Our Chimney and Fireplace Repair Process
When we arrive at your house, we will talk to you to understand the problems and symptoms that you’re experiencing with your fireplace or chimney system. Some problems – like not having a chimney cap or having a rusted damper – are obvious. But most problems don’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. Our technicians will listen to your issues in order to pinpoint the diagnosis and proper remedy to address the root cause rather than just paper over the symptoms.
Some problems can have multiple sources. Is your fireback cracking? You may have a cracked chimney crown, damaged or missing flashing, water-damaged bricks or missing mortar in the chimney, a damaged or missing chimney cap, or wood simply may have fallen against it too hard. Does your whole house smell like smoke? It may be caused by a damaged damper, a rough or damaged smoke chamber, using an improper grate in your fireplace, air pressure issues throughout the house, improper construction of your fireplace, tree branches near the chimney opening, or even issues with the construction of your house and the chimney’s proximity and proportion to the ridge of your roof or other obstructions.
Our most common repairs and fixes are shown below but we also have many other methods of remedying your problem (including trimming trees, installing a smoke guard, parging your smoke chamber, extending your flue, and more). Whatever issues you’re experiencing, we will work with you to provide the best solutions to your problems.
Major cracks in your firebox can quickly become a dangerous situation. Your fireback is a key part of the safety of your fireplace and should be able to withstand the extremes of fireplace heat.
In a masonry fireplace, cracks in the fireback can be caused by several factors. Water leaking into the fireplace combines with ash and soot to create a caustic lye-like mixture that eats away at the mortar holding the bricks together and structurally damages your system. Without the mortar holding the bricks together, the fireplace will literally fall apart eventually.
First, we’ll find the root cause of the problem and identify the source of the water. It may be coming in through an uncapped chimney or leaking through cracks in the crown. Once that problem is fixed, we will carefully remortar the fireplace with high-solids cement that can withstand the extreme heat of the fireplace. With the water leakage stopped, these fireboxes can generally be repaired; however, some fireplaces are so damaged past the point of repair that they must be rebuilt altogether.
Unlike the four-inch-thick brick of masonry fireplaces, factory-built (or pre-fab) firebacks are less than an inch thick. Due to their thinness, prefab firebacks are very susceptible to being damaged by wood falling or being carelessly thrown in the fireplace. With a damaged fireback, framing studs and other combustible materials around the fireplace are dangerously exposed to the fire’s heat.
Because the firebacks are so thin, they cannot be patched like a standard firebox. Instead, we replace them with strong and durable high-heat refractory cement panels that will give a long-lasting repair.
Whichever type of fireplace you have, our heat shields are a great way to protect your fireback and prevent further damage while increasing the energy efficiency of your fireplace.
The crown is the most important – yet most vulnerable – part of your chimney. Generally made of concrete or metal, the crown (the top of a masonry chimney) should seal the top top of your chimney and is responsible for protecting your entire system from rain, snow, and sleet.
Original masonry chimney crowns are made with common mortar that is lucky to last seven years before chipping, cracking, and being destroyed by weather. The deterioration begins as soon as the crown is poured and starts to dry and crack. From the blazing Texas sun, rain, freezing, and erosion, small cracks soon turn into large cracks. As the rain soaks in, any number of things can go wrong. Leaking water can damage the firebox and allow heat and flames to escape the firebox; can rust out a firebox or damper; or it can cause damage to the flue and flue joints. Or, in the extreme, a completely failing chimney can cause your house to be flooded via the fireplace.
We use elastomeric, water-based CrownCoat protection that is able to flex, contract and expand with the weather without cracking. Our repairs come with a 15-year warranty to ensure that your entire chimney system and home are protected from the threat of water damage.
A chimney cap is absolutely essential to the long-term health of your chimney system. Without a cap, water, sleet, snow, animals, debris, and more have direct access to your flue and fireplace. Additionally, sparks may float out of the chimney and land on your roof or other combustibles. Some enterprising homeowners opt to cover the chimney with a screen or grate to keep animals and debris out; while heavy gauge screen is usually effective for that, it does nothing to protect your flue and fireplace from the ravages of rain and other precipitation. These risks can be almost entirely eliminated with the installation of a high-quality stainless steel chimney cap to preserve your chimney system’s health for the future.
As chimney systems age, dampers are usually the first to go. The throat damper’s delicate mechanisms are threatened by rain and moisture from above and heat and smoke from below. Even at their best, dampers are only reasonably effective at preventing your house’s cool or warm air from escaping up the chimney. With repeated exposure to heat, moisture, and time, the dampers rust and warp and fail to effectively seal the fireplace.
To solve this problem, we are able to install a variety of energy-saving top-sealing dampers. Like a normal throat damper, these dampers are opened and closed from inside the fireplace. These highly effective dampers improve your home’s efficiency and energy bills; prevent cold drafts and bad smells from coming down your chimney; prevent animals, debris, and precipitation from entering the chimney; and improve the air temperature in rooms around the chimney.
Snakes, squirrels, birds. Diseases, fleas, rabies. You don’t want them in your chimney or your house.
When these animals come into your chimney, they quickly realize it was a one-way trip. If your damper is open, they’ll be more than happy to come into the house to warm up. But with a closed damper and a nearly impossible climb back out the way they came in, most animals will set up shop on your smokeshelf. If you don’t hear them settling in, you’ll certainly soon smell them; their poor life choices usually end badly for them as the first fire turns them into barbecue and the next dozen turn them into fossils.
