How to Tell When You Need Fireplace Repairs

The fireplace is the centerpiece of your home. It should be a comforting and familiar focal point. But if you’ve skipped maintenance on your fireplace for a few years, then you might have begun to wonder if it’s really necessary. Many homeowners just aren’t familiar with the signs of fireplace damage, so it’s all too easy to let it deteriorate. Investing in fireplace masonry repair early, however, can keep your fireplace looking and working its best for years to come. So if you’re wondering how to spot whether fireplace repairs are needed, here are the three most obvious signs that you need to repair your fireplace.

1. Cracks in the Mortar Joints

A definite sign that you need a fireplace masonry repair is that the mortar joints are beginning to crack. The stones or bricks used in the masonry will absorb moisture over time. This can eventually lead to crumbling and cracking if it’s not repaired. Once you start to see these cracks appearing, it’s time to think about calling a professional. A simple fireplace masonry repair doesn’t take long, and your home will look a lot nicer once the cracks are dealt with.

2. A Damaged Chimney

The moisture that damages the brick around your fireplace may come from rain. Your chimney exists to protect your fireplace masonry from this rainfall, but if it becomes damaged, then it won’t do its job. In particular, take a look at the chimney crown. This is a piece of concrete that shields the fireplace below. If this is cracked, then rain can easily get through. In this instance, a masonry fireplace repair is almost certainly required.

3. Chimney Fires

Has your chimney caught fire recently? Obviously, this shouldn’t happen. The flames are supposed to be contained within the fireplace, with only smoke going up the chimney. If combustion happens within the chimney itself, then it’s likely that there’s a buildup of flammable creosote, or that the fireplace isn’t working correctly. Something may be damaged, so you should have it looked into as soon as possible.

Fireplace Masonry Repair

Don’t let your fireplace become damaged beyond repair. Schedule yearly maintenance with us at The Irish Sweep, and learn to spot minor issues before they become expensive repairs. This will keep your fireplace looking and performing at its best. Contact us at (510) 521-4088.

When and How Often Should You Get a Chimney Inspection?

Scheduling a chimney inspection is a great way to stay proactive and avoid future problems. Failure to maintain your chimney can lead to a variety of issues and cost you a lot of money over time. Reaching out to professionals to inspect your chimney before the winter season will keep your chimney working well and ensure the safety of your home and your family.

Frequency of Chimney Inspections

Typically, you should have your chimney inspected yearly for the best results. Safety is the number one reason for scheduling an inspection, as chimneys are the second most common cause for house fires. Creosote is a highly flammable substance inside your chimney that tends to build up over time. It can catch on fire if it’s not cleaned out. Carbon monoxide poisoning is another major safety concern. An annual inspection plays a key role in keeping you and your family safe.

While experts recommend a yearly inspection, you may opt to have your chimney cleaned more often if it’s used frequently. The more a chimney is used, the more creosote builds up. Because creosote is the substance that can present a fire hazard, it should be cleaned away whenever it begins to coat the flue. You should also have your chimney inspected if you’re experiencing any performance issues.

Benefits of a Chimney Inspection

While safety is the number one benefit of having your chimney inspected, there are additional advantages to be gained. For example, a professional inspector can identify any structural issues due to an obstruction in your chimney. Checking for structural issues on your own isn’t an easy task for most homeowners. Chimney inspection professionals use the latest equipment in the industry to ensure your chimney is working optimally.

What if I Don’t Use My Chimney?

Even if you don’t often use your chimney, it should still be inspected once per year. This is because small animals sometimes make homes in chimney openings. Alternatively, debris may have found its way into the chimney, making it dangerous to use. A chimney inspector is able to identify and remove obstructions, maintaining the soundness of your chimney, and ensuring that it’s safe for use.

Contact Us

At The Irish Sweep, we understand the importance of fireplace safety and strive to meet the unique needs of each customer. Our team of experts follows national standards. Your comfort and safety are our number one priority. Contact us today at 510.521.4088 to learn more about our professional chimney inspection and cleaning services.

