Problems with Corbeling Slopes

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

Corbeling, also known as the shoulders or hips of the chimney, can cause chimney damage if it is not smooth and pitched properly.  If your corbeling has cracks, get it fixed sooner rather than later in order to avoid more serious water damage!

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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 Creosote Removal

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

Creosote is a very dangerous substance to have in your chimney–along with causing unpleasant odors and corroding metal and mortar, it can cause damaging chimney fires.  This video explains creosote, and shows some of the tools chimney sweeps use for removing this harmful substance.

Where to buy products mentioned in this video: ACS Anti-Creo-Soot | Cre-Away

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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 Chase Cover Water Problem

Chimney Chase Covers

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

Dear AsktheChimneySweep,

My name is Rick and I’m from Illinois. After having my yearly chimney sweeping and inspection, the serviceman said that the chase cover had “rusted out” and needs to be replaced. I didn’t get a chance to ask him what this meant, he just left the invoice in the door with the recommended repair listed. I don’t even know what chimney chase covers are, is this is crucial fix? Money is short right now.

Rick

Rick,

You wouldn’t know it but in the profession we see a lot of rusted out chase covers. My guys write estimates for replacing a chimney

Chimney Chase Cover Water Problem
This chimney chase cover allows water to pool instead of run off the sides.

chase cover a few times a week. What the serviceman wrote on your invoice means that the chase cover, also known as the chase top, which actually covers the entire top of your chimney to keep out the elements and critters. It fits over the top of the chimney like a lid almost, and the chimney flue pipe extends up through the middle. What has likely happened in your situation is that the chimney chase cover, which is more often than not made of galvanized steel which is prone to rust, was allowing water to pool and as a result became rusted. This isn’t necessarily a pressing repair, but should be taken care of in a timely manner because the rust damage will continue to worsen until holes form and water penetrates the chimney’s flue.

Water damages almost all kinds of chimney covers including chimney caps and the chimney crowns. When it comes to caps or chase covers, I always recommend stainless steel. The extra cost of installing a stainless steel cap or chase cover over galvanized steel is completely worth the extended lifetime of the cap and additional reliability that you also receive. Rick, when you do decide to replace your chimney’s chase cover, elect for a stainless steel version. Although rust stain removal is not usually extremely difficult, the metal has already been weakened so replacement is definitely the best option.

Other times, rust problems are worsened by a poorly designed chimney chase. The chimney chase should be designed such that it sheds water from the chimney and does not allow it to pool. As a rule, if water is allowed to pool anywhere, whether it be on top of a chimney crown or on top of brick or anywhere else, a water problem will ensue. The chase should actually be constructed so that there is a little bit of a slope from the middle, where the chimney’s flue will stick out, down to the sides. This will allow water to run off of the top of the chimney and prevent premature rust problems.

Chimney chase covers come in different designs based on how many flue systems are being vented through your chimney. There are chase covers available with two or three holes for multiple flues and chases where the hole is off center for specially designed chimneys. There are many custom chase cover manufacturers who will design your chase cover to your exact dimensions. You want to make sure that you are taking accurate flue diameter measurements during this process as well.

Rick, as I said before, I would definitely not let this problem go for too long because rust stains are more than just unsightly, once water is able to enter the chimney you experience more problems will surely begin to occur. Make sure you are choosing a quality material and that the chase cover is sloped downward to prevent water from pooling.

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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 Crown Repair

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

Over the past thirty years, I have seen and estimated thousands of chimneys that were damaged due to poor design or being constructed of the wrong materials. Customers will often ask me what is the best chimney crown repair for their money if their service professional has come out and cited damage to the chimney’s crown. The chimney crown is often incorrectly referred to as a cap by customers, and the purpose of the crown is to shed water off the top of the brick chimney chase and to cap off the brickwork of the chimney.

Freeze-thaw damage is the most frequent type of damage I see to chimney crowns is. If your chimney is saturated with a cold rain

Chimney Crown Damage
This chimney crown was haphazardly slapped together and must be removed and replaced.

and the temperature drops well below freezing, freeze/thaw damage occurs. On-going freeze-thaw cycles will not only cause cracks and other damage to the chimney’s crown, but can cause a chimney to experience premature brick  spalling.  Spalling is characterized by the brick faces popping off. You may see them lying on the rooftop or on the ground near the area where the brick has become damaged.

Customers are often confused as to why the brickwork on the top of the chimney near the chimney crown is damaged when the rest of the brick on the home seems fine. Well, if you stop and think about it, most of the bricks on a home are pretty well protected by the overhanging eaves and gutters, but the chimney sticks up on the side or very top of the house where it is exposed to the strongest winds and coldest temperatures.

