The 13 Things Professional Chimney Sweeps Want You To Know

The 13 Things Professional Chimney Sweeps Want You To Know

Think you can clean your own chimney? Think again! Professional chimney sweeps have seen it all, and we’ve collected that wisdom and put it in a neat list format for our latest article. Here are 13 things professional chimney sweeps wish you knew – and why you should always hire us for the job!

  1. Creosote buildup is dangerous!!! 

Creosote is a substance that forms when anything is burned, especially wood and manufactured logs. Creosote will build up in the chimney without you realizing it. If the creosote isn’t removed, it will become a fire hazard. That’s why it’s so important to have the chimney cleaned regularly by a professional.

  1. We have specialized tools

Professional chimney sweeps have brushes and vacuums designed specifically for cleaning out chimneys. Specialized equipment helps ensure that all the soot and ash are removed – something that’s crucial to preventing fires.

  1. Chimney sweeping is a vital part of home maintenance

Many people think of chimney sweeping as something that’s only done occasionally, but the truth is that it’s an essential part of regular home maintenance. Sweeping the chimney helps prevent a build-up of creosote, which can cause fires. The chimney should be inspected and cleaned at least once a year – more often if it’s used frequently.

  1. It’s more complicated than Mary Poppins makes it look!

Chimney sweeping may look easy in movies like Mary Poppins, but the truth is that it’s a tough job. It requires a lot of physical strength and stamina, as well as experience, knowledge, and specialized tools. That’s why it’s always best to leave it to the trained professionals.

  1. We know how to spot problems

One of the advantages of hiring a professional chimney sweep is that we know how to spot problems. We can identify issues such as cracks in the flue or blockages that could cause fires. This means we can fix the problem before it becomes a dangerous hazard.

  1. A dirty chimney can cause respiratory problems for our families

Soot and ash aren’t good for our lungs, and a dirty chimney can cause respiratory problems for our families. This is especially true if anyone in the family suffers from asthma or allergies. A professional chimney sweep will ensure that the chimney is clean and safe!

  1. A properly functioning chimney will help keep our home warm and save money on heating costs

If the chimney is blocked or has cracks, it won’t draw air correctly. There will always be air turnover, as this is how fire is fueled. The home can be harder to heat if the fireplace and chimney are functioning correctly, which then costs more money in heating bills. A professional chimney sweep can help ensure that the chimney is working properly, saving money in the long run. 

  1. We can save time and reduce hassle

Cleaning a chimney is a time-consuming job that most people simply don’t have the time for. Hiring a professional chimney sweep will save hassle and ensure that the job is done right.

  1. Wood-burning stoves need to be inspected and cleaned regularly, too!

It’s essential to have a wood-burning stove or insert inspected and cleaned regularly. This is because the chimney, chimney connector, and liner can become blocked with soot, which can be a fire hazard. A professional chimney sweep can clean the wood-burning stove or insert and make sure it’s safe to use.

  1. Chimney sweeps can help with other types of fireplace maintenance

Chimney sweeps can also help with different kinds of fireplace maintenance, such as relining the chimney or repairing damage. Have peace of mind that the fireplace is safe to use all year round!

  1. Call a chimney sweep before there’s a problem

Be proactive – the damage has already happened by the time a problem is noticed. It’s never too late to call a professional; it may just cost more. By then, the damage may have already been done – and it could be dangerous. That’s why it’s crucial to have the chimney cleaned regularly, even if there’s no apparent problem.

12. We carry insurance – just in case

Double-check that the professional chimney sweep carries insurance just in case something goes wrong. It’s good to be protected in the event of an accident!

13. We’re here to help – please call us

Feel free to call us any time. We’ll be happy to answer any questions and help in making the best decision for a home.

9 Frequently asked questions: 

  1. Is the fireplace used regularly?
  2. Is there soot or creosote buildup on the inside of the chimney?
  3. Are there cracks or blockages in the flue?
  4. What’s a flue?
  5. Are there respiratory problems or allergies issues in the household?
  6. Is there a wood-burning stove?
  7. Is other fireplace maintenance needed?
  8. Are there water leaks or moisture in or around the fireplace fascia? 
  9. Does the house smell like a chimney after using it?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to call a professional chimney sweep. We can help keep the home safe and save money in the long run. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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 1979. If you need a chimney sweep, dryer vent cleaning, or other home services, call us today! Schedule our chimney sweep or inspection services today to enjoy a safe fireplace and chimney all year long.

Chimney Leak: How Rain Can Damage A Chimney

Chimney leaks when it rains is a common issue 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.

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.

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.

CHIMNEY REPAIRS

The winter rains can cause a lot of damage and destruction. While your fireplace can keep you warm, it is also subject to harm during the cold season. An annual chimney inspection may uncover hidden water damage from these rains or obvious masonry repairs maybe noticeable. The summertime is an ideal time to make such fixes while the weather is good.

