chimney maintenance

When Should You Schedule Chimney Maintenance?

Even if you don’t use your fireplace a lot, chimneys need to be regularly maintained in order for your home to be safe and free of functional issues. Here’s what you need to know about chimney maintenance:

How Often Should You Schedule Chimney Maintenance?

The National Fire Protection Association recommends a yearly inspection of your home’s chimney, followed by a cleaning if necessary. In addition to normal soot accumulation, chimneys are ideal nesting spots for birds, squirrels, bats and raccoons, the debris of which can pose potential issues if not properly and regularly cleared. Even if you don’t actually see a problem with your chimney, soot, ashes, branches, leaves and other matter can block the flow of smoke, air and other gases and leave your chimney and/or even entire home susceptible to damage. At Brickworks Property Restoration, we suggest yearly maintenance for your chimney in order to avoid bigger — and potentially life-threatening — issues down the line. 

Specific Reasons to Schedule Chimney Maintenance

The main reason to schedule maintenance is to keep your chimney working normally. When performed properly, regular chimney maintenance helps to:

  • Prevent Chimney FiresChimney fires most commonly occur as a result of creosote buildup within the interior walls of a chimney. Creosote is a highly flammable, tar-like substance that forms as the chemicals and other particles within smoke cool and condense on their way out of a chimney. It accumulates over time, moving through three stages of buildup, each one progressively harder to remove than the last. With regular chimney maintenance, however, creosote is removed before it becomes concentrated (and, thus, more difficult to clear and more likely to catch fire).
  • Clear Debris — A large bird’s nest or other rogue animal lair can partially or completely block a chimney, making it impossible for smoke to escape your home when you use your fireplace. The nest itself poses a fire hazard, as well, since nesting materials are typically vulnerable to catching fire. Chimney maintenance allows you to clean your chimney of soot and other debris so that your chimney correctly directs smoke and other toxic chemicals and gases out of your fireplace and has nothing extraneous within its interior that could possibly ignite.
  • Remove Odors from the Home — Debris in a chimney can also smell. Chimney maintenance provides the opportunity for you to remove unpleasant odors that stem from creosote buildup, soot and animal or other natural debris!
  • Identify Possible Problems — Finally, regular chimney maintenance is the perfect time to look for possible problems with the structural integrity of the chimney itself. It can uncover damaged flue tiles, crowns and flashing; cracked liners; missing mortar and caps; faulty dampers and more! Identifying these types of issues immediately helps protect your home from more expensive and extensive damage in the future.

Want to Learn More?

If your home has a chimney, you should be scheduling routine chimney maintenance. Regular inspections will help protect your home and keep you and your family safe. Please contact Brickworks Property Restoration to learn more about chimney maintenance or to have your chimney’s structural integrity inspected today.


repointing brick

How Repointing Brick Improves the Value of Your Home

Repointing brick is the process by which decayed or missing mortar between joints in masonry construction is repaired. Over time, the mortar that holds bricks together wears away. Repointing brick is the best way to restore the mortar in a brick wall. Here’s why repointing brick adds value to your home:

It Restores Structural Stability

First and foremost, repointing brick restores structural stability to your home or porch. Mortar is a malleable paste that is used to bind bricks, stone and concrete blocks to one another during construction. When dried, it fills in the gaps between the wall’s units, helping to distribute the wall’s weight more evenly and, thus, making the wall itself stronger. Like most things, however, mortar deteriorates over time. Eventually, weather and age wear away mortar, leaving voids between the wall’s individual units. Replacing all missing and weakened mortar restores the wall’s strength so that it doesn’t bulge, crack or eventually collapse.

It Deters Water Damage

Repointing brick also prevents water damage, one of the biggest threats to a home or building. As mentioned, mortar seals the joints between a wall’s building units. It doesn’t just make the wall stronger, though; it also protects the wall, as well as the building inside. When applied correctly, mortar keeps rain and other debris from entering the home. If there is missing or degraded mortar, water can seep through the wall and cause serious damage. Not only can rain erode the integrity of a building’s structure, it can also provoke harmful fungal growth that precipitates numerous serious health conditions.

