Cracking the Dirty Chimney Code

chimney-crown-repair

When your chimney starts to deteriorate, it can lead to a dangerous situation in your home. From chimney crown repair to entire chimney replacement, follow this safety checklist to protect your family. An old chimney can cause fire hazards, damage from the elements, and structural damage. Let us help you crack the dirty chimney code now.

Inspection First

Before you start to maintain and clean your chimney yourself, take the time and effort to schedule a professional inspection. The inspection will reveal if you need professional cleaning, necessary chimney crown repair, replacement, or simple maintenance.

Why You Need to Clean Your Chimney

Over time the growing creosote from chimney use becomes a fire hazard. Once the fire starts, damage to your home and possible injury are inevitable. The flue runs is a duct running the length of the chimney. Built-up of soot, critters, nests, and precipitation can all affect it. If you choose not to clean your chimney at least yearly, you may end up with ignition and chimney fire.

Signs You Need Cleaning

What are common signs that you need to clean your chimney? Call a chimney repair specialist if you see:

  • Creosote built up more than a quarter of an inch thick
  • Puffy honey-combed creosote formation
  • Creosote that looks like black cornflakes
  • Fireplace is not drawing
  • Damper is semi-open most of the time
  • Smoke accumulates in the home
  • Often use artificial logs
  • Soot and creosote in the fireplace

The Solution

Often regular maintenance and inspection drastically reduce fire hazards from a dirty chimney. However, chimney sweeping is a daunting process. Call a professional to determine if you need a chimney sweep service to take care of your chimney.

Call our incredible team at Cummins Restoration. Trust us to inspect, clean, and repair your chimney. We have years of experience. Our friendly staff will be happy to answer your questions. Contact us today.

Top 20 Things to Immediately Do to Your Chimney this Winter

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Don’t wait on protecting your family. This winter takes the time to check your home, from the basement to chimney, from windows to concrete block masonry workmanship. Follow this essential chimney safety checklist.

The Ultimate Chimney Safety Checklist

Take the time to protect your family by going through this safety checklist, especially for old chimneys. If you find that your chimney needs chimney crown repair, a cleaning, inspection, or replacement, please call the professionals at Cummins Restoration right away. Our talented team does a wide variety of chimney repair and concrete block masonry workmanship. Your family deserves to be safe.

  1. Have your chimney inspected at least once or twice a year
  2. Inspect your chimney and have it serviced before the winter or extended use
  3. Check for any settling or cracks at the foundation
  4. Check for masonry wear or evidence that the chimney has moved away from the house
  5. Look at the base of the chimney to see that the firebox rests on the thick reinforced masonry
  6. Check for any excessive leaning
  7. Check to see if your chimney is three inches higher than the roof surface. A short chimney may spew sparks and cause a fire hazard
  8. Inspect exterior chimneys for weathering
  9. Check to see if the chimney is lined properly
  10. See if there are any obstructions and if the chimney is clear of debris
  11. Check the flue for pipes, TV cables, electrical wires, and other service cables that may have been run along the chimney
  12. Check for masonry holes and cheaply done repairs
  13. Does your chimney have a cleanout door? These help with maintenance. Older chimneys may not have these
  14. Clear out the chimney door
  15. Check the flue for the damper and check its operation
  16. You need a minimum of two inches between the fireplace opening and the trim, mantel, and flammable materials
  17. Check for two inch clearance between the wall and ceiling framing and the flue masonry
  18. Check the chimney cap for damage and cracks
  19. Use a knife to see if the mortar has deteriorated
  20. Check the interior mortar joints

A Professional Inspection

Do you need help inspecting your chimney? Call our incredible team at Cummins Restoration. We pride ourselves on superior workmanship. With decades of experience, we will provide you with the chimney repair you deserve. Contact us today.

Common Chimney Complaints

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Your chimney requires regular maintenance and inspection to prevent fire damage and structural problems for your home. Some common issues that require chimney repair and masonry include brickwork problems, chimney obstruction, creosote, and replacing a cracked crown. Let’s talk about some of the most common chimney complaints you may encounter.

The Chimney Crown

Your chimney top has a chimney crown or a chimney cap. This protects your home from precipitation, birds, small animals, and any leaves. If you do not upkeep your chimney, over time structural damage may result. This requires extensive chimney repair and masonry, especially if the entire chimney must be replaced. Because of this, be sure that your chimney crown is intact.

