Chimney Blog 2018

Common Problems That Stem from a Chimney in Disrepair

Posted On: December 31, 2018

People pay little attention to their chimney. It’s just there all the time, looking sturdy and strong. But chimneys can have problems that aren’t readily noticeable and unless you look or have an annual inspection by a professional, you won’t know there’s a problem until it affects something you do notice. Hopefully you’ll notice before it causes damage or smokes you out of your living room.

What Kind of Problems Can Chimneys Have?

It’s important to remember that your chimney is exposed to the worst of the elements. It sits above your house with nothing to protect it from wind, rain, snow or ice. These elements affect chimneys like they do anything else, they wear away mortar and brick and can wreak havoc with the flashing. Any of these problems can weaken your chimney or cause cracks that can lead to leaks that damage your home on the inside.

Chimneys can also have creosote build-up from using your fireplace and not having it cleaned regularly. This build-up can cause serious ventilation problems and can even cause fires inside your chimney. Other problems inside your chimney can be animal nests, dirt and debris, broken chimney bricks or mortar; especially if you don’t have a chimney cap. These elements can cause blockages that can lead to fires or can lead to carbon monoxide or smoke billowing into your living room.

If your chimney has cracks or mortar degradation, and it goes unattended, it is only a question of time before you will need some serious work done on your chimney. If you don’t end up needing it replaced entirely.

So What Else Can Happen?

If you don’t take care of your chimney you put your whole house at risk. Chimney fires are devastating and very thorough. Remember the chimney runs through every floor of your house. If your mortar is degraded water can leak in and the bigger problem is that it can damage the ceilings and walls of rooms near the chimney. A chimney in disrepair can cause extensive damage to your home, which is typically one of your biggest investments.

An annual chimney inspection can prevent any of this and will cost you far less than the price you’ll pay if you neglect it.


Winter and Your Chimney

Posted On: December 17, 2018

We’ve certainly had an interesting winter this year and it isn’t over yet. You’re probably enjoying your fireplace and if you were smart, you had your fireplace and chimney inspected by professionals before the winter season arrived. But what many people don’t realize is that throughout the winter, particularly if there are heavy snows, below freezing temperatures or temperature swings, you have to watch your chimney.

Your chimney stands proudly like a soldier, rising out of your roof and funneling smoke to the outside. What you probably don’t consider is the effect your weather can have on your chimney and ultimately, the safety of your home.

When the winter weather comes, and snow builds up on your roof, you should always take some time to look up at that grand chimney and give it a good once over. But what do you look for, you may ask? Here’s the answer.

If there has been snow and temperatures have remained cold enough for that snow to remain on your roof, make sure that it isn’t blocking your chimney. A chimney blocked by snow can cause carbon monoxide to build up in your home when you light that roaring fire. Just because the smoke isn’t billowing into your living room doesn’t mean that there isn’t some blockage that can cause you a problem. If you suspect that the chimney isn’t completely free of snow, please call a professional to check it out.

One way to help protect your chimney from any kind of blockage, whether it’s birds, leaves or snow, is to have a chimney cap installed. These little devices work wonders to help keep your chimney free of debris that could otherwise cause costly repairs. Remember that a blocked chimney can also affect your home’s heating supply, and not in a good way.

If you had a fair amount of snow, or if the temperatures remained at freezing for some time, remember that your chimney is constructed of brick and mortar that expands and contracts with the weather. Pay close attention to your chimney’s structure and call a professional if you suspect that damage may have occurred.

Always Affordable Chimney

Servicing All Of Long Island (Nassau & Suffolk County) Westchester, Queens, Brooklyn & Staten Island


Your Fireplace Is Not an Incinerator

Posted On: December 03, 2018

Every year you read or hear stories about yet another fire that started in a fireplace. Sometimes the fire was in the living room, others were on the roof and still others may have actually started a tree fire.

The holidays may bring out the best in a lot of us, but sometimes in all the excitement, some people simply lose sight of safety. If you have family members who fall in this category it may be uncomfortable to tell them your concerns but the alternative is much worse.

This year, when you come in after your reveling or if you simply decide to gather around the fireplace for a cozy time with family, think before you act. Fireplaces are a great addition to a home, but only if you use them safely.

