Always Affordable Chimney's Blog

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!


Wood Fireplaces... What Can Happen Without Regular Flue Cleanings

Posted On: October 01, 2018

We all remember the colorful chimney sweep in Mary Poppins, and though in the movie he was simply a swell guy, in real life he performed an important function.  Many people think that their chimney is a simple invention that funnels the smoke out of their home.

It does funnel the smoke out and it is a relatively simple process, but as with all processes, it must be properly maintained or it will fail. Failure of a chimney to operate properly can have dire results.

When you burn firewood, as the smoke rises through the chimney, it leaves a tarry residue called creosote on the chimney walls. These are actually unburned gases, and over time, they build up. Though it can be minimized by burning small fires and using well-seasoned wood, creosote buildup cannot be avoided entirely.

When creosote deposits are heated up by the extreme heat of the fireplace, it can ignite and cause a chimney fire. It is actually the number one cause of chimney fires. The fact is, at some point, everyone’s chimney needs a good cleaning and it should be performed only by a professional. Here’s why.

When a professional cleans your chimney, he uses specially designed brushes to remove the creosote from the chimney walls. But he doesn’t simply remove the creosote. He also inspects your chimney stack for cracks or missing mortar joints.

Small cracks or holes in the flue can serve as an entry point for sparks generated by a fire. These sparks can get through the openings and cause a fire in your attic or the wood framework that surrounds your chimney. This type of fire can quickly spread throughout your house, and is another reason why should be sure that your fires are always put out before you retire for the night.

Another reason to clean your chimney is to ensure that your friendly, neighborhood family of birds has not decided to make their nest inside the metal chimney case. You’ve probably seen them make nests in air conditioners. Well your chimney is no less vulnerable to our flying friends. A professional chimney sweep will ensure that you don’t have a second family blocking the chimney pipe in your roof, yet another recipe for a disaster.

Fireplaces are a charming and functional addition to any home, but as with anything else you own, without proper maintenance, your favorite feature could become your worst nightmare.


Chimney Cleaning Business On Long Island

Posted On: February 11, 2018

I will never make a living as a writer, but please take a moment to read this blog post as I truly believe it contains some important information regarding the chimney cleaning business here on Long Island.  I've been in the chimney business for many years. The truth is that I am not the only honest and legitimate chimney sweep on Long Island.  When you are in this business you get to meet other business owners and often become friendly competitors. In fact when it comes to emergencies and all my crews are booked, I often recommend other chimney companies that I know and trust.

So Why The Bad Press?

The chimney business is wide ranging, there are many different types of jobs that we perform. In most cases it takes years to learn and become proficient at getting the job done right. However, it is possible that someone can learn the basics of cleaning a chimney and then hang a shingle claiming to perform cleanings at below market costs. Not much equipment would be needed and in most cases these fly-by-night operators don't even have business licenses and/or business insurance.  They can take advantage of the homeowner who can't get on the roof and then report back to them incorrect information regarding the condition of their chimney and make an unscrupulous sale.  These people are in the business for a short time before they are found out. But, even a short time is too late for the homeowner who was taken advantage of.

How to Avoid Being Taken Advantage of...

I have a few recommendations to help!

Make sure you are using a company that has been around for years.  Bad reputation spreads quickly.  If the company you choose has been in the business for at least 5 years you will be able to search for information online about the company and if there are many bad reviews you will find them.

Make sure they are licensed and insured. If they are like my company we disclose that information on every page of our website.  We are legitimate and we want everyone to know and be able to check us out.

Take a look at the equipment. Vans and Trucks are a good reflection of the business. At Always Affordable we have our vehicles professionally painted with our logos. We invest the money to spread the news.  We are not hiding behind a rock, when we are doing a job we are proud of our work and we want everyone to know who we are.

Make sure your chimney cleaning company is full service.  Anyone can learn to clean a chimney.... but if the company you choose also provides other types of chimney services, you can feel more assured that they have the experience and the business sense to do a good job at a fair price.  Gaining a loyal customer leads to future work. Chimney repairs, masonry, liner replacement and other more involved and specialized work.

In closing, I am proud of my occupation.  I am proud that I am responsible for keeping families healthy.  It pains me when I hear about others taking advantage of homeowners under the guise of cleaning chimneys. However,  I know that these are just a painful few and it is my job as well as the job of all the other reputable chimney men to educate the public so that we can clean up our ranks.  It's an important job, I am proud of my profession and I treat it as such.   

Tommy Reek
Always Affordable Chimney Inc.


Collapsed Chimney Liner Blamed For Carbon Monoxide Incident

Posted On: January 09, 2018

Serious harm or even death can result from carbon monoxide poisoning. To make sure this does not happen, have your chimney and fireplace serviced. Getting your boiler flue cleaned annually can help avoid accidents related to carbon monoxide. Also, periodically check to see if your carbon monoxide detector is working, as it only takes a few seconds. It can help save lives and avoid tragic stories, like this one from New Jersey where a 13-year-old girl died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Initially, authorities believed the accident was due to a space heater that the family was using, but after an investigation of the incident another conclusion was determined. The City Administration wrote is a statement that "a clay liner within the chimney at the multi-family dwelling collapsed. This obstructed the flow of carbon monoxide exhaust from building, and caused high levels of carbon monoxide to be released into the apartment."

In fact, the carbon monoxide levels were so high that the 27 police officers who came to the building to help had to be treated for exposure to carbon monoxide. Three people from the apartment building remain in critical condition. 

Sadly, this sort of tragic incident could have been avoided it the building underwent routine chimney sweeps and inspections. The collapsing liner could have been spotted and rebuilt before any issue with the carbon monoxide surfaced. And to make matters worse, the carbon monoxide detector was not operating properly at the time of the incident. The owner of the building believes the residents had removed the batteries, but periodically checking the instrument could have avoided this instance entirely. 

"For a $50 detector, a life could have been saved," one officer said. Don't be careless with the carbon monoxide detector at your home and remember to periodically check it.


Free Boiler Installation for Happy Cat Sanctuary

Posted On: December 18, 2017

Sometimes when investigating a chimney problem strange things can occur. Sometimes these events lead you on a path that you never thought you would take. Last year, while doing a chimney inspection service I came across 3 kittens and a mother cat that could barely walk. After making a few calls to a friends who I also knew had cats, I was given the number to the Happy Cat Sanctuary in Medford NY. The gentlemen who runs Happy Cat , Chris, asked me to bring the cats from the Brooklyn location where I found them to my office in Massapequa Long Island.  That evening he drove from Medford to meet me and my new feline friends.  I was not equipped or experienced to take care of the cats so Chris quickly agreed to take them in. His kindness and generosity moved me so much that a few weeks later I took a ride out east to see the sanctuary.  It was simply amazing.

I could not believe the number of cats that Chris was caring for.There had to be over 200 cats. They were all well maintained and the place was very well kept. I am a chimney professional so I offered my services to inspect and clean his chimney. It was the least I could do to show my appreciation. It was at this time that I learned that there was no working boiler at the sanctuary. It had stopped working 2 years earlier and this non-profit group did not have the funds to replace it.   It was at that point that I felt their was a higher power involved, that put me in the path of those kittens with the sick mother, that made me reach out to Chris.  My job was clear... I had to get heat for these cats and the folks who cared for them.  

The very next job I did was for a boiler conversion. The old boiler, although 10 years old, was in excellent condition. I received permission from the owner to take the old boiler and use it for my friends at Happy Cat.  The next Sunday my crew and I setup the boiler and by Sunday night the place was warm. It brought me great joy to help such a great place.

I am telling this story because it has been brought to my attention that the Happy Cat Sanctuary is in severe financial crisis and struggling to stay open. Below is a video about Happy Cat and I encourage all those reading this, if possible, to send a donation, visit the sanctuary or help out in any way possible.  Chris is still there managing the place. Let him know that Tommy from Always Affordable Chimney sent you his way.


Chimney Safety and Carbon Monoxide

Posted On: December 04, 2017

Heating systems in the process of producing heat also create carbon monoxide. This dangerous gas is expelled from your home via your chimney flue. In most homes, especially in the Long Island and New York area, there is a chimney that is functioning properly and this carbon monoxide is removed safely and efficiently. However, there are situations that arise over time that can lead to some level of carbon monoxide escaping the flue and entering your home. This is obviously a major problem and can lead to health issues and possibly even death. It doesn't happen often but every once in a while we hear the tragic story on the local news about a family that has suffered a loss due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

As a chimney inspection and repair company we know that a yearly inspection is the best way to avoid this problem. We also understand that many homeowners will go years or even decades without having their chimney inspected. It is not uncommon for a chimney lining to deteriorate over time. We also see situations where a new boiler is installed but the retrofit to the existing chimney liner is not proper. Solving a problem before it happens is always the best course of action and we offer a free chimney inspection service for this very reason.  However, we also highly recommend that all of our customers, friends and neighbors have a carbon monoxide detectors installed in their home. This inexpensive device could be the difference in preventing carbon monoxide poisoning to you and your loved ones.

Make sure you have your detector installed and working and remember to have your chimney inspected annually.


Three Benefits of a Chimney Cleaning Company

Posted On: November 14, 2017

Always Affordable Chimney, Inc. is proud to offer our superior chimney cleaning services to Westchester, Queens and Long Island properties. Our commitment to excellent customer support allows us to provide you with the most thorough chimney cleaning services. Our professionally trained technicians bring their years of knowledge and experience into all chimney services. Having your chimney cleaned and inspected every year is important. Here are three benefits to having a chimney cleaning performed by a professional:

  1. Experience - Cleaning your chimney is difficult work without formal training or background. Since our technicians have accumulated years of expertise, we will know exactly how to clean and perform all chimney services safely with ease. Our technicians also inspect your chimney before and after cleaning it to ensure the job is complete. We also inspect chimneys to look for any potential damage, obstructions or circulation issues that prevent your structure from functioning properly. These issues include cracked or broken bricks, loose mortar joints and debris or animals cutting off the opening of your chimney. Our staff is equipped to clean, repair and inspect your chimney efficiently and diligently.

  2. Creosote Elimination - Our technicians are masters of eliminating creosote buildup. Creosote is the leftover waste products from wood after it has been burned. Creosote sticks to the lining of your chimney along with tar and soot. If left uncleaned, it could ignite and set your chimney and property on fire unexpectedly. To prevent this dangerous occurrence, our technicians have the tools and capability to reach as far up and down your flue as possible to find and destroy creosote buildup. Creosote is also dangerous to breathe in. If you suspect your chimney has buildup, we strongly suggest calling a licensed technician immediately.

  3. Sustained Regular Airflow - Your airflow is vastly improved after a professional chimney cleaning. By giving your flue a deep clean and removing all obstructions, our licensed technicians ensure your chimney naturally removes all excess heat and smoke from your fireplace. We also have specific working tools created for these jobs that help our work go safely and smoothly. Our work ensures your chimney remains in excellent condition. Even if your chimney is functioning correctly, having regular cleanings will prevent many common issues from arising.

Our chimney cleaning team has worked on many chimneys of different shapes and sizes. We service both commercial and residential properties. We look forward to working with you. for more information on our chimney cleaning services and all else we offer, please call one of our courteous representatives today.


Five Reasons to Have Your Chimney Inspected

Posted On: September 27, 2017

Millions of people own chimneys. During the cooler seasons of Fall and Winter, a room with a beautiful properly functioning fireplace is perfect for both relaxing and entertaining guests. However, your chimney has many working parts that wear over time like any other household appliance. To keep your chimney working properly, scheduling annual chimney inspections is necessary. Here are a five reasons why you should have your chimney inspected.

Soot & Debris Accumulation

A thick black coating of soot and dirt called creosote builds up in the lining of your chimney after many uses. This creosote prevents your chimney from efficiently blowing smoke out of your home. More importantly, creosote causes increased levels of carbon monoxide and can severely harm your health if inhaled. If you notice your chimney struggling to expel smoke efficiently or a black substance in your flue, booking an inspection is imperative for you and your loved ones. 

Proper Blower Function

Both coal and wood burning fireplaces have blowers that push smoke and other hazards, including carbon monoxide, out of your home through the flue. If this chimney component malfunctions, soot and debris could build up leaving you at risk of getting sick from breathing in creosote toxins.

Damaged or Cracked Bricks

Bricks and the mortar joints that hold them together are what make up the structural integrity of your chimney. If you notice bricks that are slipping out of place, broken or chipped, calling a chimney inspector is a must. Allowing bricks to keep cracking and breaking can interfere with your chimney's airflow by not allowing hot air to escape or by letting cold air into the flue while it is in use. If cold air gets in, you will have to use more energy to warm your home and spend more money to do so. A chimney inspection will lead you to a professional chimney technician who can easily correct this problem as well as most others.

Airflow Obstructions 

If you live is in an a woodsy area, your chimney's flue could be accidentally blocked or closed off. Environmental factors including broken tree branches, leaves, debris and even animals could get stuck inside your flue. If you figure that your chimney's airflow is not working efficiently or actually see foreign objects in your chimney, scheduling a chimney inspection is crucial to correcting the problem. 

Building Codes & Laws

Your area's building codes may have changed since your last inspection. Your chimney is no different that any of your utilities that you schedule inspections for.  To ensure that you do not get in legal trouble or pay a possible fine, an inspector will check to guarantee your chimney's safety and compliance with local code and protocol.

Learn more about Always Affordable Chimney, Inc. chimney inspection services.

If you have any questions about chimney inspections or our other services, please call us today at (855) 244-6880