Always Affordable Chimney's Blog





Chimney Professionals? What to look for...

Posted On: March 02, 2020

Yes, there are pretenders in every business.  But the true professionals always rise to the top, and have longevity.  Here are a few tips you should know before choosing a chimney company.

Make sure you are using a company that has been around for years.   Bad reputation spreads quickly.  If the company you choose has been around a while 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.

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Is Your Chimney In Need Of Some TLC

Posted On: February 10, 2020

Chimney ProfessionalHow to Tell If Your Chimney Is in Need of a Little TLC

Your chimney is an important part of your house. A chimney that is in bad repair can cause problems you don’t even want to imagine. The problem many homeowners have with chimneys is that they view them as being part of the roof and ignore the warning signs that are coming into the main house. Right now, you’re probably wondering what we’re going on about. Well, we’ll tell you and it may save you a lot of time and worry.

What Are the Warning Signs of Trouble?

Since your average homeowner doesn’t generally make trips to the rooftop we’ll spare you what to look for up there. We will, however, advise you to have a qualified professional do an annual roof inspection to spot trouble before it gets out of hand.

What we can tell you to look for is really quite simple. Let’s start with your walls. Yes, the walls that bother your chimney (remember it runs the depth of your house) are vulnerable to moisture that creeps in from your chimney. How does that moisture get in? It can happen several ways, but the most common is damaged mortar joints. The constant exposure to the elements that a chimney is subjected to breaks down the mortar causing little cracks that can eventually become big cracks. Moisture gets in and seeps into your walls, leaving an unsightly mess.

Another indication that your chimney needs help is a rusted damper or firebox. If your damper becomes difficult to open or close it could be due to moisture in the chimney. If you inspect your damper using a flashlight you may spot rust on it or on your firebox. You have to have a professional check it out to find the cause and have it repaired as soon as possible. Whatever you do, don’t light a fire.

One more problem you can see without a roof inspection is damage as a result of cracked flue tiles or spalling bricks. When bricks get moist, bits of masonry pop out. If this happens, you may notice bits of masonry that have fallen from the chimney. If it’s a flue tile problem little slices of tile will fall to the bottom of the chimney probably landing in your firebox.

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Lean On Me - Good Song But Bad Chimney

Posted On: January 06, 2020

Common Chimney Repair Mistakes Homeowners Make

Here you are trying to do the right thing and you suddenly find yourself in a pickle. You had someone check out your chimney and they assured you it was in fine shape. Or worse, they had you spend a small fortune fixing a problem and now you discover that wasn’t the problem to begin with.

Well, the chimney professionals at Always Affordable Chimney bend over backwards to inform and educate every homeowner. Not only do we guarantee our work, but we guarantee to restore your faith in chimney professionals.   We get the job done right. Working Hard and Working Fair…

Lean on Me - Bad For Your Chimney?

This one is a no-brainer. When you look up at your roof and view your chimney it should be standing straight up, correct? Yes, it should. If you live in this old house and your chimney leans just a tad, it’s a sign that it got a lot of use but it’s old so it’s okay, correct? No, it’s a sign that your chimney is starting to lean and if you don’t get someone up there quick you will be in a world of hurt.

Your chimney is exposed to all of the elements and has to endure freezing, thawing and extreme heat in the summers. All of this back and forth with the weather naturally takes its toll on the mortar and bricks of which your chimney is made. When a chimney leans, it means that its structure is compromised. It can lead to moisture getting in, bugs getting in, and worse, it can lead to noxious fumes getting into your home’s interior.

The biggest mistake and the simplest undertaking is not having your chimney and fireplace inspected annually by a qualified and certified company or chimney sweep. The amount you spend on the inspection each year is minuscule compared to what you’ll pay to repair the damage if you don’t do the inspections.

Oh, and one more thing, get yourself a carbon monoxide detector and change the batteries every New Year before you light that warming winter fire.

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Do I Need A Chimney Liner

Posted On: November 04, 2019
Liner Replacement

Do I Need a Chimney Liner?

In a word, yes. Of course you need a chimney liner. If you had to ask that question, a little lesson is in order. If your neighborhood chimney sweep flew up the flue and came down declaring you needed a new liner, you want to make an informed decision. To make that informed decision you need information. You can hardly be expected to decide if you need something if you don’t know what purpose the something serves.

A chimney liner protects the interior of your chimney from corrosion, ensures that the smoke and fumes from your heating systems exits your home unrestricted. They also serve to reduce the temperature of the chimney while it’s being used. The chimney sleeve runs from the top of your furnace to the bottom and it is not only important that it is intact, but that it's the correct material for the fuel you are burning, and that it is the right size for your chimney. The chimney must be warm to create the updraft needed for the smoke to rise through it. The liner keeps the exterior of the chimney cooler, but helps to warm the interior. If the liner is too small or too large, it won’t create sufficient updraft and smoke or fumes could enter your home.

There are many reasons you may need a new liner aside from age. Liners can be damaged by lightning strikes, fireplace fires, or when your foundation settles. If you bought an older home, it may have settled by the time you purchased it, but you have no way of knowing how well the prior owners had maintained it, unless you asked. Without this knowledge, you could very well need a new liner. If the liner is damaged, water and flue gases can reach the mortar joints. They will deteriorate over time and will have to be replaced. You also increase your risk of a chimney fire.

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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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