Chimney Repairs

We recently completed some chimney repair jobs and below are the before and afters.

chimney repair before and afterchimney brick repair

Is your fireplace safe?

Most people seem to think their fireplaces are safe, even though they have not had them cleaned or inspected for years, or even decades. This may not be the case. Over 15,000 home fires a year in the U.S. are attributed to fireplaces and chimneys.

I did a random survey of properties where we cleaned or inspected the chimney and fireplace during a 5 day period last October.

  • 7 if 23 properties inspected were in good condition and only needed cleaning.
  • 7 of the 23 properties had cracks in the flue that were a fire hazard and which required the chimney to be relined.
  • 9 of the properties had other issues such as cracks between bricks that needed repair, cracks in the chimney crown, missing caps/spark arrestors, or faulty control modules on a gas fireplace.

Our recommendations are that if you have a masonry fireplace that is over 25 years old, it is probably a good idea to get the chimney inspected with a video inspection as there is about a 25% chance that you have cracks in the flue which are a fire hazard.

Even if you have been getting your chimney swept regularly, if the chimney sweep has not done a video inspection of the flue, you might still have a fire hazard. Last fall, Rachael Ray (TV Host) had her house burn down because of cracks in the flue, even though she was getting the chimneys swept regularly.
Many sweeps only do a visual inspection or at most use a hand held mirror. These techniques are only effective in very short chimneys. We used to charge extra for video inspections but now include those with all inspections or cleanings.

It is also recommended that all fireplaces/chimneys be inspected when a home is being sold. If you are a buyer, you don’t want to find out that the fireplace or chimney needs major repair work after you close escrow.

All properties with Rampart General Precast fireplaces (built from the 1960’s to mid 1990’s need to be inspected as they are prone to cracking in the fireplace and the flue. If you can see long vertical cracking on the outside of these fireplaces, get the cracks repaired immediately before the damage becomes more extensive, as sometimes the only repair is to tear down the chimney.

Chimney fire burned Rachael Ray’s home

A home belonging to celebrity cook Rachael Ray was reportedly on fire in upstate New York. Images showed the flames shooting through the roof of the home.

Fire crews were battling flames at the home in Lake Luzerne, N.Y., as the Warren County Sheriff’s Office told ABC10 the residence belonged to the television personality.

Two weeks after a devastating fire nearly gutted Rachael Ray’s home, officials finally have released a cause. The Aug. 9 blaze at her manse began inside a fireplace chimney, state officials revealed on Friday.

Rachel Ray Home Chimney Fire

Upgraded Fireplace with Glass Doors

We recently upgraded this fireplace with new glass doors. See below before and after photos.

Fireplace before

BEFORE

Fireplace After

AFTER

Rampart General cracked fireplaces

Pictures of Rampart General cracked fireplaces which are beyond repair and need to be torn down.

Rampart General fireplaces

New Chimney Cap in Orange County

Here is a chimney cap job we did recently. You can see the before, during the work and after photos below.

Before, during and after chimney cap replacement

Video of chimney which needs major repairs

This as an example of our video inspections.  We make sure that the homeowner can see it is their property and they can see the issues.  This is an example of a chimney which was allowed to deteriorate and which has substantial cracking both inside and out.  It can be repaired but the repairs are significant.

 

Chimney cracks inside chimney

Due to the recent earthquakes in Southern California there have been reports of chimney damage. Some of which you might not be aware of. Here is a video of cracks inside a chimney. If you think you might have damage, get your chimney inspected now before winter comes and you can’t use it when you really need to!

 

Why you should only used a licensed and insured chimney sweep

csiaMany chimney sweeps are not licensed, bonded or insured.  Sometimes companies hire “subcontractors” who also have no insurance or licenses.  It is not illegal for someone not to have a license if the work they do is under $500, however, there is a danger in having someone climb up on your roof with no insurance.  The danger is that if they fall and get hurt, they can sue you.

Today, a customer told me that he had a friend who had a chimney sweep fall from his roof and die. This was 15 years ago.  The homeowner was sued.

So before you let anyone climb on your roof, check if they have insurance.

Your chimney and earthquakes

Cracked fireplace earthquake damageToday parts of the San Gabriel Valley, the Inland Empire and Orange County felt a significant earthquake (7.1).  If you have an older masonry chimney and you felt a significant movement of your property, it is usually recommended that you do not use your fireplace until it is inspected with a video camera to make sure there are no hazardous cracks.

If the cracks are small, the cost to fix them is very reasonable.  If they are allowed to get larger with additional earthquakes, or rain coming into your chimney, or if you burn a lot of fires, you could have a house fire, or the chimney could deteriorate to a point where major repairs are needed. Read more