replacement chimney, chimney repair and maintenance, chimney safety

 

When you think about home improvements, your chimney may not be something you think about. However, like many other things in you home, it can break down and need replacement. But how do you know when you should replace your chimney since it’s usually not something on your repair list? Well, it all depends on the condition of your chimney.

Chimneys are very sturdy, but they still need some TLC every now and then to functional properly. And if your chimney is in really bad shape, it might be time for a chimney replacement. To see if your chimney needs fixing or replacement, it’s recommended that you do an annual check, usually in a season that you won’t be using your fireplace. You’ll also want to check it out after any severe weather like hail storms or hurricanes.

We’ve rounded up a few obvious signs to check for yourself, right after you schedule a professional chimney inspection.

 

1. A Damaged Chimney Crown

The crown of your chimney is a vital piece of masonry as it protects the chimney from anything that might fall into it (expect for directly above the flue). It keeps out water and weather damage and takes a beating. If it’s injured, the damage can spread down the chimney, resulting in a complete rebuild. It can also degrade and crack due to age, which can be a disaster for the chimney.

 

2. White Salts on Bricks

White bricks can mean water damage inside the bricks, which pulls out the natural salts and minerals to the surface of the bricks. The white staining can wash off easily, but if comes back, you’ll definitely need to call a professional to come in and help.

 

3. Spalling or Shaling

Spalling is the result of water entering brick, concrete, or natural stone. It forces the surface to peel, pop out, or flake off. Spalling can eventually cause crumbling and destruction of a structure. If you have spalling bricks, it means your chimney is damaged and will need to be rebuilt. You’ll want to call a professional ASAP.

Shaling is also caused by water, but describes what happens to affected tiles. If you notice that tiles or pieces of tiles fall into your fireplace, this is shaling. You’ll definitely need a chimney replacement if you see this!

 

4. No Chimney Cap

The chimney cap is like a little hat worn by the flue, to keep debris and water out. Some chimneys don’t have a cap and the ones that do can lose them from time to time. If your chimney doesn’t have one, it’s because it’s most likely sustained some damage at one point. The cap acts as the first line of defense and you’ll want to call a professional for an inspection before any damage gets worse, needing a full chimney replacement.

earthquake preparedness, earthquake safety planning

Earthquake preparedness is a Californian duty. We don’t know when earthquakes will happen, but we do know we live in an area where they do happen with some regularity.

It’s easy to let years slip by since the last time you evaluated your earthquake kit. Or maybe you don’t have one? Some things to consider about earthquake kits is that they are not evacuation bags or “bug out bags”. You can assume that in an Earthquake you can stay in your home, or at least not have to go far. What you need to plan for is possibly long periods of time without electricity, and possibly without working plumbing or natural gas, as sewage systems may be damaged, or gas may be turned off for safety.

 

Here’s what you should consider for earthquake preparedness:

Fresh Water

Store enough unopened jugs of water for about a gallon per person per day according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three days is usually considered generous. Don’t forget, we don’t just drink water, we cook with it, wash dishes and ourselve with it, and more. Even though bottled water generally has a one to two year expiration date on the package, there’s no reason for it to become unusable unless the package is opened or damaged. Do not drink distilled water unless there is no other option, and not for long periods. Purified, filtered or spring water is fine.

Food Supplies

Having fresh food it the refrigerator does you no good when the fridge has no power. For the special occasion of feeding your family after a sizeable earthquake, you’ll want to have non-perishable food set aside. You can pack cans of tuna and boxes of crackers, but you’ll likely be happier with dehydrated meals that can be rehydrated. They tend to taste a lot better than the dry goods and canned meats.

First Aid Kit

A well-stocked first aid kit can be bought in many stores, and the pre-stocked variety like this works just fine. No need to put together your own selection of bandages and medications. When selecting your first aid kit, do consider how many people it needs to serve. And make sure to periodically remove expired items and replace them with fresh ones.

Lighting

After an earthquake, power is often out. Flashlights or headlamps for everyone in the home, plus one lantern is usually a good amount of lighting. Even if you only spend one night without electricity, it’s hard to enjoy your evening in a completely dark home.

A Radio

Either a transistor radio or a hand-crank powered radio is a good choice. In an emergency, your internet router will likely be down, and the radio is a reliable way to access news and information. This can help you know where to get supplies if needed, prepare for the weather, or know how when to expect power to come back on.

Extra Batteries

Extra batteries will serve you well, but don’t just put aside an hodge-podge of options. Choose the specific type of batteries needed for each other item in your Earthquake Kit: your radio, headlamps, lantern, flashlights, and anything else in the group. Have a larger amount of the batteries you expect to go through fastest.

