Serving The Seattle Metro Area

Fireplace Repair Seattle

Brick Fireplace Failure

Can this be saved

We love our fireplaces here in the NW, from Portland to Seattle they are part of our way of life. Whether it is an actual fireplace or a wood burning stove, we need to do fireplace repair to keep them in good working order. many of us have come to depend on our fireplaces for warmth and comfort on cold winter nights. Most of our homes today are heated by some other combination of forced air furnace or electric baseboard heat, but as you know there are times when the lights and heat go out here in the Seattle area. There are also, other reasons to have a backup source of heating and cooking ability’s, like in times of natural disasters or downturns in the economy. If you have a little working knowledge of your fireplace it will help you know what fireplace repair is needed to keep your fireplace in good working order.

Brick Masonry Fireplace

Restored Brick Masonry Chimney

Masonry Construction & Chimney Repair
Most of the fireplaces and chimneys here in the NW will be built out of some kind of masonry brick or stone, and are quite durable. Many have been built over 30 or 40 years ago and are still holding up well. In order to keep your fireplace in good repair you will need to inspect it every so often. The best place to start an inspection of your fireplace is to look in the firebox for cracked or missing firebrick, this is were you sit and burn your fire and should be very easy to inspect. Right above the firebox you will have a damper that controls the smoke that goes up and out your chimney, both of these need to be in good working order to have a safe fireplace. If you find any problems it’s time for some fireplace repair.
A good masonry fireplace is worth $15.000 to $25.000 thousand dollars to build or replace, and many times they are falling apart from the top down and the home owner is unaware of it till it’s to late. This only happens when the fireplace crown has gone bad. Your Fireplace crown is your first and last line of defence against water damage, most fireplace crowns will develop cracks in their tops every few years. The problem is that these fireplace caps or crowns are not down by were sit by the fire, they are up on top of the fireplace were you can’t even see them. So here is what you need to look for if it has been awhile since you have repaired your fireplace, look up towards the top of the fireplace chimney and see if there is any discoloration of the brick, cracks, or missing brick, moss growing out of the joints. If you see any of these your fireplace is being damage by water. It’s always better to do the fireplace repair as soon as you see it, if water damage is found early it can be fixed for a small amount, but if it is let go it can cost thousand of dollars to replace. As a masonry contractor in the Seattle area one of the main times that we are called out to repair fireplaces is when the home is being sold. one of the first things home inspectors check is the shape that the fireplace is in. The sad thing is when it is left till then the damage is usually large and the cost is higher the it needed to be. Its always best to keep and eye out for damage and fix it early. For more information on chimney & flashing repair seattls, Check out the service menu on the Tim W Masonry website.

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Retaining Walls Seattle

Rock Wall

Beautiful Stone Retaining Wall

Here in the Seattle area we use a wide verity of materials in the construction of retaining walls.  The best definition of a retaining wall is a wall that holds back soil, but a retaining wall will also restrict water above and below it.   If the retaining wall is 2 feet or less you can add  layers of coarse gravel behind it and covered it with a filter fabric  and this should drain quite well.  In the Seattle area quite a few of our retaining walls are over that height, when this is the case there are some very important and practical considerations that need to be applied in the construction of a retaining wall that is over 3 feet high.  The first consideration in planing a retaining wall is to prepare the slope that you want to retain, a steep slope may need considerable grading as a part of the retaining wall installation.  The key to building a sound retaining wall is in the basic construction and strength 0f the wall and it’s ability to release hydrostatic pressure.   One of the more popular ways to build retaining walls here in Seattle is in the use of natural stone and boulders,  there are many opportunity anchored a beautiful hillside with a retaining wall built out of natural stone.   You might want to build your retaining wall in more than one wall, this can be done by constructing two smaller walls in steps,to take the place of a larger single wall.  This is a way of terracing a steep slope with gentler and smaller walls, that give a soft and modest look to a large retaining wall.  Whenever  you can, look for the opportunity to add some plants in front of the walls to add a softening of it.  If the retaining wall is over 4 feet high it is probably advisable to have the work done by a professional. most communities will require a building permit for any retaining wall that is over 4 feet high.

For more information about retaining walls Seattle, look at that section in the Services menu on the Tim W Masonry website.

Chimney Repair

Chimney Damper Lid

Top Damper & Rain Cap

One of the most important parts of your chimney is your damper. Chance are that the damper that is in your chimney, is a throat damper. This is the type of damper that was installed when your chimney or masonry fireplace was built. This type of damper sits just above the fireplace opening with a handle hanging down that you can use to open and close the damper with. There are several thing to take in to account when discussing this type of damper. The first thing that you might want to know is what is the function of my fireplace Damper. The chimney damper number one purpose is to control the draft in your chimney when you have a fire built in it. This lets you control the amount of draft up and out the chimney, as well as stopping any down drafts that might happen. The next purpose of your damper is to seal the chimney closed when you are not using it, and when a fireplace or chimney throat damper is new it does a fair job of doing this, but as they age with heat, and time they bend and with water they rust. There is a good chance that this is the condition of the damper that is in your chimney.

As a Seattle masonry contractor we specialize in chimney repair, and one of the main complaints we receive is that the home owner feel cold drafts when ever they are next to the fireplace-chimney, or they can smell unpleasant odors. This is due to a throat damper that is no longer working right. In fact here in the Seattle area we find quite a few chimney where the damper has completely rusted out, this is quite common when the chimney rain cap is missing. Does your chimney feel drafty, cold, or smelly? Do you have a rain cap or guard over the flue liner on top of your chimney? If not you are not enjoying the full benefit of your fireplace. In fact you are throwing money out the proverbial window. Having a chimney with damper problems is the same trying to heat your home with a large window wide open. Maybe even worst, because the chimney will set up a natural updraft pulling the warm air right up and out of the room.

One of the ways that you can over come this problem is to bypass the throat damper and install what is known as a top damper. This type of damper is in some ways is far Superior to a throat damper, in that it is installed on top of the chimney where the heat from the fireplace will not affect it in any way. They also it comes with a fireproof gasket that stops any drafts from getting by. This type of damper comes with other benefits as well when they are closed they act as your rain guard or cap, they also stop any birds, small critters, and bees from setting up home in your chimney. Some other benefits are that you can start a fire in your fireplace a lot easier since there is not any cold air built up in the chimney flue above the firebox. Last but not least you can save about, 5 to 10% on your heating bill each month, over most homes here in the Seattle area, that either have regular dampers or have dampers that are damage, and need replaced. Would you like a free consultation for your fireplace and chimney? We are located right here in Seattle. a seattle masonry contractor

Seattle Fireplace Remodeling

Clutured Stone Masonry

Stone masonry Fireplace

All through history, Fireplaces have played a vital and useful role in our lives, and although they are no longer necessary for our survival, they bring beauty and true comfort to our lives. We typically place our Fireplaces in the living or family rooms , where they can be the Focal point of our homes. In this way we create a backdrop for our families to live and play in. Just remember that their no romance in curling up to a radiator.

Some of you might say, I would love to have a Fireplace like that, but my Fireplace is just some old brick on the wall, and my Firebox has a crack running through it, and  we don’t even use it. However don’t under estimate the value of your Fireplace,it can be the number one  amenities in your home when you are buying or selling your home.  One of the ways that you have to expressing a commitment to the beauty and value of your home, is to Remodel that old or outdated Brick or Stone Fireplace. This will bring a feeling of warmth and hospitality to your home, while updating  and beautifying your living space. Whether you are planing a new Fireplace or Remodeling  an older one, there are a lot of choices in the types of material and finishes that are available to you.

Fireplaces are showing up in some unexpected places, like in the bedroom or bathroom, outdoors on the patio or as a Wood-Fired Pizza Oven in the kitchen.  And they are popular in all regions of the country from Florida to Seattle and back to New York. What sort of Fireplace is right for your home?  Most Fireplace can be built to a style that will flatter your home. By style i am talking about how it looks with your house. This is a way that you can chose the type of material you need. If you have a home in the Seattle area the Fireplace might be a stately Brick Tutor, or in Bozeman Montana, You might have a two story western lodge with a dramatic Stone Fireplace that rises up through the rafters.

I invite you to pull up your chair next to my Photo Gallery and imagine your beautiful newly Remodel Fireplace, and the many hours of enjoyment that a fireplace will bring to your life. or maybe a fresh baked pizza baked in your own Wood -Fired Pizza Oven.  A fireplace will bring  an ambiance of life and beauty in to your Home.

For more information on fireplace remodeling Seattle, check out the Tim W Masonry website.

Fireplace Safety Tips

Stone Fireplace Face

A beautiful Stone fireplace with Gas Insert

Your fireplace can be a source of enjoyment for many years. Few things in life can compare to the simple pleasures of siting around a cozy fire all snuggled up and felling warm and content. Fire safety is important to keep in mind all year around, but can be even more important this time of year when many have large flammable objects in the center of their living rooms. The fire safety administration encourages you to practice fire safety when burning your fireplace. The following steps will help keep your home and love ones safe through the holidays and beyond.

Have your fireplace inspected by a certified masonry professional. An annual inspection by a masonry specialist should be about ( $35.00 ) in this area and many times can be free. Have your fireplace cleaned regularly to avoid dangers creosote buildup , that could cause a chimney fire of over 2000 degrees, cracking your flue liners or catching your house on fire. Check the fireplace at the top for obstructions such as bird nests or overhanging branches. Look for sign of water damage, loose brick, moss growing in joints.

Always use a fireplace screen or glass door when burning your fireplace. Sparks from a fire can shoot out over ten feet causing damage to your carpet, hardwood or worse. If you are burning your fireplace with the glass doors open be sure to close the fireplace screen on your doors. Special fireplace retaining screens  can be found to keep your children or pets at a safe distance away from harm.

When building your fires never overload the fireplace with to much wood. Start with a smaller fire that catches quickly and burns safely,adding more wood as needed. Make sure that the fireplace damper is wide open and remain open before lighting that first match, never close your fireplace damper while their is any flame or hot ash still alive in your firebox. Never burn charcoal in your fireplace. Burning charcoal give off a deadly carbon monoxide gas that can kill you

When choosing firewood  a well-seasoned firewood is recommended. It will be generally darker on the ends with visible cracks and splits, making it relatively light. It will be easy to start and produce more heat and burn a cleaner flame. this will reduce the amount of buildup in your flue liners and create a safer burning fire. Green wood will have high levels of moisture in it ,making it hard to start with less heat, Try to find a hard wood that has been dried for at least six months  and properly stored. Cleaning your chimney at least once every year will go along way in decreasing dangers formation of creosote buildup.

Keep your fireplace in good working condition will pay off in increased  safety and efficiency. if you notice any lose or missing brick or moss growing on top of the fireplace crown, your fireplace is being damage by water. This happens when water enters the masonry through small cracks. Water damage can be stopped and repaired easily when the problem is found early, Water damage if let go can deteriorate your fireplace to the point that it is unsafe to use.Lose or missing flashing can cause water problems to roofs, ceiling and walls, all costing money to repair or replace.

For more information about fireplace safety, visit the Tim W Masonry web-page and look through the various links on fireplace and chimney repair.

Get a FREE safety inspection at  www.timwmasonry.com

Rumford Fireplaces Seattle

Stone Fireplace

When temperatures drop, few activities can top snuggling in front of a warm and cozy fireplace.  One of the best wood burning fireplaces ever designed is a Rumford fireplace.  Count Rumford was born in Woburn Massachusetts in 1753.  He became very well known and widely read in his own lifetime.  As a high ranking Bavarian government official he received the title of Count Rumford.  He is primarily known for the studies he did on the nature of heat were he detail his improvements on fireplaces.  So let experience the art of building a fire in your Rumford fireplace.

To start, choosing well seasoned wood is important in more then one way.  With the use of seasoned wood your fire will catch easier and burn cleaner.  Since your Rumford fireplace are quite a bit larger and taller you can build your fire without a grate.  Start by laying the fire:  Put a sheet of newspaper against back of the firebox, then add some longer kindling 15 to 18 inches long and 1 inch in diameter.  Next lean four or five logs on end right against this cylinder of kindling, making them all pointing up toward the center of the throat, just like a tepee.  No grate will be needed with your Rumford fireplace.  You can build your fire right on the bottom of the firebox.  In fact the fire burns hotter and cleaner when you do.  This way you keep more of the smoke and gases in the flame, and most of it will burns up and produce less smoke and pollution.  This will also maximize your radiant heat output.

Before you go any further “Open the damper”.  Place some newspaper on the top the logs and light it, this will heat up the flue and get the air in going up and out.  Next light the paper in the kindling bundle.  As your fire starts to burn you can add a little more paper or kindling as needed.  After a few minutes you may want to adjust the logs or add one or two more, just remember lean them up against the back of the firebox like a tepee.  A tepee fire will fall in on itself as it burns, and rarely needs to be tended. For more information on fireplace remodel seattle, Check out the service menu on the Tim W Masonry Website.

Now sit back and enjoy the cozy warm fire in your Fireplace and thank Benjamin Thompson, The Count of Rumford for whom the fireplace was named. In 1790’s his Rumford fireplace became state of the art worldwide and remains so to this very day.

Fireplace and Bathlight

Fireplace in the Bathroom

Bathing by Firelight

There are many ways to enjoy the warm glow of a fireplace. This has to be one of our favorite ways to not only enjoy a warm bath & firelight, but also enjoy the beauty of Stone masonry in the bath. With a little planing this type of fireplace and bath could be included in any new home construction, or if you are thinking about doing a remodeling project. Place a new gas fireplace in the bath area can be a part of your Homes remodeling project. The space that this stone wall and gas fireplace takes up can be much less then you might think. the new gas fireplaces can be less then a foot in depth and only 2 to 3 feet wide. While the stone masonry is a cultured stone that does not need any type of foundation under it. a Seattle-Masonry-Contractor This is one of the most impressive bath remodels for the money that I have seen.

One other way to enjoy the time that you spend in the bath is to be able to have natural light come in through a beautiful Glass Block Window. These windows not only let in beautiful light from the outside, but they aldo maintaining the privacy of your bath area. You will find there are quite a few designs and styles of Glass Block that you can chose from when you are planing the bathtub or shower areas of your home. For more information on glass block seattle, Check out the service menu on the Tim W Masonry website.

Glass Block Tub Window

Glass Block Window

Chimney & Fireplace Seattle

Outdoor See through Fireplace

Seattle Masonry Construction

A good Chimney is one that is sturdy and in good working condition. Unlike prefabricated Fireplaces which are factory engineered and produce, a Masonry Fireplace is built on your site Brick by Brick. This gives your Mason Contractor a wide range or control over the design and quality of your Fireplace. Here are some special consideration about Masonry Fireplaces, they require an extensive footing capable of supporting their massive  structures that can weigh  over 10 tons!  Something that big might seem indestructible, but in fact this is not the case.  Special care should be taken when placing any downspouts  near your Fireplace, always carefully direct them away from the footing of your Chimney. Sending the water away from your structure will keep problems to a minimum.

Your Masonry Fireplace is quite durable and can give you a lifetime of enjoyment, with a little care and  maintenance. Your Firebox probable takes the brunt of the wear and tear to a Chimney, this is due to the expansion and contraction of building a hot fire in a cold Firebox. This is especially true when you fail to use a rain cap at the top of your Chimney. The rain water can pool in back of the Firebrick, creating a sooty slurry that will attack the Firebrick & mortar joints. This is the best tip I can give you, and is the  # 1 way that you can protect your Chimney!  Install A Rain Cap.

Most Fireplace Maintenance problems start at the top or crown of your Fireplace. Mortar caps are prone to cracking and decay, this is the main cause of Chimney failure in the Seattle area. when it rain the Masonry absorbs the water and hold on to it for quite a long time. If then it should freeze the water in your Masonry will expand and crack your Chimney.  These crack can easily be seen when inspecting your Fireplace, look for Moss growing out of the mortar joints and discoloration or wet area growing on your Brick or Stone Masonry.  It’s important to stop this water problem as quickly as you can.  The longer it goes on the more expensive it will be to repair.

Brick Fireplace Failure

Can this be saved

Brick Masonry Fireplace

Restored Brick Masonry Chimney

For more information on chimney repair Seattle, check out the Services menu on the Tim W Masonry website.


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