Using Dry Wood

Fireplace owners know that the wood used should be on the dry side, but keep in mind that wood with some moisture in it is beneficial. About 20% of dry wood still holds moisture and that moisture helps to slow down the time it takes for the wood to burn. This reduces the embers that can fly either out of your fireplace (if you don’t use the screen) or up your chimney where they belong.

Don't Burn Your Beautiful Wrapping Paper

If you are opening presents, don't be tempted to take the wrapping paper and stuff it in the fireplace with the burning logs. Sure, it burns, but it burns quickly, is quite light and the embers really fly. Some fly right up the chimney and onto your roof or your landscaping! This is dangerous and frankly, a giant Santa in flames is not a good look for a Christmas decoration. The other reason not to burn wrapping paper is because it is so pretty. The prettiest paper has finishes and ink that could very well be toxic at high temperatures. Don’t burn rolled newspapers, charcoal, garbage or plastic in your fireplace and never use an accelerant. If you have trouble starting the fire, you can use crumpled newspaper on the grate and then put the logs on top of it.


Holiday Safety Tips for Fireplace Owners

Posted On: November 19, 2018

It’s that time of year again, when we start to plan our holiday gatherings. We always look forward to sharing the holidays with family and friends. They are festive times and it gives us a chance to showcase our homes and our creative decorating skills. But holidays are also the time when we have to be especially cognizant of safety, especially if there is a fireplace in the home.  

Fireplaces are grand and add to the ambiance of our gatherings. They are especially appreciated on cold nights and can add elegance to our homes. They also lend themselves to the artist in each of us when it comes to holiday decorations. It’s as if they were designed to showcase our skills. They can be a wonderful addition but they can also ruin a party if good safety practices are not adhered to.

Always ensure that your fireplace is clean, the flue is open, and the chimney is clear of debris. The chimney is there to ensure that there is adequate ventilation. A choked chimney can cause smoke to billow into your home and can release harmful toxins. No one invites carbon monoxide to their parties.

Be sure that your decorations are a fair distance from the front of your fireplace. This is particularly true of wood burning fireplaces because the embers from that crackling fire can escape and ignite the decorations. Always keep the fireplace screen in place. It will help to minimize flying embers.

Make sure that your Christmas tree is a safe distance from your fireplace as well. If you are inclined to throw the boughs that may drop from your tree, into the fireplace, don’t! Dry evergreen boughs act as tinder and can flame out of control, shooting sparks into the room or up the chimney to ignite the creosote.

When you are tending to the fire, avoid wearing loose clothes or dangling sleeves. And though “fire salts” are fun as they change the color of the flames, keep them out of the reach of children; eating them can cause gastrointestinal problems and would certainly put a damper on your holiday gathering.

Whether you have a gas fireplace or a wood fireplace, keep children a safe distance from the screen or the glass doors. They get quite hot and can easily burn a child.

Fireplaces bring warmth and charm to any home, and practicing good fireplace safety can make your event a memorable one.


Keep Your Fireplace Ready for Use

Posted On: November 05, 2018

As you may have noticed, we are rapidly approaching the time when all good parties with a fireplace start to consider its use. Yes, it’s getting cold out and not much gives your home that warm and snug quality like a beautifully burning fire in your fireplace. Having a lovely fire to brighten up your home does take a little maintenance to ensure that the fire urns bright, lively and where it belongs – in the fireplace.

This year, before you stoke up that first fore, we recommend that you take a few steps to be sure it burns safely and brings your family the beauty and benefits of this lovely part of your home.

Many people forget that the ashes have to be cleaned out of the fireplace itself and the clean-out door at the base of the flue where the excess ashes go. Your clean-out door is usually in the basement or outside the house. Always use a shovel to do this. Many fireplace accessories come with a shovel that will do the job well.

Once you’ve cleaned it out, take a hand mirror and examine the inside of the flue to see if there are any cracks, holes or a build-up of soot. Yes, if you see any of this you should call a professional. Do not try to fix it yourself.

Check around your fireplace for any damp spots or stains. These can indicate a damaged chimney near the roof line or a liner that is damaged. Again, call a chimney professional if you see evidence of a problem. No Dick van Dyke will not clean it out, you’ll have to get someone else. Since we want to make sure you use a qualified and reputable service we would be remiss if we didn't recommend ourselves.  

Go outside and check to make sure that no birds have made a nest in your chimney. If you don’t have a chimney cap, and you see a nest, this might be the time to get one installed. While you’re out there, check the chimney to be sure no bricks are missing or loose and that it is standing straight and tall.