In a nut shell here is the real problem surrounding why chimney crowns need repaired. Your chimney crown is supposed to be constructed of concrete mix and not brick mortar mix. A properly constructed crown will also have a membrane under the concrete that separates it from the top of brick chase. The concrete mix itself should have wire mesh or reinforcing fiber incorporated into it to further strengthen the crown. Chimney flue tiles will stick out of the top of the chimney, and each flue tile is supposed to have an expansion joint around it so that the flue tiles can expand when the fireplace or appliances that they are venting heat up without pushing on the crown causing it to crack.

Most building codes do not require an overhang or what is sometimes referred to as a drip edge crown, but it is definitely suggested to keep the water shedding off of the sides of the chimney. Many bricklayers adopted the attitude of their building superintendents to “hurry up and get the job done”. It is quite obvious today that they were all getting paid for production, not their craftsmanship. At the end of the day, when all of the bricks had been laid, if the bricklayer had enough mortar mix on the board they wouldn’t climb down the scaffolding and mix up the proper concrete material to finish the crown. This is the ugly truth of chimney crowns, especially those on older homes when houses were being built very rapidly.

All in all, I would discuss the options that your chimney repair man has cited as possible and also call out for a second or third opinion. Sometimes the chimney crown can be resurfaced and other times the crown needs to be removed and replaced with the correct materials. In severe cases where the chimney has not only incurred damage to the crown but also to the brick on the top of the chimney, the top portion of the chimney may need to be rebuilt.

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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

Cleaning Creosote

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

Askthechimneysweep:

Hello, I had a question for you regarding my chimney. What should I do about cleaning creosote in my chimney? If I look up the chimney I can see creosote build up and that worries me. Is there anything I can do to remove this creosote myself without having to pay for a professional chimney sweep cleaning? My husband and I are really looking to save some money.

Thank you,

Theresa J., MI

Theresa,

Thanks for your question! People actually wonder this a lot. Cleaning creosote is very important and you are very right in assuming that the fireplace should not be burned. Creosote buildup is a major concern for us in the chimney industry. Built up creosote can cause chimney fires or will fuel a chimney fire and cause it to last longer and burn stronger. If a fire sparks in the chimney’s flue, creosote is likely to catch. A puffy creosote will act as fuel for for the fire. Another danger of having creosote buildup in your chimney is that it can cover a vertical crack in the flue tile or a missing mortar joint which are signs that a chimney fire has already occurred.

When it comes to cleaning creosote out of your chimney, your best bet is going to be having a chimney professional come out to sweep the chimney. A chimney professional who completes a video inspection of the chimney’s flue after sweeping it is worth the money because he can actually look in the chimney’s flue to make sure that there are no physical problems after removing all of the pesky creosote that builds up over time. NFPA 211 recommends that chimneys be swept yearly or after you burn through a cord of wood.

Creosote sweeping logs

Creosote sweeping logs are an option available to you in between having your chimney professionally serviced. As stated on the package, these logs should not replace a chimney professional servicing your chimney, but is great for use before a chimney professional comes to service the chimney. Creosote sweeping logs prevent new creosote from building up and treats existing creosote to make it easier to remove all creosote, even glazed creosote when the professional comes out.

Some folks will invest in their own chimney sweeping brushes. This one time investment allows them to clean their chimney’s flue yearly without having to call out a pro. If you wish to sweep your own chimney, more power to you. I would still absolutely recommend having a professional come out to evaluate the integrity of the flue system every year. Not all creosote is easily removable. Glazed creosote can ignite when the temperature in the flue system reaches a certain level and the creosote coats the walls of flue system. Usually glazed creosote is found in the flue after a chimney fire.

There are so many variables when it comes to creosote in your chimney and chimney sweeping. As I said before there is a lot of money to be saved in purchasing your own chimney sweeping equipment. Or, you can burn a creosote removal log prior to your professional coming out. But, having a professional coming out yearly to inspect your chimney is invaluable.

When it comes down to it you can never be sure what exactly is happening in your flue system without a video inspection of the chimney’s inner walls. Glazed creosote and excessively tall chimneys prevent problems for people who want to save money and sweep their own chimneys. At the end of the day I would honestly recommend doing some shopping when hiring a chimney professional. You should also have them come out to inspect the chimney yearly, even if you do want to sweep it yourself. But, in my opinion it is not worth the cost or effort.

For more information, check out our YouTube channel or other blogs!

Affiliate Disclosure

I NEVER recommend a product or service that I don’t personally use (and love) myself but just to be totally transparent you should know that some of the links on my site ARE affiliate links and I DO make a small commission from any sales that are made. Thanks for your support!

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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

Why Install a Fireplace Gas Blower?

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

Dear Askthechimneysweep,

I am considering purchasing a gas log set and am overwhelmed by all of the choices available to me. Should I opt for a fireplace gas blower with my gas log set? Are there benefits to having one versus not having one? Any guidance would be appreciated.

