Always Affordable Chimney's Blog





How Often Should Chimney Vents Be Checked or Inspected?

Posted On: May 06, 2019

Most homeowners ignore chimney inspections because they don’t think they use their fireplace enough to warrant it or because they have a gas fireplace and don’t think it’s necessary. Until you have a problem that is a result of a deteriorating chimney, you won’t realize that the cost of inspecting your chimney is far smaller than the expense that results from ignoring your chimney. The Chimney Safety Institute of America has a standard recommendation for not only the frequency of chimney inspections, but also for the depth of the inspection that should be performed. Here are the recommendations.

A level 1 inspection should be performed annually. This is the minimum requirement for a homeowner. This inspection will examine the readily accessible areas of your chimney such as the flue, the vents, the soundness of your chimney’s structure, the basic appliance connectors (in the case of gas fireplaces), and your damper. He will also check to see that your chimney is free of obstructions and creosote deposits which are combustible. This applies to wood-burning fireplaces and yellow and blue flame gas fireplaces.

A level 2 inspection is performed when you change anything within your system; fuel type, relining, addition of an appliance of a different rating efficiency. This inspection will also be required if a level 1 inspection suggests there may be a hazard that is hidden and requires special tools to provide access. Seismic events warrant this inspection, which addresses accessible areas of the chimney as well as attics, crawl spaces and basements. It also looks at the clearance of combustible materials.

A level 3 inspection is warranted by a level 2 inspection finding or a chimney fire. Don’t wait until you need one of these.

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How To Tell If Your Chimney Needs A Little TLC

Posted On: April 08, 2019

The chimney is a tough one for the homeowner. You can’t see all the way up and you can’t see all the way down. Yet it is critical for your health and safety that you ensure your chimney and all of its components are in good operating condition.

Obviously regular inspections are the optimal method of ensuring your chimney is in good working order, but here are a few tips that can alert you to problems that should be addressed before your regular inspection is due.

Exterior Chimney

Take a walk around your chimney and look for what is called efflorescence. This is a white residue on your brick or mortar. Though this can be removed, it is indicative of excess moisture in your chimney. If you don’t solve the cause of this moisture and leave it untreated, it will cause your chimney to dangerously deteriorate.

You can also look to see if there is crumbling mortar or loose bricks. Both of these conditions indicate that your chimney needs attention, and pronto. Left unattended, these problems will result in far more expensive repairs to both your chimney on the outside and your interior home. This is how moisture can get into your home.

Chimney Leaks

Chimney leaks must be taken care of quickly. Aside from the damage to your chimney, they will also cause damage to the interior of your home. These leaks are caused cracks in the flue liner or times or crumbling mortar joints. You can easily discover if your chimney has leaks inside by examining the areas in your home that are immediately around your chimney. You should look for peeling wallpaper, stains on the wall, or dampness near your chimney. These are signs that moisture is entering your home.

Appliances

Check your fireplace. Check the brickwork on the fireplace and check to see that the damper easily opens and closes. Look up the smoke chamber and check for any buildup that indicates it needs cleaning. Also check for any rust. This is a clear indicator of moisture problems from your chimney.

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How To Keep Your Chimney Safe

Posted On: March 18, 2019

Good Morning America recently shared a segment on ways to keep your chimney safe. According to statistics, in 2015 there were more than 20,000 fires that were related to fireplaces and chimneys. These fired resulted in 20 deaths, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This is why it is important to practice safe methods when using your home's chimney and get a chimney inspection at least once a year. That way you can help avoid any serious issues that may arise.

Creosote glaze buildup is something that can cause serious damage to your home and chimney and can have adverse effects to your health. Creosote glaze is a tar-like by product of burning wood and is more dangerous than common soot. The glaze is combustible, so if a spark were to go up the chimney flue it could ignite the glaze, which would subsequently result in a chimney flue fire. Removing creosote glaze demands more than a simple chimney sweep, so be sure to contact a chimney professional to learn about how to properly handle this issue.

Creosote glaze buildup is something that can cause serious damage to your home and chimney and can have adverse effects to your health. Creosote glaze is a tar-like by product of burning wood and is more dangerous than common soot. The glaze is combustible, so if a spark were to go up the chimney flue it could ignite the glaze, which would subsequently result in a chimney flue fire. Removing creosote glaze demands more than a simple chimney sweep, so be sure to contact a chimney professional to learn about how to properly handle this issue.

