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Basic Chimney Sweep & Repair Blog

Keeping Your Chimney Operating Year Round

Whether or not the fireplace is in use, the chimney needs to be maintained in good working order year round. There are a number of reasons for this, but they all come down to safety in good air quality. The chimney can provide a continuous air-replacement system or a trap for air that is downright dangerous.

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Clear the Air

If all is well with a chimney, it draws air from the fireplace up and out, continually pulling ‘new’ air through the system. That helps to remove toxic gases from the home even when generated elsewhere, emitted by a leaky furnace perhaps. It also helps to clear the air of dust particles that otherwise settle back down and aggravate allergies.

In addition, the sooner problems with a chimney are caught, the less expensive they are to correct. Some do not even need to be problems, such as creosote accumulation, which can be completely avoided with regular professional inspections and cleanings. Other relatively inexpensive improvements, like caps and waterproofing for chimneys in good condition, may eliminate costly damage to the flue by rain or birds.

Protect Family and Investment

Neither inadequate drafting nor creosote buildup stops when the last fire is out beneath the chimney. If either exists, it persists, and it either presents the same stale air or it actually gets worse, true for both creosote- and water-caused damage. The importance of well-maintained fireplace systems cannot be stressed enough, since they are essential to home safety whether used or not.

Just as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should not be taken down because the fireplace is not in use, the home’s chimney should not be neglected either. Organizations, like the CSIA, are responsible for the certification of professional sweeps make sure they are qualified to keep every chimney operating safely. All homeowners really need to do is remember to call them and schedule twice-yearly inspections.

By Ronald Caillais on April 4th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment

Be Sure To Have a Chimney Cap

The weather is changing, and this means your chimney will once again be put to use. Before lighting that first fire, look at your chimney and make sure you have a chimney cap installed. If not, you should seriously consider getting one before the winter really kicks in and you are using your fireplace every day.

Be sure to have a chimney cap

A chimney cap is relatively inexpensive to have installed. In fact, its preventative value may exceed the installation costs. There are multiple benefits, as you will soon see, in having a chimney cap installed on your chimney.

  1. Prevents Animals from Entering Chimney – while birds are probably the most common, there are other animals that can find their way into the chimney. This can cause problems with the interior of the lining as well as leave your chimney inoperable for fear of killing the animal that has found its way inside. In the worst-case scenario, chimney swifts, a bird protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty, will find a home in your chimney and you will not be able to remove it until the birds migrate for the summer.
  2. Rain Water – rainwater is a definitive problem for homeowners that have not had a chimney cap installed. Heavy storms can cause water to literally pour down into your chimney, which is dangerous on several levels. Firstly, it can put out the fire and cause massive amounts of smoke to enter the home. Secondly, it can cause structural problem with the liner and end up creating mold inside the chimney, resulting in expensive repairs.
  3. Debris – winter is known for high winds in many areas. With wind often comes a large amount of dust, dirt, and debris. Without a chimney cap, this debris can find its way into your chimney.
  4. Inadvertent Fires – while enjoying your fire, have you ever noticed the embers that fly up in the chimney flue? Well, guess what the leading cause of external fires related to fireplace use is? The cap will prevent the embers from ever leaving the flue, therefore, avoiding any chance of a fire starting outside your home from stray embers.
By Ronald Caillais on December 27th, 2012 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Why You Can’t Move Chimney Swifts

Chimney swifts are birds that nest in chimneys in eastern North American during summer and migrate to South America in the winter. Swifts are not capable of perching, so they must cling to vertical surfaces. They prefer nesting in large, open chimneys, where they present a nuisance for homeowners. However, moving the swifts is not permitted because these birds are protected by law.

Chimney Swifts are protected birds

The chimney swift is an amazing bird because since it cannot perch, it must do everything in flight. Tasks performed while flying range from catching food to breaking off twigs to create a nest. Swifts dine on insects and stop flying only long enough to roost or provide food to their young. Flights follow a distinctive path of rapid, angular turns.

When farmers clear trees from land, they remove the traditional habitat for chimney swifts. Mortared brick and stone chimneys represent a suitable replacement to hollow trees. More homeowners are installing slippery metal flue pipes and chimney caps, presenting dangers or deterrents for these harmless birds. A swift is unable to cling to a metal flue pipe and may fall into the fireplace, causing death.

The small nests that swifts build for their young are not fire hazards. However, they should be removed once the birds fly south in the fall. If the nest is removed before the young have vacated, these tiny birds are likely to die. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects swifts so an individual can be subject to penalties or fines for knowingly destroying birds or their nests that could contain eggs or young birds.

To keep swifts safe, metal-lined chimneys should be capped. Chimney caps will prevent Swifts from nesting there in the first place. A chimney should not be swept until fall if a swift occupies it. The North American Chimney Swift Nest Site Research Project is currently designing and testing alternate nesting structures for swifts. Until then, homeowners should live in harmony with these attractive birds.

By Ronald Caillais on November 28th, 2012 | Tagged with: Tags: , | Leave a Comment
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