In these extreme Toronto winters, your chimney stands exposed to the elements, and even though chimneys last 50 years or so, eventually, they are going to succumb to water, weathering, mortar disintegration, or wildlife infestation. Careful diligence is needed to combat common problems. Knowing the vulnerable areas and watching for damage will help you know when to contact a professional to help with chimney issues.
As you know, water is a powerful force; look at the Grand Canyon for irrefutable evidence! Think of your chimney standing tall through the years, taking in water year after year. In Toronto’s exceptionally frigid weather conditions, the water enters, then it will have a pattern of freezing and thawing, eventually leading to spalling, which is when the brick surface peels or flakes. When you see signs of spalling, be aware that crumbling will occur next. So, to avoid these issues, look regularly for flaking in the bricks, as this is a tell-tale sign of moisture causing external problems.
If begun early enough before damage occurs, waterproofing can be applied to your chimney, creating a barrier and some additional protection against the forces of moisture. This simple preventive measure helps decrease the water intake into the chimney.
What About the Critters I Hear in the Chimney?
Just like you want to stay warm and seek shelter in the winter, so do animals. If there is no chimney cap, wildlife can enter the chimney and create all manner of problems. A common danger involves birds building nests in the chimney; followed by you building a fire, and the subsequent obstruction could create a chimney fire or put fumes and smoke into your home. An easy fix to keep critters out: contact a professional to install or repair a chimney cap. Although it may be tempting to go to the local home improvement store and buy a cheap model, this small piece of metal is too important to skimp on; hire a professional to install a high quality chimney cap to keep moisture and animals out, and even more importantly, keep embers off your roof!
For wildlife removal, contact Toronto Wildlife Centre at torontowildlifecentre.com for safe and effective removal of the animal.
What is Stacking and How Can I Help Avoid It?
Stacking occurs when warm air leaves the flue and cold air replaces it. Then the cold air stops the smoke from the fire from moving up the chimney. The difference in air pressure with cold air outside and warmer air inside creates the stack effect. So, it is important to prepare your chimney before lighting a fire. A simple way to do this is to light a newspaper, place it near the open damper, and wait until cold air leaves; this process may take 15 seconds or so. This may need to be repeated two or three times, but it reduces air pressure, increases oxygen flow, and keeps smoke from flowing into your room. Before starting your fire, be sure to follow these steps.
How Do I Properly Maintain My Chimney?
One of the number one priorities of a homeowner should be regular cleaning of fireplace flues and making sure the flues are lined. In addition, taking care of the bricks and mortar and making sure they are in good working order is of paramount importance. A professional inspection can catch issues before they become major problems.
A Call to Turnbull Masonry
To help maintain or repair your chimney and insure you won’t encounter issues ranging from flaking to a fire, Turnbull Masonry of Toronto would love to give you a quote and make sure your chimney continues to stand tall through the years. Our family-owned business, Homestar’s “best of” for seven years running, wants to help our clients say goodbye to chimney troubles!