The Midwest’s cool falls and freezing winters make curling up in front of the fireplace a cozy proposition. But the extremes in weather – along with normal wear and tear – make proper chimney maintenance a critical investment. Schedule regular inspections with us to ensure that your fireplace will be a source of warmth and enjoyment, rather than worry, for years to come.
What Is a Chimney Crown?
One component of your chimney that’s a key player in keeping the whole system protected and working optimally is the crown. On the surface it’s simple: the chimney crown is a concrete slab that tops the masonry of your chimney and protects it from water damage. But the crown must be properly designed and built in order to ensure the longevity and function of your system.
Crown should be built to prevent water from running into the chimney, and if properly tapered, divert rain and melting snow away from the masonry walls, all of which helps prolong the life of the bricks and mortar. A poorly constructed or insufficiently maintained crown will lead to leaks and expensive repairs down the road and put the flue tiles and masonry at risk.
Fortunately, you can trust our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified sweeps to identify potential issues and take steps that will keep your crown doing its job for years to come.
Causes of Crown Damage
Let’s be real – the average homeowner doesn’t often get up to the top of the chimney to inspect the crown for signs of damage. But our professional technicians get right to it during your annual inspection – and know exactly what to look for when they’re up there.
The things that might cause damage to the crown are varied and can include:
- Improper slope: A crown that’s been poorly designed in the first place can cause no end of problems. The crown should slope slightly down to correctly direct water that inevitably finds its way to your roof. If the slope is wrong, water will pool. In time, this problem will be exacerbated by uneven wear and erosion, leading to holes, cracks, and decay.
- Poor composition: A chimney crown made from the wrong mix is a recipe for trouble. A crown made from mortar mix will deteriorate much more quickly than one from a good, cement-based mixture. With nearly forty years of experience, we’ve seen firsthand how important doing it right from the very beginning is, and we know what works.
- Weather extremes: Midwesterners are used to adjusting to severe changes in temperature and bracing ourselves against extremes. A chimney crown, however, doesn’t always adapt so easily. High winds, intense heat, or severe cold can all cause damage or cracks. Waterproofing to avoid the freeze/thaw process will make a big difference in how well your crown holds up.
- Wear and tear: Like any other element of your home, your chimney crown is susceptible to natural wear and tear. Annual inspections by a qualified professional can help ensure any wear or small cracks are spotted early, so you can stay ahead of leaks and other issues.
- Improper maintenance. An inexperienced sweep may mis-identify or incorrectly address crown issues. Here, experience and qualifications count!
Qualities of a Good Chimney Crown
We’ve talked about what can cause damage. But what will help a chimney crown stand the test of time? While there’s no substitute for regular maintenance, having a crown that’s properly built from the get-go will dramatically reduce the need for interventions and expensive repairs down the line.
✔️ Crowns should be the appropriate thickness.
Your chimney crown should be, at minimum, two inches thick at its thinnest point to help it withstand deterioration. Wear can cause thinning over time, but proper slope will prolong the life of your crown.
✔️ Crowns should have the right clearance beyond the chimney stack.
Your crown should extend two or three inches past the edge of your masonry. Exposing bricks to excess water can cause premature break-down, and a well-proportioned crown helps prevent this.
✔️ Crowns should be built from the right materials.
Crowns formed from a basic mortar mix will wear down quickly, leaving you needing repairs or a rebuild in no time. Your sweep should construct yours from a reliable cement-based mixture.
✔️ Crowns should be free of excessive wear and damage.
It almost goes without saying that a damage-free crown is a good crown. Minor damage, left unchecked, can lead to bigger problems in time. Be sure to schedule repairs as soon as damage is detected.
✔️ Crowns should be professionally waterproofed.
Finally, be sure to ask about professional waterproofing. A qualified sweep will know the right products to use when sealing the crown and masonry against water, all while maintaining the right level of permeability to allow bricks to “breathe.” Low-quality products can trap water, but here at Ashbusters, we know the why and how of well-executed waterproofing.
We Can Help – Call Today
If your crown is looking worn, or if you simply aren’t sure what shape it’s in, don’t hesitate to give us a call. The crown of your chimney, once damaged, doesn’t hold steady – the process of freezing and thawing worsens existing damage, quickly turning minor repairs into major ones.
Thankfully, with almost forty years of experience in the trade, we know how to keep your chimney crown in optimal condition and what steps to take if restoration is required. We’ll inspect it and develop a plan to meet your needs. Ashbusters is fully qualified to repair any damage or deterioration or complete a rebuild, if needed.
And of course, whatever the job calls for will be done to our high standard of professional excellence and attention to detail.
When it comes to crown-related damage, ignorance is not bliss. But you can rely on us to take care of your needs so you can enjoy all the cozy nights you envision worry-free. Reach out today to get started.