Posts Tagged ‘charlotte 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.


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.


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 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.


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


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.


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!


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.

Why You Should Not Paint Your Chimney!

May 29th, 2012

Many people think a painted chimney looks beautiful, modern, or sleek, but just like a lovely bronze tan, it looks good on the outside, but the inside is another story.Many people hire a remodeler, handy man, or builder to paint their chimney, or apply a thick coating of tar or sealer to the chimney.  Although it may seem like a great idea, in reality it can ruin your chimney.Why?



The answer is simple.  Your chimney is a different temperature inside than it is on the outside, and because of this, moisture can build up within your chimney.  Gas appliances can also release high amounts of moisture into your old masonry chimney.  This exhaust condenses in improperly sizes flues.

This moisture must be allowed to evaporate, or leave, the inside of the chimney or it will destroy it.  In other words, the chimney must be allowed to breathe.  If it is sealed with tar, sealer, or paint, the mortar and brick inside your chimney will deteriorate very quickly.  Moisture can wick into the brickwork and stay there, destroying the mortar from the inside out.

The good news is, if this problem is identified early enough, I can rectify it, allowing your chimney to work properly for many years.

I have seen this happen many times.  Quite often I receive a call after a client has made several (failed) attempts to patch or repair their chimney with tar or sealant.  My clients who have chimneys that have been painted for many years are some of the worst in terms of structural integrity.  Unfortunately, I am unable to offer a simple, economical solution if a chimney has been painted, tarred, or sealed on the outside to cover a severe problem.

What’s the Solution?  Call Chris at Affordable Chimney Service (704)526-6348!

Remember:  your chimney is a safety device that must be capable of containing water, steam, heat, condensation, and possibly fire.  A typical handy man, roofer, or builder does not have the proper education or specialty equipment needed to diagnose your chimney’s underlying problem.


May 24th, 2012

Is There A Time Bomb In Your 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.

Chimney sweep discovers bomb

May 16th, 2012

A German chimney sweep discovered an unexploded World War Two bomb stashed in the fireplace of a house.


Houses were evacuated and Surbiton Hill Park in Berrylands was closed when the missile-looking package was discovered on Friday, December 3.

The owner

 of the house felt so guilty she bought a round of drinks at a nearby pub for neighbours who had been forced out of their houses.

Chimney sweep Carsten Bergmann, 40, from Sutton, reached inside the disused chimney, which he estimated had not been cleaned for about 30 years, and found the bomb.

He said: “This is the oddest thing I have ever found.

“I was sweeping inside the chimney and felt something loose. I pulled it out and got a big surprise.

“It was about 20cm long but was big enough to blow up a tank.

“I was scared but I knew without a weapon you cannot explode them. Normally on bombs you have a firing switch that is broken if it has already gone off. It was unused so it could have been live.”

Louise Ridout, a 30-year-old marketing manager, hired 1-2-C Chimney Sweep after moving into the house with her partner a few weeks ago.


She said: “I have no idea how long it had been here.

“Most of my neighbours said it was better to know now than for our houses to blow up.”

She said the bomb had been found in a compartment of the chimney, not down the flue, suggesting it had been put there, rather than having fallen down the chimney.

The Metropolitan Police’s specialist bomb squad checked the bomb to see if it was live, after being called at 4.44pm.

Ten minutes later the Chilterns, Surbiton Hill Park and the Royston were closed, diverting traffic including the K2 bus. The road was re-opened at 5.42pm.

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