashing is improperly installed or starting to corrode can help you address the flashing before it causes a problem in your home.

What to do about bad flashing

If your chimney flashing is already failing, or if it’s improperly installed or starting to break down, don’t wait until you have major water damage to have it fixed! Chimney experts are generally the best option for repairing faulty flashing, as roofers may often band-aid the issue and fail to resolve the problem. If you need to have your chimney flashing inspected or repaired, call Your Chimney Sweep to schedule an appointment today!

The Purpose of a Smoke Chamber

Smoke chambers are the unsung heroes of the chimney system. With the majority of the chimney obstructed from view, people don’t realize that the chimney system is a complex structure. It is full of different parts designed to help smoke travel up and out of your chimney without creating backdrafts. The smoke chamber, in many people’s minds, is one of the most crucial elements of the chimney system.

The Function of the Smoke Chamber

The smoke chamber sits just above the firebox and damper. It serves as a gateway to the chimney flue. In traditional masonry fireplaces, the smoke chamber is angled on the sides and front and vertically flat at the back. This construction is intended to serve as an upside-down funnel. It draws the smoke neatly from the wider firebox space to the narrower chimney.

Common Problems with Smoke Chambers

Masonry smoke chambers are problematically constructed from rectangular bricks. This means that the surfaces of the smoke chamber are rough, with many 90-degree angles and factory-made holes in the bricks. These steps and holes become the perfect collection points for soot and creosote. For that reason, many smoke chambers become filthy over time, which is especially dangerous considering the flammable nature of creosote. Additionally, the many sharp angles prevent smoke from traveling neatly from the firebox to the flue. Instead, the smoke hits the jagged edges and is forced into swirling motions, causing smoke to draft backward into the firebox or prevent it from being drawn efficiently up and out of the chimney.

Solving Smoke Chamber Problems

Smoke chamber problems caused by corbeled bricks are most often solved with a process called parging. Parging involves smoothing the surface of the smoke chamber with masonry materials designed just for the job. Parging brings several benefits, such as providing a smooth surface over which the smoke can pass on its way to the chimney. In addition, it eliminates nooks and crannies that can collect creosote and soot. Additionally, parging can help to insulate the chimney so that it better retains heat, which helps smoke to draw more efficiently up your chimney. Parging also can be used to resolve an improperly sized smoke chamber or a smoke chamber that was built asymmetrically. Finally, parging can fill in any holes or cracks that have formed in the walls of your smoke chamber.

If your chimney doesn’t seem to be drafting properly, and you get smoke in your home when you light a fire, your smoke chamber could be to blame! If you’re ready to correct your smoke chamber with parging for safer, more effective chimney function, call Your Chimney Sweep to schedule an appointment today!

By Joe Sauter on November 27th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment