Brick Cleaning Before Winter

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
Brick Mold Removal
The mold growth on this chimney could have been prevented by an application of a strong water repellent.

Winter can be felt in the air all across Ohio and the rest of the Midwest after these past few weeks of ambivalent weather. Take advantage of the last few weeks of mild weather before the cold sets in for good. One project to cross off your list before the cold weather sets in is cleaning and sealing your masonry. It is especially important to clean your masonry if mold is growing on it because this moss will hold water and as the temperatures fluctuate over the next few months the masonry will begin to crack due to the water freezing and thawing.

Power washing your masonry is not what I would recommend for removing moss. This troublesome growth is unsightly but not difficult to remove by any means. Should you elect to power wash, keep the PSI under 3000. Power washing will often chip brick that has already been weakened and cause more damage than good. Muriatic acid is also not what I would recommend for removing the mold because this powerful acid has the tendency to stain your brick and leave you with a more permanent unsightly mess than the mold was in the first place. It can leave behind white, powdery efflorescence.

When we are called out to clean a masonry surface, whether it be a chimney, a wall, or a section of the home in general, not only will

Brick Cleaner
This cleaner is safer than muratic acid and works effectively against mold, dirt, moss, rust, and other stains.

we evaluate the integrity of the brick to see what is causing such growth (brick structures that are constantly damp or that are near standing water have a higher likelihood of mold regrowing after it is removed).

To clean mold and other unsightly stains from masonry, I recommend the ChimneyRx Safer Masonry Cleaner, which is deemed”Safer” because it is less corrosive than muriatic acid which can eat away at skin, clothing, and the brick itself as well as leave behind unsightly stains after the mold has been removed. The Safer Masonry Cleaner has easy application and has taken care of even the toughest mold growths we’ve seen yet.

After the mold is removed, it is keen to waterproof the area. Obviously, this area has proven it is likely to retain water to the point where mold can flourish. A water repellent that fills the pores of a brick surface and prevents vapors from being trapped beneath the sealer is preferred. Areas that hold water constantly or sit adjacent to standing water must be water proofed due to the extremely high likelihood of mold regrowth. If the area that you are experiencing the mold is horizontal, you MUST water proof because the water that stands on the ground after rainfall will almost certainly cause the mold to grow again.

Cincinnati Chimney Sweep, Clay Lamb owner of American Chimney Sweep. Executive Producer of Ask the Chimney Sweep Podcasts and YouTube channel.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Chimney Height: The 2 foot, 10 foot, 3 foot Rule

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
Chimney height is short of chimney penetration.
This chimney height is too short!

Folks often have trouble grasping the 2 foot, 10 foot, 3-foot standard. These chimney height measurements are important to meet building requirements. Positing a chimney on the home relative to the rest of the home may cause it to draw better. This will generally cause you fewer problems as a homeowner.

Chimney Height

What is the 2 foot, 10 foot, 3-foot rule? The chimney must extend at least 3’ above the highest point where it passes through a roof. And at least 2’ higher than any portion of a building within 10′. Specifications aren’t there to merely cause you problems. They intend to make sure that the chimney draws properly and that a fire hazard does not occur. If, however, the manufacturer of a factory-built fireplace unit, wood stove, or other appliance has other specifications, these must be followed.

Any peak that is within 10 feet of the chimney can compete with the chimney. This can cause draft problems. This is why the rule calls for the chimney to extend 2 feet above any structure within 10 feet of the chimney. If your home is at a particularly high altitude, I recommend consulting a professional in your area when it comes to these particular specifications. The high altitude and thinner air can possibly cause necessary measurements to differ slightly.

Draft problems are often due to many things!

Chimney draft problems are often due to chimney height or lack thereof. But just as critical is negative pressure issues in the house that cause sluggish drafts. These can include installation of new attic insulation, powerful roof vents, cathedral ceilings, large stairwells, and fans in kitchens as well as bathrooms. Even the addition of new storm windows can change the air balance in the house. Additionally, cold air vents across the fireplace on the wall are notoriously for being sluggish with the draft.

Click here to read more about smoking fireplace problems.