Creosote

Smoke goes up the chimney. The smoke deposits flammable creosote in the flue lining. A dirty chimney results in possible fire damage. Have your chimney inspected annually for hazardous creosote buildup. You need to have your chimney checked regularly for creosote. Sometimes a simple chimney cleaning can address the issues. Contact us about our cleaning services.

Brickwork Issues

Sometimes your chimney has cracked and broken bricks due to aging or moisture. Tuckpointing removes damaged mortar. The new mortar gives additional stability and protection to the chimney. Your main concern will always prevent moisture from damaging your chimney.

Cracks in the Flue

If the moisture and creosote combine, the lining can deteriorate. Always make sure that any wood-burning system is safe. An annual inspection before the winter months will ensure that your home is safe. The professional will make recommendations regarding cracks in the flue, creosote buildup, and structural damage. You want to address the flue. The chimney lining has undue stress and can have much damage over time.

Cummins Restoration provides professional detail and care for your home. Contact us today about scheduling an inspection of your chimney. We provide extensive tuckpointing, masonry, and chimney replacement services. Keep your family safe this winter. Contact us today.  

4 Reasons Why Chimneys Leak

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A chimney leak causes immeasurable damage to your home. Between the chimney repair cost and possible damage to your home, identifying the causes of your chimney leak can save you thousands of dollars. What are some of the top causes of chimney leaks?

Precipitation

This might seem simple, but rain will cause considerable headaches if not kept in check. You need a cover to reduce chimney repair costs from a damaged chimney. A cover makes sense. The cover will keep out critters, debris, and water. An uncovered flue can cause water problems. Additionally, you want to make sure the chimney doesn’t have a block that can cause dangerous CO poisoning. Regular inspections will identify any chimney issues.

Cracked Crown

A cracked chimney crown allows snow and rain to come into the chimney. They can crack from shifts in the chimney, structural damage, and shrinkage over time. Precipitation can result in structural damage and mold. You want to protect your home. You may need a new crown for your chimney.

Leaking Bricks

Just like a cracked chimney allows in precipitation, leaking bricks do the same. In very cold climates, the constant freezing and thawing cause considerable damage. This causes leaks in your home. Waterproofing material may help, but using the wrong waterproofing materials may lead to more damage.

Other Leaks

Sometimes your chimney leak actually originates somewhere else. Maybe you have a roof leak in your attic or one of your roof tiles has flown off. Water sometimes makes it way to your chimney through small cracks or the trusses. How can you know where the leak originates? This is precisely why you need a professional to inspect your chimney and identify any potential problems.

Contact our trusted experienced staff today. We can help you with chimney inspection, repair, and full chimney replacement. Call us now.

How Often Should Tuckpointing Be Done?

While quality brickwork can last for a very, very long time, many homeowners make the mistake of improperly maintaining their brickwork. In harsh cold climates, there can be significant damage to chimneys, brickwork, retaining walls and more. Tuckpointing cinder block foundation, restoring old brick, and even replacing an entire chimney may be needed to prevent long term damage.

How Brickwork is Damaged

A number of factors can seriously damage your brickwork. You may need a professional contractor to restore your walls, foundation, and chimney. They may opt for replacing a chimney crown, tuckpointing a cinder block foundation, replacing old mortar, sealing, restoring seriously compromised brick, and fixing the structural integrity of your home.

Some of the most common reasons that bricks are damaged over time include:

  1. Heavy winds
  2. Snow and precipitation
  3. Natural wear and tear
  4. Pressure cleaning
  5. Cheap materials used in construction
  6. Age
  7. Quality of materials
  8. Ice
  9. Harsh cold climates
  10. Leaks and moisture

How Often Should You Tuckpoint?

Replace the mortar every twenty-five years. This is especially true if you live in a wet climate or an area that has severe weather conditions. Dry arid regions need less tuckpointing. Hire a professional contractor that only uses the highest quality materials and mortar. Avoid doing major tuckpointing yourself. Shoddy craftsmanship can lead to more damage. A professional licensed contractor can provide you with quality brickwork meant to last decades.