*Note – the Migratory Bird Treaty Act Protect Species and other endangered animal lists prohibit us from being able to remove most birds and bats lest we incur a $8,000-$15,000 fine per egg, per nest, and per bird. Unfortunately, in these instances, we will need to wait until the birds and bats leave your chimney during their migratory periods to complete your services.
Chimneys spend their life exposed to the elements. The Brick Industry Association recommends special attention and maintenance to prevent water penetration and subsequent damage. Without this attention, sponge-like bricks and improper or defective mortar joints will soak up water and wick that moisture inside the chimney. From rain and precipitation to wind and Texas heat, chimneys often suffer from water damage which leads to erosion and spalling which can lead to further problems throughout your entire system. Fortunately, a few simple preventive measures can eliminate the need for costly repairs and rebuilds.
We prevent water penetration in your chimney with ChimneySaver. Studies show that this water repellent reduces water penetration into the chimney by 99.9%. Unlike most products, this is 100% vapor permeable to allow water vapors to escape from the brick when the chimney is in use or dries out. Whereas paint or other clear water sealants will continue to cause damage by locking these water vapors in the brick, ChimneySaver prevents that damage from continuing. This product comes with a 10-year warranty guaranteed to protect against efflorescence, stains, mildew, fungus, and freeze/thaw extremes.
Some flues are in such bad shape that they must be relined to be used. This may be because of cracks or gaps in the flue that allow harmful carbon monoxide gas to leak into your house or expose combustibles and framing to dangerous heat. Additionally, if you have a fireplace insert, you must have a lining that matches the insert’s exhaust port size. An insert venting into a too-large flue is inefficient, finicky, and a severe fire hazard; as the smoke exhausts from the insert, it lingers in the larger chimney and leaves massive deposits of soot and creosote on the cooler chimney and smoke chamber walls. The danger is hidden – until a chimney fire erupts.
The solution for any of these problems is to reline your chimney. Generally speaking, the reline will consist of placing a flexible stainless steel tube inside your chimney and connecting it to your fireplace or insert. Depending on your situation and the type of chimney system you have, there are a variety of specific options to ensure you have the best protection for your home and family!
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What our customers have to say:
“ Ables Top Hat Chimney Sweep arrived on time for their appointment with me. They did a superb job of cleaning my chimney and fireplace. Not only did they provide great service, but they also explained everything to me that I needed to know for its future care. Their prices are very reasonable. I will be using them in the future for my chimney cleaning and care.“
Darlene, Harker Heights
“ Previously we used another chimney sweep but you are much more thorough and explained things to us. We are going with you from now on. The other sweep we used didn’t do half of what you did. It took him only 15 minutes. You are my sweep from now on!“
“ I had our chimney cleaned and inspected today by Ables Top Hat Chimney Sweep and they did a great job. Not only did they do a great job, but I also got very useful information concerning my fireplace and things to watch out for in the future. My grandson also liked the little chimney sweep and the coloring book he received. I will definitely use this company again and highly recommend them!“
“ Thanks for the top notch service the other day guys. It was really nice of you all to get my chimney done by some real professionals. “
C.D., Harker Heights
“ Wow, my goodness, oh my, I’m so embarrassed. I can’t believe all that came out of my dryer vent. I have got to tell all my neighbors about you.“
G., Harker Heights
“ Mr. Ables, Thank you for your service and education of burning a safe fire in our fireplace. Thank You.“
“ As a former business owner who prided his business on customer service, I am honored to do business with you. You’ve been a pleasure to deal with.“
“ GREAT work. I am recommending you to EVERYONE.“
Barbara, Copperas Cove
“ They did a great job. Kudos them for being a great local business. Would highly recommend!“
“ We wanted to tell you all how pleased we are with your services. We had our dryer vents cleaned and the chimney-mid-December. Our clothing is drying in half the time! We are burning fires safely… About a week after your service I was cleaning around the house. I came across the chimney sweep figurine on the fireplace mantel. We got many smiles out of seeing it! We keep it on the fireplace mantel to tell stories about our chimney sweep. That’s such a thoughtful thing to do. We appreciate your professionalism. When I answered the door and saw you all wearing the top hats-I felt comfortable and happy! You all go above and beyond. Ables Top Hat Chimney Sweeps are masters in their trade that makes it an art!“
“ We rent a house and our rental company didn’t have any record of when our chimney was last cleaned so we decided to have it done. I chose Ables Top Hat Chimney Sweeps because of the other great reviews. He certainly did not let us down! He even lived up to the Top hat name and came wearing a top hat. Not only did he do a great job at sweeping out the chimney but when he was on the roof he noticed some messed up shingles and warned me…very considerate. He was very informative. He also gave my daughter a cute chimney sweep coloring book!! I will definitely continue to use them as well as refer my friends to him!!“
“ I was more than pleased with Ables Top Hat Chimney Sweeps. They arrived right on time and did an excellent job. Doug explained everything that was done and everything that needed to be done on upkeep. He didn’t try to sell me anything needless and was very fast. He was very polite and gave my son a miniature chimney sweep when he was done. The prices are great and comparable to others in the Killeen/Fort Hood area. I will definitely call them anytime I need anything done with my fireplace again. 5 stars all the way!“
Kasey, Copperas Cove