4 Tools You Should Have In Your Dryer Vent Cleaning Kit

Keeping your dryer exhaust vents clean is absolutely crucial for the safety of your household. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, the leading cause of dryer fires is the accumulation of lint, which is highly flammable.

It’s recommended to clean your dryer vents on a regular basis, at least once a year. Cleaning your dryer vents can also help maintain your dryer’s efficiency and save money on utility bills. Clothes taking longer to dry is a telltale sign that your dryer vents need cleaning.

If you choose to clean your own dryer vents, here are 4 tools your dryer vent cleaning kit should include.

Dryer Lint Brush

This flexible but not very long brush comes in handy when the amount of lint accumulated in your dryer vent is not excessive. To clean deeper into the dryer vents, you’ll need to attach it to a nylon brush rod, which is fairly long.

Dryer Vent Vacuum

This is especially useful when your dryer vents are clogged due to excessive lint buildup. It works by sucking the lint and other debris out. Make sure the hose you attach to the vacuum is long enough and fits into your dryer vents.

Flexible Crevice Tool

This tool should be used together with the dryer vent vacuum. Thanks to its flexibility and angled tip, a long crevice tool helps you to access hard-to-reach, tight areas in your dryer vents.

Air Compressor

A powerful air compressor can help you remove lint a lot faster and easier, but it’s more expensive than other tools. It uses bursts of air to blow the lint out. You will need a good hose attachment to effectively use an air compressor for dryer vent cleaning.

Call a Professional

Even if you have these tools in your dryer vent cleaning kit, there is only one way to make sure your dryer vents are properly cleaned and the risk of fire is minimized. This is to have your dryer vents regularly inspected and cleaned by a certified dryer vent cleaning expert in your area.

If you’re looking for professional dryer vent cleaning services in Alameda, Oakland, Concord, Lafayette CA, or surrounding areas, contact us. At The Irish Sweep, we can be reached by phone at (510) 521-4088 or by email at staff@theirishsweep.com. We are certified to clean dryer vents by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and adhere to multiple national standards.

Certifications to Look for in a Chimney Company

If it’s time for a chimney and fireplace inspection for your home, you may be wondering what kind of chimney cleaning certification a company should have. Since this home maintenance is so critical to your safety, make sure you take some extra time to ask questions. Keep reading to learn more about the right credentials for the job.

National Chimney Sweep Guild

The first thing to check for is a company’s membership to NCSG or the National Chimney Sweep Guild. This is because, on a national level, NCSG is the only existing recognized trade association for chimney professionals. It exists to promote professionalism and accountability among chimney service companies, and chimney cleaning certification.

Membership in the NCSG is also an assurance that employees have individual memberships in CSIA, the Chimney Safety Institute of America. CSIA is the regulating body that provides certification for a chimney sweeper to become a trusted professional. Technicians are elevated from novice to pro as they become a Certified Chimney Professional™

A CCP is a chimney professional who completed the training program to learn methods that adhere to the proper industry codes and standards. This verifies they have a professional understanding of the knowledge needed to handle the job properly.

Tests

There are two exams for chimney cleaning certification. They cover safety measures, policy, and other important procedures. The first is an exam based on a coursebook entitled: “Successful Chimney Sweeping ” and “National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) 211 fire codes.” The second set of questions is based on the International Residential Codes (IRC).

Validity

A CCP certification is valid for a year. While renewal is accepted with a small upfront fee, recertification is required every two years. This is necessary to update the skills and methods applied in the field.

Sub-Branches of the Chimney Professional Certification

• Certified Chimney Reliners

A CCR has completed training on methods that adhere to the updated codes and standards of professional chimney relining. They also have a commitment to a code of conduct for chimney professionals that pledges honor and integrity on the job.

• Certified Master Chimney Technician

A CMCT is a chimney professional that has achieved a total of six years of certification and a minimum of ten years of experience on the job. Having also studied what is current in the chimney sweeping business, they are considered seasoned experts at what they do. They are also committed to the code of conduct.

Reliable Chimney Services

Working with a professional you can trust makes all the difference, especially when you hire someone for an in-home service. For a company you can count on, contatc us at The Irish Sweep. Our office is available at (510) 521-4088.