As for your fireplace, before you light a fire, make sure your damper opens and closes easily and doesn’t have a heavy soot buildup. If it does, call the chimney sweep. The damper is important. If it isn’t in proper working order smoke and/or carbon monoxide can enter your home. Nothing can ruin a fine family dinner like smoke billowing out of your fireplace.

Enjoy The Holiday Season Safely,

Always Affordable Chimney, Inc.


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.


Some Advantages of Boiler Heat

Posted On: September 24, 2018

Sad but true, summer is over. Whether the globe is getting warmer or the climate “it is a-changin’,” cold weather is on the horizon. As long as the earth keeps spinning on its tilted axis, winter is the next season on the list. That means, of course, that your bills will be going up soon when you start to use the heat. If you haven’t done it already, it’s also time to get the regular maintenance checkup. It’s better to find out now that the system is broken than to find out the day you need the heat and discover that you don’t have any. Speaking of heat, is something that we do quite frequently at Always Affordable Chimney. We clean, fix and repair your chimney but we are often asked about what advantages a homeowner would gain if switching from Oil to Gas boiler heat.  if you find that you need to install a new heating system (they do wear out eventually and need replacement), you might want to consider boiler heat.

Boiler heat has a number of advantages over oil and electric and it’s worth considering if a new system is called for. One of the biggest advantages is the cost – boiler heat is cheaper.

Boiler heat uses either water or steam that goes through tubing in the floor or radiators in order to heat your home. Unlike in yesteryear, boilers are smaller these days and take up very little space. They provide even heat within your home. Since there are no vents, you don’t get a draft when the heat isn’t blowing out.

Another advantage of boiler heat is the fact that there are no vents. There is no need for a filter because there is nothing to filter out. The heat is clean with no dust or allergens. This is particularly helpful if you have any drywall or plaster work being done in your home. Those particles will fly right into the return and out the ducts. If you have a radiator system rather than radiant floor heat you can put stylish pans of water on top of them and introduce humidity into the environment. There are also specially designed attachments that hold water and are hung from the radiator to produce humidity.

So you don’t like the looks of radiators, is that it? Don’t worry, advances have been made in radiator design as well. The designs are contemporary and look great in the home. Besides, there are more advantages to boiler heat. Boiler heat is quiet. You won’t hear the furnace kick on and the fan kick off. You won’t hear anything, you’ll just feel glorious heat. And if you have a family where some like it hot and some like it cold, you can separate the factions into zones in your home that are heated differently.

Yes, New York, technology has come to the lowly boiler.


Chimney Preparation for Fall/Winter

Posted On: August 20, 2018

Preparing Your Fireplace and Chimney For Fall and Winter Use

Your fireplace is a crucial part of your home in the fall and winter. It creates a comfortably warm and inviting area of your home and can help you save money on your home heating bill. Even though the cold months are still a bit away, they will be here before you know it. Taking a few measures now will have your fireplace and chimney ready to use when that first cold snap arrives.

Clean Your Chimney

Having your chimney cleaned before the fall ensures that you will beat the rush. You can get an appointment to have the process completed around your busy schedule, rather than having to take one of the limited time-frames that are left once fall does arrive. This cleaning removes the debris and buildup that could otherwise cause a dangerous chimney fire or carbon monoxide poisoning that could quietly fill your home.

Have Your Chimney Inspected

Your chimney is constantly exposed to the elements. Over time, it can incur damages, such as cracks or a broken damper. Having the chimney inspected and any damages repaired helps to keep water (from rain or melting snow), cold and uninvited guests out.

Invest in a Chimney Cap

A chimney cap is a cover for your chimney. It has a solid top and mesh sides. It helps to keep out rain, debris, and small animals that might otherwise make your chimney their new home.

Prepare The Area Around Your Fireplace

Your fireplace needs some special attention as well. Make sure old ash is removed. Then make sure the area around your fireplace is safe. Make sure anything that could potentially catch fire - furniture or your curtains - are a safe distance, about eighteen inches, away. Another way to prevent fires inside your home is to use a metal mesh screen in front of the fireplace to prevent sparks from jumping out. There's something cozy about a fire burning in a fireplace. Preparing it now for when the cold months finally do arrive will ensure that you have a safe space to create an inviting atmosphere and allow you to enjoy your fireplace all winter long.