Work on a chimney does not end once it is built. Though initial construction might be one of the main types of chimney work, restoration and maintenance also are often required over the life of the structure, as well. The amount of work that needs to be done typically depends on the age of the chimney, the materials it is made of, and the preferences of the homeowner.
One major type of chimney work is keeping the area clean, or chimney sweeping. Unlike the name would suggest, many professional companies do not use a broom; instead, industrial vacuums are used to eliminate debris. This method also can get rid of blockages that may be present as a result of animals living or building nests in the chimney. In most cases, the fireplace should be sealed off before any heavy-duty vacuuming can be done. Chimneys should typically be cleaned at least once per year, and more if they burn wood.
Common chimney work also includes repairs, which can range from simple to extensive. The top of the chimney, or crown, and dampers sometime start to crumble after several years. A professional company specializing in chimney work can often take care of this issue. Replacing bricks and sealing gaps and cracks are also jobs for such a company. In fact, some companies can completely rebuild older chimneys, if necessary.
Chimney linings are essential, and some older structures might need to be relined after several years. Many companies that offer chimney work include replacing the lining in their area of expertise. Linings range from aluminum and stainless steel to flue tiles and cast-in-place types. Relining is perfect for either older chimneys that never had a lining, or those with damaged linings. This kind of chimney work can help prevent smoke from seeping through walls, buildup of creosote, and chimney fires.
Just as waterproofing exterior walls is a good idea, so is waterproofing chimneys. This type of structure is constantly exposed to the outdoors where rain, snow, and excessive moisture in the air can damage it over time. Some homeowners can do this job themselves using a few coats of sealant, but many professional companies also offer this service. A good sealant will keep water from penetrating through the mortar, but will allow it to escape. Considering that the combustion process creates quite a bit of moisture, this is important and generally should be remembered when purchasing a waterproofing sealant.