For centuries folks have been trying to find ways to take care of creosote buildup in their flue and passing it down through the generations. Old days it was common to throw a live chicken down the flue to remove the soot. Progression took us to burning salt and aluminum cans. Now, not capping the chimney because the birds and rain keep it clean. The scariest, “I set mine on fire intentionally every year and burn it all out”. Many lives and homes have been lost because we didn’t know what worked. Today, we have codes, standards, and technology that gives professionally trained chimney sweeps the knowledge that wasn’t available to our predecessors.
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Chimneys are usually all but forgotten until its winter and you can not wait to build that first fire, but sometimes a problem arises that demands your immediate attention. Water! Chimneys have the most exposed brick/rock on your home, so the severe weather with freeze/thaw cycles and rain takes it’s toll. Brick and mortar joints are porous, so when it rains the water is absorbed. The fact that brick are porous is what makes them stick together when laid called a hydraulic bond. So with all this being said your masonry chimney is essentially a big sponge or wick on the exterior of your home or above your roof line. Trying to diagnose exactly where the water is penetrating can be tricky. Many times it’s assumed water is coming through the flashing at the base of a chimney or down the flue, but in most cases it is caused by years of exposure to the elements. This exposure can wreak havoc on a masonry chimney’s structure.
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