Surprising Benefits of Chimney Sweep Services You Might Not Know About

Chim chimney, chim chimney, chim chim cher-ee

A sweep is as lucky as lucky can be!

This nostalgic Mary Poppins song rings true – chimney sweep services are absolutely essential to the integrity and safety of your chimney. Lucky indeed!

Even if you’ve lived in a home for twenty years, the chimney is an often intimidating appliance to clean and maintain. Dealing with soot and tight spaces is enough to make anyone queasy.

But chimney sweeps (or chimney service companies) are trained professionals with the experience and know-how to get the job done quickly, efficiently, and without mess!

Here are some surprising benefits of chimney sweep services that you might not know about:

Chimney sweep services prevent chimney fires

In the U.S., there are over 25,000 chimney fires per year. These fires are responsible for over 125 million dollars in property damage.

A chimney fire can reach temperatures upwards of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit – hot enough to crack your chimney’s liner and ignite your house’s framing.

Yikes!

The most common cause of chimney fires is creosote buildup. Creosote is a tar-like substance that forms when wood burns. It’s black, sticky, and flammable.

How does creosote build up in a chimney?

When you burn wood, the smoke rises up the chimney. As the temperature of the chimney increases, the water vapor in the smoke condenses on the chimney walls. This leaves behind a sticky residue that is full of toxins and carcinogens.

Over time, this buildup gets thicker and thicker. If it’s not removed, it becomes a severe fire hazard.

How do chimney sweep services prevent creosote buildup and chimney fires?

Chimney sweeps are trained to identify and remove creosote buildup before it has a chance to ignite. They have specialized tools and equipment to do so – brushes, scrapers, and vacuums specifically designed for chimneys. Chimney professionals also know how to spot other potential fire hazards, like cracks in the chimney lining or blockages.

Chimney sweep services improve the efficiency of your fireplace

If your chimney is blocked by debris, it will affect how well your fireplace drafts.

How do chimneys create drafts?

When a chimney fills with hot gas, the gas rises because it is less dense than the air outside the house. The rising hot gas creates a pressure difference called draft, which draws combustion air into the appliance and expels the exhaust gas outside.

If something is blocking the chimney – like soot, creosote, or debris – it will impede the flow of hot air. This can cause many problems, like smoke spilling into your home, decreased heat output, and even a fire.

A chimney sweep will clear out any blockages in your chimney so that the hot air can escape quickly and easily. As a result, you’ll have a fireplace that works more efficiently and is less smoky.

A good chimney sweep will clear any blockages and ensure the flue is the correct size for your fireplace. They’ll also check for any cracks or leaks and repair them as needed.

As a result, you’ll see a decrease in your energy bills and have fewer issues with smoke in your home.

chimney sweep services

Chimney sweep services keep your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas produced whenever fuel is burned. CO blends into the existing air, can’t be heard, felt, seen, or tasted, and can be lethal without a device to detect it.

If your chimney is blocked or damaged, CO from your gas fireplace can leak into your home and poison the people and animals inside.

What are the signs of a carbon monoxide leak in a gas fireplace?

  • Soot, smoke, fumes, or back-draft in the house from a chimney, fireplace, or other fuel-burning equipment
  • Sooty or brownish-yellow stains around the fireplace
  • You smell a faint, “rotten egg” odor. Though CO is odorless, sometimes it is accompanied by other exhaust gases you can smell
  • A yellow pilot light flame instead of the usual clear blue

Symptoms of carbon monoxide inhalation are similar to the flu and can include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue or confusion

If you experience these symptoms and suspect a CO leak, get out of your house immediately and call 911. Then, open all the doors and windows to air out your home.

How can chimney sweep services help?

A chimney sweep will inspect your chimney for any damage that could be causing a CO leak. They’ll make sure the chimney is clear of debris and adequately vented. If they find any cracks or leaks, they’ll repair them so you can use your fireplace safely.

A properly functioning chimney is essential for preventing CO poisoning. A chimney sweep can ensure yours is up to code and working properly.

They can also install CO monitors in your home, which will sound an alarm if dangerous levels of CO are detected.

Chimney sweeps can save you money on your energy bills

If your chimney is blocked, it can’t do its job of venting hot air out of your home.

