If it's safe for you, learn
how to inspect and repair your own chimney. Contractors can be expensive; human nature may lead them to
suggest work that's not really needed.
There are safety issues, however,
that should be addressed only by qualified, insured chimney sweeps. Among these are cleaning and
inspecting chimney flues. Using high-tech equipment, a chimney sweep can detect breaches in your flue
lining that can lead to chimney fires.
With that said, we'd like to
outline some tasks you can easily do for yourself.
Chimney Crown Repair
The chimney crown is the
concrete area surrounding the flue or flues on a chimney. Think of it as the 'roof' of your
Inspect your crown once a
year. Look for cracks or missing chunks of concrete. If the crown is completely intact, forget
about if for a year. Small cracks, however, get to be bigger ones through the process of freezing and
thawing. Eventually you'll need a multi-thousand dollar crown replacement UNLESS you do easy preventive
If pieces of your crown are missing, trowel on a coat of CrownSeal, the professional grade product that offers a 10 year warranty.
If there are just cracks no more than 1/4" wide, use CrownCoat, a brushable latex product that is guaranteed for 15 years.
Either of these products will make your chimney crown waterproof.
Flashing Repair or Replacement
Flashing is a narrow band of
metal that seals your roofing material to your chimney, or to skylights or dormers. It's often the
location of leaks. Inspect it once a year when you check out your chimney crown.
If your chimney is
leaking into your home, but not into your fireplace, it's a good bet that the flashing around the
chimney needs repair.
FlashSeal is the professional's
choice for this task. You can choose black, white, or brown FlashSeal.
Clean up the areas you suspect
and apply a coat of FlashSeal about 4 inches up the sides of the chimney and about 4 inches across the
roof. Then lay a piece of 6" wide reinforcement fabric in the wet Flash Seal and apply another coat over
the fabric. That's it. You're covered by a 7 year warranty.
Maintenance of Brick Work
While you're on the roof,
check your chimney for deteriorating mortar joints, staining, or moist-looking areas.
If you see small (1/8"-3/16")
cracks between bricks and the mortar
holding them in place, apply CrackMagic, using the brushes that come with the product. Now you're set for 10 years.
soot stains, rust, mildew, moss, and creosote with Brick and Mortar Cleaner by SaverSystems. You can apply it with a paint roller.
If bricks look like they are retaining moisture, seal them with ChimneySaver water repellent. There's a water-based version and two
solvent-based versions, one of which complies with VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) laws of all 50
states. You can apply any version with an inexpensive low pressure sprayer.
With top quality, professional
grade chimney repair products and a minimum of tools, you can save yourself thousands of dollars over the
lifetime of your home—But please plan your work with safety in mind.