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Chimney Mold and Its Dangers

Water always finds a way. And when that water gets into your chimney, it can cause real damage. In addition to damage of your chimney, water also produces mold – and those dangers can spread to your physical health. Never touch mold anywhere in your home without first protecting yourself with gloves and a ‘surgical mask’.

Chimney Mold - Baton Rouge LA - Basic Chimney Sweep

Mold can cause reactions that range from irritation of eyes and skin to severe infections and if not treated, long-term health issues. Common indicators of mold exposure are congestion, cough and headache. Since these indicate so many other things, avoiding contact is recommended. Sometimes mold in your chimney produces a musty smell, but regular chimney maintenance can remove and prevent mold.

Keeping Mold Out

Homeowners can contribute greatly to its prevention with some really simple measures that make systems maintenance easier. Before you paint, use a mold-killing primer, especially on ceilings, bathroom walls.  Outer interior walls around deck doors and windows are also key areas to monitor. Mold grows fastest in dark damp places, like water-compromised chimneys or ductwork, but “damp” is all it really needs.

Dehumidifiers can help to reduce the dampness in the air.  Check with certified HVAC professionals to see whether this might work for you. Do not carpet damp areas like bathrooms and laundry rooms, as the moisture in this area is a tempting breeding ground for mold. Keep your supply registers and return vents vacuumed out and free of obstruction.  Resist the urge to hide baseboard registers with furniture; give them room to breathe and keep them clean. All of these measure are particularly helpful in areas of high humidity.

Removing mold from your chimney is a job best left to a professional chimney sweep. Where there is mold, there is water, so the system needs cleaning, inspection, and repair. Wherever water and fire meet, chimney sweeps go. Mold is a danger for you and your pets. Protect those you love by securing annual chimney maintenance.

By Ronald Caillais on June 15th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Avoiding the Dangers of Creosote

When most people burn wood or other combustibles in their fireplace, they do not even realize that they are exposing their families to the dangers of creosote. Creosote is a chemical compound that is left behind after these materials burn in the fireplace. They can pose serious health and safety risks once they accumulate, but there are a few ways to avoid those risks.

Burning Combustibles - Baton Rouge LA - Basic Chimney Sweep

The most important way to avoid the dangers of creosote is to have the chimney and fireplace professionally cleaned. This should be done at least once a year, typically when the fireplace is done being used for the year. A professional cleaning is necessary as opposed to do it yourself because a chimney sweep will have the proper tools and training to do the job properly.

Another option available for those who want to thoroughly rid their homes of creosote is chemical cleaning. This involves a chemical cleaner that is put in the chimney and works while the fire is burning. It is a very effective method of cleaning the fireplace and chimney, but it should be implemented by a professional since it involves hazardous chemicals.

Some people think that, because they have not noticed any strange smells or excess smoke, there is no buildup of creosote in their chimney or fireplace. The truth is that anyone burning wood in his or her fireplace will more than likely have some level of creosote buildup in the chimney. That is why an annual cleaning is necessary, even with the lack of signs that there is a problem.

If creosote is allowed to build up and remain in the chimney, it can pose serious risks. It could start a dangerous chimney fire and may put everyone in the home at risk for an array of diseases. The best way to avoid this is to make sure the chimney is cleaned each year by a professional.

By Ronald Caillais on June 8th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Safely Using Heaters in Your Home

“Heaters” can be all kinds of things but, from fireplace inserts to electric space heaters, they present a fire hazard and need to be safely used. If they can warm you up quickly, they do the same for other things, so space heaters need to be carefully positioned. If cozy fires can heat the room, even a little, imagine what they can do to the chimney above them, so fireplaces need clean chimneys.

Heater Safety - Baton Rouge LA - Basic Chimney Sweep

Otherwise, it does not take long for the space heater to catch the drapes on fire and the fireplace to ignite the creosote. There are safety concerns with the use of every type of heater, whether inside or outside the home. Portable fire pits carry their own dangers and outdoor ovens get just as dirty as the ones inside.

Heating Up More than the Den

Obviously, heat from fireplaces raises enormous risks, hopefully up the chimney and out of the house. When chimneys are not kept clean and in good working condition by CSIA certified sweeps, those risks remain in both your chimney and your home. If obstructions block updrafts or creosote accumulates unnoticed, the “family room heater” can become a deadly weapon.

In addition to risks of fire with improper use, even space heaters can stir things to life in air you do not want to breathe. This gets compounded when apparent vents in bathrooms and kitchens actually go nowhere except the crawl space above them. Those need to be checked by venting professionals when they clean your other air ducts and vents.

Remember All Your Heaters

From mere conveniences to basic, built-in parts of your house, “heaters” pose many of the risks of fire whether or not they involve it. Their portability increases the likelihood that small heaters will end up too close to the wrong thing and bring on real heat. The big guys, from gas furnaces to wood fireplaces, are especially dangerous “heaters” – because too often we forget the danger they can bring.

By Ronald Caillais on March 27th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Chimney Sweeping: It’s Not Just for Cold Weather

Your chimney is an important and beautiful feature of your home. Even if you don’t light a fire in it very often, most of us still think of our fireplace hearth as the “heart” of our homes. Certainly, most people don’t even think about cleaning their chimney unless the weather is really cold and you’re using the chimney often. But, what many people don’t realize is that even in climate zones (like the Southeast) that experience mild winters, it’s still important to clean the chimney—even if you don’t fire it up very often.

Basic Chimney Sweep - Even during mild winters, your chimney needs to be regularly swept

The National Fire Protection Association recommends that you have your chimney cleaned at least once a year. The reason for this is the simple science of how soot and dirt collects in your chimney. When the weather is warm, the air flowing through your chimney slows down. When the airflow is stifled, it means that the dirt, dust and creosote stay in your chimney longer. So, even if you aren’t using your chimney the way you do when the weather is really cold, the chimney is still getting dirty. Any time you have a build up of creosote in your chimney, you are at risk for a chimney fire. This build up can also cause a terrible odor in your home. If you have a leak in your chimney, the odor will worsen and the damp mix can cause mold, causing upper respiratory issues. A dirty chimney will also give off an unpleasant odor.

So, even though you live in a warmer climate and you don’t really think chimney cleaning and maintenance should be high on your priority list, you should remember that reduced airflow in warmer weather means even more buildup of creosote. It’s a good idea think about chimney maintenance all year long—for your health and safety.

By Ronald Caillais on November 13th, 2012 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment
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