Posts Tagged ‘chimney sweep’

Don’t Neglect Your Chimney!

October 7th, 2012

As you snuggle in front of a cozy fireplace or bask in the warmth of your wood stove

 you are taking part in a ritual of comfort and enjoyment handed down through the centuries. The last thing you are likely to be thinking about is the condition of your chimney. However, if you don’t give some thought to it before you light those winter fires, your enjoyment may be very short-lived. Why? Dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires, which damage structures, destroy homes and injure or kill people.

Chimney fires can burn explosively

noisy and dramatic enough to be detected by neighbors or passersby. Flames or dense smoke may shoot from the top of the chimney. Homeowners report being startled by a low rumbling sound that reminds them of a freight train or a low flying air plane. However, those are only the chimney fires you know about. Slow-burning chimney fires don’t get enough air or have enough fuel to be as dramatic or visible. But, the temperatures they reach are very high and can cause as much damage to the chimney structure – and nearby combustible parts of the house – as their more spectacular cousins. With proper chimney system care, chimney fires are entirely preventable

Call your local Chimney Sweep Today!

Why is the top of my chimney rusting?

September 2nd, 2012

 

Pre-fabricated fireplaces have a flat metal covering (chase cover or chase top) to prevent water from entering the interior of the chimney structure.

The chase top is usually made of galvanized sheet metal with a life expectancy of 7 to 10 years. Over time, the metal coating wears off from exposure to sun, rain, snow, ice and other environmental factors. Most tops also develop a low spot around the flue pipe that holds water as well. With time, the metal starts to rust and when water runs off the top during a rain it carries the rust down the side of your chimney causing unsightly staining of the siding. The rust stains on the outside of the chimney are the first clue that there is a problem. Left untreated, eventually the corrosion will eat through the metal allowing water to seep through. You may hear water dripping on the inside of the chase after it rains. This is an indication that the rust has pitted the metal allowing water into the chimney where it can cause damage to the interior components of the chimney.

The time to act is when you first notice rust stains not after you hear water dripping.

To correct the problem, the existing chase cover can either be resurfaced and resealed or replaced with a new stainless steel chase cover that will last a lifetime.

Heads Up! You never know what you’ll find on a chimney.

August 12th, 2012

I found myself eye to eye with this little guy!

 

A customer called me today and said the cap I had installed last year must not be doing its job. “Something has died in my chimney”.

When I stopped by to check on her, everything looked ok from the ground, the cap was still up there. But boy when you came into the house it sure smelt like a dead animal to me and the closer you got to the fireplace the worst it got.

There was nothing in the fireplace, up the flue or behind the damper. This was crazy. Where was that smell coming from?

I put my ladder up and when I climbed to the top of the chimney, this little guy was staring at me, well what was left of him that is.

 

 

Hawks and owls typically prey upon ground dwelling mammals such as mice, vole, rats, squirrels and rabbits.

Apparently this Hawk dined and dashed.

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.

 

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.

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.

 

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?

chimney

 

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.

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.

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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