What Does a Dirty Chimney Look Like?

When wood burns in a fireplace, there are natural byproducts that result. The chimney is the place where it all accumulates. Some of these byproducts are flammable and can ignite to cause a chimney fire if left unswept. So, it’s important to have a dirty chimney cleaned for safety reasons. Here’s what you need to know…

CREOSOTE

Creosote is the most common buildup inside a dirty chimney. It’s a combination of tar and soot that accumulates in layers. Over time, the layers of creosote thicken and need to be removed.

It’s visible to both chimney technicians and the average homeowner. Using a flashlight, peek inside your chimney. If you see an accumulation of black material, it’s likely creosote. A service professional can remove this buildup to restore your chimney to a state of cleanliness and improved function.

DIRTY CHIMNEY?

How dirty the inside of your chimney is will depend on when it was last cleaned. According to industry standards, a fireplace and chimney are required to be cleaned at least once a year to remove the buildup of creosote and other debris. However, fireplaces and chimneys that are used more frequently require additional maintenance. Your technician will evaluate the inside of your chimney to determine the best method of cleaning.

A DIRTY CHIMNEY IS DANGEROUS

Having a large accumulation of creosote inside your chimney might also mean the spark arrestor mesh in the flue cap is clogged, creating a downdraft of smoke into your home and cause fires to burn less efficiently and effectively, creating less warmth and greater particulate matter into the environment. These are all inconveniences of a dirty chimney.

But it’s not just an inconvenience. It’s unsafe. The creosote that accumulates on the inner walls of the chimney is a flammable substance and, if not removed periodically, can ignite to cause a chimney fire that could spread to other areas of your home.

SERVICE APPOINTMENT FOR YOUR CHIMNEY OR DRYER EXHAUST VENT

For safety, efficiency, and convenience, make sure your chimney isn’t dirty. Call us at (510) 521-4088 or email our Office Manager, Sarah, at staff@theirishsweep.com to schedule an appointment today.  Once we are deemed to be an essential business, our expertly trained crew will be so happy to be back at work and address all of your service concerns.

Animal in the Chimney?

Critters are cute, but they certainly don’t belong in the chimney. If you ever hear unusual sounds from your fireplace, like wings, or scratching, odds are you have a wild guest trying to escape. From cats to birds, we’ve been told all kinds of stories about wildlife trapped in flues. But if you find an animal in the chimney, what should you do about it?

DON’T LIGHT YOUR FIREPLACE

First and foremost, don’t light your fireplace. While it might seem logical to try to smoke the animal out, it’s more likely to injure the animal, and possibly your chimney, too.

Instead, close off the fireplace so the animal can’t get loose in your home. The last thing you want is to be chasing a raccoon around the house.

ANIMAL IN THE CHIMNEY? CALL ANIMAL CONTROL

There’s no need to panic. If you open the damper, the animal may be able to get out on its own. But if that isn’t the case, give your local animal control service a call. They’re better equipped to deal with an animal in the chimney than the fire department.

KEEP CRITTERS OUT

Animals search for warm places to build their nests, especially in wintry months. They don’t understand what a fireplace is. So, it’s best to simply prevent finding an animal in the chimney before it becomes an issue.

To protect both your home and your chimney, it’s important to have a qualified chimney sweep examine the inner components of your chimney for damage. A missing or faulty rain cap, as well as gaps where animals can squeeze in, pose risks to your chimney.

Having your chimney professionally inspected and cleaned before you begin building fires in cold weather will help you avoid not only unwelcome nests, but other hazards. For more information on our services, please give us a call at (510) 521-4088.

CHIMNEY LEAK: HOW RAIN CAN DAMAGE A CHIMNEY

Chimney leaks are one of the most common issues we see during the rainy season. Though chimneys may appear to be a solid block or marble column, they actually have several distinct parts. And since they’re always exposed to the elements, they’re more vulnerable to damage.

Chimney leaks are one of the most common issues we see during the rainy season. Though chimneys may appear to be a solid block, they actually have several distinct parts. And since they’re always exposed to the elements, they’re more vulnerable to damage.

Sometimes the impact of a rough climate on a chimney isn’t obvious, but here are some things to watch out for.

DAMAGED FLUE

Chimney flues are constructed of one or two foot sections of terracotta clay liner. Some chimneys are unlined without the safety benefit of a series of clay flue liners. Both of these substances are subject to water damage without appropriate treatment. Water can do a lot of harm once it gets into a house. These are some signs your flue might be cracked and leaking:

  • Mold and rot
  • Dripping roof
  • Dank smells
  • Warped floors
  • Efflorescence on the firebox brick or fireplace facing material
  • Peeling or paint or plaster on a wall next to the fireplace facade

The chimney is often one of the most overlooked parts of a home. It seems solid, but the interior is fairly delicate.