Structural Safety

Chimneys that are either known to be damaged, or whose structural integrity is unknown, are dangerous in an earthquake. This is because they can fall and hurt or kill people either indoors or outdoors. Don’t take this risk, have your chimney inspected by a professional with a camera to view its interior. If structural flaws are found, reduce risk by having them repaired immediately.

Family Plan

This is extremely useful in earthquakes as well as other emergencies. To create your family plan, gather everyone who lives with you and agree on what you’ll do after an emergency. This should include when, where, or how to meet up if you’re not together. Also who’s responsible for accounting for pets or young kids, who’s going to check on older relatives near by, or anything else. A great start is declaring a physical place to meet in an emergency that is outdoors and not under power lines or tall buildings.

With the right preparation, the hours and days after a large earthquake can be safe and even organized. You’ll be glad you had taken steps to create order and minimize risk in advance.

chimney flue repair, obstructed chimney

A chimney is designed to safely and effectively remove dangerous fire byproducts produced within the fireplace. When it becomes clogged, it can’t properly perform this important role. Birds’ nests, tree foliage, trash, and other debris can clog your home chimney, making it dangerous to use. Soot and crumbling bricks are also hazardous; if the chimney’s flue is not kept clean, your home is at risk every time you kindle the fireplace. Your home’s structure and age may also play a part in the overall health of its chimney. Determine if there is a blockage in your chimney, or if it needs flue repair, by looking at it yourself or hiring a professional maintenance company.

Warning Signs of a Blocked Chimney

A blocked chimney may be hard to diagnose on your own but there are some telltale signs to watch for. These warning signs include:

• A smoky smell when burning a fire

• Falling debris inside the hearth

• Water streaks inside the flue

• Excessive soot

• White residue on the flue walls

What can cause a chimney blockage?

There are three main causes of chimney blockages:

• An excessive build-up of soot or creosote (tar)

• Birds, squirrels, or other small animals nesting in the chimney

• The collapse of the internal chimney bricks

Inspecting the Chimney

1. Wear a safety mask or goggles for eye protection. Don a pair of gloves and place a handkerchief over your mouth and nose to keep you from inhaling loose, falling soot. Wear a hard hat to protect your head. Chimneys that have not been periodically cleaned may have a lot of debris.

2. Open the chimney’s maintenance door. Typically, it is located outside the house, but check your home’s blueprints for the exact location. Hold the mirror through the maintenance door, facing upward. With your other hand, shine the flashlight on the mirror. Adjust the angle to allow you to see up into the chimney.

3. Inspect the chimney flue from the outside of the building and again from the inside of the fireplace. Open the damper, and shine the flashlight up the walls with the mirror. See if you can insert a broom handle or long stick through the fireplace opening.

4. Feel the heat. When a clogged fireplace is operating, heat and moisture will back up into the home. When the chimney is unused, during summertime, for example, soot from a wood-burning fireplace or rust debris from the metal hood of a gas fireplace can amass. 

Chimney Flue Repair

Clearing a blocked chimney is a job best left for a professional. They have the tools necessary to reach and remove the debris clogging the flue. How quickly and easily the chimney is cleared will depend on how compact the blockage is. To prevent clogs in the future, an annual chimney cleaning is recommended. Regular cleanings will keep your flue clear while also warning you of any potential problems before they turn into costly chimney flue repairs. Installing a chimney cap onto the flue can also help limit the number of clogs your chimney experiences. Stopping debris from entering the system in the first place, caps can provide a proactive approach to chimney maintenance.

If you suspect a blocked chimney, contact a professional for assistance. We can diagnose and treat common chimney ailments both large and small.

September 30 – October 6 is
Chimney Safety Week

In the spirit of the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s mission to advance public awareness while educating and certifying industry professionals, National Chimney Safety Week was created to specify a week of outreach and education to the public about chimney and venting safety. Celebrate by scheduling your chimney inspection and cleaning today!

 

 

 

 

chimney removal, fireplace removal, chimney safety inspection

The reasons for removing an old chimney and fireplace removal may vary. Maybe the chimney is damaged, or you just do not use it often enough? A chimney and fireplace add character and warmth to a home, but there is more to these architectural features than cozy aesthetics.

Here are some reasons that some people choose existing chimney and fireplace removal:

 

Lack of Utility

These fireplaces are often relics of a different time when fires were the only source of heat in a home. Modern families are increasingly less likely to use a fire. Fireplaces are often nothing more than an ornamental feature in a room, and the chimney is just a place for heat and cold to pass through. 

 

Fireplace Removal Frees Up Valuable Space

Maybe your home lacks storage, has cramped living space, or you just want more free room. Removing a fireplace can give you the space you want. You can often remove a fireplace inside the building, leaving the chimney stack intact above roof level. This can free up valuable floor space inside.

 

Keeping It May Be As Costly As Chimney and Fireplace Removal

Removing an old chimney and fireplace is one way to avoid costs. Cost like repairing your current chimney, upkeep and future maintenance, and also save you on utilities by increasing your effective insulation.

Weigh up the cost of repairing and retaining a fireplace/chimney in working order. The cost of installing, repairing or maintaining new hearths, chimney linings or flues may well equal to or even more than the cost of removing an old one. 

 

Safety Reasons

Older chimneys, especially brick ones, can pose an earthquake danger. For a family that doesn’t gain much joy from their fireplace, the risk of a falling chimney is not worth taking. To fulling understand the likelihood of your chimney falling in an earthquake, schedule a safety inspection with professionals like The Irish Sweep.

If you’re considering removing your fireplace or chimney, you have options. You can install a gas fireplace, have no fireplace, or build a new one, depending on the architecture involved. If you have any questions or concerns, call The Irish Sweep today.

dangers of dirty chimneys, chimney inspection, fireplace, chimney sweep

 

If you have a chіmnеу, safety іnѕресtіоn is vital fоr a safe hоmе. Not to mention аn еffісіеntlу wоrkіng chimney! If уоu  haven’t been getting regular chimney іnѕресtіоns, or сlеаnіngs, there are good reasons to call іn a рrоfеѕѕіоnаl сhіmnеу service that саn take care оf all уоur fireplace ѕаfеtу needs.

 

If you’ve rесеntlу mоvеd іntо a hоmе that hаѕ a fіrерlасе, іt’ѕ сеrtаіnlу аdvіѕаblе tо have a сеrtіfіеd technician соmе tо уоur hоmе аnd gіvе іt a thorough going through to еnѕurе thе ѕаfеtу оf уоur chimney аnd уоur fіrерlасе. Evеn if the рrеvіоuѕ оwnеrѕ ѕау іt hаѕ bееn inspected, unless you have a record of when it was, it іѕ bеttеr to bе ѕаfе thаn sorry. Sіmіlаrlу, if you hаvе lіvеd іn уоur hоmе for ѕеvеrаl уеаrѕ, аnd hаvе nоt hаd уоur сhіmnеу looked at, nоw is the tіmе! Birds can nеѕt іn chimneys, leaving flаmmаblе debris thаt саn be highly dаngеrоuѕ tо your home and уоur family.

 

Thеѕе аrе dangers you can avoid by having a professional chimney іnѕресtіon:

 

Chimney Fіrеѕ Caused by Debris

Dіrtу сhіmnеуѕ саn саuѕе сhіmnеу fires, bоth drаmаtіс, flаmе-ѕhооtіng fires and ѕlоw-burnіng, quіеt fires. Luckily, this dаngеr саn bе еаѕіlу prevented bу hаvіng уоur сhіmnеу ѕwерt аnnuаllу. Yеаrlу сhіmnеу іnѕресtіоn is іmроrtаnt to ѕее іf аnу fire hazards rеmаіn in уоur chimney аftеr cleaning. Chіmnеу сlеаnіng is essential іѕ to rеmоvе animal nests, debris and creosote buіld-uр.

 

Crеоѕоtе Build-up

If уоu have a wооd-burnіng fіrерlасе, mоrе than lіkеlу уоu hаvе сrеоѕоtе іn your сhіmnеу rіght nоw bесаuѕе іt оссurѕ naturally іn thе wооd-burnіng process. It is the number one cause of chimney fires. Aѕ thе bу-рrоduсtѕ оf соmbuѕtіоn (smoke, wаtеr vapors, gаѕеѕ, unburnеd wооd particles, tаr fog, hуdrосаrbоn, etc) еxіt your fireplace аnd flоw out уоur chimney, condensation hарреnѕ, аnd its result іѕ сrеоѕоtе rеѕіduе fоrmаtіоn. Sticking tо thе interior walls оf уоur chimney, creosote varies іn appearance: blасk оr brоwn in соlоr, ѕtісkу аnd gummу, сruѕtу and flаkу, оr shiny and hаrdеnеd. Nо matter what it looks lіkе, thіѕ іѕ a dangerous, hіghlу соmbuѕtіblе соmроund. Whеn its build-up rеасhеѕ a certain аmоunt аnd your іntеrnаl fluе tеmреrаturе reaches hіgh еnоugh, a сhіmnеу fіrе саn easily rеѕult оn its оwn. Hаvіng сrеоѕоtе accumulation rеmоvеd frоm your chimney every year іn a сhіmnеу ѕwееріng is еѕѕеntіаl іn preventing a fіrе.

