Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring Revelations

   Oh Spring. Goodbye to the ice and the cold winds. Goodbye to snow, shovels, blowers, and hello to buds in the trees, bees in the air, and...broken bricks on the roof.

   With the high costs of heating fuel, many have turned to the old fashion wood burning supplemental sources like fireplaces and wood stoves, most of which vent through a clay passage encased in brick and mortar.

   It's easy to take for granted the deceivingly toughness of brick and stone. After all, so many large brick structures remain standing despite the passage of decades fighting the elements, so why are chimneys so "fragile" in comparison?

   Not every homeowner has any reason to climb up on the roof and look at a chimney. Some, even if they did, don't exactly know what they're looking for. Despite the rise of the Do-it-yourselfer throughout the last two decades, there are limits to our home improvement abilities. When it comes to chimneys, one simply must rely on the expertise of a professional chimney technician.

The image of the top hat and black coat of old may have faded in the collective consciousness of modern society and even today, you wouldn't be wrong to assume chimney sweeps only work throughout the fall and winter when fireplaces and stoves are in use. However, spring is the best time to get your chimney swept. A spring cleaning will go a long way in diminishing offensive odors emanating from creosote and soot deposits. These odors will be significantly noticeable in the home during humid days.

The modern chimney technician also knows much more than a thing or two about chimney repairs, from constructing a new crown to rebuilding a whole chimney, so it's right to assume these guys know what to look for when they look at a chimney. 

What does all this have to do with Spring? You may ask. Well, the best time to get a good assessment of the condition of your chimney is spring. In fact, it's the best time to take preventive measure to discourage birds and furry critters from moving into your inactive flues. You own your chimney, along with the rest of your home, and unless these furry friends are paying you rent, they don't belong there.

There's no reason to wait until the following burning season to get your flues cleaned and checked. One of the best things you can do as a homeowner is make a service appointment as soon as you know you've burned your last fire for the season. Not only will you have those flues ready to go in the fall, but this is the opportunity to have an expert take a close look at how much damage your brick and stone structures may have incurred after surviving the cold, icy, and destructive power of water intrusion.

As we've pointed out before, masonry's greatest nemesis is water, particularly freezing water. When water turns into ice, it expands. Any freezing water within a saturated chimney will loosen mortar joints and crack bricks, that may lead to expensive repairs.

Don't wait until you find mortar cracking away or bricks missing some pieces, water pouring into the fireplace floor or running out of the clean out doors of your boiler or furnace flue. In most cases, an inspection done by a professional chimney technician can prevent costly repairs. Negligence will only lead to major repairs that will result in unexpected large expenses. Preventative maintenance goes a long way in saving you money. Sealing a crown and the installation of a proper chimney cap can prolong the life and stability of your chimney. A spring advance notice will buy you time to perform any repairs before the next time ice returns to pick at your chimney.

Spring brings forth a slew of realty transactions. Properties will change hands, requiring inspections to be conducted. No one is better qualified than a professional chimney technician to provide homeowners, buyers and sellers, the best information on potential issues and solutions concerning the chimney.

So, besides getting the grass seed and fertilizer ready, make an appointment to have your chimneys serviced and inspected. If repairs are needed, you have the opportunity to plan ahead before winter returns to feast on older, deteriorated chimneys. Don't let your spring revelations consist of bricks on your gutters, your roofs or your yards. But if you do, don't panic. You know who to call.

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