Chimney leaks are one of the most common issues we see during the rainy season. Though chimneys may appear to be a solid block or marble column, they actually have several distinct parts. And since they’re always exposed to the elements, they’re more vulnerable to damage.

Sometimes the impact of a rough climate on a chimney isn’t obvious, but here are some things to watch out for.

BROKEN FLUE

Chimney flues are usually made of terracotta tiles or metal. Both of these substances are subject to water damage without appropriate treatment. Water can do a lot of harm once it gets into a house. These are some signs your flue might be cracked and leaking:

  • Mold and rot
  • Dripping roof
  • Dank smells
  • Warped floors

The chimney is often one of the most overlooked parts of a home. It seems solid, but the interior is fairly delicate.

DETERIORATING MASONRY

Cracks in the masonry are not uncommon, but unfortunately, they’re usually the most costly to repair. On the upside, you’re less likely to overlook the damage until it turns into a chimney leak.

BROKEN OR MISSING COVER

It seems so simple, yet we often see chimneys that have faulty covers, or no cover at all. Luckily, this is an easy issue to fix. A chimney cap with mesh netting keeps rain out of the chimney and attic, as well as animals.

CHIMNEY CLOG

Moisture damage can cause bricks to tumble down inside the chimney. This is mostly an issue with older homes that aren’t lined properly. Nests can also stop up a chimney. The resulting clog interferes with airflow, which is dangerous if carbon monoxide is able to build up.

It’s best to have your chimney cleaned and inspected at least once a year, especially before winter. A certified professional will be able to spot damage before it turns into a costly chimney leak.

PREPARING YOUR FIREPLACE FOR FALL AND WINTER

Nothing is more pleasing when the temperature drops than the soft amber blaze of a crackling fire. But before you light up that firewood, there are numerous steps you need to take to get your fireplace ready, and for excellent reason. Prepping your fireplace for fall can:

  • Improve the air quality in your house
  • Avert fires
  • Save energy
  • Keep your home warm

Chimney preparation steps are given below:

ARRANGE A YEARLY INSPECTION

All chimneys should be examined and cleaned by a chimney cleaning company at least once a year. A careful cleaning will eliminate any buildup of creosote, an oily and extremely flammable byproduct of burning wood, gives you a safer fireplace.

CLEAN THE FIREBOX

Eliminate and clean the grate and other accessories that are inside the firebox. Vacuum or remove the ash and store it in a metal container with a sealed lid. There are several ways you can recycle the ash. You can use it in your backyard as a fertilizer, to dissolve ice, and even clean the fireplace doors, for example. Be sure to keep a small amount of ash. It will help with starting your initial fire of the season.

CHECK FOR CRACKS AND DAMAGE

Check for cracks and wobbly joints of the firebricks inside the fireplace, and check the external masonry for damage. Hire an expert mason to do any repairs—never try to repair firebrick with ordinary mortar, as the blend cannot stand up to high heat.

EXAMINE THE CHIMNEY CAP AND DAMPER

Ensure the fireplace damper is working accurately and that there is no wreckage preventing it from opening and closing. Make sure that the chimney cap is firmly attached and in good condition. The cap should comprise protective screening to keep birds, squirrels, and other pests from entering the chimney.

CLEAR AWAY TREE LIMBS

While you are outside examining the chimney cap, trim any overhanging tree limbs that may be squeezing on the chimney. Tree limbs can restrict the proper draft of the chimney and spoil the cap.

CLEAR OUT ASHES

Clean out the firebox once in a week, or whenever the ash is more than an inch deep. Coals can stay hot for up to three days, so ensure everything is completely cold. Remove or vacuum the cold ashes and dispose it outside—wood ashes are just right for garden beds and compost piles.

HOW TO PREP A GAS-BURNING FIREPLACE

Clean the blower

Check your gas-burning fireplace to see if it has a blower. If it does, clean it. Distinct from furnace blowers, the blowers of gas-burning fireplaces do not have a filtering system to stop buildup. Dust buildup can cause early wearing of the bearings. Dust can insulate the motor, which prevents it from cooling correctly, eventually leading to motor failure.

Replace batteries

Before every season, change the batteries in any remote transmitters and receivers, if appropriate. Also, replace the batteries and examine any smoke or carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working properly.

ALL ABOUT CERAMIC COATING

WHY CHOOSE CERAMIC COATING?

Your chimney plays a very significant role in the secure use of your fireplace or wood-burning heater. Many homeowners are amazed to hear that poorly-maintained flues and chimneys are in reality one of the common causes for home fires. When it comes to your firewood or gas-burning machine, there are plenty of parts that go into keeping your home safe, including the chimney liner.

HOW DOES IT GET DONE?

Ceramic coating sprayed within your chimney blocks and plugs any gap or cracks, and coats an even ceramic layer which provides the correct passageway for the smoke and any harmful emissions to disband from the fire directly out the crown of your chimney. It also controls any further acid corrosion and prevents damage being done to the flue which not only ensures your chimney is protected to use but also puts your mind at rest that no expensive repairs will be needed.

It is applied with a sprayer. On the vertical walls, i.e. most of the chimney, it should be applied from base to top because as the material comes out of the sprayer it runs down the chimney and gets absorbed into the chimney underneath the area is working on. The top requires extra attention or it’d only obtain one pass. Afterward than you come to an end about 15 minutes’ worth, do it another time just to make sure the entire structure gets a good soaking.

 BENEFITS OF CERAMIC COATING

  • Avoid Overheating of the Chimney and Lengthens Its Lifespan
  • Seals crack preventing heat loss, considerably saving heat energy
  • Excellent resistance to powdering
  • Forms gas-tight surface
  • Cost-Effective
  • Increases the security of a home, advance the operation of the fireplace and guard the smoke chamber

SEALING THE CHIMNEY BREAST

Since the chimney breast has a more brutal exposure to rain and particularly snow, it needs more coats of Ceramic coating. Most Ceramic coatings used these days are water-based material. This is for many reasons: First is that water-based materials cost significantly less than solvent-based materials. They are safer to dispatch, store and use and they are completely adequate to the task. The exception to the advantages is on non-vertical surfaces.

SEALING A CHIMNEY CROWN

The chimney crown is a nearly flat surface and it’s completely made of concrete or mortar. It shouldn’t be made of mortar, but there is a good possibility that it is anyway. Based on what you’ve just read about ceramic coating the chimney breast, you’d logically think that you’d just use a solvent-based waterproofing material there.

For Ceramic Coating services contact Irish Sweep today!

REASONS FOR A CHIMNEY DISMANTLE

You might be looking at your old chimney and thinking about its removal. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it first seems, and there are so many factors to think about before you begin. When you wish to get rid of the chimney for purely aesthetic reasons, the effort required may prove more than it’s worth.

There are numerous reasons for wanting to get rid of the chimney, including:

  • Poorly damaged stack
  • Local pollution regulation
  • No plans to use it in the future
  • State of disrepair
  • Roof leakage
  • Home insulation
  • Takes up too much space

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

There are five important factors to consider when it comes to a chimney dismantle task. Understanding these terms is essential for deciding on the suitable actions and calculating costs.

BREAST

The chimney breast is equally the most visible and fundamental portion of a chimney. The brick walls encase the flu and other functional parts, providing extra insulation and major structural support.

Regrettably, the breast tends to protrude into all the places it passes through. In the occasion you desire to repossess this space in a room, it is achievable to remove only that section of the breast instead of the whole chimney.

STACK

When people consider a chimney, this is the element they tend to picture. It is the part which protrudes from the peak, ending in a cap. Leaks and structural damage are the most familiar reasons for wanting to remove a chimney stack, and in this case, you will have the choice of simply covering over the rest of an unused chimney when you expand the roof over the gap left by the stack.

TIME INVESTMENT

Whether you do the task yourself or hire a contractor, be aware that removing a chimney is a time-consuming task, particularly traditional brick ones. A brick chimney must be cautiously disassembled one brick at a time to avoid structural damage.

DISPOSAL

Simply removing the stack may not generate a lot of garbage, but if your plans involve taking out the chimney breast in one or more areas, you may be looking at a large quantity of brick and tile. This is not only costly to dispose of, but may require special permits.

Be sure to fully investigate local disposal regulations and see if there are masonry companies who may be involved in salvaging the materials. In the latter case, the disposal may be low-priced or even free, depending on the company and state of the bricks you remove.

PERSONAL SAFETY

Chipping away at older masonry one brick at a time is a long and unsafe job. Be sure to have sufficient head and body protection, and be conscious of the high levels of dust you will be creating that could affect your lungs or vision.

Contact the Irish Sweep today to dismantle your chimney.