Mr. Smokestack Blog

Functions of a Chimney Crown

Of all the parts of the chimney system, the ones that prevent water damage may save you the most money. Water can destroy your masonry from the inside out, cause health issues, and raise fire risk all without your knowledge.

The Chimney Crown Functions of a Chimney Crown Image - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack Chimney

The chimney crown is your chimney’s first defense against water damage. A properly constructed chimney crown will cover the chimney’s top from the flue pipe to the edge of the chimney. The flue opening is protected with a chimney cap, and the rest of the chimney is protected by the crown. The crown is basically a masonry roof to your chimney. It should be at least 4 inches thick on it’s outer most edge, should slant away from the center, allowing water to run off, and it should overhang the masonry by 2 inches. The chimney crown should direct water away from the flue, and away from the masonry–instead dripping onto the flashing below.

A Poorly Constructed Crown

An amateur might attempt to make a chimney crown out of the wrong material or in the wrong shape. If the crown isn’t made specifically with a slant, a certain thickness, and with the 2 inch overhang, it will not be an effective defense against water. It’s important that homeowners choose a certified chimney sweep for such constructions and installations. A poorly constructed chimney crown will become damaged quickly, and lead to water damage. The chimney crown should be custom made for each chimney. Placing an existing crown onto a chimney will most likely be ill-fitting and have the wrong dimensions for adequate water runoff.

A Damaged Crown

Chimney crowns can become damaged during a single harsh winter, especially if they weren’t constructed properly. The crown should be made of concrete, and ideally sealed with a water-resistant barrier before the job is done. A flat crown will not direct water off and without the overhang, water will run down the masonry, staining, and leaking. If water is allowed to sit on the crown instead of runoff, the water will erode the crown leading to cracks, gaps, and leaks.

Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service and Masonry Repair

Chimney crown repair is only one of many masonry repairs that we see often at Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service. When we inspect chimneys, we pay close attention to the condition of the chimney crown and make repairs if needed. If it is obvious that your chimney crown has been leaking, we will check for water damage and make repairs to fully restore your chimney system to functionality.

If you haven’t had your chimney inspection, or have a specific concern about your chimney crown, you can call Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service and talk to a chimney expert today. Reach a certified chimney sweep at 919-747-1859 or schedule an appointment online.

By Robbie Markey on October 9th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Have a Professional Chimney Inspection Done Before Your First Fire

The season is changing from summer to fall and the air is getting crisp. This is the time when homeowners light up their fireplace for a little extra heat before switching on the central heat system or furnace. It’s the time when reading a book by the fire is your favorite way to close out a long day, and gatherings are made cozier with a crackling fire. Don’t let a dirty or damaged chimney mess up your plans.

Importance of Routine Maintenance Have a Professional Chimney Inspection Image - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack

You can never completely prevent a fire, but there are preventative measures you can take to bring down the fire risk this winter. Both the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommend routine maintenance for the safest and most efficient chimney system year-round. Routine chimney sweeps and annual chimney inspections are your first defense against chimney damage this year. Caring for and maintaining your chimney properly will lengthen its life and protect your investment at the same time.

Annual CSIA Inspections

What if you only use your fireplace periodically through winter and don’t notice any issues with its performance?

There is a chimney inspection for you. Because of the varying use of chimneys from house to house and climate to climate, the CSIA inspection is categorized into three levels.

  • Level 1 – Required annually when a chimney system is used the same as before and no changes are to be made. This inspection is an assessment of all the readily accessible portions of the chimney system and requires no special tools.
  • Level 2 – Required when there are changes made to the system (new installation or fuel change) or when a natural occurrence might have caused damage (tornado, earthquake, etc.). A level 2 inspection is also required when a property is sold or transferred. It involves the same consideration as a level 1 inspection as well as a more thorough assessment of other, hidden portions, including those accessible through attics and crawl spaces.
  • Level 3 – Recommended when a level 1 or 2 inspection suggests a hazard. This inspection requires special tools to remove components of the structure (walls, ceilings, masonry, etc.) in order to access the hazard.

Hire a Professional

When you hire a professional for a chimney inspection, you can rest assured knowing that your chimney is ready for burn season. Not only can you light the first fire when you want, but you will have the assurance that your chimney is safe from winter damage like water penetration. Additionally, your family is kept safe from smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning. If there is a danger in using your chimney system, your technician will find it. If you neglect your chimney system by failing to schedule this important appointment, however, you put your family and your property at risk.

Call Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service and schedule your chimney inspection today. You can reach us by calling 919-747-1859 or by using our online scheduling form.

By Robbie Markey on September 19th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Address Your Last Minute Chimney Repairs

Did you remember to have your chimney inspected this summer? If you had your chimney sweep and inspection, your technician might have discovered an issue that raised an eyebrow. If you haven’t had the issue resolved yet, you should do so soon. When your chimney has a problem, major or minor, it should be addressed before it becomes a serious hazard.

Schedule Repairs ASAPAddress Your Last Minute Chimney Repairs Image - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack

Letting your chimney sit with even a small amount of damage can lead to big problems. A small crack or gap can lead to water intrusion, which leads to major masonry damage. Once temperatures begin to drop, the water inside your masonry will freeze, expand, and bust the masonry apart further, repeating the process as the chimney heats and cools again. This freeze/thaw affect is the #1 cause of winter damage, especially to neglected chimneys.

Beat the Fall Rush

If you wait until the fall to schedule your chimney repairs, you may be disappointed to find that there are no openings with your trusted chimney sweep. This is because, during the time from October to January, chimney sweep companies are busy with emergency calls and scheduled maintenance. Scheduling a repair during this time may be a headache that you don’t want to deal with, and you may be tempted to light a fire despite your damaged chimney. This is not safe. Schedule your repairs in advance and avoid the hassle of the fall rush, and keep your family safe this fall.

Do You Need Repairs?

It can be difficult to watch for signs of chimney damage when your fire isn’t lit, but there are signs of an issue.

  • Moldy/mildewy odors mean there is water in the chimney system
  • Dripping noises in the chimney system
  • Drafts coming from the fireplace
  • Spalling, cracking, or stained bricks

If you are suspicious of a chimney problem, you should err on the side of caution and call a professional. Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service offers chimney inspections along with a full menu of chimney services–all of which are available year-round. Don’t wait until the last minute. Schedule now.

When you schedule your chimney repairs now, you’re able to rest easy knowing your chimney is ready for a fire at the first sign of cold weather. You don’t have to wait in the cold for your repair appointment. You can schedule an appointment with Raleigh’s #1 choice for chimney care now.

By Robbie Markey on September 5th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

We Are Certified (And Why it Matters)

When it comes to chimneys, homeowners tend to overlook the standard and try to D-I-Y. This can lead to dangerous consequences, extreme repair costs, property value depreciation, and even health risks to your family. If you wouldn’t let your ten-year-old rebuild your transmission, don’t let an amateur repair your chimney. The chimney’s purpose is to vent harmful gases from the home. It’s not just there to look pretty. It has a job to do, and must do it well to keep your family and home safe.

CSIA Certified

At Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service, we make it a priority for our technicians to be CSIA certified in order to provide the best care for our customers in and around Raleigh. CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps (CCS) is the industry standard for chimney safety. CSIA certified sweeps have undergone intensive classroom and field training, and testing. They must adhere to a stringent code of ethics designed to protect homeowners from scams. If found in violation of this code of ethics, the chimney sweep’s certification can be revoked. While in good standing, a CSIA member must recertify every three years by way of examination or continuing education.

Why Certification Matters We Are Certified (And Why it Matters) Image - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack

Certification and extensive training matters to us at Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service because our customers matter to us. We have the highest standard of customer safety and satisfaction, which is why we are CSIA certified, and maintain membership in the National Chimney Sweep Guild, the North Carolina Chimney Sweep Association, and the National Fire Protection Association. In an industry that is largely unregulated, it is up to the homeowner to vet service providers, making certain to hire the most qualified professionals for this important job. Your homeowner’s insurance providers, realtors, and municipal code officials look for the signature of a qualified professional on reports. Many agencies and officials trust the CSIA standard, and so should you.

Your Chimney, Your Investment

The housing market tells us that homeowners like fireplaces. First time homebuyers want fireplaces, and fireplaces often come with chimneys. When you add a fireplace and chimney to your home, or properly maintain or upgrade an existing chimney and fireplace, you are investing in your property. When you don’t properly maintain your investment, it depreciates your property value. Most people would not take their classic car to a summer sports team car wash where children might damage the paint or finish. Instead they go to a dealer and pay for a professional service detail. This is how best to protect your investment. Hire the best professional for the job, with the most thorough and extensive training, the most promising reviews, and comprehensive service. Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service has been Raleigh’s trusted comprehensive chimney and hearth service providers for over 10 years.

We strive not to be a success, but to be of value. Let us add to and preserve your chimney’s value today. Call 919-747-1859 or schedule an appointment online today. Concerned about cost? Ask us about financing!

Animals in the Chimney? Get Them Removed

After a long summer, you don’t know what might be in your chimney–especially if you didn’t take measures to close it to wildlife! You may not be certain if you have an animal intruder or not, but there are a few ways to tell. Some signs that you might have an animal in your flue are:Animals in the Chimney Get Them Removed Image - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack Chimney

  • Chirping, scratching, or barking noises
  • Droppings in the bottom of the chimney or fireplace
  • Debris such as feathers and fur
  • Foul odors of decomposition

Catching the Culprit

If you find evidence that an animal has been in your chimney system, it may not be there presently. Even if the animal escaped, however, you still need to call your chimney sweep. Animals leave behind nesting materials, fur, and feathers that are flammable and may obstruct airflow. As these organic materials begin to decompose, they can also become stinky. A chimney sweep can clean all of this debris away in a simple chimney sweep. If the animal is still in the flue, however, whether alive or dead, Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service can remove it.

Wildlife Removal Services

Because we have such a wide variety of wild animals here is North Carolina, our technicians are trained in humane animal removal. At Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service, we know chimneys. We know where animals can best hide, where they might have died if they become stuck or suffocated, and how best to gain access. Our wildlife removal services start with a free consultation to offer expert advice, and then a removal plan.


If you need wild animals removed from your home, Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service is here to help, as well as plan for next year. If you are diligent to prevent animal intrusion, you can likely avoid the nuisance and damages they can cause. There is a certain breed of bird, the chimney swift, that nests inside chimneys across North America every spring. This bird is federally protected, so it cannot be removed or killed. That means, you cannot light a fire while it nests in your flue, and even a professional cannot remove it. This can be quite a nuisance. It can mean waiting longer than you’d like to sweep and inspect your chimney, and these birds can be loud. Other animals, small critters that might come into the chimney, and then leave on their own accord–these guys use claws to climb out of the flue, leaving scratches in the flue liner. Scratches become weak spots, which deteriorates faster, collects more creosote and soot, and can result in a hole in the liner.

A simple cap installation can keep animals out of your chimney, and Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service has the best caps for you. If you’re concerned that an animal has been bunking in your chimney, call us today or request an appointment online now.

By Robbie Markey on August 8th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Take Care of Chimney Repairs Before Fall

Fireplace lovers are ready to light the first fire of the season as soon as the weather starts getting cooler in the fall. However, if your chimney has suffered from damage or other problems over the past year, you will have to wait until the repairs have been made to safely use your fireplace again.

Although summer can be a busy season filled with vacations, camps, and ball games, it is important to remember to schedule your annual chimney sweeping and inspection with Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service before fall arrives. This way our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps can make sure your chimney and fireplace system is ready to use. You will also have time to take care of any necessary repairs before September. We would like to tell you more about the different chimney repair services we provide to the residents of Raleigh and surrounding areas.

Chimney ReliningTake Care of Chimney Repairs Before Fall Image - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack

According to the CSIA, you need a good chimney liner to keep the combustible parts of your home safe from high temperatures. The liner will protect the bricks and mortar from the corrosive byproducts of combustion, and provide a properly sized flue to your heating appliance. Over the years, your chimney liner can suffer from water exposure damage. Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service can check out the condition of your liner to see if it needs to be replaced. We can then reline your chimney with the best liner for your particular system.

Crown Repair

Sitting at the very top of your chimney, the crown is constructed from mortar and can be damaged by erosion over time. When the crown becomes cracked and spalled, it cannot do its job of protecting your chimney from water leaks. Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service provides chimney crown repair and construction services to keep your chimney dry. We also repair and install chimney caps to give your chimney ultimate protection from water leaks and animal invasions.

Firebox Repair

If you have noticed cracks, gaps, and missing bricks and mortar joints in your firebox, you are in need of our firebox repair services. These gaps leave the combustible parts of your home exposed to the fireplace and greatly increase the risk of an accidental house fire. Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service has seen a lot of damaged fireboxes because the original builders did not use refractory mortar when constructing the firebox. Regular mortar cannot stand up very well to the extremely high temperatures produced in the firebox, which cause the mortar to deteriorate. You can trust our experience chimney technicians to only use the best quality of high-temperature bricks and refractory mortar when repairing and constructing fireboxes.
Make sure your fireplace will be ready to use this fall. Contact us at Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service today to schedule your appointment for your annual chimney sweeping and inspection this summer.

By Robbie Markey on July 20th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Problems With Cracked Chimney Crowns

There are some problems that can occur with your chimney system even when it’s not in use. Perhaps the off-season is the time when you should pay the most attention to your chimney. When you’re busy burning fires through the winter, that you don’t notice the obvious signs of a problem. If you haven’t scheduled your annual chimney inspection or routine chimney sweep, now is the time to act–especially if you don’t regularly assess your chimney’s function through the year.

Out of Sight and Out of Mind Problems with Cracked Chimney Crowns Image - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack

Oftentimes, the most overlooked and neglected parts of the chimney system are those that are out of sight. Most homeowners either forget that the hidden parts of the chimney exist or assume they’re okay. The fact is that while the inside of the chimney is abused and worn down by fire and heat, the exterior of the chimney is battered by time and the elements. A full year of seasonal weather can do a number on your chimney crown, and a homeowner will never see it. The chimney crown is important for chimney health and longevity because it keeps water out. Water wreaks havoc on masonry, can cause expensive damage, lower efficiency, and raise fire risk during burning season.

Chimney Crown Diagnosis

Even a well-constructed chimney crown can become damaged over time. Cracks in the chimney crown can result in water damage and will grow over time until the crown becomes a dangerous hazard. When homeowners schedule routine services for their chimneys, a chimney sweeping company is better able to diagnose a new problem. Companies that have expert masons on staff can even identify problem areas and weaknesses in the crown before damage occurs. With an early diagnosis, a professional can salvage the existing crown and even strengthen it, or recast a crown completely when serious damage has occurred.

Chimney Crown Repair

Sometimes a chimney crown is constructed incorrectly and water doesn’t run off as it should. When this happens, the crown can develop cracks and becomes worn or weak in certain areas. At Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service we put our customer’s safety and comfort first, and we also want to save you unnecessary costs. That is why our technicians are experienced in chimney crown repair. We can repair the chimney crown, filling the cracks and gaps, restoring the necessary slope for water runoff, and finish with a waterproof sealant that will protect it from reoccurrence. This sealant is specially designed for chimney use, creating a waterproof membrane that still allows vapors to escape.

The first step in chimney diagnosis, damage prevention, and repair is to call the professionals. Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service is proud to offer the best services and professionalism in the Raleigh, NC area. We know the weather, municipal regulations, and our customers. Call us today or use our online scheduling tool and let us know how we can help you.

By Robbie Markey on July 6th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Why We Recommend Chimney Waterproofing

Your chimney is designed to last the life of your home. Also, to withstand time and weather. This is why you often see a chimney standing tall despite a natural disaster destroying a home completely. The truth is, even a well-constructed chimney can have a short life if it isn’t properly maintained. Part of caring for your chimney includes routine maintenance.

Professional Care

Why We Recommend Chimney Waterproofing img - Raleigh NC - Mr Smokestack Chimney ServiceYour chimney should be inspected and cleaned regularly. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends annual chimney inspections to be completed by a CSIA certified professional. The chimney sweep and inspection may be the only time a professional has access to your chimney system. They will assess it for weaknesses and clean away debris, soot, and creosote. You should receive a detailed report following an inspection and sweep for your own records, insurance provider, realtor, or municipal authorities. These important routine appointments are one step toward a long life for your chimney, but there is more you can and should do.

An Ounce of Prevention

The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings true as much for chimney health as it does for automobiles, homes, and physical bodies. Preventing an occurrence is far more effective than attempting to quell the damage once a problem has occurred. A large part of this prevention is in the routine maintenance mentioned above, but at Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service we consider waterproofing services just as important! Having your chimney waterproofed can save you in catastrophic costs in repairs, injuries, and possible property damages.

Water and Your Masonry Chimney

It’s strange to think that water can lead to a fire. However, in your chimney system, that’s exactly what it does. When water penetrates the chimney system it leads to structural damage, rust and malfunction of important parts, deterioration of chimney liners and masonry, blockage, and more. When water damage occurs, the chimney works less efficiently, airflow is compromised, and the heat and flames that should rise up the chimney don’t. Instead the creosote inside the chimney can ignite, or building materials around the chimney can ignite when heat is transferred through a damaged liner. Fire risk is not the only threat. Water damage can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning that may not be detected until irreparable damage occurs.

What is Chimney Waterproofing?

Chimney waterproofing services are best done in early spring, before the rainy season comes. However, anytime is better than none to have your chimney waterproofed. Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service uses a breathable agent that is made available to industry professionals. This special sealant allows vapors out the masonry, while keeping water molecules from coming in. Waterproofing  your chimney is the first defense against water-intrusion that will preserve the life of your chimney and keep it functioning properly.

Your chimney sweep will check other important components such as the flashing, chimney cap, and crown at your routine service appointments. It’s our first priority to keep our customers safe and comfortable, and that starts with keeping the chimney functional, and keeping water out. Find out how one of our certified chimney sweeps can help you help your chimney work better. Call us today or schedule an appointment online.