Cincinnati Chimney Sweep, Clay Lamb owner of American Chimney Sweep. Executive Producer of Ask the Chimney Sweep Podcasts and YouTube channel.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Leaning Chimney Problem

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

A complaint that we receive frequently from homeowners is  that their chimney is “leaning” away from the home and would like for us to come out and take a look at it. Most often when we go out to look at such problems, what we find is not so much a chimney problem as it is a foundational issue. Brick chimneys that are pulling away from the home and taking brick with it are usually the result of the foundation shifting or settling significantly. These problems should be addressed by an engineer who can take a look at the home at a structural level and decide if the shifting of the foundation is reparable from the perspective of fixing the chimney and also from the perspective of any other damage that occurred as a result of the settling.

Often times a leaning brick chimney creates cracks in the brick on the home itself where the chimney is pulling away from. There are a few options that you have when it comes to such a situation, depending on what your structural engineer has to say. You may get away with using braces to brace the chimney back to the home. Such heavy braces can be expensive and are unsightly. You may also consider the option of removing the chimney, capping the chimney off, and relaying the brick against the house.

For the cracked brick surrounding the rebuild area, you will need to seal any damage to prevent further damage from occurring.

ChimneySaver CrackMagik
Use ChimneySaver CrackMagik to repair any cracks remaining after the leaning chimney has been deemed structurally sound.

Apply a high silicon caulking to the actual crack to fill it. Some products are specified for certain sized cracks,  so be sure to decide what type of brick repair product you need before purchasing it. ChimneySaver CrackMagik is recommended for sealing cracks up to 1/8″ wide.

Also, for situations where the structural settling has caused cracking in the brick outside of the repair area, it is wise to waterproof seeing that although no visible damage may have occurred the bricks themselves and the mortar joints holding them together may have weakened. A water repellent that allows the brick to breathe or that does not form a film is the most desirable water repellent for brick structures. Water repellents that form films can actually trap vapors inside, causing spalling to occur. Brick water repellents should be water based, generally, if there has been no prior application of a water repellent to the brick and solvent based if a water repellent has been previously applied. Using a water repellent over areas repaired with ChimneySaver CrackMagik is one way to lengthen the life of the repair and increase the integrity of your chimney overall.

Cincinnati Chimney Sweep, Clay Lamb owner of American Chimney Sweep. Executive Producer of Ask the Chimney Sweep Podcasts and YouTube channel.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

My Chimney Needs Cleaned HOW Often?

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

In my time as a chimney professional, I have come to acquire a large amount of customers that call in about the same time each year

Cincinnat Chimney Cleaning with Video Inspection
Video inspections allow sweeps to see internal damage in the flue system on a tv screen.

to have their chimney professionally cleaned. These folks are usually older and use their fireplaces frequently. We come out, service their chimney; which includes a chimney sweep, an exterior evaluation of the chimney and a video inspection of the inside of the chimney’s flue system, and go about on our way. Other customers, however, are extremely reluctant to spend money to have their chimney cleaned. They see no point in having a chimney sweep come to clean the chimney when there are cleaning logs that can simply be burned like the rest of the wood in their pile to clean the chimney.

Depending on the brand of cleaning log you get, they can be very effective. However, what a chimney sweeping professional has that no cleaning log ever will is the fact that they can evaluate both the inside and outside of your chimney for damage that can be both dangerous and expensive if left unattended.

If you plan on using your chimney each year, it is prudent to have it swept and inspected each year because each year, after a season of changing temperatures, freeze and thaw damage can occur causing cracks to appear on

Cracked Chimney Flue
Chimney professionals can identify dangerous vertical cracks in the in the chimney flue.

the exterior of your chimney. Similarly, a lot can happen to the inside of your chimney during that time. The foundation of your home could shift significantly in that time causing a crack to appear in the flue system. A chimney fire could have occurred during the last burning season after your chimney professional checked out the chimney. Even if your flue is capped, a bird or bat could have made an opening in the mesh and brought in debris which could catch fire.

The reality is that maybe since the last time you had your chimney inspected and cleaned none of these things have occurred, but risking it is never something that I would recommend to customers. Paying for a professional evaluation of the chimney is a small price compared to the possible costs of repairing a chimney after a chimney fire has occurred or fixing a  heavily damaged chimney’s exterior because you didn’t inspect the integrity of the brick frequently enough and allowed the masonry to deteriorate.