This can cause your furnace or fireplace to work overtime, driving up your energy bills.

How can chimney sweep services help save money?

  1. A chimney sweep will clear any blockages in your chimney so that hot air can escape and your furnace doesn’t have to work as hard.
  2. Regularly sweeping ashes from the firebox also allows more oxygen to circulate, making fires hotter. This means you can use less wood to achieve the same heat level, saving you money in the long run. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, even as little as one-tenth of an inch of soot can decrease a fire’s heat output by 50%.
  3. A chimney sweep can also inspect your chimney and ensure it’s the correct size for your fireplace. If it’s too small, they can recommend ways to enlarge it. This will help your fireplace work more efficiently and save you money on your energy bills.
  4. A chimney sweep can fill cracks and fissures in your chimney, which could otherwise allow carbon monoxide and outside air to seep into your home. Filling these cracks makes your chimney more energy efficient.

These simple chimney maintenance tasks can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Chimney sweeps can extend the life of your chimney

Your chimney is constantly exposed to rain, wind, and sun elements. Over time, this exposure can take its toll on your chimney, causing it to crack or crumble.

Chimney sweeps inspect your chimney for damage and make all necessary repairs.

They can also apply a waterproof sealant to your chimney to help protect it from the elements.

Investing in chimney sweep services can extend your chimney’s life and avoid costly repairs down the road. A well-maintained chimney can last for decades, but a neglected chimney will need to be replaced much sooner.

Chimney sweeps remove bird nests and other animals from chimneys

Birds, squirrels, raccoons, and other animals often take up residence in chimneys. They build nests that can block the chimney and prevent airflow. In some cases, animals may even die in the chimney, which is generally unpleasant and leads to foul odors.

A chimney sweep will safely remove any animals or nests from your chimney so you can use your fireplace without worry. They can also install a chimney cap, which will keep animals out in the future.

Related Reading: How Often Do You Need a Chimney Cleaner/Sweep?

Let Bay Area Chimney Cleaners Help

At The Irish Sweep, we always adhere to the highest safety standards. We are licensed and insured Bay Area chimney cleaners professionals who have been serving the area since 1982. If you need a chimney sweep, dryer vent cleaning, or other home services, give us a call today! Schedule our chimney sweep services today to enjoy a safe fireplace and chimney all year long. 

What Is Stage 3 Creosote and How Do You Deal With It?

A dirty chimney is the leading cause of chimney fires! In this article, we will discuss what leads to stage 3 creosote and how to deal with it.

Creosote is a toxic byproduct of burning wood. The black, tarry substance can build up in your chimney over time, and not only is it corrosive and damaging to the flue liner, but it also presents a serious fire hazard.

What is Creosote and How Does it Build Up?

Creosote is a substance that develops as the byproducts of burning wood adhere to the inside of your chimney. The byproducts, including smoke, water vapor, gasses, particles of burned wood and tar fog, rise up the chimney as you burn your firewood. When they reach the cooler parts of the chimney, they rapidly cool and condense on top of each other until they form a black sticky substance known as creosote.

Stage 1 Creosote

The early stages of creosote buildup usually indicate that your chimney has not been cleaned in some time. This type of creosote is dusty, flaky, and relatively easy to remove with a chimney sweep.

Stage 2 Creosote

Stage 2 creosote is harder and blacker than stage 1. It is more difficult to remove, but must be dealt with before it progresses to stage 3.

Stage 3 Creosote

Stage 3 creosote is the most severe stage. It is more concentrated, tarry, and far more likely to cause chimney fires. Creosote also restricts air movement within the chimney and blocks parts of the air column. Surprisingly, this stage can develop in a single burning season, and should only be removed by a licensed chimney sweep, using specialized equipment.

Why is Creosote Buildup So Dangerous?

The biggest danger of stage 3 creosote is that it can cause chimney fires. When the buildup ignites, it burns very hot and may spread to other areas if not quickly contained. In addition, stage III creosote will damage or destroy your flue liner as well as the masonry within the chimney system.

What Can You Do to Prevent Creosote Buildup?

The best way to prevent creosote buildup is to have your chimney cleaned on a regular basis. Depending on the size of your fireplace, you should have it swept at least once a year. A good rule of thumb is to schedule a cleaning after 75 fires, or one cord of wood. Also, make sure you are using seasoned wood in your fireplace—freshly-cut wood contains a lot more moisture and causes more creosote buildup.