 

Respiratory Prоblеmѕ

Creosote buіlduр саn аlѕо cause respiratory problems. It irritates thе lungѕ аnd can cause rеlаtеd dіѕеаѕеѕ if іt’ѕ rеgulаrlу іnhаlеd оvеr a significant time period. Gеnеrаl rеѕріrаtоrу іnfесtіоnѕ are another hеаlth rіѕk оf prolonged сrеоѕоtе аnd soot inhalation.

 

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Another danger аѕѕосіаtеd with unсlеаn chimneys is carbon mоnоxіdе роіѕоnіng. Unfоrtunаtеlу, саrbоn mоnоxіdе poisoning іѕ оn the rise іn America. It mostly originates frоm hеаtіng ѕуѕtеmѕ which аrе nоt рrореrlу vеntіlаtеd. Like duе to hаvіng a dіrtу сhіmnеу. Dаmаgеd flue liners, soot buіld-uр, or аnіmаl’ѕ nests blосkіng thе passageway аrе fоund іn аnnuаl chimney ѕаfеtу іnѕресtіоns. These should bе соrrесtеd tо keep these toxic gаѕеѕ оut оf уоur hоuѕе. Yоur fіrерlасе nееdѕ оxуgеn іn order tо burn fuels соmрlеtеlу, аnd whеn thе оxуgеn supply іѕ lіmіtеd, саrbоn mоnоxіdе іѕ fоrmеd. This саn easily enter уоur hоmе, роѕѕіblу kіllіng уоur family.

 

Certified technicians and сhіmnеу ѕwеерѕ are there to еnѕurе you undеrѕtаnd the entire сhіmnеу safety іnѕресtіоn process. We can answer аnу quеѕtіоnѕ you may have. Bеfоrе уоu uѕе уоur chimney, let us mаkе ѕurе it’ѕ ѕаfе tо uѕе.

chimney removal, chimney speed, chimney cleaning, repair, maintenanceChimney removal is often advised, but many homeowners put it off, not considering the benefits of full chimney removal. Many homes have been built with fireplaces for heating, and they also have chimneys. As time has provided the innovation of other, more efficient heating methods, fireplaces and chimneys may not be used so often. Here we look at 5 reasons that you should consider having your chimney removed.

Chimney Removal Aides Home Heating/Cooling

If you are no longer using your fireplace for home heating, it’s possible your chimney is only working against your home heating and cooling efforts. Chimneys left in place may compromise insulation and allow drafts which hamper energy efficient home heating and cooling. Removing a chimney can help to create a more comfortable home environment while reducing energy usage and costs for heating and cooling.

You Want to Reduce Risk of Earthquake Damage

Chimneys are often the first structures to fall in an earthquake. If you haven’t used your chimney for years, it’s likely the chimney is worn out and damaged and at even higher risk of earthquake damage. Even a slight tremor can turn a masonry chimney into brick missiles, causing structural damage, bodily injury and even death to those in the home. With the risk of a major earthquake in California always growing, its best to have your unused chimney removed sooner rather than later.

Your Chimney is Worn and Damaged

In an old and unkempt chimney, bricks may be weak and broken, and mortar may be worn away leaving the bricks insecure. If you’re not using your chimney, it’s easy to neglect chimney care. But a weak chimney faces the possibility of collapse at any time. If your chimney is old and worn it’s better to have it removed than leave it in place.

You Want More Valuable Space

Square footage is valuable in a home, and yet leaving an unused chimney in place can compromise your living space. Removing a chimney can also help you access valuable living space in common areas and bedrooms. A chimney can impact the space in every level and room it passes through. Removing a chimney offers the added benefit of easily accessing more precious space in your home, creating a more modern and comfortable living environment.

You Want To Remodel

Working around an existing chimney when you’re trying to remodel your home can be difficult and costly. In many cases, it can be easier and cheaper to just remove the chimney so you can plan and construct your remodel the way you want. This gives you more space to work with, and freedom from the constraints of needing to work around the chimney.

By contemplating when it really might be worth chimney removal, you can access significant safety and practical benefits. Talk to your local chimney sweep company today about the benefits you could gain from removing your chimney.