No matter how much you love sitting around your fireplace hearth on a winter evening, most homeowners simply forget about their fireplaces when outdoor activities fill summer days. Fall is the perfect season for Williamsburg homeowners to schedule a chimney inspection and think about related fireplace repair services. If you find that repairs of any kind are necessary, there is still ample time to complete the work before winter arrives. Batchelder & Collins, Inc. was established in Norfolk in 1868 and has supplied materials for the chimney and fireplace repair services Williamsburg homeowners need since its founding. Today, the business is run by a fifth-generation family member. Our company will work closely with your chimney sweep or fireplace repair contractor to ensure that replacement brick or mortar adds to your home’s value and appeal.
Lack of use during warmer months can lead to unexpected hazards when cold weather returns. Improperly-maintained chimneys and built-up creosote in fireboxes and flues are major problems. Fireplace drafting issues, masonry cracks, or deterioration in the firebox or chimney flue are other problems that lead to approximately 25,000 house fires each year. The resulting property damage costs homeowners millions of dollars annually, not to mention the associated injuries and loss of life caused by such fires.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends comprehensive annual inspections. Even an outdoor fireplace, popular with today’s Hampton Roads homeowners, should be inspected periodically so that your family can enjoy a cozy fire on a cool evening. If your chimney inspection indicates a need for repairs, contact Batchelder & Collins at (757) 625-2506 or fill out our online contact form to determine what masonry materials are needed. We will work with your contractor to order and deliver the necessary supplies on a schedule that works for you.
Luckily, some warning signs point to the need for a chimney inspection. However, an annual inspection will detect potential problems and can potentially save you money. It provides homeowners with the needed peace of mind and offers additional protection from house fires or carbon monoxide poisoning that can result from dirty or blocked chimneys.
Some common signs include:
If you notice red or rust-colored streaks near the top of your chimney, it can be a sign that the chimney cap needs to be replaced. The metal “umbrella” at the top of every chimney performs important functions. First, it prevents rain from falling into the flue. It is usually surrounded by metal screening that keeps burning embers from escaping and falling on the roof or nearby trees. Sometimes known as a chimney case top, the cap also is designed to keep birds and rodents from building nests in the chimney. If the cap is broken or rusted, it should be replaced before the problems multiply. Chimney caps may be fabricated from any metal, including black galvanized steel, stainless steel, or copper. Some are purely functional, while others are more decorative.
The most common cause of water damage to the flue is a damaged or missing chimney cap. It can help to close the damper any time the fireplace is not being used. Risk is minimized if the flue was waterproofed during installation, but any damage should be repaired quickly because minor water damage can lead to larger problems.
When water freezes, it expands. Then, it contracts again when it thaws. In this part of Virginia, the winter freeze/thaw cycle can lead to the decay of the brick and mortar lining of a fireplace flue. Characterized by crumbling or flaking of the masonry, serious spalling may require a major rebuilding of a chimney and/or the fireplace flue. With serious spalling, the bricks may become dislodged, leading to a serious fire hazard.
Crystalline deposits on exterior brick, masonry, stucco, or concrete are commonly known as efflorescence. They can be difficult to remove, but they are quite common. Other white streaks or rust-like stains have other causes. The staff at Batchelder and Collins will work with you and your chimney sweep to determine the cause of the streaks and decide the best way to remove them.
By working together with fireplace repair service providers, we feel confident that we can extend the life of your fireplace and give you many more years of enjoyment. Preventive treatment might include waterproofing, chemical removal of existing stains, or even partial rebuilding of affected areas. Remember that regular chimney inspection is the best way to prevent future problems.
Only two types of chimneys are available. Although there has been a nationwide trend toward the installation of lightweight metal flues in recent decades, the traditional masonry firebox, with a brick flue and chimney, is still the standard in our area. Trained masons are required to craft such fireplaces, and it is a demanding and sometimes expensive job. In modern homes, design aesthetics may dictate the installation of a metal chimney. Metal chimneys are also more flexible. They are often specified for use in multi-story buildings, second-story fireboxes, and where straight-run masonry chimneys are impossible.
Safety may be the number one reason to consider fireplace and chimney repair. Yet, to enjoy your home’s fireplace during the winter, you will want to be sure that it operates efficiently and produces the warmth that you want on cold evenings. It makes no difference whether you light a gas log fireplace simply to enjoy the ambiance, or rely on a wood-burning firebox for heat. When you sign a contract for fireplace repair, you should expect that a professional chimney sweep or fireplace repair services company will provide a detailed estimate as well as a warranty.
There was a time when chimney sweeps wore black top hats and cleaned the soot and creosote buildup manually, using a wire brush and long rods. Today, chimney cleaning is done with powerful, modern equipment. Strong chemicals may be necessary to remove excessive buildup. Chimney cleaning companies employ certified technicians to do the work.
Today’s chimney sweeping and chimney cleaning companies are likely to both be full-service companies. They will inspect your firebox and chimney, detect and diagnose any problems, and perform the necessary cleaning and restorative work to return your chimney to a fully effective and safe operation.
The use of a flexible, or solid metal chimney liner is a modern trend in fireplace building. Liners offer extra protection against brick and masonry deterioration. Cracks in the mortar used for fireplaces also can pose a fire hazard, and they may be hard to detect, even by professionals. Chimney liners add cost to a fireplace, but they add another layer of protection for many homeowners.
No formulas can be used to determine what it will cost to repair a chimney in the Hampton Roads area. Repair costs depend on the specific size and design of the chimney, its age, current condition, and the estimated time to repair. The best advice if you need chimney repairs is to contact several professional companies to schedule a full review. The total cost may vary from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Be sure to ask for a full estimate of recommended chimney services, and a warranty that covers both labor and materials.
With a long history of service to residents of Norfolk, Williamsburg, Toano, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Newport News, Portsmouth, and nearby communities, our company relies on our extensive area knowledge and home improvement expertise. We monitor resident needs in addition to current construction trends. We understand that traditional fireplaces play an important role in our Virginia lifestyle. Our in-house local pros match the existing exterior brick and mortar on a historic home whenever possible, but we can recommend alternative modern materials just as readily. We work with chimney repair contractors throughout the Hampton Roads area. Wherever you live in this region, choose Batchelder & Collins for highly-rated products and helpful attention. If you would like to view and feel our products in person, feel free to visit our showroom and ask our team questions. To discuss your fireplace repair and chimney service needs in the comfort of your home, you can call us at (757) 625-2506 or fill out our online contact form to speak with an experienced hardscape professional at Batchelder & Collins.