Signs That Your Chimney Needs to be Inspected

Having a fireplace can make a home feel warm, cozy, and comfortable, but there are also dangers to be aware of as a responsible homeowner. If your chimney isn’t kept in good condition, it could result in a devastating fire. For this reason, it’s important to make sure that your chimney is always in full working order. But if you’re unsure whether you need a chimney inspection, there are signs to keep an eye out for.

 Rust

Your firebox or damper should be free from rust. If rust does begin to develop, this could be a sign that there’s too much moisture in the chimney. While the rust itself won’t cause any significant problems, the moisture inside the chimney can be problematic. For example, it could cause the flue tiles to become cracked.

Damaged Flue

If the flue becomes damaged, you may begin to notice pieces of tile falling into the fireplace. This is known as shaling and can potentially lead to a very serious fire hazard. It’s best to call on an expert for a chimney inspection.

Similarly, if the walls around the fireplace appear to be damaged, this could also suggest that there’s moisture within the chimney. Peeling wallpaper is a good example.

Wildlife

Another thing to be mindful of is wildlife. If you hear animal noises from within the chimney or find debris that could have been left by an animal, such as twigs, this could suggest that a critter has built a home inside the chimney or become trapped. If this happens, definitely don’t try to smoke the animal out by lighting a fire.

A Smoking Fireplace

Another thing to watch out for is a fireplace that lets smoke into the room. Not only is this unpleasant, but it’s a sign that a dangerous amount of flammable soot and creosote may have built up on the walls of your chimney.

Weather Damage

In times of extreme weather, there’s extra potential for your chimney to sustain damage. This might include the development of cracks, loosened bricks, or other issues. A damaged chimney won’t perform as well as it was intended to, and can even be dangerous.

Time

Ideally, you should schedule a chimney inspection each year, but many people put off this essential home maintenance. If it’s been more than twelve months since your last professional chimney inspection, it’s a good idea to remedy this.

Scheduling Your Chimney Inspection

While there are risks associated with a chimney that’s not regularly cared for, these issues can be eliminated through proper maintenance. Protect your home today by calling us at 510.521.4088. Or, reach out online by emailing staff@theirishsweep.com.

Factors to Consider in Chimney Cleaning

Chimney cleaning is necessary to guarantee that a fireplace system remains safe to use. In fact, it’s a critical aspect of home maintenance, but the coronavirus pandemic has temporarily limited the availability of Bay Area chimney cleaning services. Still, these are some important factors for homeowners to be aware of before lighting the fireplace.

Key Points to Home Fire Safety

1. An inspection and cleaning are necessary at least once a year. If you haven’t had your chimney inspected or cleaned within the past year, it’s wise to hold off until you’re able to schedule an appointment.

2. Cleaning is also a good idea when animals or insects are found in your chimney. Some other signs it’s time to call your local chimney sweep include odors emanating from an unused system, or a fireplace the smokes. Smoky rooms often indicate a chimney blockage, or a buildup of creosote. Creosote has a dark, greasy appearance and it’s highly combustible, making it a fire hazard.

3. Lastly, be sure to seek professional guidance if you notice crumbling and/or missing fireplace or chimney bricks. Any damage to the system can cause poor airflow, and even prove hazardous to your health.

Hiring a Professional

Professional qualifications are another important factor to consider when thinking about chimney cleaning services. Always review the qualifications of a professional before you hire them.

Keep the following key points in mind… A chimney professional should have experience, as well as state certifications and licenses. Their knowledge should also extend beyond cleaning to include expertise in fireplace system inspection, repair, and installation. And finally, they should have a long-standing, positive history in the region. Don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials. A reputable company will be ready to provide new clients with this information.

Scheduling With Us

The Irish Sweep has provided premium Bay Area chimney cleaning and related services at an affordable price for nearly 40 years. Our team has the skills and experience to provide results in a fast, efficient, and safe manner. For more information, or to schedule a remote or future onsite appointment, contact us today at (510) 521-4088.