If you suspect that your mortar and brickwork is deteriorating or damaged, be sure to contact a professional contractor. Here at Cummins Restoration we provide the best quality work in the Greater Toronto Region. Our licensed and insured contractors will ensure that you receive the special attention that you deserve. Call us today for an inspection and estimate for your home. We are happy to help you. Contact us.

What is a Spalled Brick?

Have you noticed falling or missing bricks from your chimney? This can be an issue called spalling. Spalling happens often to masonry chimneys, retaining walls, and more. Small cracks lead to bigger cracks, leading to significant deterioration that requires professional masonry work.

What Causes Spalling

Moisture penetrates the brickwork. Depending on your climate and the weather conditions, the exterior condition of your brick can deteriorate considerably over time. The masonry work suffers more in harsher climates. Colder climates cause spalling due to the rapid freeze and expansion during the winter months. Leaks can cause serious spalling. Pressure washers and careless sandblasting further damage your brickwork.

In some cases, the spalling has been caused by reusing older bricks during construction. Older bricks are more porous. These leaves them much more susceptible to moisture and damage. Be sure to use a quality licensed professional when addressing your chimney needs.

Fixing the Problem

If you have allowed your chimney to deteriorate for a long period of time, you may need professional contractors to inspect and repair your chimney. This can include costly work like an entire chimney replacement. Catch the problem before it reaches a crucial tipping point and you can save considerably. Your contractor may have to replace the crown or simply replace and seal the bricks. A chimney cap can add extra protection against future damage.

Preventative Measures

If your chimney is not damaged, take a few preventative steps to avoid damage. Yearly inspections can result in early detection for chimney issues. Monitor trouble spots. Apply masonry sealant to prevent additional issues. Install a quality chimney cap. Contact a professional if you find that bricks are falling or that there has been leaking and moisture in the brickwork.

Cummins Restoration has a long history of quality masonry in the Greater Toronto Areas since 1992. Our family owned business is fully licensed and insured. Let our friendly staff help you inspect and repair your chimney. Contact us today.

Can Tuckpointing Be Done in Winter?

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Is it too cold for tuckpointing? For those of us who live in the harsher cold regions of the world, knowing the right time of year for tuckpointing and repointing is critical. What are the ideal conditions for tuckpointing your home? Let’s talk about it.  

Ideal Temperatures

Before you hire your masonry contractor, consider temperature and precipitation. Ideally, you want the weather to be between 5-32° C when tuckpointing and repointing. This should be the temperature the day before and up to three days after. In most parts of North America, the ideal conditions are through spring to early fall. Usually, contractors cannot do work during January and February. When considering temperature, consider forecasted highs and overnight lows, the surface temperature of the area being tuckpointed, and the outside air temperature.

Precipitation

Normally, contractors can work from spring to early fall. However, precipitation can prevent workers from completing a project on time. You want to avoid any heavy precipitation and snow during tuckpointing. Always look a few days before and a few days after the job. Check the forecast carefully.

Tuckpointing When It Is Cold

Professional contractors can do work during cold weather. By increasing additives to the process, they increase the heat generated by the exothermic reactions. This releases additional heat. Covering the work helps trap heat released by curing. Tarping off the work area and heating them with external heaters also helps protect cold weather construction.

These cold construction work practices protect the work from the harsh cold and precipitation. Anticipate additional costs due to labor and heating the work areas. Heated enclosures require time for setting up and breakdown. Contractors will need heat and will need to maintain any equipment used for hearing the construction.

Call our professional contractors now about tuckpointing and high-quality masonry. No matter the weather conditions, we can help you complete your project. Contact us today. We will be happy to help you.

How to Repair a Basement Floor

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Does your basement floor have serious cracks and damage? Is it time to call a professional contractor? Can a little basement and masonry waterproofing paint take care of the issue? Let’s discuss what you need to know about repairing your basement floor.

Hairline Cracks

Typically small hairline cracks in your basement might not affect the overall structural integrity of your home. However, some issues like much wider cracks, perimeter cracks, and unlevel flooring can indicate structural damage, soil expansion, and serious foundation problems. They require more than basement and masonry waterproofing paint for repair. Spiderweb-like fine cracks result from surface shrinkage. These are typically superficial and need sealing.

Wider Cracks

You want to seal wider cracks. Wide cracks can result in soil smells, gases, and moisture to leak into your basement. Seal them with an elastomeric caulking sealant for interior masonry or contact masonry professionals, especially if you suspect structural issues.

Perimeter Cracks

You want to seal any perimeter cracks. You can seal this professionally or use an elastomeric caulking product.

Spalling

Sometimes your basement has surface flaking. This means that the concrete mix was wet when poured. While unattractive, the concrete below is typically safe. Don’t leave it unaddressed. You may need concrete resurfacer or choose to install flooring. A simple coat of paint will not address the issue.

Settling and Structural Issues

Sometimes the foundation contractor did not compact the soil properly or the soil below has sand. In this case, the flowing begins to sink, causing tripping hazards and possible structural issues. If the basement cracks and heaves upwards, you have a serious structural issue. Uneven floors due to soil expansion needs to be professionally addressed. They might replace the basement floor and install an interior drain to collect groundwater. Direct water away from your home’s foundation to prevent future problems.

Call our masonry professionals today. We can help solve your basement and foundation problems. Contact us.

What are Masonry Structures?

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As a homeowner you need to understand masonry. Knowing the foundations of masonry will help you choose the right materials, masonry tools, and contractors when your home needs repairs. Learn the basics of masonry construction.

What is Masonry?

Structures that are built from units bound by mortar are masonry structures. Masonry comes in many materials. Know the different materials to use the correct masonry tools and construction for each project:

  • Brick
  • Stone
  • Marble
  • Granite
  • Travertine
  • Limestone
  • Cast Stone
  • Concrete Block
  • Glass Block
  • Stucco
  • Tile

Masonry remains the most popular building material for its durability and versatility. Masonry structures have survived the test of time, sometimes for centuries like the Great Wall of China and India’s Taj Mahal. Builders use the material for both structural and non-structural projects. Because of their energy efficiency and aesthetic beauty, they remain a top building material in the 21st century.

Benefits of Masonry Construction

Why does masonry remain superior to other building materials? The bricks and stone increase the thermal mass of a structure. They are heat-resistant and provide additional fire protection and safety. They are resilient in hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. Although masonry can be susceptible to the cold and is very heavy, it remains a reliable material that lasts.

Types of Masonry

Generally, there are two types of masonry work: solid masonry and veneer masonry. Solid masonry is free standing. Veneer masonry has aesthetic value. Both types of masonry can include brick, stone, concrete, and other materials. Walls, chimney, and foundation of a home often include brick, stone, or concrete. Masonry can also include aesthetic decorative work and reinforcing a structure.

When choosing the right type of materials, discuss options with a professional contractor. They will know the best materials for your project and materials.

Call our professionals today about your masonry project. Help us plan and restore your building. We are here to help you. Contact us with your project needs.

What You Need to Know About Masonry Foundation Leaks

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Serious water damage can cause structural issues for your home. How serious are your leaks? Do you need professionals to install new masonry materials to protect your home? How can you avoid the mildew, rotting wood, and other damage done by foundation leaks?

What Causes Foundation Leaks?

Builders take significant steps to prevent basement leaks. These can include making sure that water drains away from your home and patching any potential leaks and cracks that allow in moisture with high-quality masonry materials. Over time the home settles. This creates cracks in the basement walls and damage to the home. Even if you have a home that is structurally sound, moisture from the soil can seep through the wall.

A high-quality humidifier helps reduce the damage done by moisture. However, you need to waterproof the walls. In the worst case scenarios, entire flooding occurs during rainy seasons or when snow melts.

Find the Source

Concrete is porous. This means that you need to look for streaks along any cracks, corners of windows, between the mortar joints, and around the pipes. However, if water pools in a certain area or an entire wall is wet, you need to find the exact source of the water. You need to know if the water source comes from outside or is from an inside issue. For example, a basement shower or plumbing problem can lead to water leakage.

Seal Cracks

Seal any cracks with hydraulic cement. This is a relatively simple tasks for most DIY homeowners. However, more serious issues require professionals. Don’t forget to seal windows.

Don’t Work in a Flooded Basement

For safety reasons, never ever work in a flooded basement. You increase the risk of electrical shock or electrocution. Use a pump to get rid of the water. The basement must be dry before you start to work. In most cases, a professional can help you determine how you can repair your foundation.

Call our seasoned professionals today about your foundation leaks. We can help you find an affordable solution for your problem.