By Robbie Markey on June 21st, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

What is Chimney Relining?

Your chimney has an important job to do and many parts make that job possible. The chimney should properly vent heat, particles, and harmful gases out of the home, and it needs a chimney liner to do it. Masonry is porous, allowing heat and vapors to transfer through it, which is why a chimney liner must be installed inside a standard masonry chimney.

The Liner and Its Job What is Chimney Relining Image - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack Chimney

The chimney liner protects your family and your property while a fire is burning in the fireplace or appliance. Its smooth surface helps the airflow allowing for less buildup of creosote and soot. The liner also keeps gases, smoke, and particulate pollution inside the liner. If a liner is missing or becomes damaged, the toxic gases such as carbon monoxide can penetrate the masonry and poison your family. This can happen quickly or over time, but both instances are deadly. The liner is the only protective barrier your chimney has from corrosive soot, creosote, and direct heat. It also keeps heat from transferring through the masonry and weakening building supports and structures around it.

A Damaged Liner

Your damaged liner will be diagnosed at your annual chimney inspection. If you forget to schedule these important appointments, a damaged liner can go unnoticed for years, causing damage to the system that remains unseen until it results in a fire or extreme costs. When you schedule a chimney sweep and inspection with a chimney professional, you know that it is in good working condition, otherwise, you will receive a detailed report of damages and recommended action.

At Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service, we frequently see outdated chimney liners that need to be replaced or repaired. Our chimney experts recommend a relining for the following reasons:

  • Cracked or broken flue tiles
  • Deterioration of the clay mortar in the liner
  • Gaps in flue tiles
  • Cracked or broken clay liner
  • Flaking of the clay liner walls

You should also have your chimney relined if you decide to change fuel type, and your current liner is inappropriate for use. For instance, clay liners cannot be used to properly vent gas appliances. Stainless steel and cast-in-place liners are appropriate for all fuel types and have their own benefits.

When you hire a professional, you can benefit from their experience and professionalism. A chimney sweep from Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service can clean and assess your current liner, and discuss options with you that fit your desired appliance, fuel-type, and expense. If you’re concerned about your liner, haven’t had it inspected in the last calendar year, or want to change fuel type, call Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service today.

By Robbie Markey on June 12th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Extend the Life of Your Dryer With Annual Cleaning

Your clothes dryer is designed to do a specific job in a certain amount of time. It should dry a moderately sized load of clothes in one cycle. If it doesn’t, many homeowners just start another cycle, and another after that. This is unsafe because there is a problem with your dryer that isn’t being addressed. It’s clogged.

Extend the Life of Your Dryer With Annual Cleaning Image - Raleigh NC - Mr. Smokestack Chimney ServiceSigns of a Clog:

  • It takes more than one cycle to dry a load of clothes.
  • The dryer and the room where it’s installed gets hot while it’s running.
  • The dryer and the room where it’s installed gets excessively humid.
  • The exterior vent flap is stuck in place.

Many homeowners assume these things are normal for a clothes dryer—that’s it’s just getting old or worn out. The dryer should never perform this poorly if it’s less than three years old. Even when it’s over three years old it should be serviced regularly and repaired as needed so it continues to work properly and doesn’t pose a threat to your family.

The Danger of a Clogged Dryer Vent

Your clothes dryer is a heat source that needs ventilation. The vent hose is how the lint, vapor, and heat escapes the dryer without affecting the home or causing a house fire. Even if you clean the lint trap regularly, there are still stray amounts of lint that builds up in that vent, creating a fire hazard and decreasing efficiency, wasting your money and shortening the life of your appliance with each extra cycle. Besides the obvious waste of money and resources, your dryer vent can cost thousands in fire damage and insurance claims.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration about 2,900 clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. The leading cause of clothes dryer fires is a failure to clean them. This loss is 100 percent preventable through routine maintenance and cleaning of your appliance, and replacing faulty appliances and parts.

Call a Professional

If you have noticed a problem with your clothes dryer you should call a professional right away. Only an experienced technician can clean your dryer vent and leave you with a system that will keep working for you. Spending some money now can save you substantially in the future, if not for damages, then for a new appliance. When it takes two or three cycles to dry one load of clothes, it shortens your dryer’s life by two or three times. According to consumer experts a new clothes dryer should last 10 years. If it’s shorted by two or three times it may only last three to five years. A new dryer is a big purchase to make every three years! It’s best to have it properly maintained so it lasts.

Mr. Smokestack Chimney Service has experienced and trained technicians who can clean your dryer vents and keep your dryer working for you. Call us today or request an appointment online.

By Robbie Markey on April 26th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment