Posts Tagged ‘chimney sweeper’

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.

Chimney Sweep Festivities in England

May 13th, 2012

Your Chimney Sweep

In Rochester, England, real life chimney sweeps have about as much fun as they do in Mary Poppins! Part of the traditions with the chimney sweep profession include a celebration that takes place once a year and goes on for 3 days straight.

Hundreds of years ago when chimneys were cleaned by young boys, the profession had one day off each year! This was on May 1st. To celebrate, the boys ran through the streets singing and dancing with excitement. Today, the celebration continues in a very similar fashion. The modern day festival which will mark its 32nd year in 2012 reenacts this tradition with more and more extravagance every year. Think Mardi Gras, Chimney Sweep Style.

In May of each year, over the national bank holiday, a huge festival for chimney sweeps in Rochester, England called the Rochester Sweeps Festival takes place. This year the festival will be held from Saturday, May 5th through Monday, May 7th, 2012. The festival has many attractions ranging from traditional folk music, elaborate dancing, parades, group performances and other festive entertainment.

One of the most important parts of this holiday tradition is the awakening of the Jack-in-the-Green during the festival. The Jack-in-the-Green is a 7 foot tall leafy man that starts the parade celebrations each year alongside traditional Morris dancers and the chimney sweeps. The concept came about from the elaborate costumes people used to wear during the May festival to celebrate the coming of spring. People used to dress up by layering strands of flowers and leaves all over themselves. Some people got so into the leafy costumes that they began to take on the form of a tree rather than a person. This look later became recognized as the Jack-in-the-Green at every May Festival. Now the Jack-in-the-Green has a prominent role in the Rochester Sweeps Festival.

A few songs have been written about the Jack-in-the-Green, including a track by the same name by Magpie Lane that is written in the traditional style of folk music and projects the spirit of the festivities.

The Morris dancers that take part in the parades at the festivals are traditional English folk dancers. Each group of these dancers consist of about 6-10 people dressed up in various costumes. The costumes vary greatly depending on where each group is from. Some Morris dancers wear tattered clothing and paint their faces black, while others dress up in lively colors with detailed belts. Traditional Morris dancing is performed on specific holidays, such as May Day, Whitsunday, and Christmas.

After all of the excitement during the day with the parades and dances, the festivities continue at night in the many local pubs where local beer flows and local bands play all night for the lively audience. This is a weekend filled with tradition and new things to see so it brings in a lot of tourism to the various businesses throughout town. Somehow we thought that these sweeps might end the day in the pub!

Even though the date carries much of the tradition of the festival, and the current level of tourism is already very high, this year there is controversy surrounding the May Day holiday. The English Parliament is thinking about moving the festivities to October or April to extend the tourism season and ultimately make the holiday more profitable for participating businesses. The proposal came from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) tourism who believes that the change in date will have a dramatic increase in tourism to the area. Already 3,000 people have signed a petition against this proposal, and a decision has not yet been reached.

This festival is a great way to celebrate the tradition and history of the chimney sweep profession. Tourists literally come from all over the world to be part of the excitement of the festival, celebrate the coming of Spring and of course, for the good luck kisses from all of the local sweeps and Morris men.

Who knows maybe one of these years North Carolina Chimney Sweeps Association will throw our own festival!




The Chimney Sweeping Log: Does It Work?

April 27th, 2012

Nothing like a crackling fire for the winter season.

But before you fire up the fireplace, ask yourself, how clean is my chimney? Give it a sweep with the Chimney Sweeping Log! This product is supposed to prevent chimney fires by cleaning it as it burns.

But Does It Work? “From what we’ve read, it says it will work in masonry fireplaces. This is Butch Weber, his chimney business is named after him. He says the fire hazard come when your chimney builds up a residue called creosote.

The makers say this product is easy to use. All you do is light the log. Sounds easy enough.

This fire gives off a chemical that is supposed to dry out the creosote. Eventually, it will breakaway from the walls’ of your fireplace. “We need to let this burn for 90 minutes,” we said.

We revisited the log the next day. Butch says the log, if it worked, should show us some results. But we did not see any proof. What we saw was a log that did not burn all the way. “Here are the three previous marks we made. Here’s a good creosote spot. Obviously none of it has fallen like the product said it would,” says Butch.

So much for the easy way out to cleaning your chimney. “It still needs to be done the old fashioned way with the steel brushes and a vacuum. No miracle cure here yet,” said Butch.

Save your $16. Don’t let it go up in smoke like we did. The Chimney Sweeping Log doesn’t work!

Wedding Services

April 25th, 2012

Thinking of hiring a chimney sweep for your wedding service?