Chimney safety goes beyond just the fire being burned in the fireplace. Chimneys allow any carbon monoxide buildup to safety exit the home. It can be connected to a furnace, boiler or hot water heater in your home. When this is the case, it is important to make sure that debris is not falling down the liner and clogging the fumes from exiting. If there is debris present, deadly carbon monoxide can travel back into the home. A simple fix to this is a chimney cap. Perhaps your current chimney cap is damaged, which can allow excess debris to enter the flue. Or maybe you do not even have a chimney cap, which in that case one can be installed. To make sure that you are safe from any carbon monoxide entering your home, please be sure to have a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home.

Some general warning signs to look out for to know you may be in need of service are: cracks on the outside of the chimney, damaged bricks, white or black staining, or soot falling into your home. If any of these are present, please do not hesitate to contact us for a professional chimney inspection!

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Spring Cleaning for Chimneys

Posted On: March 11, 2019

Post-winter Chimney Maintenance

Inspection and maintenance of your chimney prior to winter is of utmost importance before the snow arrives. With harsh elements such as ice and wind hitting the masonry, the structure of your home could be effected. It’s not only the exterior that could use the attention. With the fireplace in use over the cold months, the lower interior may have build-up of the toxic creosote. As we head into spring, you’ll want to once again examine the key areas of the chimney. While we recommend the professionals to complete the inspection, an experienced homeowner may be able to handle the following tasks.

Masonry

The exterior mainly consists of bricks and mortar. Look for cracks or any spots where the masonry is missing. If not properly sealed, water could enter the interior and lead to serious damage. The same goes for the flashing, a sealing component where the roof meets the top of the chimney.

Cap

The cap is designed to allow smoke to leave and keep animals out. If there is an opening, creatures such as raccoons, squirrels and birds will enter and possibly nest. They don’t know any better. They just know that this is a warm spot to reside. If this is the case, you may need more than a chimney expert. You will require animal control experts.

Fireplace

Since the fireplace has likely been used several times through the winter, the spring is really the ideal time to conduct a full sweep and cleaning. As mentioned elsewhere on our site, creosote will build and become toxic. If you don’t want to stick an object in the flue to measures the thickness of creosote, an easier way to judge is by smell. When it gets warmer, a musty, smoky odor will especially be noticeable.

Taking care of all this may seem like a lot of extra work, but it’s worth it for sound piece of mind. Plus your fireplace will be clean and ready for the following winter.

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Get Your Chimney Ready

Posted On: February 18, 2019

It's Time to get Your Chimney Ready for Spring & Summer!

Spring has sprung and we are now in the Summer months. While the summer time brings many home improvement projects, maintaining your chimney should actually be one of your projects at the top of the list. If not done correctly your home could experience draft problems or even a chimney fire, which puts your family and home at risk!

How frequently should your chimney be cleaned?

If you are someone who uses your chimney often throughout the winter and even chilly Fall and Spring nights, you should have it swept at least twice a year. While most home improvement projects can be done on your own without an expert, chimney maintenance is a project meant for said experts. Sweeping your chimney before the winter months, on a warmer day (if possible) during the winter and before the Spring and Summer months will greatly reduce your chances of experiencing a chimney fire. It will also greatly reduce your repair costs if a problem were to arise.

The types of chimney repairs are as follows:

Living on Long Island can expose your chimney to harsh weather conditions both in the Winter and Summer months. So once early Spring comes around, that is the best time to get these repairs done. Flashing and rain caps are two common things that your technician will check when they examine your chimney. With the rainfall that tends to fall during spring time, our experts will determine how well your chimney is sealed and whether it is waterproofed. After several winters without proper maintenance and repairs, your chimney will eventually begin to have small cracks and the caulking may become loose.

Are you having trouble with animals?

If you neglect your chimney, especially during the warmer months of the year, it could become a home or a trap for animals. Animals, whether trapped or nestled in their new home, do not belong in your chimney and they could cause serious damage to the interior of your chimney as well as your home, your family and themselves. To keep both you and the animal safe, this removal should only be done by a professional and having a cap repaired or installed by one of our experts will keep animals out completely. Your chimney is often the most forgotten part of your home, yet can pose serious risks if not taken care of. Call Always Affordable Chimney, your one stop shop for all chimney needs!

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Can a Broken Flue Ruin Your Chimney

Posted On: February 04, 2019

Chimney Flue RepairsMany people take their chimney for granted and don’t understand that it is more than just a tower of bricks that funnel smoke from your home. There aren’t a lot of moving parts, and to most people, that indicates that the only thing that can go wrong is if a moving part stops moving the way it’s supposed to.

