chimney sweeping & Inspections

                                        Appointment Tips for Safety & Efficiency

 From October through January, our appointment calendar is booked up to one month in advance – making an “off-peak” appointment your best option.

As a courtesy, we send annual reminders for service and confirm all appointments by phone 24 hours in advance.

                                                        Before Your Appointment:
24 hours before your appointment, remember to:

  • Stop using your fireplace, wood stove or gas stove. For safety’s sake, we need to work with an appliance that is completely cool. As a courtesy, please remove all ash from the firebox.

The Day of Your Appointment – Remember to:

  • Remove fragile or precious items from the area near the fireplace. We need about 5 to 6 ft around the fireplace to be clear to get our equipment in place.

                                              Why should I have my chimney swept?

CLEAN CHIMNEYS DON"T CATCH FIRE. Make sure a professional inspects your venting system annually, and sweeps/repairs it whenever needed. Your sweep may have other maintenance recommendations depending on how you use your fireplace or stove.
Some of the reasons are:
• To ensure that the appliance vents properly to the outdoors.
• To reduce or eliminate chimney odors.
• To remove blockages that could cause carbon monoxide gases to enter the home.
• To prevent deterioration of the chimney interior caused by acid in the deposits.
But the MOST important reason is:

Dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires, which damage structures, destroy homes and injure or kill people. ​
Indications of a chimney fire have been described as creating:

  • loud cracking and popping noise
  • a lot of dense smoke, and
  • an intense, hot smell

​Chimney fires can burn explosively – noisy and dramatic enough to be detected by neighbors or people passing by. Flames or dense smoke may come from the top of the chimney. Homeowners report being startled by a low rumbling sound that reminds them of a freight train or a low flying airplane. However, those are only the chimney fires you know about. The majority of chimney fires go undetected! Slow-burning chimney fires don’t get enough air or have fuel to be dramatic or visible and they often go undetected until a later chimney inspection, but, the temperatures they reach are very high and can cause as much damage to the chimney structure – and nearby combustible parts of the house – as their more spectacular cousins.

Creosote & Chimney Fires: What You Must Know -

Fireplaces and wood stoves are designed to safely contain wood-fuel fires, while providing heat for a home. The chimneys that serve them have the job of expelling the by-products of combustion – the substances produced when wood burns. These include smoke, water vapor, gases, unburned wood particles, hydrocarbon, tar fog and assorted minerals. As these substances exit the fireplace or wood stove, and flow up into the relatively cooler chimney, condensation occurs. The resulting residue that sticks to the inner walls of the chimney is called creosote.  
Creosote is a black or brown residue that can be crusty and flaky…tar-like, drippy and sticky…or shiny and hardened. All forms are highly combustible. If it builds up in sufficient quantities – and the internal flue temperature is high enough – the result could be a chimney fire. 

Conditions that encourage the buildup of creosote:
-Restricted air supply
-Unseasoned wood
-Cooler than normal chimney temperatures
Air supply may be restricted by closing the glass doors, by failing to open the damper wide enough, and the lack of sufficient make-up air to move heated smoke up the chimney rapidly (the longer the smoke’s “residence time” in the flue, the more likely is it that creosote will form). A wood stove’s air supply can be limited by closing down the stove damper or air inlets too soon or too much. Burning unseasoned wood – because so much energy is used initially just to drive off the water trapped in the cells of the logs– keeps the resulting smoke cooler, than if seasoned wood is used. In the case of wood stoves, overloading the firebox with wood in an attempt to get a longer burn time also contributes to creosote buildup. 

The Effect of a Chimney Fire on Your Chimney
Masonry Chimneys
When a chimney fire occurs in a masonry chimney – whether the flue is an older, unlined type or tile lined to meet current safety codes – the high temperatures at which they burn (around 2000°F) can “melt mortar, crack tiles, cause liners to collapse and damage the outer masonry material”.  Most often, thermal shock occurs and tiles crack and mortar is displaced, which provides a pathway for flames to reach the combustible wood frame of the house. This event is extremely dangerous, call 911 immediately.
Prefabricated, factory-built, metal chimneys
To be installed in most jurisdictions in the United States, factory built, metal chimneys that are designed to vent wood burning stoves or prefabricated metal fireplaces must pass special tests. Most tests require the chimney to withstand flue temperatures up to 2100°F – without sustaining damage. Under chimney fire conditions, damage to these systems still may occur. When prefabricated, factory-built metal chimneys are damaged by a chimney fire, they should no longer be used and must be replaced.  
Wood Stoves
Wood stoves are made to contain hot fires. The connector pipes that run from the stove to the chimney are another matter. They cannot withstand the high temperatures produced during a chimney fire and can warp, buckle and even separate from the vibrations created by air turbulence during a fire. If damaged by a chimney fire, they must be replaced. 