Jim
Cleveland,OH

Jim,

I’m so glad to hear that  you are considering gas logs because I don’t think enough people realize the benefits that gas logs have to offer. You are absolutely right, in the last couple of years there have been so many advances made to gas log sets. Gas log sets now have remote controls, blowers, can burn to look like a real fire, and come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. If you have read any of my work before you will know that I only recommend burning vented gas logs due to the controversy over whether ventless gas logs pose health hazards.

Before we discuss whether a gas blower will be beneficial to you, you need to understand the way that gas logs produce heat. Most gas log manufacturers claim that their gas logs produce radiant and convection heat. Although a gas blower won’t increase the radiant heat, it will blow the convection heat further into the room than it would have reached normally. Also it is helpful for you to know how a gas blower works when you are deciding whether or not you should purchase a blower for your gas logs. The blower actually takes in air from the room which is not heated, heats it, and blows it back into the room.

One concern that many customers have when it comes to the question of whether or not to purchase a gas log blower is whether or not it is going to be loud or noisy and disrupt the activity going on in the room where the gas logs are located. While the gas log blower will only blow the air a certain distance, more powerful blowers blow the warm air further than less powerful blowers.  The more powerful models are, obviously, more noisy than the less powerful ones. However, in the past, all gas log blowers were very noisy and newer models have reduced the noise of a blower to nearly none at all.

You want to be sure that if you have decided on purchasing a gas log blower that it has a thermostat. This way you can manually adjust the temperature in the room and save money on your electric bill when the weather is slightly warmer out and crank up the heat when the weather is extremely cold. All in all a gas log blower helps to warm the room more using a relatively low amount of electricity to operate the blower. At the end of the day, everyone is looking to save money on home heating, and with the price of natural gas projected to stay fairly constant over the next few years, gas home heating is definitely something to consider.

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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

Gas Fireplace Service

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

Interested in what happens when a chimney sweep cleans your gas fireplace?  Watch this video for a detailed description of that process.

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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

Don’t Call a Roofer

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

If you have problems with leaking in your chimney, your first instinct may be to caller a roofer.  This video tells you why a chimney sweep would be better equipped to solve your leaking problem.

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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

HeatShield Application

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

HeatShield chimney liner repair is a product which coats the interior of your flue system, protecting it from damage.  Watch this video to see how Heat Shield is applied.

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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

Brick Chimney Construction: Corbels

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

Dear Askthechimneysweep: I have questions regarding my brick chimney construction; I am having a leak near my chimney and my chimney service man says that it is because of the corbel having exposed brick holes. What is a chimney corbel and is it a repair that I can do myself?

Thanks, Larry Fields – Columbus, OH

Larry,

The corbels on a chimney have the potential to be very bothersome to homeowners when it comes to water problems. Whether it be exposed brick holes or poor design, corbels certainly have the capacity to cause problems. The chimney’s corbel is also called a Brick Chimney Construction: Bad Corbel shoulder or hip and is shaped the way that it is to make room for the smoke chamber inside the chimney flue. Chimney leaks caused by corbels are often easy to diagnose but not always as easy to fix. Let me explain.

Whoever came out to take a look at your chimney diagnosed a chimney problem that we see all too often. It is not often that a chimney’s construction is ultimately its downfall when it comes to water problems. When bricklayers construct the chimney’s corbel and leave the brick’s holes exposed to hold water, as pictured, the water can actually saturate through the brick, wearing away quickly at any water repellents which may have been placed as a precaution, causing water to enter the home.

These exposed brick holes cause chimney leaks which can only be fixed if a slate or concrete cap is installed over the existing “stair stepped” bricks after they are cleaned, creating a smooth surface where water cannot pool, and finally waterproofed. Mold tends to grow where water pools, and these brick holes are the perfect area for mold to grow undisturbed creating an unsightly look the the chimney. A chimney shoulder or corbel should be smooth and allow water to run off instead of pool. Wherever water pools, whether it be on a corbel, a chimney crown, or any other horizontal surface on the home, there is a high likelihood of a water problem occurring.

A chimney corbel is one of the chimney construction details that may sometimes be overlooked by an inexperienced builder that causes more trouble than its worth. If a corbel is constructed such that its top is flat and builder does not smooth the top of the corbel completely there may be small depressions in the surface which allow water to pool. In situations like these the likelihood is for the corbel to crack instead of cause a water problem. Weather here in Ohio is unpredictable. Just this winter we would be almost in the 60’s one day and then below freezing the following weekend. Freeze-thaw damage is a real killer of masonry structures like a chimney where water is able to pool. An insignificant hairline crack is far from insignificant by the time the season is over and it will only continue to grow over time.

As to whether or not this is a repair you can conduct at home, I would have to say more than likely not. Since you’re dealing with a sloped surface installing a concrete cap over the exposed brick is not practical for a do-it-yourselfer to do. I would let the professional handle this project but go to the negotiation table knowing exactly what type of work he should be performing. As always, get more than one estimate from licensed chimney contractors in your area to ensure that you are getting the highest quality work for your money.

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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