Cincinnati’s #1 Chimney Contractor

We specialize in the prevention, detection, and correction of chimney and venting system hazards—the kinds of hazards that can endanger the health and safety of your family and home. 

Q. I have rust stains on the top and running down the siding of my chimney. What causes this and what can be done about it?

A. Pre-fab fireplaces have a metal covering (chase top) to prevent water from entering the interior of the chimney structure. The chase top is usually made of a cheap galvanized sheet metal. Over the years, the metal coating wears off from sun exposure, rain and other forces. Most tops have a low spot that holds water as well. When pine straw and leaves blow around some are bound to get stuck in the water that has collected during rain, snow, and ice storms. Pine straw and certain leaves are very acidic when they are decomposing especially when sitting in water. The acid breaks down the galvanized coating and you soon get bare metal.
After a while the metal starts to rust and when water runs off the top during a rain it carries the rust down the side of your beautiful siding causing a stain that gets bigger over time. You may even hear water dripping on the inside of your chase after a rain event as the rust has pitted the metal allowing water to seep through. Then you know you have a problem. The rust stains on the outside of a chimney are the first clue that there is a problem as it can take several months for the metal to pit enough for water to seep through. The time to act is when you first notice rust stains not when you hear water dripping.

The best way to fix the problem is to remove the old rusted chimney chase top and replace it with a new one. We use and recommend stainless steel,aluminum, or copper for its strength and ability to resist rust. You can use the regular galvanized metal which is the cheapest but not as long lasting. The cost difference is usually $250-$300 less than stainless steel. We ncan also fabricate custom chimeny caps. It’s the same metal used for the nice looking metal roofs you see and you can get in colors as well as copper. 

Q. Why do I want a tapered crown instead of a reveal crown?

A. Just like a home a chimney deserves a roof too! That is why Lee Sheet Metal & Roofing does it the old fashioned way. Unfortunately, most chimney crowns today, are applied in a tapered fashion which is a cheap and easy way for a contractor to finish your job, but not best option for you the Homeowner. Back in the day crowns were poured or pre-poured in a fashion so that the crown would have a reveal of approximately 1-2” on all four sides.  The tapered system will eventually cause deterioration of your brick and mortar joints because it allows the rain water to seep down the chimney, in turn soaking into the brick and mortar joints. These repairs can be very expensive and sometimes even resulting in a total re-build of your chimney. Just think: Roofs specs require at least a 1-2” overhang on your roof in order to prevent water from running over siding, brick or behind your gutters. The same idea pertains to your chimney.

Q. My chimney has white stains on the brick. What is this?

A. The white stains or powder-like material is often the result of water penetration of the chimney. During a rain, snow, or ice storm, water is absorbed by the brick and mortar crown. In the case of snow or ice, the freeze/thaw cycles can enlarge the cracks on the top of the chimney mortar crown allowing water to enter the structure this way. The chimney will soon saturate with water. As the chimney dries, lime and salts from brick and mortar are pushed out of the pores of the chimney. Wood in contact with the chimney can also absorb water, and in most cases, starts to rot. This is a common problem that we can help prevent. The cost of this service depends on many factors. Contact Us for more info or to schedule a visit.

Q. What can I do about the birds in my chimney?

A. The chimney swift, a colony bird from South America, spends the summer in your chimney nesting, raising their young and getting ready for the long flight back to the forests of Peru. Chimney Swifts on average eat several times their weight in flying bugs such as mosquitos. Being a colony bird they will return to the same chimney they hatched in each year. We start seeing the birds in this area mid- to late-April. They stay until mid-Sept and are usually gone by the first cold snap. We like to wait until the birds are gone or between nesting activity to put out the “No Vacancy” sign.
These birds can have 1-2 nestings a year, depending on weather and other factors. The hatching period usually lasts 4-5 weeks with a 1-2 week period between hatchings. We recommend cleaning the chimney to remove the bird debris and any flammable material that may be in the chimney area. Next step is to install a stainless steel chimney cap. This will prevent birds, squirrels and other animals from entering the chimney along with rain and leaves. By the way, after we install a chimney cap on your house, be sure to tell your neighbor about us as the birds that were in your chimney will head for the closest uncapped chimney. I have worked my way around cul-de-sacs installing caps as the birds moved from house to house.

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