Posts Tagged ‘charlotte chimney sweep’

Is Water Running Down the Chimney?

July 19th, 2012

If you are having a problem with water running down the inside of your chimney and accumulating in the fireplace, then you need to read this post.

The problem probably stems from a bad crown on top of a masonry chimney.  Usually the crown is a top made from concrete that is angled to shed water (it overhangs the brick portion to keep drips from running down the chimney sides).  This structure surrounds but does not encase the clay flues.  The problem of water leaking usually comes in older homes.  Before the mid-1980s, chimney crowns were simply sloped washes put together with leftover mortar.  These crowns can crack and deteriorate, which leaves gaps around the flues.  This is what causes the leaking.  Some people believe adding chimney caps will solve the problem, but if you have a bad crown that might not be enough.

The solution?  If you are comfortable going up on your roof, head up and check the crown.  Use polyurethane to caulk any cracks or gaps you find.  If you’re n

ot comfortable on the roof, call a pro.  Check in the yellow pages under “Chimney Sweeps” and make sure he’s certified.

 

Are There Snakes In Your Chimney?

July 10th, 2012

To remove a snake already in your chimney, you must first find it.

 Your local chimney sweeps daily task, it seams, is to remove both dead and alive critters from chimneys. Sometimes all we find are the parts left behind, like a snake skin or a birds head.

Venomous snakes and snakes that are just really, really big. Venom, however, is transmitted by the direct action on the part of the predator. There are only about 20 types of venomous snakes in the US., out of over 110 species. Venom’s of the pit viper contain peptides and proteins. The venom leads to damage of vascular cells and red blood cells.

Viper bites can be deadly and normally are very painful. Elapid bites are extremely lethal and antivenin treatment is a must if bitten. Vipers, rattlesnakes, and other members of the family of snakes known as the ‘pit vipers’ have special pits located between their eyes and nostrils. The pits are used to sense minute temperature changes as infrared rays, as an aid in location warm blooded prey such as rodents.

 Snakes are actually responsible for keeping crop yields at an acceptable level and preventing spreading of diseases by killing rats. Snakes such as the non-venomous rat snakes are excellent at doing this. Snakes are found in a huge range of colors, form bright to dull. Brightly colored snakes are usually venomous, their coloration serving as a warning to predators, while dull colored snakes use their coloration for camouflage. Snakes are generally solitary creatures and have little to no interest in humans. In fact, most of the truly venomous snakes do not even make their homes in the United States.

Snakes are beneficial in that they eat pest insects and rodents, helping to control the populations of animals that can be nuisances to humans. Only about one-tenth of all snakes are venomous, and not all of the venomous snakes are dangerous, or even deadly to humans. Snakes are ectotherm, which means they regulate their body temperature by taking heat from their environment or by giving off heat. Because their body temperature is affected by environmental temperatures and varies with surrounding conditions, snakes are inactive during hot seasons (aestivation) and cold season (hibernation). Snakes are an integral part of the food web in any environment. As a predator, they are important in maintaining the fitness of the animals they prey on.

Your best defense from wild animals in your chimney is a quality chimney cap. Call your certified chimney sweep for details.

 

 

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

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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.

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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!

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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 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.

Creosote

May 24th, 2012

Is There A Time Bomb In Your CHIMNEY

chimney

 

Fireplaces and wood-stoves are designed to safely contain wood fueled fires, while providing heat for a home.  The chimneys that serve them have the job of expelling the by-products of combustion (substances given off when the wood burns).  These substances include smoke, water vapor, gases, unburned wood particles, hydrocarbon volatiles, tar fog and assorted minerals.  As these substances exit the fireplace, wood-stove, or furnace and flow up into the relatively cooler chimney, condensation occurs.  The resulting residue that sticks to the inner walls of the chimney is called creosote.

The buildup of creosote in your fireplace, wood-stove, and chimney is unavoidable.  A natural byproduct of the wood burning process, creosote forms a black/brown crusty, powdery, flaky, tar like, drippy and sticky or hard and shiny glazed coating on the inside of your chimney.  It is not uncommon to see all forms of creosote in one flue system.  What ever form it presents itself, creosote is highly combustible and a potential fire hazard: it’s the primary fuel in most chimney fires.

During a  chimney fire, the outside surface of the chimney can become hot enough to ignite the surrounding walls, floor joists, rafters, insulation, or roofing materials.  Suddenly, this can develop into an uncontrolled structure fire.

Even without a chimney fire, creosote and soot can reduce the draft and diminish the efficiency of your heating system.

Certain conditions encourage the buildup of creosote.  Restricted air supply, unseasoned/wet wood and cooler than normal chimney temperatures are all factors that can accelerate the buildup of creosote on flue walls.  Air supply on fireplaces may be restricted by closed glass doors or by failure to open the damper wide enough to move heated smoke up the chimney rapidly.  [The longer the smoke lingers in the chimney, the more likely it is that creosote will build up in the flue]

Burning dry, seasoned, wood allows for higher burning temperatures.  If the wood is not seasoned, energy is used to initially drive off the water trapped in the cells of the (unseasoned) logs, which also results in cooler smoke temperatures.

Burning hot fires with dry, seasoned, wood can ultimately help lower the amounts of creosote accumulation.

Call your Chimney Sweep for more information (704)526-6348

 

How We Got A Bird Out Of Our Wood Stove Chimney, by VivBounty

May 23rd, 2012

Last spring, our second one living out in the country, we heard something fluttering about in the chimney. From the second floor outside my bathroom door where the chimney runs up to the roof I heard it. Because there was no chirping, just scratching, knocking and fluttering, I assumed it was a bat, but that’s subject for another hub.

I came downstairs to the main level and walked past the wood stove hearing the cafuffle again. Not knowing much about physics, I assumed this little creature was fluttering up and down the chimney trying to fly vertically out the top. I did what any wife would do, called my husband and told him there’s something in the chimney and to please get it out. He looked at me aghast and said that would involve dismantling chimney and once you do that “these things never seal again…what about carbon monoxide…” and waffled on trying to disuade me with logistics.

I was not to be put off. I went upstairs again and heard it this fluttering thinking it could hear me go to each level and was following me up and down to plead its case for release. My husband logically and patronizingly said that basic physics states that sound travels further and better through anything heavier than air so the density of the chimney caused the fluttering to echo up through it. whatever is in there, he added likely could not fly vertically. He surmised that eventually it would die in there and we’d clean it out in the fall. I was mortified at something dying anywhere, nevermind in my chimney, if I could help it.

As our wood stove has a glass door, we guessed that it was probably attracted by the light. On the morning of day 3 I couldn’t stand it any more. I opened the glass door and looked up into the stove seeing only narrow vents through which I was convinced not even a mouse would fit. Closing the door I got a dark coloured towel to cover it blocking the light hoping that would cease to attract our trapped friend and went through the den to make breakfast in the adjoining kitchen. I then heard a small thud and scratching in the cold ashes on the floor of the stove. I immediately ran to get a flashlight, lifted the towel, shone the light into the stove to see a little bird so black as it was covered in soot about the size and shape of a sparrow. The air flow from the opening of the stove door must’ve enticed it to fight its way through those tiny vents in search of an escape route.

Squealing, I called out to my husband, “Oh look Honey, it’s a little birdie, poor thing. Go get a bag so we can catch it and let it out!”. Now it was his turn be mortified. He thought he was going to get off without having to get involved in this process. NOT. I went to find a large garbage bag, but found it did not fit over the door of the stove. Having just moved to Canada from Spain we had a trunk full of linens which did not fit our Canadian beds To my surprise the opening of the single bed duvet cover was too small to fit over the stove door. There was much toing and froing up and down the stairs to the linen trunk until finally the double duvet cover’s opening was just large enough to cover the whole front of the stove.