It Provides Insulation

If restoring stability to your home and preventing further damage aren’t enough reasons to repair missing or damaged mortar in your wall, then consider your home’s ability to keep you warm. If you have gaps between the bricks or stones in your wall, you’re leaking valuable heat from the interior of your home. Repointing brick works to keep your house insulated, saving you money on your monthly utility bills!

It Prevents the Need for More Expensive Repairs

And speaking of saving money: repointing brick is a good way to prevent more expensive repairs down the road. It’s a lot easier (and cheaper) to fill in some missing mortar than it is to erect a whole new wall or mitigate and restore a home that’s been damaged by water.

It Improves Curb Appeal

Finally, repointing brick just makes your home look better! Applying fresh, clean mortar is a simple way to refresh your home’s exterior appearance and keep it on par with neighboring homes.

Want to Learn More?

To learn more about repointing brick and how it adds value to your home, please contact Brickworks Property Restoration. Our experts can help you assess your home’s own masonry repair needs so that it is safe, as well as visually pleasing for years to come.

 


first fire

5 Tips for Burning Your First Fire of the Year

Nothing creates ambiance in the chilly winter months like warming your home with a fireplace. If you’re ready to burn your fireplace for the first time this winter, it’s important to take a few precautions in order to ensure that you are able to keep your family and your home safe. 

Here are 5 important tips for burning your first fire of the year - and ensuring that you are doing so safely.

1. Make Sure Your Fireplace is Clear

Before burning your first fire, make sure that your fireplace is free and clear of any animals and leaves. This can be done by opening up your fireplace flue and shining a flashlight to ensure that you can clearly see out of the top. Additionally, you should check to make sure that there are no branches stuck inside your fireplace, as this can inhibit the flow of air out of the chimney, causing a major fire hazard.

2. Inspect the Flue

Inspect your flue and the interior system of your fireplace to ensure that there is no excessive damage or any open cracks. Making sure that nothing looks abnormal on the fireplace’s exterior and interior can help to ensure that a fire will burn safely. If anything looks out of the ordinary, be sure to pay closer attention to this area, and contact professionals if you think you are dealing with a problem.

3. Check for Creosote

Check inside your fireplace for creosote; aka the grime that collects inside your fireplace. Creosote is often black and can appear fluffy, shiny, or even gummy. If you notice creosote inside your fireplace, DO NOT BURN a fire! This is extremely dangerous. Consult a professional chimney company.

4. Clean Your Fireplace

Ahead of your first fire of the winter, take the time to clean out your ash dump door (or the door inside your fireplace where the ashes fall when burning). Most professional sweeping companies will not take the time to clean dump doors out, leaving many homeowners responsible for this task in order to ensure a safe burn. Use a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner such as a ShopVac to make sure your fireplace is clean, including your ash dump door and above your smoke shelf.

5. Double Check Your Smoke Alarms

One of the most important precautions you can take ahead of burning your first fire is to ensure that you have working smoke detectors in all rooms of your home that are near your fireplace. Bear in mind that, although using a fireplace might seem like no big deal, you are intentionally lighting a fire in your home and attempting to keep it controlled - this means that having working smoke alarms is important.

Maintaining a fireplace and taking safety precautions ahead of your first fire takes a lot of consideration and hard work in order to protect yourself, your family, and your home. If you find that this level of preparation and maintenance is too much, contact Brickworks. From chimney repair to debris removal, our team of experts is here to help get your fireplace ready for the season.


what is a lintel

What is a Lintel and Why Should I Maintain It?

A lintel is a beam that has been placed on the top of a door or window to support the weight of the building materials above it. It’s a very common structural element and can be made using a variety of materials, including (but, of course, not limited to) timber, brick, concrete, steel, and stone. Here’s why you should know the answer to “What is a lintel?”

What is a Lintel Used For?

As mentioned, lintels are a ubiquitous part of construction. Windows, doors, fireplaces, and other types of wall openings are not designed to provide structural support. Thus, when they are added to a building, the surrounding walls of that building must be reinforced to account for the concentrated load bearing down at each opening point. Adding a lintel horizontally across the top of a wall opening helps distribute the weight of the building more evenly, thus alleviating the burden on the door or window’s vacant space. It also protects the building (especially those built using masonry materials) against wind, earthquakes, and other lateral load-bearing events. And in some instances, lintels are used for a two-fold purpose, not simply buttressing the building itself, but adding a decorative touch to it.

Why You Need to Maintain Lintels

Failing to install and/or maintain the correct type of lintels exposes your home to several potential catastrophes. You should inspect your property, especially the lintels surrounding your doors, window, and fireplaces, in order to:

  • To Protect the Structural Integrity of Your Home — Lintels provide structural stability to your home. If you don’t keep them well-maintained, your walls could literally fall down around you!
  • To Preserve the Functionality of Your Windows and Doors — Lintels also protect the opening in your walls, allowing whatever occupies that space (window, door, fireplace, etc.) to remain sturdy and to function as intended.
  • To Enhance Your Home’s Curb Appeal — Of course, part of your home’s aesthetics rely on the building itself being free of architectural flaws. Don’t dilute your home’s curb appeal by allowing sightly cracks, rust or other corrosion to settle in your lintels.
  • To Defend Your Home Against Water Damage Water can seep into a home through the tiniest defect, creating a host of problems that range from cosmetic issues to mold and mildew growth and other serious structural damage that is hard to repair.
  • To Save Money — Needless to say, maintaining your lintels ultimately saves you money. A rotten, cracked or otherwise deteriorated lintel can be expensive to replace. Save yourself the headache and some cash by looking for and fixing small problems before they require total renovation.

Want to Learn More?

“What is a lintel?” is an important question, and one that all homeowners should know how to answer. Lintels protect the overall structure of your home, as well as the stability of all your wall openings. Don’t risk the integrity of your doors, windows and fireplaces or your home itself by failing to maintain your lintels. Our team here at Brickworks Property Restoration can help you better understand the value of lintels and how best to repair them should you ever encounter a problem with them. Please contact us today.

 


basement wall repair

Basement Wall Repair With Brickworks

Here at Brickworks Property Restoration, some of our most fulfilling projects are solving problems and helping customers who are not happy with the work they received from another contracting company. A great example of this is a customer who hired a big box vendor to do a foundation repair and did not get the results they were hoping for. These vendors often use their own unique, patented systems for projects such as basement wall repair or foundation repairs, which can lead to unfortunate issues for homeowners. In this case, their product was holding up, however, it was not actually fixing the problem that needed to be addressed. At Brickworks, we are proud to offer solutions to customers in these situations and fix problems the right way, like they should have been done the first time.

A Basement Wall Repair That Couldn’t Be Done

In this example, the customer called over 15 contractor companies, but could not find anyone to complete their basement wall repair. Their wall was completely buckling, and although this $24,000 project was still under warranty, the vendor they hired for the project was not honoring it. Big box companies charge users tens of thousands of dollars for the completion of projects that do not solve a home’s issues at their root. While these companies often promise warranties for clients who might experience issues, they rarely stand by them, leaving homeowners with debt and issues such as a failing home foundation.

The Problem With Big Box Companies

The biggest names in the foundation industry use their own patented systems for repairs, meaning they do not have the bandwidth or the technical knowledge to actually give their customer what they need. In this situation, the customer needed a complete wall rebuild. 

When redoing basement wall repair projects, Brickworks guarantees that a project will be done right the first time, by following industry standards and above and making sure that our team members are safe and able to give the customer the product that they’re paying for, and originally needed.

Improper Basement Rebuilding Tactics

In this $24,000 project, the major contracting company used bolts that were screwed into the floor and used C-channel brackets to hold and pull the brackets together with soil pressure. While this system may work in some applications, in this instance, the basement wall was broken around the brackets. There is no denying that this was a completely improper method of basement rebuilding. Since the product was still standing, the fine print of its lifetime warranty revealed that the customers would have to pay out of pocket for a repair. 

Big box vendors cannot look past their own patented systems to address actual customer needs.  At Brickworks, we know when a project doesn’t look right, and we guarantee that we will take care of it, leaving our customers safe and satisfied.

Contact Brickworks for Major Repairs

The foundation of your home is the foundation of your life. Leave major projects such as basement wall repair to the professionals at Brickworks Property Restoration, not big box companies who cannot look outside of their own systems for projects that need an actual solution. Contact us today to get it fixed the right way!


through wall flashing

Why You Should Ask Your Builder About Through Wall Flashing

All buildings need external flashing. Flashing prevents water from penetrating the walls of a structure. In some instances, however, you also need internal flashing (i.e., “through wall flashing”). Here’s what you need to know so you can ask your builder if one or both types of flashing is appropriate for your own home:

What is Through Wall Flashing?

As mentioned, there are two basic types of flashing. External (or exposed) flashing is the kind you see around the exterior of a home where walls intersect the foundation, roof, windows, and doors. It protects the seams between building materials by preventing water from entering what would otherwise be exposed joints. All types of buildings made from all types of materials need some form of external flashing in several different places.

Internal (or concealed) flashing, on the other hand, is routinely added to buildings that make use of cavity walls. A cavity wall is a type of external wall that is composed of two layers (separated by a small gap) instead of one solid one. Contractors choose to build cavity walls when the materials being used for the exterior portion of a building or home are especially vulnerable to water damage, such as with masonry materials.

Why Masonry Homes Need Internal or Through Wall Flashing

Homes made from brick and stone need through wall flashing because these types of materials (masonry) are permeable; water and humidity can pass through them. If there is nowhere for that water to drain or a means by which it can evaporate, mold and mildew can develop, rotting the wall and anything near it, as well as exposing the inhabitants inside the building to dangerous mold. 

Builders combat the permeable nature of masonry by constructing cavity walls. The hollow space between the inner and outer walls provides a place for any water that enters through the bricks to drain away from the inner wall. Internal or through wall flashing is simultaneously added within the cavity to accurately route and drain the water through weep holes. The combination of cavity walls, plus flashing and drainage holes, works as a whole to protect the rest of the entire structure.

Safeguard Your Home By Asking Your Builder about Using the Right Type of Flashing

Flashing is an important part of quality construction. It’s especially important when building homes with porous materials like stucco and brick, some of the most common materials used in new homes today. Understanding the different types of flashing and knowing when and where to use them, allows you to better protect your home’s integrity and helps you avoid expensive water damage to your home down the line.

Want to Learn More?

Too often here at Brickworks Property Restoration, we see the damage that water can cause to a home. If you would like to learn more about the best ways to protect what’s likely your biggest investment — your home — please contact us today.


historical building restoration

Historical Building Restoration: What You Need To Know

People have been conducting historical building restoration projects for many decades in order to preserve pieces of rich history that would otherwise have been lost. Doing so takes an intense amount of time, skill, and research so that everything is up to code and regulations are taken care of, and also so that the restoration process is done as efficiently and accurately as possible.

It takes a professional team of experienced inspectors and restorationists to perform the correct actions required of historical restoration, but they’ll know the ins and outs of anything they come across, and it wouldn’t hurt if you did too.

Keeping it Classic 

The highest priority when undergoing a historical building restoration is to preserve the original structure and keep its classic aesthetic while doing so. You aren’t updating an any old house or redesigning your living room. Buildings that are a part of history need to be restored to their former glory without compromising their true character, otherwise, you risk stripping them of those features that made them timeless.

While the structure could benefit from additional changes or reworks aside from the standard restoration, it wouldn’t just be restored, it would be changed from its original design, and that simply isn’t what protecting a historic monument is about—take the multitude of historic art restoration disasters as an example.

Abide by the Code

Just because a structure has its place in history doesn’t mean it can override building codes. While historical buildings must abide by their own specific rules and regulations, they do exist. If you don’t already have the proper background knowledge and education to handle these regulations, it is best to hire a professional company that is familiar with these matters, such as Brickworks Property Restoration.

By hiring a professional, you’ll be able to hand them the reins to make sure all the proper protocols and compliances are met to get the job done right. They’ll have the experience of having done historical restorations in your area before, meaning they can save you a lot of the hassle of familiarizing yourself with local standards.

Use Original Materials

Repairs should be prioritized over replacements when possible, but in the event that certain features are in need of replacing, it is important to ensure that all the materials being used are authentic to the time period. While it would be easier and more efficient to use many of our modern techniques and materials, doing so would go against the historical integrity of the building. 

This also means that any materials used not only be from the appropriate time period, but that they also remain consistent with the original in design, material, texture, color, and size. The goal of historical building restoration is to preserve what was special about the structure, and using all of the original materials is crucial when doing so.

From Crumbling to Glowing

Performing a historical building restoration is much different from your typical restoration project. It takes much more time, research, and expertise in order to ensure that the task is done correctly, but by the time it’s finished, the building will go from a crumbling pile of bricks to a glowing monument to history.

Need to know more about a particular restoration project? Contact Brickworks Property Restoration today for more information and a free inspection.


cultured stone

What You Should Know About Cultured Stone

Cultured stone is a great material for changing up the appearance of your home. It’s popular for its resemblance to natural stone, but with many consumer-friendly perks included. If you’re planning to do some remodeling, it’s crucial that you weigh all your options and choose the best type of stone for your particular home or project. Here’s everything you should know about cultured stone.

What is Cultured Stone?

Also known as manufactured stone, cultured stone is similar to natural stone in appearance, with the major difference being that it is created using a cement mixture combined with several other elements. This mixture allows the stone to be considerably lighter than regular stone, and by treating it, it can appear extremely similar to the real thing. This mixture is then pressed into molds to give it the desired shape, completing the process and giving homeowners a solid alternative to natural stone, along with a variety of options in terms of appearance.

Installation

Because this stone is much lighter than natural stone, it is also less difficult to install. This will no doubt be a relief to the person doing the installation, whether it’s yourself or another. However, just because the process is easier doesn't mean just anybody can do it. If you don’t have the proper skills and experience necessary, you could seriously damage the stone or your property, which is why contacting a professional like Brickworks is recommended.

What’s the Cost?

Homeowners will be happy to hear that cultured stone isn’t only lighter and easier to install, but it is cheaper than natural stone as well. That’s not to say the price difference between the two will be astronomical, but cultured is typically cheaper nonetheless. In terms of durability, natural stone has been shown to withstand the natural elements—such as rain, dirt, and wind—slightly better than cultured stone, so if your project takes place outside, you may need to consider what the best option would be for your circumstances. 

Using Cultured Stone on Your Next Project?

Cultured stone is an excellent material to use due to its affordable cost and aesthetic popularity. Whether you’re using it on the outside of your house or around your fireplace, you can’t go wrong with this type of stone.

Are you considering using this type of stone in your next project? Brickworks Property Restoration might be able to lend you a hand. Our team has ample experience installing a variety of different materials to make your home just the way you want it. Simply contact us or give us a call at 586-868-3234 today for your free estimate!


concrete crack

Why Does Concrete Crack and How Can You Prevent It?

Have you ever had your driveway paved with a fresh layer of concrete, only to get frustrated when cracks break the surface a month later? If so, you’re not alone. But why does concrete crack? And what steps can you take to prevent it from happening? Here’s everything you need to know.

Why Does Concrete Crack?

If you have any doubts that concrete can crack, just take a drive through the city streets. This is the same kind of concrete that is used in your driveway! But why does concrete crack exactly? This can occur for any number of reasons, such as improper drainage of rainwater or improper pitch. You’ve also got to consider water getting into preexisting cracks and freezing, thus causing further damage to the damaged concrete. 

There could be underlying root systems that slowly creep up over time and break their way through concrete or upset the natural balance of the earth. Anything that has the potential to shift the ground and upset the natural resting position of concrete can cause concrete to crack. In addition to the shifting of the ground, premature drying can also cause surface-level cracks to spread like tiny spiderwebs, but there are also a few other types of cracks that can occur which can be easily prevented.

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when dealing with potential cracking hazards.

Shrinkage and Expansion

Shrinking and expanding is another common cause of concrete cracking. As the concrete mixture begins to dry, it shrinks, and during this time there is a chance that cracking can occur if not laid properly and if an imbalance of water is used in the mixture. On the other hand, heat can cause concrete to expand and crack in the opposite way. If a sidewalk gets too hot and doesn’t have the space to expand, these cracks can open up on the surface and deep within the slabs. These types of cracks can generally be prevented by taking special precautions against shrinking or expanding to fight deterioration.

How Can You Prevent It?

There’s no need to worry about cracks in your concrete if you know how to prevent them. Firstly, it helps to install the concrete correctly. This essentially means laying it in a way that gets any potential water away from the soil underneath it once it’s dry. One way to do this is by compacting the subsoils underneath with proper tampers. Installing aggregates underneath will give the concrete a base to rest on that will keep it flat and level. Another way to prevent cracks is to use the correct loads of concrete. When the concrete is dry and finished, apply a sealant over the top that actually penetrates the concrete instead of simply glazing the top. In the cases of shrinkage and expansion, expansion joints can act as shock absorbers to contain the stress of expansion, as well as control joints to prevent shrinkage cracks from erupting across the surface.

No Cracks, No Problem

There are plenty of reasons why your concrete could be cracking, but that’s no reason to panic because there are several things you can do to prevent these cracks from occurring. The next time you find yourself wondering, “why does concrete crack?” you’ll have the answer and the solution ready.

Want to learn more about laying concrete and how to best go about it for your next project? Brickworks has you covered. Our team of professionals excels at all things concrete. Just contact us today or give us a call at 586-474-5881 for more information!


4 Tips For Hiring a Concrete Contractor For Smaller Jobs

When you’ve got cracks in the driveway and plants popping up in the middle of your porch steps, it’s time to get things fixed. Hiring a concrete contractor is a rational next step many people take, and for good reason: they are the best equipped for the job. But when the job is something small, how should you go about hiring a contractor? Here are some tips to help you out.

Understand Why They’re Difficult to Find

As you may very well be aware, it can be considerably more challenging to find a concrete contractor for a smaller job, but why is this? One of the main reasons for this is the fact that the cost for operating and using a concrete truck greatly exceeds the small amount of concrete that would actually be needed on a smaller project. A concrete truck can hold approximately ten cubic yards of concrete—much less than a smaller job would need—which is why not many concrete companies are willing to waste the time and money to deliver a few yards of concrete. This can leave homeowners in tricky situations, but there are contractors out there, like Brickworks, that are willing to help their customers out, whether it’s with a driveway, a sidewalk, or just about anything else.

Contact Family and Friends for Recommendations

If you’re looking to hire a concrete contractor for a small job, asking friends and family if they have any recommendations is a great place to start. For one, it’s a quick way to accumulate a few contractor options without much effort, plus, you’ll be more likely to receive a contact that is reliable, trustworthy, and knows their stuff—assuming that you trust the judgment of the friend or family member that you asked.

Research Their Experience

Just because the job is small doesn’t mean you want to work with a concrete contractor that doesn’t have the experience to get it done properly. Even if the contractor was recommended by a friend, you should ask to see some references of their past work to get a feel for their level of quality. It would also do you some good to ask for their certifications, such as a proper license, as well as insurance in the event that an accident should occur. It doesn’t matter if they’re paving your driveway, doing foundation repair, or fixing a cracked basement—you want them to be qualified if they’re working on your home. 

Get it in Writing

It’s vital that you and the contractor come to an agreement before any work begins. From there, you need to get everything in writing, from overall prices and the materials being used right down to the work schedule and an estimated project completion date. When it comes to contracts, you don’t want to leave anything up to chance. Even if you trust the contractor with your life, this is simply a formality that can prevent uncomfortable situations from arising.

Hire a Reliable Concrete Contractor You Can Trust

By following these tips, you’ll find a professional concrete contractor that successfully completes your small job quickly and smoothly, and one that will earn your customer loyalty. By treating small jobs with the professionalism of larger projects, you and any potential contractors can work together to get the job done and your home or business looking great.

Looking for professionals to help you with a project? The team at Brickworks is full of experience based on years of jobs and training. Contact us today or give us a call at 586-868-3234 to learn more and receive a free estimate!