Chimney sweeps are a traditional accompaniment to a wedding and are said to bring good luck, fertility and fortune to the bride and groom.The tradition of a chimney sweep bringing the bride and groom luck on their wedding day is one that goes back many years to the reign of King George II.

 The history of the Chimney Sweep

The story goes that as King George II was travelling in his carriage the horse attached to the carriage suddenly became wild and frenzied. The only person brave enough to take action and stop the horse from bolting with the carriage containing King George on it was a local chimney sweep who courageously stepped in and saved the day.

King George was so grateful to the chimney sweep for saving his life that he issued a Royal Decree that all chimney sweeps were to be regarded as bearers of good luck and that chimney sweeps were to be treated with the greatest of respect.

From that day forth the tradition of chimney sweeps being regarded as omens of good luck was established and this is why many couples make the choice to hire a chimney sweep to attend their wedding day.

 What does a chimney sweep do on the Wedding Day?

On you’re wedding day I will arrive in traditional Victorian Style chimney sweep costume, including the customary chimney sweeps brush, top hat, coat with tails and soot blackened face.

I will allow plenty of time for the bride and groom and also any guests who wish to have a photo opportunity with me.

In order to bestow the Chimney Sweeps good luck I will have a handshake for the groom and a good luck kiss for the bride.

With the power given by the Royal Decree of King George II I will then recite a message of good luck for the future to the bride and groom. I will then present the bride and groom with a personalized certificate and a special gift.

In order to ensure good luck make sure to hire a genuine chimney sweep.

What is that Chirping Coming From My Chimney

April 19th, 2012

You may have noticed little bat-like creatures living in your chimney during the months when it is not in use.

 These birds are often confused as bats because of their jerky flight, but are actually completely harmless Chimney Swifts. These tiny little birds migrate from South America during the Spring and leave the northeast around early November, just as the cold weather starts to come through. While a migrating bird may not seem like a big deal, the problem comes in when they are no longer welcome guests. Chimney Swifts are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This Federal Law prohibits the removal of any migrating bird without a federal permit. In addition to the prohibited removal, these migratory birds always return to the same nesting spots year after year, therefore, if you had a nest in your chimney last year, you can expect the flock to return this year. If you decide you do not want the birds to return to your home, preventative measures must be taken within the proper window of time. On the other hand, if you would like to provide a home for these birds, it is best to learn ways to help them find and enjoy your home.

You May Not Recognize The Sound in Your Chimney – Take A Listen!

What is a Chimney Swift?
The Chimney Swift is the most common migrating birds found in North America. While they are sometimes mistaken as bats, the Chimney Swift actually has many unique characteristics. For starters, unlike other birds, the Chimney Swift does not find comfort in the branches of a tree. In fact, these birds have trouble balancing on horizontal tree limbs or anything horizontal for that matter. Chimney Swifts are accustomed to the vertical and textured walls of a chimney or the insides of a hollowed out tree. Their legs and feet are designed for the lifestyle of holding onto the ridges of the walls. Another distinct attribute of the Chimney Swift are the wings. The wingspan of the otherwise 5 inch long bird is about 12 inches and the wing shape looks like narrow half crescents. The look of their wings gave this bird the nickname of the “flying cigar”.  In fact, they mostly live in the air and typically only land to sleep at night and raise their young. The nests they build jut out from the chimney walls and are held together by the bird’s glue-like saliva. To survive, the Chimney Swift catches up to one third of its weight everyday in insects during fight.  In the summer months, they migrate to the North and when the weather turns chilly, the birds head back down to South America to avoid the cold.

What is the big deal?
Unfortunately, in Connecticut, the Chimney Swift population has been declining at about 4 percent each year. In the past, these birds nested in hollowed out trees but with the loss of much of their natural habitat, the birds found other means of protection in stone chimneys. This move to a different type of habitat allowed them to have more options on where to nest. But these days, with more and more homes being built without chimneys and the existing ones installing chimney caps or metal flue liners, it is once again becoming difficult for Chimney Swifts to find a nesting place.

Chimney Swift migration season starts in late March and the birds return to the south before the first frost in early November. With this migration pattern and the laws against their removal, if your home is chosen as a nesting spot, the birds must be left alone till the time when they decide to fly away as the leaves start changing colors. But hosting Chimney Swifts is not terrible. The birds are most often left unnoticed until the time when their young are grown up enough to make chirping sounds when the parents bring home food for them. During this time, which happens about 2 weeks before the fall migration, the chirping sounds can be very persistent. But there is one major benefit to keeping Chimney Swifts around, the little birds eat about a third of their weight in insects every day. This includes troublesome mosquitoes, termites, beetles, and many other tiny pests. You can even consider the minor disturbances at the end of their stay as your only sacrifice for enjoying a bug free summer!

Chimney Swift Towers

Many bird lovers actually construct special towers designed to house the visiting Chimney Swifts as they migrate into the area looking for places to nest. You can find easy to build Chimney Swift Towers online and construct one near enough to your home that you can enjoy watching the birds, but far enough away that they will not create any problems. If your chimney is capped, they will look for the next best thing and find your tower. Some communities that are known as annual nesting grounds have constructed large towers for these migrating birds. The swifts favor larger chimneys, so abandoned factories with smokestacks are a favorite place for a summer home.

How can I become a Chimney Swift host?
If you are not against hosting a little family of birds on your own, there are a few ways to encourage their presence in your chimney. Here are a few tips for attracting and keeping the birds around your home.

• After your chimney has been used all winter long, have a chimney sweep come out and clean the creosote from the walls to ensure it is a good clean home for your feathery friends.

• To prepare your chimney for the Chimney Swifts, remove your chimney cap during the season they will be visiting and remember to replace the cap once again after the birds have left.

• While the birds are nesting, ensure the dampers are closed so that baby birds do not fall down the chimney shaft.

• If at any point a baby does fall down the chimney shaft, gently guide it to the walls of the chimney and allow it to climb back up to the nest.

• After the birds have flown away for the winter, have your chimney sweep inspect the chimney once more and remove the bird nest to ensure you have safe fires all winter long till the birds come back in the spring!

• Chimney Swifts are pleasant guests and will even keep your home insect free for the summer!

Chimney Caps Are Designed To Keep Uninvited Birds And Critters From Nesting In Your Chimney.

How do I get rid of them?
Letting a family of migratory birds may not be for everyone. But the good news is that it is very simple to bird proof your chimney. This is the purpose of the chimney cap. The only tricky part is to install the cap while the birds are living down south. When the chimney professional comes over to install the chimney cap, have them check for an active nest of birds and if one if found, reschedule the cap installation for after the Chimney Swifts have gone back to South America. It is illegal for a chimney sweep to remove the nest or eggs or a migratory bird. Once the chimney is bird free and cleaned, and a cap is installed, you are now safe from any nesting birds. Another bonus is that a chimney cap is good for many other reasons besides bird control. The chimney cap will also prevent falling leaves, rain water and other harmful creatures or things from falling into the chimney. Keeping the birds out is a simple fix and furthermore, a chimney cap is a good addition to any chimney anyway.

Ultimately, it may be nice to host family of Chimney Swifts, but if you are not comfortable with the little birds inhabiting your chimney, it takes only a minor addition to your chimney to solve the problem forever. Call Affordable Chimney Sweep Today (704)526-6348

Chimney Swift

April 4th, 2012


A “flying cigar,” 

the Chimney Swift is rarely seen perched. Its high-pitched twittering is a familiar sound during summertime in the city as it flies high above, catching small flying insects.

Cool Facts

  • Before European settlement of North America, the Chimney Swift probably nested in caves and hollow trees. The swift benefited greatly by the construction of chimneys and the increased availability of new nest sites. Recent changes in chimney design, with covered, narrow flues, have decreased the available nest sites and may be a factor in declining population numbers. For information about a Chimney Swift tower made specifically for nesting swifts, go to the North American Chimney Swift Nest Site Research Project.
  • Chimney Swifts do not sit on perches like most birds, but instead use their long claws to cling to the walls of chimneys and other vertical surfaces.
  • Swifts are among the most aerial of birds, flying almost constantly except when at the nest or roosting at night. The Chimney Swift bathes in flight, gliding down to water, smacking the surface with its breast, then bouncing up and shaking the water from its plumage as it flies away.
  • The Chimney Swift is gregarious, with large numbers of swifts roosting together in a single chimney or air shaft during the nonbreeding season. Nonbreeding swifts will roost together in the summer too, and this behavior has fooled people into thinking that the Chimney Swift nests in colonies. In fact, only one pair nests in a single chimney. The pair may tolerate other swifts roosting in their chimney, though, further confusing people watching the swifts from the ground.
  • The fast, erratic flight of the Chimney Swift is characteristic of small swifts. It gives the very distinct impression that the swift is beating only one wing at a time, alternating wings. Careful investigation has shown, though, that a swift beats both its wings at the same time just like all other birds. The illusion comes at least in part from the frequent banking and turning.

Call Affordable Chimney Service For Chimney Service Needs (704)526-6348

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