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Serving the Greater Houston Metro and surrounding areas for over 19 years. With over 35,000 satisfied customers, American Fireplace Inc. has over 50 years combined experience!

Preventative Maintenance Lowers the Cost of Chimney Repairs

Many of my customersí ask me, whatís the best way to lower the costs of chimney repairs? Although there isnít one specific answer to that question, Iíll try to address all of the issues that lead to the increased cost of chimney repairs over its useful life.

With the rising cost of just about everything these days, any way in which we can lower energy costs helps us sleep a little better at night. Chimney maintenance locates and prevents energy loss due to leaks. Chimneys and fireplaces pose specific challenges for regulating the temperature in the home. Because a chimney is designed to move smoke out of a home through the use of rising heat, there is a problem when you aren't using the fireplace, because hot air rises up though the chimney.  This defeats the purpose of burning the fire in the first place.

In order to prevent heat loss through the chimney, the flue must remain closed when the fireplace is not in use, preventing the hot air from venting through the chimney. Over time, the seal around the flue gets worn from usage, so itís important to inspect the seals regularly. A visual inspection of the chimney flue in order to ensure that it opens and closes correctly, usually when a chimney sweep performs his bi-annual chimney cleaning is suggested.

The most obvious reason that preventative maintenance lowers chimney repair costs is that chimney maintenance identifies minor, less expensive problems before they grow into larger, expensive problems. One of the most common problems that chimney sweeps run into is water damage. Water damage to a chimney usually doesnít happen overnight and if detected in its early stages, homeowners can avoid more costly problems such as having a chimney relined. Water leaks can originate in different parts of the chimney.  The chimney flashing at the base of the chimney is one of the main culprits.  Chimney flashing is the sheet of metal thatís wrapped around the base of the chimney where it meets the roof.  Chimneys are constructed with metal flashing to prevent water from collecting at the chimney base and damaging the chimney. However after the rain accumulates over time, it erodes and rusts. Adding new flashing or repairing the existing flashing doesnít cost that much when compared to the cost of new chimney, so youíll end up saving money in the long run.

Another area of the chimney that is subject to water damage is the cement cap or chimney crown. Chimney crowns are an important part of the process as they divert water away from the home.   If the crown is constructed in metal or cement, if it hasnít been built properly the cap and mortar joints may crack after being exposed to different weather conditions. When this occurs weíll have to add new mortar to your chimney.

Finally preventative maintenance prolongs the life of your chimney.  Depending on the materials used in your chimney, there are different lifespans. The brick walls or masonry are expected to last 100 years or more. Mortar walls are expected to last 25+ years on average. Materials such as caulking that is used as a sealer, should last 8-10 years. The metal coping or flashing that I mentioned earlier has a life expectancy of 20-40 years.  Preventative maintenance identifies problem areas that can be remedied with cost-effective solutions, avoiding costly repairs in the future.

Finally, aside from lowering the operating costs of a chimney, preventative chimney maintenance is important to the average homeowner because the safety for their home s and families rely on it; chimney maintenance prevents chimney fires. A home is the biggest investment that weíll make in our lives; it would be a shame to see it go up in smoke.

American Fireplace Inc. chimney cleaning and residential air duct cleaning services. For more than 20 years, it has served customers in Houston, Texas (TX) and the surrounding areas including Beaumont, Brenham, College Station, Galveston, Katy, Kingwood, Lake Jackson, Woodlands, Richmond, Spring and Sugarland. American Fireplace Inc., We Care about Your Air!

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