Archive for June, 2012

Is This The Best Chimney Cap For You?

June 29th, 2012

A very good investment in chimney protection and performance.

The best investment you can make to protect your home and chimney is a good quality chimney cap. A cap prevents entry of rain and animals and helps contain sparks. In some of the western states a spark arrester is required.

RAIN

The number one cause of chimney damage is rain and weather. Rain is absorbed into the brick and mortar and weather changes cause expansion and contraction which deteriorates the masonry, compromising your chimney’s structural stability. This can make your chimney unsafe to use.

BIRDS & SMALL ANIMALS

Birds and small animals are attracted to chimneys. Chimneys offer a nice, tall place to live with secure protection. However, animal and bird nests are highly flammable, baby birds make incessant noises that will nearly drive you mad, and if she can’t exit through the top of the chimney, she and her babies will try and exit through the bottom and right into your home! Raccoon’s and squirrels can get into the house and cause thousands of dollars in damage to furnishing, rugs, curtains and everything in reach in their desperate attemt to escape from your home. They also harbor lice, fleas, rabies and other diseases that can put your family at risk.

Most folks figure that the baby animals will grow up and leave the nest, exit the chimney top, and then you’re safe to use the chimney again. NOT SO! First of all, far too many babies cannot escape the chimney and will die in there, creating horrible odors and maggot infestations. Second, the remaining nesting materials can block the chimney so that fumes and smoke cannot escape, as well as providing fuel for a raging chimney fire.

keep in mind that migratory birds are considered endangered and cannot be removed by law. Chimney sweeps are not even allowed to remove a nest that’s being used by chimney swifts for example. After the animal or bird evacuates your chimney, on its own or through forced eviction, you must have the chimney cleaned to remove the nesting materials, then install a chimney cap to prevent their return. The screening built into the cap is carefully designed to allow proper drafting yet keep out uninvited wildlife guests.

SPARK ARRESTORS & PERFORMANCE PROBLEMS

A good chimney cap also includes a screen that helps control sparks. On windy days, chimney draft can be affected and if sparks exit the chimney they can ignite nearby trees, leaves and other flammables. If your home is located within a wooded area, a chimney cap with a spark arrestor is strongly recommended.

Please contact you local certified chimney sweep for additional information.

The Perfect Wood Stove Installation?

June 24th, 2012

The metal is touching the wood surround.

Minimum firebox clearances for noncombustible’s. 16″ from firebox opening all around. Hearth (floor) minimum 20″ forward of firebox and 8″ minimum out from sides of firebox

Unlined chimney

The first building code in 1927 required a liner in all chimneys. Virtually all combustion appliance mfrs. state in their manuals their appliance can only be vented into an “approved” chimney or get even more specific stating it must comply with a certain code or standard such as the local state building code or NFPA 211.

Allot of glazed creosote buildup after only one year.

Everyone knows that when you hire a chimney sweep, one of his most important jobs is to clean the creosote out of the chimney so you don’t have a chimney fire. Most often, the creosote that needs to be removed from your flue is light and fluffy or a little crusty and flaky, but with the right tools and a little bit of elbow grease, normal creosote can be removed with professional chimney brushes.“Glazed” or “3rd Stage Creosote”, however, is a different story altogether! Consult with your certified chimney sweep for the right technique for you situation.

 

My customer even knocked out some of the bricks in the firebox so that his stove would fit. Ain’t that special?

 

A year ago I had advised this customer not to use the fireplace for any reason especially not for a wood stove application. Perhaps removing the stove and placing a plant in it’s place would be the best coarse of action.

Our Friends In High Places

June 21st, 2012

chimney

There are a lot of animal lovers out there who enjoy watching the birds and squirrels play around in their back yards.

  Then, there are those who like animals but curse the squirrel that keeps getting into the bird feeder.  There are also those who would rather not have anything at all to do with these critters.  No matter how much a person likes or dislikes animals, no one wants those animals to make their way into their chimney.  That is where a chimney cap comes in handy.

chimney

Of coarse if you’ve had as many of these little guys looking up at you when your looking down the flue as I have you might not think that the’re very cute.

If you hear a critter shuffling about within your chimney, then evicting the animal should take place as soon as possible.  Small animals such as squirrels may be trapped in a metal chimney liner by accident.  Once they crawl, or fall, down the chimney, they will be trapped because the chimney liner is not made for animals to grab on to with their claws.  If this happens, then getting the animals out can be a little tricky.  You will have to provide a way for the animal to crawl out.  For small animals, this can be accomplished by feeding a piece of thick rope down the chimney liner and attaching it to something at the top of the chimney.  Wait a little while and, hopefully, the squirrel will makes its way out.  Once you are certain that the critter is gone and you no longer hear the scuffling within the chimney, be sure to replace or install a chimney cap with wire netting around it to prevent further problems.

Installing a chimney cap is your best defense against unwanted guest in the chimney!

chimney

Some animals, such as raccoons can climb in and out of your chimney with no problems for they are big enough to use their bodies as leverage.  More than likely, if you have an animal like a raccoon in your chimney, then you may have a nest and there may be some babies involved as well.  There are odor-deterrents such as predator urine that can help get rid of some pests.  However, you will more than likely have to smell these as well.  There are also special traps that will trap an animal as it exits the chimney liner as well.  Once the mother is caught, you can usually reach up through your fireplace to remove the babies and nest, which will probably be on the smoke shelf.  Also, you can scare the mother out and then grab the babies.  Then, you can use the babies as bait for the mother in a live trapping device.  Be sure to check the laws in your area, for in some areas, it is illegal in some areas to trap animals such as raccoons.

Contact Your Certified Chimney Sweep For Answers To Your Questions.

Suit up! Let’s Go Sweeping…

June 14th, 2012

 Our first stop is a masonry repair job.

Loose or crumbling mortar and cracked or splitting mortar joints are caused by weathering or settling in the foundation. Like many home repair tasks, damaged brickwork should be fixed sooner rather than later to prevent further damage. I took out a dozen bricks with an air chisel. That’s the  right tool for this type of job, it’s light and works fast.

Until about 1930, the mortar used in masonry construction was composed almost entirely of lime putty and sand. It was relatively soft and worked very well with the softer, more porous bricks of the time. Unfortunately, over time the exposed area of lime putty mortar can be eroded and pointing, refilling the mortar joint with new mortar, may be required.

After removing the damaged bricks its time to lay in some new ones.

 Once all of the pieces of the damaged brick are removed we carefully remove the cement which had bound the old brick to the adjacent ones. In most cases the old cement can be easily removed with slight pressure from the air chisel. We place bricks equal in number to those being replaced into the water filled bucket.(This will allow the brick to better absorb the cement). I insert a brick into the opening allowing and excess cement to be squeezed out and fall away (excess cement ensures adequate surface coverage in the joints). If there are gaps or cement voids in the joints use trowel to insert and push additional cement into the gap.

Last task is to pour a new crown

The top surface of the chimney crown should slope away from the flue wall towards the crown exterior edge at a 3:12 pitch (3” rise for every 12” of the crown surface width). It would be ideal to have a crown shaped this way when it is created, because mortar added on top of the flat crown will always separate, crack and fall apart.

I use a special mix to do this job so that it will last and last. That’s It!

Ok let’s go on to the next stop.

 

Suit Up! Let’s Go Sweeping…

June 10th, 2012

Our first stop is a Level II Chimney Inspection.

We get to the house about thirty minutes early, which is great! Because it gives me a chance to chat with the current homeowner (seller) and find out how the fireplace has performed in the past. And with their permission we can set up the ladders and camera equipment.

Ok now Jane the realtor has arrived and we’re ready to get started.

First things first, let’s take our shoes off at the front door and lay out a tarp in front of the fireplace opening. Now let’s check the clearances at the fireplace surround and look for proper hearth dimensions. Next we remove the damper and check the angle of the sides in the smoke chamber. And  always, always looking for cracked bricks and missing mortar joints.

 

 

Now let’s go up on the roof.

We need to check the flashing, brick chase, crown and to make sure the chimney has a proper fitting flue cap.  This is a good time to send the spider camera down the flue to check the condition of the liner and to make sure the flue joints are properly mortared.

Down to the crawl space and up into the attic.

We need to check the clearances and look for obvious problems.

 It’s time to render a report.

The back of my van is a mobile office, there’s a computer, two printers and a binding machine. First we’ll imput the images and write the comments along side. When the report is complete we’ll go over it with the realtor and answer her question. This evening she’ll get a copy in PDF form with an accompanying flash movie of me going over the deatails and recommendations. That’s It!

Ok let’s go on to the next stop.

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