Nine Signs that You’ve Had a Chimney Fire 
Since a chimney, damaged by a chimney fire, can endanger a home and its’ occupants and a chimney fire can occur without anyone being aware of them it’s important to have your chimney regularly inspected by a Professional Chimney Sweep. Here are the signs that a professional chimney sweep looks for:
-“Puffy” or “honey combed” creosote

-Warped metal of the damper, metal smoke chamber connector pipe or factory-built metal chimney
-Cracked or collapsed flue tiles, or tiles with large chunks missing
-Discolored and/or distorted rain cap
-Heat-damaged TV antenna attached to the chimney
-Creosote flakes and pieces found on the roof or ground
-Roofing material damaged from hot creosote
-Cracks in exterior masonry
-Evidence of smoke escaping through mortar joints of masonry or tile liners​If you think a chimney fire has occurred, call a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep for a professional evaluation. If your suspicions are confirmed, a certified sweep will be able to make recommendations about how to bring the system back into compliance with safety standards. Depending on the situation, you might need a few flue tiles replaced, a new liner system installed or an entire chimney rebuilt. Each situation is unique and will dictate its own solution.  

                                             How is a chimney sweep performed?
The work area will be covered with drop cloths. In standard masonry chimney fireplaces the damper plate will be removed or opened for better access to the smoke chamber. Factory built fireplaces typically do not contain a smoke shelf , the damper is at the top of the firebox and the damper plate is not removable. Factory built models can also be inspected for cracks on the backside and floor refractory side panels. The smoke chamber, which is the area between the firebox and the flue, will be swept as well and debris will be removed from the smoke shelf. After all this process the technician will explain to you any concerns noted during the process and provide a evaluation of the chimney’s status. Removing chimney deposits is the main job of a chimney sweep and evaluate the overall condition of the venting system. 

                                                               Chimney Inspections

The National Fire Protection Association and the Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that chimneys be inspected annually and cleaned as needed. This is a good guideline and if followed, would eliminate most chimney fires and other chimney fires.
There are other times when a chimney inspection should be performed:
• Immediately after a chimney or furnace fire.
• When ever the service of the chimney is being changed. Adding a woodstove to a fireplace, or converting from an oil to a gas furnace, or installing gas logs.
• When ever you are considering the purchase of a home with a chimney. Make sure the chimney inspection is performed before closing
• When ever you suspect any type of storm damage.Example lighting struck chimney, or high winds blow the cap off. 

                                                               Smoke In Your Home?

Sometimes, it happens that the smoke being formed, instead of going out through the chimney, comes into the room. Most people try to solve this by themselves. Instead of hiring professional help, they try to clean out the chimney, thinking that this will be a one stop solution. What this results in, besides getting soot all over your house is the fact that it worsens. You might get temporary relief, but the pattern reoccurs after a few days. Flue blockage might not be an uncommon phenomenon due to creosote build-up or debris, but the solution should be left to the professionals. No point in trying to save yourself a few bucks resulting in getting injured and spending five times more in the treatment.
Simple things like ignoring the annual chimney inspection might seem harmless, but more often than not, these simple things accumulate to have far worse consequences than one could have imagined. Ask yourself this; “Is it really worth the cost to put your young and loved ones at risk?” If the answer is No, well, what are you waiting for? Don’t delay and give us a call at 517-688-5278. 

A heating company services my unit every year. Doesn’t this mean my chimney is safe?
Not necessarily. A heating inspection usually end at the beginning of the thimble (Chimney base). Problems inside the flue can remain undetected and subject you and your family to the risk of carbon monoxide poison. Any chimney that vents the exhaust of a natural gas burning appliance needs to be open at all times. This includes your Furnace, water heater, fire logs, etc. Never assume that your chimney is safe. 

                            I heat with gas. Should this chimney be checked too?

Without a doubt! Although gas is generally a clean burning fuel, the chimney can become non-functional from bird nests or other debris blocking the flue. Modern furnaces can also cause many problems with the average flues intended to vent the older generation of furnaces. We suggest you check the areas on gas and carbon monoxide for more information.