Have questions about chimney maintenance and repairs? Here are some of the ones commonly asked by our customers. If you don’t see your question here or want to request our help fixing your chimney issues, use the contact form or call our office to get in touch with our professionals.
It is the purpose of a chimney sweep to remove soot, blockages, and the buildup of creosote from your chimney liner, firebox, smoke chamber, and damper. Since creosote is a highly flammable substance that builds up inside the chimney when burning wood, getting the chimney swept will ensure that you will have a safer chimney system. According to Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), there are an estimated 24,000 chimney fires per year, which has cost American families over $31 million in damages. The CSIA and many other national institutions suggest that chimneys should be cleaned at least once a year, depending on how often the chimney is used.
There are six distinct signs that your chimney needs to be repaired:
- Damaged mortar joints – if this problem is not addressed quickly, the chimney will deteriorate and eventually collapse. Tuck-pointing is used to fix this issue.
- Rusted damper or firebox – rust is a sign of moisture and is an indicator that the chimney is not functioning properly.
- Shalling bricks – shalling happens when water is absorbed into the bricks then through freeze-thaw cycles the surface of the bricks pop, or “flake” off. Not repairing shalling brickwork can result in progressive crumbling and complete failure of the structure. This may require a complete chimney rebuild.
- Shalling flue tiles – cracked and shalling flue tiles are an indication of a serious issue, which could cause a house fire. In order to identify cracked flue liners, you often need a professional inspection.
- Cracked chimney crown – when the crown becomes cracked, water gets in and through freeze-thaw cycles, causes cracks to get larger, allowing more water.
- Damaged wallpaper – if the wall or wallpaper near the chimney is damaged or peeling, it could be the result of too much water inside the chimney.
There are 10 things that you can do to maintain an excellent chimney and prevent hazards:
- Have your chimney and fireplace inspected and cleaned at least once a year – more often if necessary.
- Between inspections and cleanings, monitor your fireplace for problems or concerns
- Regularly inspect your cap and replace it when needed.
- Check the interior of your fireplace and chimney for creosote accumulation. Creosote is a dark colored or black powdery substance that is highly flammable and should be cleaned away with a creosote remover and sweep as quickly as possible.
- Keep an eye out for drip marks in and around the fireplace system. Water is a home’s #1 enemy.
- If you can, burn hardwoods like maple, oak, and ash. They are more expensive than softwoods; however, hardwoods tend to cause less creosote buildup and burn hotter and longer.
- If there is smoke indoors, then you need to examine your chimney and correct any problems you see. If you don’t see any issues, get help from a professional immediately. It is not safe to inhale smoke from a wood burning fire.
- Make sure your liner is functioning properly and meets all current codes.
- Clean the floor of your fireplace regularly. Sweep out or vacuum cold ashes.
- Make sure to always hire a certified technician to install or correct anything that you have no experience with.
We include a 14 point inspection with the purchase of a chimney sweep.
- Height of the chimney
- Chimney Cap/ Spark Arrestor/Animal Guard
- Crown/ Cracking/ or pitting
- Mortar Joints and Brickwork, cracking or shalling
- Flashing and flue collars
- Flue Liner/ tile joints and shifting
- Resistance to Water
- Smoke Chamber
- Firebox/Cracking/ Fire panel
- Ash Container/ Clean Out/Fire Door
- Gas Starter
- Hearth Protection