Chimney cleaning is only as effective as the method that you use to clean it. A chimney professional that does not run a video inspection of the flue system is far less effective than a chimney professional who does. In the same way, using a cleaning log is less effective than calling out a professional. NFPA requires the chimney to be swept after one cord of wood is burned, but remember that damage can be incurred by the chimney even when the chimney is not in use.

Cincinnati Chimney Sweep, Clay Lamb owner of American Chimney Sweep. Executive Producer of Ask the Chimney Sweep Podcasts and YouTube channel.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Chimney Crowns Done Right

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
Cracked Chimney Crown
This chimney crown is not smooth and will allow water to sit, causing cracks. Note the use of foam around the top flue tiles to provide for an expansion joint, required in many areas.

Chimney crowns are very important to the integrity of your chimney; an improperly installed chimney crown could cost you thousands of dollars in repair work down the road. Using the right materials, following the correct procedure, and consulting with a professional will help you to construct a chimney crown properly. The chimney crown helps to prevent the mortar in between the bricks on your chimney from eroding away in rainfalls.

Removing your existing chimney crown is often where mistakes occur. You do not want to damage the brick on the chimney or the chimney flue itself. To prevent incidental damage from occurring, chisel off the existing crown starting from the edges and working your way in. Work carefully and wear eye and hand protection to protect yourself from flying bits of concrete.Similarly, remember that you are working likely on a roof or a ladder and are up in the air. Follow all building codes in your area and never do anything that you do not feel comfortable doing; this may lead to injury.

Chimney Crown Repair
An air pocket may have existed when this chimney crown was poured which allowed water to cause damage.

We never recommend using mortar to construct your crown. Mortar is very vulnerable and will erode away quickly. Cement crowns will outlive crowns constructed from mortar every time. Making a consistent and appropriate concrete mixture is important to having a crown that will not easily be damaged by water or freezing and thawing. Although you should follow the directions on the cement that you buy exactly, usually you must mix all of the dry ingredients prior to adding any water. Be aware that when applying the cement to the chimney, air pockets inside the cement will prevent it from standing as strong as possible.

You are going to need to set some steel forms on the chimney to fill up with cement. We recommend installing a 2″ or 3″ drip edge crown, which means the steel forms allow for the chimney crown to be constructed with an extra two or three inches on each side of the chimney. This prevents water from dripped directly down the brick on your chimney. Fill the steel forms up completely with cement to ensure a very flat top. A top that is not completely flat will allow water to pool which will catalyze your chimney crown’s deterioration.

After your chimney crown has had time to cure according to manufacturer’s instructions, waterproofing your chimney is a wise investment. Spending less than fifty dollars to waterproof your chimney crown  will prevent damage in the future that will cost much more to repair. When water is able to sit directly on top of the crown, it will expand and contract as it freezes and thaws and slowly but surely create cracks in the crown. These cracks can be filled by specialized chimney crown repair products, but if the cracks get too deep then often times the crown must be completely replaced. Such a repair can costs thousands if done professionally. Waterproofing your chimney crown prior to such damage is always the best decision.

Cincinnati Chimney Sweep, Clay Lamb owner of American Chimney Sweep. Executive Producer of Ask the Chimney Sweep Podcasts and YouTube channel.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Chimney Pots

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
Chimney Pot Designs
These are chimney pots designed for decoration.

Metal chimney pots and masonry chimney pots are two different kinds of chimney pots available on the market. There are also chimney pots that combine the technologies of both of these kinds to make the most efficient chimney pot possible. A chimney pot is literally a pot made of one of these kinds of materials or a mixture of the three that sits on top of the chimney to increase draft. Although this is the primary function of the chimney pot, often times decorative chimney pots are purchased merely as architectural details or accents for the home. Chimney pots range from the very industrial and efficient to the very decorative and beautiful.

Metal chimney pots are round and although they all look mostly similar, there are different constructions available. Air insulated or mass insulated metal chimney pots are two kinds available for purchase and they refer to the type of insulation that exists in between the two layers of stainless steel. In an air insulated metal chimney pot, air is not able to circulate and air is actually trapped in between the two layers of stainless steel which acts as insulation. Mass insulated chimney pots utilize actual insulation in between the two layers of stainless steel which traps heat, helping to keep the house warmer. Air cooled chimney pots do not utilize any insulation and air is able to move freely between the two stainless steel layers. Such a design helps to keep the actual chimney flue cooler.

Masonry chimney pots are usually purchased for decoration or for a very distinct architectural detail for the home. Masonry chimney pots are made from either brick or stone, but other decorative chimney pots can be made of clay. These pots are constructed about the flue and are connected by a clay flue tile. These pots generally are more expensive than metal chimney pots because they take quite a bit of time to construct and are often installed when the house is built, making it an important part of the way that the chimney functions naturally. You will need to have your chimney pot inspected yearly, as with the rest of the chimney, because there is the tendency for the mortar holding the chimney pot in place to thin over time. It will need to be repointed after a few years.

The purpose of a chimney pot is to increase draft in the chimney. By making the actual chimney flue taller, it will be able to establish a better draft. Chimney pots are all the same in that they are open at the bottom where connected to the chimney and at the top. Decorative chimney pots must be approved by professionals as safe for installation.

Cincinnati Chimney Sweep, Clay Lamb owner of American Chimney Sweep. Executive Producer of Ask the Chimney Sweep Podcasts and YouTube channel.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

What Sets ChimneySaver Products Apart?

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
Brick Repair Products
My service men use and recommend the ChimneySaver line for all your brick repair needs.

Here at American Chimney in Cincinnati, we have recommended and used ChimneySaver products. ChimneySaver products are as varied as the problems that occur in masonry all over the home. There are products for waterproofing not only new brick but also brick that has been previously waterproofed by competitors’ products but also products formulated to repair cracks in the crown and other areas of the chimney as well. With such a wide variety of products to choose from, there are very few times my service men need to stray from the ChimneySaver line for repairs.

Why ChimneySaver? ChimneySaver products protect your masonry from the whole list of damage that masonry can sustain including but not limited to spalling, staining,  freeze/thaw damage, deterioration, corrosion, efflorescence, and mildew. With such a wide spectrum of protection for your masonry, combined with the company’s warranty (length of which varies by product) I feel comfortable using ChimneySaver products in nearly every repair. One thing I must mention, however, is that the warranty on any ChimneySaver product is void if it is not applied by a professional.

ChimneySaver water repellent is one of the most frequently utilized products in the company. When diagnosing water problems we almost always start by waterproofing suspect areas on the chimney. Their water repellents and other products are formulated such

ChimneySaver Water Repellent
ChimneySaver’s water repellents are specially formulated to allow water vapors to move freely through the membrane.

that they will not merely form a film over your masonry like most competitors’ products, instead their molecular formula is so small it can penetrate up to 1/4″ in to the masonry surface for heightened protection. These chemicals that have penetrated the masonry are photo-reactive, and after the treated masonry has been exposed to light the ingredients, which are 100% active, develop an electrostatic charge from the ultraviolet rays of the sun which matches the charge that water has. This allows water to be repelled actively like two of the same ends of a magnet repelling each other.

Other products are, quite literally, water sealers and although they protect the masonry surface from some water damage they also trap water vapors inside the surface. These water vapors will contract and expand with temperature changes over time causing the faces of the brick to pop off (spalling to occur) and cracks in the masonry surface to occur or widen.

We do not recommend using ChimneySaver products on painted brick because the paint has already filled the pores of the brick. Since the ChimneySaver product cannot penetrate it is less effective. Similarly, although you can paint over brick treated with ChimneySaver products, I never recommend painting brick at all. Painted brick has the tendency to spall and once the paint starts to peel, and it will, it is a huge mess that takes a lot of work to clean up. If you do want to paint over ChimneySaver products, you will need to apply an oil-based primer because most paints will not adhere properly.

Cincinnati Chimney Sweep, Clay Lamb owner of American Chimney Sweep. Executive Producer of Ask the Chimney Sweep Podcasts and YouTube channel.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb