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Winter is fast approaching, and right now, you are probably using your fireplace more than ever. If you haven’t yet, and you plan to use it soon, today is the perfect time to do some cleaning and maintenance to ensure that you’ll get that fire roaring in the hearth. This fixture is usually what will keep your home warm and comfortable during the cold months, which is why you want to make sure that it’s working optimally.

In this article, we will share six practical tips on how to maintain your fireplace:

Have Your Chimney Cleaned

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, know that this will generate more heat and smoke, causing a build-up of creosote in the fireplace flue and accelerating a chimney fire. For this reason, having your chimneys cleaned regularly at least once a year is crucial. With an expert chimney cleaner’s help, they will clean it from top to bottom to ensure it’s working fully so that the fire can be controlled effectively.

Fix Gaps In The Brick Mortar

The extreme heat that your fireplace produces will typically expand and contract the materials within. As a result, it’s natural for bits of mortar on the refractory firebricks to loosen and fall. However, this doesn’t mean you should let it be because the fire can get through the gaps and burn the structural elements of your home. This is why you must fix the mortar gaps located within the firebox using a mineral-based filler called fireplace mortar and a putty knife.

Inspect Flashings

The flashings that run between the chimney and your roof deflects water from getting inside your house. However, flashing can be torn away or folded back from birds, squirrels or falling limbs. Before you light up your fireplace, inspect your flashing and make sure that it’s intact. Otherwise, have it repaired by a professional before snow falls!

Use The Right Firewood

If you want to make the most out of your fireplace, remember that you need to use the right firewood. Otherwise, your fireplace will get dirty easily, leading to more frequent cleaning. Know that softwoods are affordable, but they burn faster and are more difficult to clean up due to the fine ash they leave behind. Instead, hardwoods like maple, oak, and birch have a more consistent and hotter burn that will reduce less effort on your end.

Clean Fireplace Bricks

No matter what you do, keep in mind that smoke will always find its way out of the firebox. Depending on how blackened the bricks are, you can clean these with mild, moderate, or strong methods. At the same time, you need to choose which cleaning method to use depending on the amount of dirt your bricks have.

Replace Fireplace Screen

If you notice embers or sparks getting to your living area, then it’s a strong indicator that you need a new fireplace screen. In case that this is not happening to you, remember that you still have the option to replace your screen if you’re craving a new look for your fireplace. Consider a glass fireplace screen to prevent smoke from escaping the firebox!


When winter rolls around, all you want to do is be warm and cozy. This is why you need to ensure that your fireplace is maintained correctly so that you get to use it with no issues at all through the cold months. If you notice any damage or cracks in your fireplace, it is best to contact professionals right away to fix them.

Have your fireplace maintained by the top provider of Toronto masonry services. Red Robin Masonry delivers excellent service and quality that you deserve from specialists in the industry. Get in touch with us today for a quote!

With the winter season fast approaching, that time of the year again has come again to gather near your chimney and stay warm and cozy. Nothing beats the feeling of enjoying a hot cup of chocolate while listening to the crackling sound of wood and watching the fire glow. It is during these times that make you truly appreciate having a functional fireplace in your home.

However, to ensure that your wood-burning chimney will continue to keep you and your loved ones comfortable, you must be proactive regarding its maintenance. Routinary maintenance not only prolongs its lifespan but also ensures the safety of everyone in your home.

If this is your first time learning about fireplace maintenance, don’t fret! We will walk you through the basics in the sections below to help you get off to a smooth start.

1. Clean the Chimney’s Interior

One of the important things you must keep in mind is that the more you use your fireplace, the more that it will get dirty. Some substances remain after woods burn, such as ashes as well as soot and creosote.

Disposing of the ashes regularly not only improves the look of your chimney but also makes it more efficient in providing heat. Removing soot and creosote, on the other hand, helps protect you and your family from untoward accidents. These two substances are the brown and black residues you will find in the inner walls of the fireplace. They are highly flammable and are one of the major causes of a chimney fire, so it’s best to remove them regularly.

2. Always Test the Chimney First

It’s always a smart idea to make sure your chimney is functioning well before you start using it. To do this, you can light up a few pieces of woods first. Check whether the smoke is going out through the chimney or if it is entering the room.

If you are observing the latter, you must first determine what is causing the problem. It could be due to an obstruction in the chimney duct, soot buildup, or even a closed damper.

Always remember to resolve the issue first before loading more wood!

3. Use The Right Wood and Make Sure They’re Dry

Another point to remember is that not all woods are the same. The right woods for your chimney are oaks, maple, and birch; avoid using cedar, pine, and other softwoods.

If you are looking for the best firewood and are willing to spend extra money on it, hardwood is your best option. While they can be more expensive than others, they produce more heat and burn longer while producing relatively fewer creosote.

Furthermore, you must use only seasoned woods, or those that have been dried for at least 6 months. You can dry them faster by splitting them into small pieces of wood.


While your chimney provides an enjoyable warmth in your home, it can also bring about certain health hazards and even risks of accidents. To keep your family safe and sound throughout the colder months, you need routinary chimney maintenance. Clean your wood-burning fireplace regularly and be on the lookout for potential problems. If you come across any major issue, get in touch with your trusted technician right away to address it before it gets worse.

For reliable chimney repair services in Toronto, Ontario, you can turn to us at Red Robin Masonry! We are rated one of the best masonry companies in the GTA and are dedicated to providing you only with the quality and service you deserve. Get your quote today to get started!

4 Common Chimney Problems That You Need to Fix Immediately

Not all homes have chimneys, but the ones that do need to be maintained regularly. Failure to do so can lead to a variety of problems, such as blockages and cracking. Such issues can compromise the chimney’s structural integrity. Not only does this lead to respiratory and safety hazards, but it can also be detrimental to the home’s value.

If you have a chimney at home, it pays to know what kind of problems you may face. This knowledge will help you identify any chimney problems and get them fixed before it is too late.

1. Creosote accumulation

When you burn wood, creosote builds up along the chimney’s inner linings. This substance can pose a lot of problems if it is left to sit. For example, it can cause chimney fires and lead to inefficient wood burning. Getting into contact with creosote also irritates the eyes and skin, and it can damage your lungs if breathed in.

As you can see, creosote is nothing but trouble. For that reason, it is vital that you maintain your chimney and clean it to remove any harmful buildup as soon as possible.

2. Loose masonry

While masonry is meant to provide a durable and reliable chimney construction, it does experience problems after a while. For instance, the constant exposure to heat can cause the masonry to loosen. If left unaddressed, this can lead to bits of the chimney breaking off and even a collapse in worse cases.

To ensure the masonry remains intact and structurally sound, having it checked by an expert is the way to go. Typically, you need to do this before winter to ensure it will last throughout the season and after winter to see whether any damage has occurred.

3. Damaged cap

The cap on the chimney is there to not only add aesthetic value to the construction but also keep the outside elements from entering. A damaged cap can cause rainwater to seep into the chimney, more specifically the flue. This can lead to various issues that can grow worse when winter arrives.

If you discover a damaged cap on your chimney, have it analyzed by an expert right away. They will inspect the chimney for any problems and fix the cap to avoid further problems.

4. Fractured flue

The flue acts as a duct for the smoke from your fireplace to exit your home properly. It is also one of the most common places for problems to occur. While there may be different kinds of issues, the most common one is a fracture or a crack. A fractured flue may be a sign of more serious problems that your chimney needs fixing.

A fractured flue can only be fixed by the hands of experts. For that reason, hire a professional to inspect and repair your flue if required.


All of these problems take time to occur, and if left unchecked, can grow to the point that the chimney may need to be knocked down and completely replaced. To avoid such an unnecessary waste of time and money, make sure that you get your chimney inspected regularly. Have it checked out by a professional often, and do not waste time calling one to fix the chimney if you discover a problem!

Red Robin Masonry are experts at maintaining your home. If you need chimney repair services in Mississauga, reach out to us right away!

4 Steps to Waterproof Your Chimney

Most homeowners are focused on the more obvious aspects of their home: maintaining the façade, repairing floors and windows, and generally keeping it in optimal condition. However, most homeowners also forget about their chimney until it becomes a glaring problem—and an oftentimes expensive one.

The chimney is one of the structural elements of the house that is most exposed to severe weather. Since they jut out above the roofline, they catch the worst of the elements and incur damage over time. They’re also highly susceptible to water penetration, which is the single most significant cause of damage and deterioration. If left unchecked, it could lead to issues that’ll cost thousands of dollars to repair.

Here are four steps to waterproof your chimney and protect it from leaks:

Thoroughly Clean Your Chimney

Before waterproofing your chimney, you have to make sure it’s as spic and span as possible. This means cleaning it from rust, dirt, mould, and other stains and foreign matter that will interfere with the waterproofing process. Using a brick cleaner mixed with water is an effective way to thoroughly clean your chimney’s surface and scrub any stubborn areas of grime.

If you have difficulty cleaning some areas, a power washer might do the trick. Once your chimney is cleaned, allow it to dry for a day or two.

Shield Non-Target Areas

Next, it’s time to protect the areas that won’t be targeted by the water repellent. Some areas should be left untouched as water repellent can discolour or damage certain areas, such as your shingles and windows. Make sure to use an absorbent material on the base of the chimney, which will prevent any over-spray from running off onto the roof.

If there is any siding that is within the vicinity of over-spray, cover them up. Although over-spray is easily removable when it’s wet, it is almost impossible to wipe off once it’s dry.

Conduct Minor Repairs

If there are minor cracks in your chimney, attend to these before proceeding to waterproof them. Using a crack and joint sealant is sufficient for repairing cracks that are up to an eighth of an inch wide on mortar joints. Although it won’t be noticeable on lighter-coloured mortar joints, it will be obvious on bricks over time.

However, if your chimney has more significant damage that needs rebuilding, consult a masonry professional to repair it. If it’s been tuckpointed, allow around three to four days for the mortar to settle and cure before waterproofing it. On the other hand, if there are large parts of the chimney that have been completely rebuilt, another twenty-eight days must pass for the new masonry to cure before spraying it with a water repellent to allow it to bond properly.

Use Breathable Water Repellent

Once the masonry has cured and all repairs have been carried out, your chimney is finally ready for waterproofing. Make sure to choose a day of dry weather for a successful waterproofing session.

Choose a breathable water repellent to allow moisture in the chimney to escape; otherwise, it will remain trapped and cause it to expand and contract according to the weather. This will cause spalling in your bricks, and you’ll have to replace your bricks or completely rebuild your chimney.

After you’ve positioned your drop cloths, it’s time to apply the water repellent. Use a pump-up garden sprayer with a fan-like nozzle to achieve maximum reach with each spray. Start at the bottom of your chimney and slowly spray around it until you reach the top. After that, apply a flood coat all around the chimney. This is done by heavily spraying it so that it starts to run down several inches.

For extra measure, apply another wet-on-wet coat within five minutes, which will take up to six hours to dry.


Waterproofing your chimney will not only help it stay in great condition, but it will prevent any leaks that could cause severe damage. It also calls attention to any repairs that need to be made prior to the waterproofing process, which will allow you to efficiently solve your chimney problems in one go. By protecting your chimney from water damage, you’ll be protecting it from deterioration, saving you plenty of time and money.

Red Robin Masonry is a masonry company in Toronto that also offers waterproofing and chimney repair services to Markham, Mississauga, Scarborough, and Thornhill. Our top-notch experts will make sure that your structures are robust and well-maintained. Have a chimney that needs to be repaired? Call us today at 416-206-8859!

Cleaning and Maintaining a Chimney - What You Should Know

Your house chimney is one of the more vulnerable parts of a house. Since it is located outside the house, it is more exposed to weather and temperatures. This frequent exposure to intense climate and season change can weaken or bring wear and tear to your chimney system. Whether you constantly use your chimney or not, it is essential to clean it regularly.

Problems That Can Occur in Your Chimney

Here is the most common rationale why homeowners don’t think that inspection and maintenance of chimneys are not necessary—“I don’t use the system that much.” Most homeowners think that just because they’re not using their chimneys, it remains in good condition. However, several problems can happen even in a not functioning chimney:

  • Pests nesting inside your chimney
  • Freeze and thaw cycle
  • Wear and tear

If you follow that mindset, then you need to rethink your ways. Regular inspections can help you resolve the problems immediately. Since it won’t be easy for you to identify any issues in your chimney, it is important to hire professionals to deal with this concern. They have the appropriate tools and knowledge to make the checkup thorough and efficient.

The Importance of Cleaning Your Chimney

Here are the reasons to convince you that chimney cleaning is an essential part of home maintenance.

  • Ensures safe operation – You’ll never know how much soot, blockages, or creosote already exist in your chimney and vent system.
  • Guarantees family and home protection – Any of the mentioned dirt or buildup in your chimney can damage your family and home’s health. For example, creosote is the highly flammable black substance that builds up inside your chimney liner after burning some wood. If not cleaned up properly, this substance can build up fast in your chimney. A small amount of creosote, if mixed with a spark, can already cause a chimney fire. Apart from that, the buildup can affect the performance of your chimney in the long run.
  • Makes sure you’ll have no problem – Having your regular chimney checkup can give you peace of mind. It is essential, especially if you did a heating system upgrade or insertion of a stove or fireplace. Performing routine maintenance will ensure that your chimney’s lining and venting systems are in excellent working condition.
  • Less future expense – If you do not conduct your occasional checkup and maintenance and problems occur in your chimney, you will only spend more on the repair.

The Best Time to Clean Your Chimney

For recent home buyers, you need to schedule an inspection as soon as possible. The authority needs to check your chimney first before you use it. For other homeowners, the ideal time to check up a chimney is every summer or early fall, or before you use your chimney in burning and heating the place.

Have your chimney checked at least once a year—and don’t try to skip it. Although there is a recommended period for chimney cleaning, this service is available all-year-round.

Apart from the chimney, you should also have other connected systems cleaned up regularly, such as the fireplace, stove, heating appliances, and furnace.


Before firing up your chimney again, you have to ensure it is safe for use. Add regular inspection and maintenance of your chimney in your annual schedule, so you don’t forget. Neglecting this vital duty would end you up with more repair expenses or a chimney fire.

For chimney repair services in Toronto, contact us at Red Robin Masonry. All our chimney repairs comply with the current building and safety codes. We can also help you clean, rebuild, and make your chimneys work.

4 Reasons It's Important to Clean Your Chimney Regularly

Almost every house in Canada depends on fireplaces, wood stoves, and other wood-burning and fossil-fueled heating appliances to keep their homes warm and cozy, especially during winter. These heating systems produce hot air inside the house, keeping you and your family warm.

However, most homeowners forget or neglect to clean their chimneys because, mainly, they do not see the importance of it at that time. They possibly do not know that dirty chimneys can be damaging and increase health risks.

If you have a chimney in your home, here are four reasons why you should have it professionally cleaned regularly:

1. It is energy-efficient

When you use your fireplace often, plenty of additional creosote is deposited in your chimney. Creosote is an oil distilled from coal tar coming from your fireplace. When it accumulates up to the airway of your chimney, the efficiency of your fireplace will decrease, requiring you to burn more wood.

Cleaning your chimney will improve the efficiency of your fireplace and other heating systems and appliances, allowing you to enjoy a more pleasant environment in your home.

2. It is cost-effective

Wood-burning fireplaces can reach a high temperature of 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit or more. This leads to the piling of ash, soot, bits of wood, and other by-products in certain areas of your chimney such as the smoke shelf, flue liner, damper, and masonry.

Replacing these parts after years of usage is time-consuming and expensive. To reduce wear and tear, you should get masonry services regularly. Doing so will help you assess the health of your chimney as well as spot any masonry issues.

3. It keeps your home safe from fires

When you regularly use fossil-fueled appliances in your home, creosote and soot builds up and thickens in the chimney flue and masonry. These by-products can trigger a fire once it is exposed to the heat of burning embers.

They can also pose a hazard to your health by contaminating the air you breathe in. When these particles enter your body, they act as toxins that can severely hamper your wellbeing. As such, cleaning your chimney will allow you to maintain a safe and healthy environment.

4. It keeps your family safe from toxic fumes

In case you didn’t know, insects, rodents, and even small birds can clod your chimney flue, preventing toxic fumes from escaping the chimney. The unsuccessful escape of toxic fumes can increase the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, sometimes called the “silent killer.”

Carbon monoxide poisoning caused by toxic fumes can cause severe infection or, worse, death. By keeping your chimney clean, you’re helping keep the health of your family protected.


Your home chimney is an important part of your home heating system and your house as a whole. This affects the environment of your home as well as the health of your family. As a homeowner, you should have your chimney cleaned regularly to prevent house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Aside from that, cleaning your chimney is also cost-effective and energy-efficient since it can address issues that may lead to further damage.

If you need chimney repair services in Toronto, get in touch with us today. We are recognized as one of the best masonry companies in the Greater Toronto Area as we give the best quality and trusted service!

How to Spot Common Chimney Problems - Our Guide

Chimney problems are serious issues. You must resolve them quickly, or they can lead to hazardous situations. Since chimneys exhaust the smoke from the fireplace, having a faulty chimney is essentially a fire hazard. As such, you want to understand how to spot these issues immediately.

In certain conditions, some problems are only detectable with a professional around. You may not be knowledgeable about chimney systems, so it can be easy to miss the signs that yours needs repairing. Even so, there are some signs you can observe to help you determine whether you need to contact the pros right away.

Here are some ways you can spot common problems with your chimney:

1. Check if the damper is difficult to use

If your chimney’s damper becomes tricky to use or if sealing it is starting to get challenging, it’s likely due to rust build-up. Because moisture can accumulate in the chimney, the damper may start to rust. Normally, you would check for rust to see if a piece of metal is rusting. With dampers, the indication may come earlier than the actual visual cues.

Too much rust can cause the flue lining to crack and break. If it does, a fire can break out, which is why it’s important to replace the damper early on. Additionally, identifying cracks in the flue lining requires a more in-depth inspection of the chimney using a special camera.

2. Check for white stains

If there’s too much moisture in the masonry, your chimney will get covered in white stains, which is known as efflorescence. While these stains are fairly easy to clean, addressing the problem will require more than that. As such, you will need to get the moisture in the masonry controlled, or the stains can cause the chimney to deteriorate. When that happens, the chimney can start becoming ineffective, potentially leading to hazardous situations.

3. Check for tiny pieces of the chimney in the fireplace

When the chimney’s flue lining gets damaged, the cracks will worsen over time, causing tiny pieces of the chimney to fall off. Also known as shaling, these tiny pieces will eventually accumulate in the fireplace, making it dangerous to use.

As mentioned before, a proper inspection will be needed to determine if the flue lining is damaged. For that reason, you want to have the pros check your chimney regularly. However, if you start to see cracks and crumbling in the fireplace, it’s important to call your local chimney repair company to prevent serious damage.

4. Check if the chimney crown is cracked

When you start seeing water or ice seeping through the chimney, it could mean that the chimney crown is cracked. This mechanism protects the chimney and prevents rain or snow from entering. If the crown’s crack worsens, more water can get through the chimney, moisture can accumulate, and as a result, shaling can escalate. When you spot cracks on the chimney crown, you want to get them weatherproofed immediately.


Chimney problems, while they are common, can be difficult to detect. Even with the indications, special tools and equipment may be required to assess the issue properly. That means calling the chimney repair professionals is critical to ensure that your chimney is in top condition.

At Red Robin Masonry, we provide excellent masonry services in Toronto. If you need waterproofing and chimney repair for your home get in touch with us!