The moving part people are most familiar with is the damper. The damper is what closes the cold from entering your home when it’s closed and it lets the smoke out of your home when it’s open. The other part you usually notice is the door in the firebox that allows the ash to flow down to the ash box.

But your chimney is what protects the inside of your home from fire, moisture, noxious fumes and smoke. But what is the flue and where is it? The flue is what provides the passage of smoke and gases from your fireplace or wood stove. It runs all the way to the top of your roof and rises above it. You call it a chimney but it is the flue. Flues can be lined or unlined, but unlined flues are extremely dangerous. There are a variety of linings for a flue but the most common are steel or ceramic flue tiles.

The part of your chimney that extends beyond your roof is constantly exposed to the elements. The exposure to heat, moisture and cold, in conjunction with the intense heat and corrosive sediments that are produced by fires in your fireplace, has a detrimental effect on the liner of your flue. It can cause cracks, flaking and gaps in the masonry that can allow gases and moisture to migrate from the inside of your flue into your home.

The gaps and cracks can cause your chimney bricks to loosen. It can cause your chimney to shift and to not stand straight. It can also cause your chimney bricks to fall and if left alone to further deteriorate can eventually cause your chimney to fall apart resulting in roof damage, falling bricks and the worst case scenario, a falling chimney.

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How to Prevent Small Animals from Invading Your Chimney

Posted On: January 21, 2019

How to Prevent Small Animals from Invading Your Chimney

Your fireplace creates a wonderfully warm and cozy environment during the cold months and allows you to save money on your gas bill. This warmth is also inviting to the small animals that live outside. It draws them to your chimney, and after your fire has finished burning they are likely to crawl inside. You want to keep these animals out and prevent them from making your chimney their new home, but how?

Clean Chimney

One way to prevent your chimney from becoming the home to small animals is to have it cleaned in the spring, after the last of the cold is gone and you don't need to use it until the next winter.  Cleaning out the debris gives animals nothing to use to create a new home.

Shut Flue After Each Use

The lingering warmth from your now extinguished fire is very inviting to cold birds and rodents in the winter.  An open flue gives them access to get into your chimney and hunker down for the night.  The next time you go to light a fire, any nesting material that might be in your chimney becomes a dangerous fire hazard.  Be sure to close your flue after every fire you light.

Chimney Cap

Possibly one of the best ways to keep small birds and other animals out of your chimney is by investing in a chimney cap.  A chimney cap is just that - a cover that goes over the opening of your chimney.  It is made of either stainless steel, galvanized steel, copper or aluminum.  The top is solid and raised up slightly above the opening.  The sides are mesh, with small holes to keep even small critters out.

Keeping small animals out of your chimney is important to the safety of both the creatures and your home.  By keeping your chimney clean and the opening sealed off, you can prevent these small animals from getting in and causing any damage.

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Animal Nests In Your Chimney?

Posted On: January 14, 2019

Why You Should Check Your Chimney for Animal Nests and How

Well winter is here and with it we begin to stoke up the fireplace. Yes, nothing is better than coming home from a hard day at work and relaxing next to the fire. Of course, we’re sure you have done your due diligence before the first lighting of the fire. You’ve checked the damper and flue, you’ve cleaned out the firebox and you’ve been checking the chimney through the year to ensure the chimney itself is solid. If you haven’t, you should do it before your first fire.

So What about Nests?

If your chimney has a cap and an animal guard you’re probably fine. Hopefully you’ve checked your cap’s condition. They can rust you know and after all, they are exposed to all of the weather hazards.

If you don’t have a chimney cap you most definitely should check for animal nests. You may not realize it but birds aren’t the only wildlife that can make a nest in your chimney. Raccoons and squirrels can set up housekeeping too. And if there is a nest in your chimney it could cause a fire, not in your fireplace, but in your chimney. That’s in addition to the danger of having an animal living in your chimney that could easily make its way into your house. But don’t worry, there are ways to check that aren’t at all dangerous and that you can easily do yourself.

How Do I Check for Nests?

First do a visual inspection around the top of your chimney. If there is no cap, do you see anything besides the top of your chimney? Have you noticed birds hanging out on the roof? If not, that’s one down. Now you should go inside and open the damper. Arm yourself with a flashlight and be prepared to get down on the floor.

Shine the flashlight around the firebox to see if you notice anything that doesn’t look like it belongs, like twigs or other typical nest-building items. If you don’t see any shine your flashlight up your chimney. You should be able to see the sky. If you can’t, there is a blockage and it’s time to call a professional. Whatever you do, don’t light a fire until you’ve had the chimney inspected.


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