The Importance of Chimney Sweeping Early in 2020

As a homeowner, it’s important to regularly schedule a chimney sweeping appointment to prevent fires. If you use your fireplace regularly, soot and creosote collect on the walls of your chimney. This is dangerous and can also reduce the efficiency of your fireplace.

Luckily, all of this can be avoided by having your chimney cleaned before the colder months arrive, and 2020 is no exception. It’s always best to hire a professional chimney sweep before the rainy weather sets in.

Here’s why hiring a chimney sweeping service is essential for every homeowner…

This Isn’t a Job to Handle by Yourself

Not only is it messy work, but in order to ensure that your chimney is really clean, it’s essential to hire a professional to get the job done right. Most homeowners don’t have the proper equipment or the expertise that’s needed to thoroughly clean their own chimney.

Chimney Fires are Extremely Common

It’s estimated that each year 70,000 house fires are caused by the buildup of soot inside chimneys. In fact, research indicates that as many as 30% of all home fires are caused by chimney soot buildup. Furthermore, these fires can cause costly damage to homes. In fact, chimney-related fires cause an estimated $1.3 billion in damage every year.

The Efficiency of Your Fireplace Will Increase

Creosote and soot buildup reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches the fire in your fireplace, causing it to burn at a lower temperature. There can be a substantial difference in heating efficiency after your chimney is cleaned.

Buildup Can Become Costly

In some cases, dust, soot, and debris can build up in your chimney to the point where the walls become damaged. Left long enough, it may require costly repairs to restore your chimney.

It Helps Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide in your home can be deadly, and having a chimney that’s partially clogged can increase this risk. Furthermore, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often go unnoticed. But fortunately, having your chimney cleaned can greatly reduce your chances of falling victim to this silent killer.

Chimney Sweeping With Us

At The Irish Sweep, we’re here to help with any masonry repairs, fireplace insert installation, chimney cleaning, and/or dryer vent cleaning. We offer our services to Bay Area customers to ensure their health and safety. Schedule an appointment online, or contact us at (510) 521-4088.

How Long Does a Chimney Sweep Take?

If you’re ready to have your chimney cleaned, you might wonder what to expect and how long the process will take. The short answer is that a chimney sweep typically takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

Technicians spend some time setting up equipment, like laying drop cloths to protect your living space from soot and chimney debris. There’s also packing up at the end to thoroughly clean up all resulting debris. Because of this, the total service time may exceed an hour. Although, you shouldn’t need to schedule more than two hours for your entire service, from start to finish.

Here’s a more thorough look at what to expect…

CAP OR NO CAP

The total time expenditure of your chimney service will depend on a few outside factors. We recommend your chimney has a cap that covers the opening. This prevents outside debris from coming in. It also keeps animals from making homes or becoming trapped inside. So, if your chimney has a cap, the chimney sweep process will likely take less time. Chimneys without a cap may have extra debris that needs to be removed.

BUILDUP

Another factor impacting the amount of time a chimney service takes is buildup. Creosote is a tar buildup present in the chimney. Because it’s a byproduct of wood burning, some residue is left inside the chimney after every fire. Over time, it creates a thick layer of black tar. Since creosote is flammable, it’s important to have this buildup removed periodically by a chimney technician.

This is one of the reasons why a regular chimney sweep service is so important. If it’s been a while since the chimney was cleaned, there will be more creosote and the service might take longer. Generally, chimneys that are regularly serviced can be swept more quickly.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A CHIMNEY SWEEP

Your chimney sweep technician will likely clean your chimney with a long wire brush that looks something like a large bottlebrush. The bristles of the brush sweep debris from inside the chimney and down the flue, cleaning the inside surface area. Accumulated debris gather in the fireplace area to be removed.

CHIMNEY SWEEP SERVICES

Regular chimney cleaning is an important safety measure, a central part of home maintenance, and can be done quickly and cleanly. Now that you know what to expect, contact a representative at The Irish Sweep to set up your chimney cleaning service today. Contact our office at (510) 521-4088.

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.

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. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I plan on sharing some day-to-day experiences with you because I live in an awesome world, I get to be in nature all day, I meet some very interesting people and have some amazing adventures.

But first there is some information that I want to present so that this information can be found on the world wide “interweb” as we call it at my house.

Let’s start with the most frequently asked questions.

People ask me all the time,

“How often should I have my chimney and fireplace professionally cleaned?”

The rule of thumb is once every 75 fires or every cord of wood.

“How much is a cord of wood?”

It is a stack of wood 4 feet high X 8 feet long X 4 feet deep.

“Do I need my chimney cleaned if I am using a manufactured log instead of real wood?”

Yes, anything you burn will leave debris in your fireplace and on the walls of your chimney. All of that debris is a flammable substance known as creosote.

“What is creosote?”

Inside chimneys and stovepipes deposits originating as condensed wood smoke having three stages:
1st stage is soft soot
2nd stage is lumpy and crisp
3rd state is like roofing tar and is smooth as glass

“What is a damper?”

A damper is a moveable blade located in the throat of the fireplace that is designed to impede airflow in the chimney. During the colder months of the year, it is important to keep the damper closed when the fireplace is not in use because the damper will keep the exterior cold air from sinking down the chimney and entering your home and prevent your expensive PG&E heated air in your home.
If you live with air condition, the same is true when using that option to cool your home.

A glass fireplace enclosure also impedes airflow.

STRIKE WHILE THE IRON IS HOT AND YOUR CHIMNEY IS COLD…

Seize the moment!

Those with wood-burning fireplaces take note! Have you heard about the most recent new proposal to be mandated by the (BAAQMD) Bay Area Air Quality Management District? In a nutshell, there is a strong push toward the elimination of fireplaces.

As a result, if you are considering the installation of a set of artificial gas logs or a gas-burning fireplace insert, seize the moment NOW, especially if you are considering relocating in the near future.

The Time is NOW!

As we move toward September, Bay area retail stores and professional chimney installers will be overwhelmed and those dreams to have an installation completed by the Holidays may not become a reality. This is YOUR MOMENT to be pro-active. So before that little cold nip of fall air puts a shiver in your spine, start planning.

4 Guidelines to help with your Chimney decisions

  1. Any time a fuel source is changed in a fireplace, for example, wood-burning to a gas conversion, the chimney must be cleaned.
  2. If the plan is to install as set of artificial gas logs, an inspection of the interior surfaces of the chimney is required to determine the worthiness of the clay liners inside the chimney and their related mortar joints.
  3. If the chimney fails the inspection, you might want to consider your options which could include installing a stainless steel liner in the chimney that will support that set of logs or installing a gas-burning or wood-burning fireplace insert.
  4. It might also be time to consider the seismic liability of your chimney.

The BAAQMD is on the move. There is a proposed mandate coming down the pipeline and all Bay Area residents who love their open wood-burning fireplace should take notice. If the proposal is approved, this will be a requirement on all home sales; Please check our website www.theirishsweep.com regularly for updated information.

The Irish Sweep offers complete installation of artificial gas logs or fireplace insert. Contact us today to schedule your install at 510-521-4088.