CHIMNEY INSPECTION

When we have a winter like the one we had with record rainfall, a chimney inspection is even more critical than ever. Add to this is the recent earthquakes. These combine to create a combination of scenarios where cracks may lead or have lead to water damage. Along with this, long winters also lead to higher use of chimneys which cause higher levels o buildup of creosote. This is your fireplaces enemy and can lead to safety hazards and corrosion.

Thus, the first thing you should do after a winter with high rain and cold spells is to schedule a chimney inspection before a new winter. This is a lot easier to do over the summer so you don’t have to try to schedule it in the middle of a cold spell. In addition, if repairs are needed, the rain won’t slow down the repair service.

CHIMNEY REPAIRS

As we discussed, a harsh winter makes chimney inspections even more important to identify chimney damage. Just like with most repairs, time can make the condition worse. Thus, it is imperative that you start repairs as soon as possible.

Since we are approaching Fall, the timing for repairs has become even more critical. It is a huge safety risk to have a damaged chimney or fireplace. Should you start a fire and your chimney is damaged, it could lead to even bigger problems like water seeping into parts of your home from winter rain or even a fire getting ignited.

REPLACING MASONRY

One are where damage may exist is the masonry. Most of the time, this can solved by replacing damaged masonry. It is critical to use the proper materials to fix it or you could damage the underlying integrity of the chimney.

OTHER REPAIRS

Some other areas that may need repairs are the flue, liner, firebox, or smoke chamber. Each of these poses its own hazards. Inspections can identify any harm so you can get it remedied quickly.

Call The Irish Sweep if you are uncertain of the damage or have chimney repairs you need done before the next set of winter storms.

How Rain Affects a Chimney Without Cap

April showers bring May flowers, right? Well, they can also bring leaky chimneys! If you have chimney without cap, you’re in for a wet time. You’ll start seeing symptoms of leaks during spring and summer, and even chimneys that’ve never had problems before can leak.

YOUR CHIMNEY WITHOUT CAP

Chimneys are complex structures and are always exposed to the weather. They aren’t designed to go with chimney without cap, but not everyone knows this. Because chimneys are always exposed, rain water, leaves, feathers, and all sorts of things can fall into them and build up or cause damage.

The entrance of rain into your chimney may not sound very dramatic to you. But when the masonry and other components in your chimney degrade and lose stability, or lose fire proofness, it becomes dramatic. Wetness can cause spalling and crumbling brickwork, and things like leaves that fall into your chimney are a fire hazard.

WHY GET A CHIMNEY CAP?

The top reason is to prevent damage to your home. To prevent water coming in, part of a chimney cap acts like an umbrella, and a screen section prevents the debris from falling in or sparks from floating out.

Don’t worry about a chimney cap affecting your draft. If your chimney cap has sufficient clearance and you keep it clean, it will either not affect your chimney draft or improve it. When wind blows, the convex shape of the cap creates a slight vacuum at the top of the flue so your chimney should draw better with the cap in place. Some chimney caps are even specifically designed to improve chimney draft!

IF YOU SEE WATER COMING IN, IT COULD ALSO BE DUE TO: FLASHING

If your chimney flashing starts to wear down, water can get in. Flashing is a tight strip inside your chimney that seals the seam between your roof and chimney to prevent water coming in. If the flashing is damaged or loses its seal due to age or wear and tear, water will get through the gaps. This can in turn water damage to the roof, chimney, ceilings and walls. Metal flashings are preferred over mastic flashings.

INCORRECT CHIMNEY CAP

Water can get in if the chimney cap doesn’t fit well. Chimney without cap that fits, the fireplace and flue are completely exposed to water from the rain. An ill-fitting cap is barely better than no cap at all.

MASONRY DAMAGE

Because your chimney is directly exposed to rain, the masonry components will deteriorate over time. Water can cause bricks to spall and crack (letting in water), in addition to making your chimney look unkempt.

You may know your chimney is leaking because you see visible water in the flue or fireplace. But because of the complexity and size of many chimney systems, leaks can easily go undetected for a while. You might not even know there’s water damage until significant damage has already been done.

To prevent chimney leaks, it’s best if you call in a professional for annual Irish Sweep chimney sweepings and inspections. We’ll be able to detect any damage so that you can get it fixed before the chimney starts to leak!

INSERTS, WHAT ARE THEY?

Inserts are either gas or wood burning, could be pellet but we see very few of these in the Bay Area.  They are a highly engineered metal box, fabricated in a factory and designed to be clean burning and they slide into the firebox of either a masonry or factory built fireplace.

The manufacturer of each of these inserts will specify the venting materials required for the insert, the clearances to combustibles and provide installation directions for each model they manufacture.  These appliances have all been tested and approved by some testing laboratory.

SPOT THESE 4 SIGNS YOU NEED CHIMNEY MASONRY REPAIR

Chimney masonry repair helps to correct damage and restore the structure to the bricks and mortar of your best chimney. While masonry repair is an essential task to keep your chimney safe, many homeowners don’t know how to recognize the signs that a chimney masonry repair is due. Here we look at 4 key signs that you need a chimney masonry repair.

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