Ask An Expert

Ask An Expert

Ask an Expert

My name is Tom Lopatosky. I’m the President of LOPCO Contracting ( and I’m honored to have the opportunity to talk to you about home improvement on a monthly basis. I love answering your questions! Please send them to or call 401-270-2664. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this column!

Why Chimney Maintenance Is SO Important

With Spring kicking into gear, chimneys are certainly one of the items that are often overlooked when it comes to areas on the outside of our homes needing maintenance.

If your chimney is not in the best condition, one wrong move by the jolly guy at Christmastime and things could all come tumbling down and become quite messy, quite quickly.

Because chimneys are typically situated high upon your home, keeping an eye on your chimney may not be your top priority.

At least annually, an inspection of the chimney should be conducted either by yourself (assuming you are able and know what to look for) or by a qualified professional.

Here are some key factors that I ensure are intact to be sure that the portal for our friend from North is in as tip-top shape as possible:

  • Chimney flashing: Is the condition of the chimney flashing satisfactory enough to do its job? Is the flashing performing as it should to not allow leaks? Is the lead used as flashing chewed up by squirrels with a beckoning leak waiting to happen?
  • Chimney cap: Is the chimney capped properly? Does the chimney have a stainless steel cap, properly anchored, to help in guarding against allowing moisture in and/or protection from birds, squirrels, etc. (one of life’s big mysteries is how these chimney caps do not allow birds and squirrels in, but they allow larger than normal sized humans with big furry coats to seemingly get in with ease…)? Is the cement cap swaddling the steel cap attached to the flue in good condition?
  • Mortar joints: are the mortar joints of your chimney in good condition? Are they at the point where they need to be cut and repointed?
  • Flue/Liner situation: Does your chimney have a flue and/or a liner? If so, are they in suitable shape?
  • Sealant: When was the last time the brick on the exterior was properly sealed? Every natural brick chimney should be weather sealed every few years to help extend the life of its brick and guard against premature deterioration.

Not only will being mindful of your chimney’s maintenance help guard against significant one-time costs heading through the future, but it will also help ensure that on December 24th of each year, when perhaps the most unorthodox entrance into our homes by any welcome guest occurs, is able to safely continue year after year, just as it has since the early 1800s – and there is no better time than the Spring to make sure that your chimney is properly protected!!

About Tom Lopatosky

Tom Lopatosky has run his own RI-based painting and repair business since 1995; LOPCO Contracting – the “Personable, Particular Professionals” – specializes in exterior & interior painting and carpentry. Recently LOPCO Contracting was named ‘RI’s Finest Painting Contracting Company’ by ShopInRI Magazine. In 2013, Tom was named “Humanitarian of the Year” by the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA) and a “40 Under 40” award winner by Providence Business News. He is a member of both PCA (Painting Contractors Association) and RIBA (Rhode Island Builders Association). Tom has often had weekly ‘Home Improvement Tips’ that have aired on the radio on 630 WPRO AM and on television on WPRI 12. You can catch Tom LIVE on the radio EVERY Saturday, 2pm-3pm, on 630 WPRO AM (99.7 FM) during his weekly ProTalk Home Improvement Radio Show!

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