Finally engaged and convinced we could actually free this bird, my hubby agreed to hold one side of the sheet over the stove while I held the other side tightly so that it didn’t escape to fly around the house making a sooty mess. With the fron of the stove covered I opened the door for the bird to fly into the huge duvet cover. It headed for a little space near my husband’s hand as he, being the gentle giant that he is, wasn’t holding his side as tightly as mine. We twisted ends until the opening was sealed and fanned the rest of the duvet cover about enticing the bird to fly into it which it did right to the bottom of the sewed end. This allowed us to remove the open end from over the stove, twist it closed like you would to wring your laundry and carried the bird in the duvet cover outside to set it free. It took some doing to coax it all the way back from inside the closed end towards the opening. Rolling the sewed end up as it panicked and fluttered trying to escape it finally worked its way out through the opening uninjured flying skyward with no effort at all.

We often wonder if the little bird chirping in our huge maple outside our bedroom window each morning is our freed friend saying “good morning” and thanking us for its freedom sometimes even imitating the sound of our wake up call on the cell phone. Ironically, it is I who is thankful for the honour of being in harmony with nature around us.

1. SERVICES AVAILABLE: CHIMNEY SWEEP

May 4th, 2012

Lady Gaga claims she spends hours coordinating her attire? Or hours coordinating her face to go with her ridiculous outfits? This outfit looks like she spent the afternoon cleaning my chimney. On her way out of my chimney apparently her pants got snagged on a brick and ripped off. I don’t exactly know how to explain her bra being on the outside of her clothes. Is this girl for real? The cotton ball for hair and mask of black lace make this coordinated outfit just that more ridiculous. Can you believe she wore this to the Ace Awards?

These children lived in deplorable conditions

May 2nd, 2012

Being a chimney sweep was not lucky for the little girls and boys

 who had this job in the 1700′s to 1800′s. They were a type of indentured servant, bought by the chimney sweep master. The master was to teach them the trade while being responsible for housing them. Their job was to actually climb up, inside the chimney, brushing the flue as they went, and they weren’t done til their heads poked out of the chimney top. This, of course, was a scary job for these children and they were often reluctant to perform as expected. Many masters used a dangerous punishment: the child was forced up the flue then a fire was lit. Since he couldn’t come down, they had no choice but to climb up the flue. We think this is where the term “light a fire under you” originated.

These children lived in deplorable conditions. They carried a large sack with them, into which they dumped the soot they swept from the chimneys. They used this same sack as a blanket to sleep in at night, and only bathed infrequently. They were often sickly, and learned to beg handouts of food and clothing from their customers as all the money they earned went to their masters. The soot they collected was sold to farmers for fertilizer.

Amber D. is living with a young Chimney Sweep

May 1st, 2012

living with a chimney sweep

Chimney-sweep
It started out innocently enough last Thursday.  He wanted to be a chimney sweep.  Not just any chimney sweep.  He was very specific.  He wanted to be “Dick Van Dyke acting the part of Burt, the chimney sweep” from Mary Poppins.  Okay then.

Chimney-sweep-toddler
The next day was the same.  As was the next.  He played with his little brother but “as a chimney sweep” only.  We went out to a restaurant.  We went to a few stores.  We went about our normal business except that for the last six days I have had a chimney sweep for a son.  Soot and all.

 

Chimney-sweep-costume
On all these outings, only one person questioned us while we were in line at a kid’s clothing store exchanging something.  A woman in line next to us nearly collapsed from concern and asked me, “Did he fall down?  What are all the bruises on his face from?”  I swear she was reaching for her cell phone, ready to call Child Protective Services.  ”Uh, what?”  I’m so completely used to life with a chimney sweep that I was confused and actually looked at my other(clean as a whistle) child first, thinking he probably did have a bruise or two from falling down.  Then finally I explain, “Oh, he is dressed up like a chimney sweep.  That is soot.”  The woman laughs with relief.

The best part of living with a chimney sweep though is…

Soot-chimney-sweep
That sometimes just looking at him makes me laugh so hard that I can’t even take proper photos and half of my photos wind up like this one below:

 

Chimney
But that is okay because he is too busy laughing too.

 

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And laughing…

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And laughing…

 

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He makes a mean batch of molasses cookies, which we now have dubbed “Soot Cookies” forever.

 

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We’re going on day SIX today and we are even going on a vacation soon.  Will the chimney sweep be joining us?  I wonder how long this will last.  It sure has been fun.

 

Do you let your kids dress up and go places?  What was the wildest outfit that was paraded in public?

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