If it has been a while since you last had your chimney cleaned, contact us today to set up an appointment with one of our CSIA-certified technicians!

Here’s What to Do if You Have Stage 3 Creosote

If you have stage III creosote, do not attempt to clean it yourself. Contact a licensed chimney sweep and schedule an appointment for professional cleaning. The Irish sweep will use specialized equipment to remove the creosote buildup and restore your chimney to a safe condition.

For more information on stage III creosote or any other type of fireplace or chimney service, give us a call at 510.521.4088

How and Why To Install a New Wood Burning Fireplace Insert

In this article, we’ll discuss how to install a fireplace insert in your home and the many benefits of doing so.

If you’re like most people, you probably enjoy the warm glow of a fire during the winter. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying an open fire, did you know that installing a fireplace insert could improve your home’s heating efficiency by 70 percent or more? It’s true – a new fireplace insert is one of the best ways to improve the comfort and value of your home. 

What is a Fireplace Insert?

A fireplace insert is a type of wood (or gas) appliance without legs, and they are designed to be placed inside an existing wood fireplace. Fireplace inserts consist of a metal box that is inserted seamlessly into the fireplace opening. Because of their design, fireplace inserts are much more efficient than traditional wood-burning fireplaces. They dramatically increase heating capacity and wood-burning efficiency while still enjoying the unmatched warmth, ambiance, and nostalgia that only wood fireplaces can provide.

Choosing a New Insert

The first step to install a fireplace insert is to choose the right model. There are many different types of inserts available on the market, so it’s important to select one that fits your needs and lifestyle.

When choosing an insert, you’ll need to consider the following factors:

  • The size of your fireplace opening
  • The type of fuel you want to use (wood or gas)
  • Your desired heating capacity
  • The efficiency rating of the insert
  • The style of the insert

Once you’ve considered these factors, it’s time to start shopping!

How to Install a Fireplace Insert

Now that you’ve chosen the perfect fireplace insert, it’s time to install it in your home. This job is best done by a professional because it requires special tools and expertise. Our local technicians with The Irish Sweep take a unique approach to installing wood-burning fireplace inserts, incorporating the style and design of each individual fireplace.

If you’re interested in having a wood-burning fireplace insert installed in your home, be sure to contact The Irish Sweep. We’ll install it safely and efficiently. And don’t forget annual maintenance, which will keep your insert running smoothly for decades to come.

If you’re thinking about learning how to install a fireplace insert yourself, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and take the proper safety precautions. This is not a quick and easy DIY! 

The Benefits of a New Insert

There are many benefits to installing a new fireplace insert in your home. Some of the most notable benefits include:

  • Increased heating capacity with less smoke
  • A dramatic increase in wood-burning efficiency
  • Increased home value
  • The ability to zone heat your home
  • Reduced energy costs

If you’re looking for a way to improve the comfort and value of your home, installing a new fireplace insert is a great option.

Talk to Us

Our services at The Irish Sweep can help maintain and enjoy a wood-burning chimney and fireplace all winter and for years to come. We take great pride in offering our fireplace installation services to the resident community and the local Bay Area. To schedule an appointment with our team, call us at (510)521-4088, or visit our contact page.

How Often Do You Need a Chimney Cleaner/Sweep?

A favorite pastime of so many of us is sitting and telling stories around a crackling fire. When the fire dies down and the embers go out, though, there’s ash and soot to be swept up. That same soot can build up in the interior of your chimney and cause problems if ignored for too long. This points to the question: how often do you need the best chimney cleaner or chimney sweep

The National Fire Protection Association Recommends: 

Standard 211 of the National Fire Protection Association states that, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.” This once-a-year national safety standard is the recommendation that most chimney sweeps will give you. 

What If I Don’t Use the Fireplace Often?

It’s easy to assume that you can leave your fireplace and chimney alone if you’re not lighting fires. However, chimney damage can occur from other external factors such as earthquakes, storms, and moisture. Without an annual inspection, you might be accidentally ignoring worsening conditions that may ultimately damage the structure of your home. 

  • Structural Damage: Wet weather can weaken the joints of your chimney, leading to cracks or structural shifts. It can also let unwanted moisture into your home. If not repaired in a timely manner, damage may become so severe that the chimney collapses.
  • Pests: An unused chimney can be the perfect warm, dry place for insects and animals to settle into. Squirrels, birds, spiders, and even mice can crawl and nest in your chimney, wreaking havoc on its masonry. 

Creosote Buildup Requires The Best Chimney Cleaner

If you use your fireplace every so often during the colder months, you may have noticed a black, tar-like, shiny or fuzzy substance on the interior walls of the chimney. This substance is called creosote, a highly flammable chemical byproduct of burning wood. If you notice creosote buildup, call a chimney sweep before you light another fire, otherwise you might be looking at a fire a little larger than you anticipated. 

5 Surprising Benefits of a Clean Chimney 

  1. A safe and efficient fireplace 
  2. Reduced smoky odors
  3. Discover chimney damage before a costly repair is necessary 
  4. Prevent corrosion of chimney walls due to creosote buildup
  5. Prevents carbon monoxide inhalation and poisoning 

The Irish Sweep Makes Chimney Maintenance Easy

An annual cleaning by the best chimney cleaner like The Irish Sweep is an imperative step to proper chimney maintenance. Our technicians are proud of our 40+ years of experience servicing the Bay Area, and there’s no chimney problem we haven’t seen before! We can inspect the inside and outside of your chimney in detail to deep clean, discover damage, and recommend any repairs. 

Schedule Our Best Chimney Cleaner  Now 

Our services at The Irish Sweep can help maintain and enjoy a wood-burning chimney and fireplace all winter and for years to come. We take great pride in offering our Bay Area chimney cleaning services to the resident community and the local Bay Area.

To schedule an appointment with our team, call us at (510)521-4088, or use this simple contact form by clicking here.

Here is a little known fact about creosote: It oxidizes.  Creosote that was not able to be removed at the time of the last service appointment will actually change chemical composition, rendering it a substance that can now be removed. It’s never too late to schedule a chimney cleaning! 

How Much Does it Cost to Hire Bay Area Chimney Cleaner/Sweep?

Looking to Hire a Local Bay Area chimney cleaner Expert? Chimney maintenance is a task that often flies under the radar, but it’s extremely important to preserving the structural integrity of your home and reducing flammable buildup in the chimney’s interior. When shopping for a reputable chimney sweep in the Bay Area, here’s how much you can expect to pay for the highest quality services. 

What Sets a Chimney Cleaning Company Apart? 

There’s no industry-wide standard or regulation for chimney cleaners or chimney sweeps. As a layperson, it can be difficult to know whether or not you can trust a chimney cleaning company or not. After all, a chimney is a structural element of your house: an improperly inspected chimney could be secretly harboring cracks, buildup, and damage that could compromise the safety of your home. 

Licensing and Certification 

The Irish Sweep proudly holds a masonry contractors license issued by the State of California and certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). CSIA-certified companies receive top education and training in the field, and also sign a code of ethics promising only excellent service. A CSIA license and certification is a guarantee that you are working with seasoned experts in chimney safety. 

Qualities of Reputable Chimney Cleaners/Sweeps

  1. Excellent customer reviews or testimonials 
  2. Licensed and insured 
  3. Decades of experience 
  4. Transparency about pricing 
  5. Prompt service 
  6. Professional advice about continued chimney maintenance 
  7. Range of comprehensive services 

How Much Does a Bay Area Chimney Cleaner/Sweep Cost? 

Expect a wide range of prices when searching for a Bay Area chimney cleaning service. Since pricing may vary from company to company, it’s a good idea to check out the licensing and certification status, client reviews, and real-world indicators of top-notch service providers. 

  • A basic chimney checkup and cleaning from a CSIA-certified company typically ranges between $200 and $300.
  • More intensive services, such as a thorough inspection with a chimney camera, may range from $100 to $500.
  • If your chimney has weathered significant damage, such as from a recent earthquake or storm, you need a detailed inspection to check for and resolve structural damage. This service may range from $1,000 to $5,000.

What Else Affects Chimney Cleaning Costs? 

Any manufacturer will tell you that maintenance is key to reducing costs long-term. An annually cleaned, inspected chimney will last longer and function better than a neglected chimney. If you can’t remember your last chimney cleaning, it’s probably time for one. Otherwise, a good rule of thumb is to schedule your appointment once every 75 fires or per every cord of wood burned.

We are your local Bay Area chimney cleaner with 40+ years of experience. 

Schedule a Chimney Cleaning Today

Our services at The Irish Sweep can help maintain and enjoy a wood-burning chimney and fireplace for years to come. We take great pride in offering our Bay Area chimney cleaning services to the resident community and the local Bay Area.

To schedule an appointment with our team, call us at (510)521-4088, or use this simple contact form by clicking here.

Enjoy a crackling fire this Holiday season with the knowledge that your chimney is clean and safe.

Chimney Cleaning Services : Truth About Spare the Air Days

After another hot dry summer season with raging California wildfires and ozone pollution, it might feel like sitting beside a cozy fire at the fireplace over the Holidays are a long way off. Yet the Holidays are just around the corner! Your friendly local chimney cleaning services can help.

Fireplace Safety

It is perfectly safe to have a wood fire if safe burn practices are followed. Staying aware of Spare the Air days and regularly getting the chimney inspected and cleaned can allow us to enjoy our fireplace this winter. 

7 Safe Burn Practices: 

  1. Burn seasoned wood, or wood that has been dried for at least one year. This significantly reduces smoke than fresh, “wet” wood. 
  2. At no time burn plastics, garbage, paper, or other harmful substances.
  3. On no occasion use a liquid firelighter to start a fire in the fireplace  
  4. Get a chimney inspection and cleaning annually. 
  5. Keep flammable materials like curtains and furniture a safe distance from the fireplace.
  6. Make sure that nobody sits so close to a fire that clothing could catch fire 
  7. Check the local Spare the Air alerts before burning. 

When can we have a cozy fire?

A family gathering over the Holidays is often cozier and more memorable with a lovely traditional fire burning. We can use our fireplace when an alert has not been issued. Most people don’t realize that Spare the Air days are normally few and far between. In 2021, there have only been five no-burn days so far. 

Understanding Spare the Air Days 

In the Bay Area, there are two major air pollutants to pay attention to: ozone and fine particulate matter. When these pollutants are in high concentrations and deemed unhealthy for long-term exposure, a Spare the Air alert will go into effect. 

  • Ozone is the primary ingredient in summer smog. It comes from a reaction between sunlight and pollutants emitted by refineries, cars, power and chemical plants, as well as other industrial facilities. 
  • Fine Particulate Matter are small particles which can travel into the lungs. Fine particulate matter comes from vehicle exhaust, chemical reactions to pollutants and other materials. Wildfires can cause particulate matter to travel hundreds of miles. 

Did you know….

In the Bay Area, mandatory Spare the Air Days begin on November 1st and end on the last day of February of any year?

Check the Bay Area’s current air quality on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District organization’s website. 

How Can The Irish Sweep help?

Regular chimney cleaning and inspection services help preserve the structural integrity of the chimney. If a fireplace hasn’t been used over the summer, perhaps a squirrel or other creature has made its home there!

4 Main Reasons for a Chimney Inspection and Clean 

  1. Prevents carbon monoxide poisoning
  2. Prevention of chimney collapse- both the summer and winter months can be harsh on the integrity of the chimney. A dry climate along with heat and strong winds over the summer can harm the integrity of the cement and brickwork. Add in the fact that earthquakes, no matter how small can create tiny fractures in the brickwork. A chimney inspection can be a proactive way to detect this and prevent further or costly damage. 
  3. Reduces the likelihood of chimney fires from dust residues and creosote build-up
  4. Reduces the chance of the house smelling smokey 

We are your friendly local Orinda Chimney Cleaning Services.

Schedule an Orinda Chimney Cleaning 

Our services at The Irish Sweep can help maintain and enjoy a wood-burning chimney and fireplace for years to come. We take great pride as being your neighbor offering Orinda chimney cleaning services to the resident community and the local Bay Area.  

To schedule an appointment with our professional Orinda Chimney Cleaning team, call us at (510)521-4088, or use this simple contact form by clicking here.

Enjoy the crackle of a yule log in a roaring fire this Holiday season.