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
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 chimney.
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 maintenance yourself.
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
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.