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All About Chimney Liners

According to the CSIA, problems in your chimney’s flue can present serious risks to your home and family, because it’s no longer able to perform its primary function: to safely contain and vent the products of combustion to the outside of your home.

Give Basic Chimney Sweep a call to schedule an inspection to determine the current condition of your chimney liner.

Give Basic Chimney Sweep a call to schedule an inspection to determine the current condition of your chimney liner.

By Ronald Caillais on May 18th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Signs You Need a Chimney Inspection

Your fireplace is the focus of family gatherings and a great way to take the chill off during the coldest winter nights.  For many, it is a basic necessity.  It can also be a source of danger to your home and family.  A fireplace that is improperly cared for may start a fire where you don’t want one, namely inside your chimney.  Although you remove them often, ashes indicate energy efficiency, showing that the fire completely consumed the fuel source.  It’s what doesn’t turn into ash that puts your home at risk.  Creosote is nothing more than unburned wood energy that builds up on your chimney’s inner surface.

Preventing Chimney Fires

No one can promise you that you'll never experience a house fire. We can however, minimize potential problems with chimney maintenance.

No one can promise you that you’ll never experience a house fire. We can however, minimize potential problems with chimney maintenance.

According to the NFPA, the second leading cause of house fires is heating equipment, and two out of three heating equipment fires result from heating appliances, which includes fireplaces, chimneys and wood stoves.  Of the fires that start in the chimney or fireplace, most are a direct result of creosote deposits.  Sadly, most are preventable with regular inspections and maintenance.  Prevent your home from becoming part of these statistics by scheduling routine chimney inspections to catch dangerous creosote before it catches you.

Cleaning Your Chimney

Regular chimney cleanings will remove the inevitable buildup of creosote and soot.  Unfortunately, there’s no simple rule of thumb for when to do it.  Don’t rely on the standard advice of having it done once a year or at some other set time.  Clean your chimney when it needs it—when the creosote is thick enough to warrant cleaning.  You’ll never be able to keep your chimney 100% creosote-free, but if left to sit, it will eventually harden into a stubborn glaze that’s even virtually impossible to remove without the proper tools.

Monitoring Your Chimney

Obviously, if you notice smoke flooding into your house, soot covering your furniture, even dark smoke constantly flowing from your chimney, you should suspect creosote issues.  Unfortunately, creosote may not make itself so readily known.  Until you know how much creosote your burning habits creates, check your chimney regularly to monitor the accumulation so you can catch it before it gets out of hand.

Inspecting your chimney is critical to ensuring your house doesn’t join the growing list of house fire statistics.  The chimney is inspected from inside the fireplace and then again from the top of the chimney.  The entire process takes less than an hour or two for even the most cautious and painstaking inspection.  The best course of action is to hire a professional to inspect your chimney prior to the beginning of the heating season and clean or repair as necessary.  The payoff for ensuring that your chimney is in prime working condition is priceless—peace of mind every time you build a fire.

5 Reasons To Use a Chimney Cap

Keep It Covered

There are many homeowners who believe that they do not need a chimney cap. Although it may seem like an unnecessary addition or an accessory, there are many reasons that it is beneficial to use a chimney cap. Although the chimney can function without one, having one installed is the only way to prevent a number of common chimney problems.

The most common reason that people decide to get a chimney cap is because they have had an animal infestation in their chimney. If the chimney opening is left exposed, different types of rodents, birds, and small animals may build nests inside of the chimney. This is not only annoying, but it can be dangerous. The animals may clog the chimney and, in some cases, could carry diseases that spread into the home.

Chimney caps protect your chimney from animals, birds and debris. Any obstruction in your chimney compromises both safety and efficiency.

Chimney caps protect your chimney from animals, birds and debris. Any obstruction in your chimney compromises both safety and efficiency.

Another reason to have a chimney cap is to keep natural debris, such as leaves and twigs, from getting into the chimney. Like animal debris, these things can clog the chimney, which is far more dangerous than it may sound. If the chimney is clogged, it will keep smoke and combustible gasses in the home rather than letting them out. This can lead to any number of health risks as well as an increased risk of fire.

In addition to animals and leaves, it is important to keep excess moisture out of the chimney. This may come in the form of water or snow that gets in when there is not a chimney cap in place. Water in the chimney can cause many problems, ranging from mold to the deterioration of the structure itself. These issues can be quite serious but a chimney cap is a simple way to avoid them.

The chimney cap also helps to keep sparks inside of the chimney rather than letting them out. If sparks get out of the chimney, a breeze can quickly cause them to ignite. This will not only start a fire on the roof of the home in question but the fire could actually spread to other rooftops. This means that not only the home without the chimney cap but the entire neighborhood is put in harm’s way.

One of the most practical reasons for getting a chimney cap is that it prevents a draft. Without a chimney cap, cold air can come in from outside, especially when the fireplace is not in use. This forces the home’s heating system to work harder. As a result, the homeowners spend more money than necessary on energy each year, which is bad for both the budget and the environment.

A chimney cap may seem like an accessory but it actually serves many important functions for the home. It can help prevent any number of situations that can result in health and safety hazards as well as increased risk of fire. It is a small and simple piece that can make it easier for everyone to enjoy a fireplace safely.

What Kind of Fireplace is Best?

Choosing Between a Factory Built Fireplace and a Masonry Fireplace for Your New Home

Building a new home can be a very exciting endeavor but it comes along with many important decisions. In addition to choosing siding and paint colors, new homeowners must decide whether they want a factory built fireplace or a masonry fireplace in their new homes. There are pros and cons to each but, in the end, the decision must be made based on personal preference and a few practicalities.

When choosing a fireplace for a new home, most homeowners are going to be concerned with safety above all else. The good news is that the safety factor will not play into the decision between a factory built or masonry fireplace. Both are equally safe if they are used properly and if foreign objects are not burned in them. In the case of a factory built fireplace, it is important that it is installed exactly according to the directions in order for it to function safely. And for either kind, it is essential to have the chimney swept and inspected once a year.

Both masonry and prefabricated fireplaces are equally as safe, as long as there are annual cleaning and inspections of the chimney.

Both masonry and prefabricated fireplaces are equally as safe, as long as there are annual cleaning and inspections of the chimney.

No matter which option a homeowner goes with, the fireplace will require the same basic maintenance in order to function safely. This means that the fireplace should be inspected and cleaned each year by a professional chimney sweep. The homeowner should also clean out the chimney after each use, leaving just a bit of ash underneath for insulation. If these simple steps are followed, there should be no major issues with either type of fireplace.

One thing to consider in terms of choosing a fireplace is that a masonry fireplace is likely to last longer than a factory built option. This is simply because the material used, brick, is more durable and longer lasting than metal, which is used in most factory built fireplaces. However, homeowners who do choose factory built fireplaces can typically go for many years without having to replace the fireplace or any of its parts.

On the other hand, a factory built fireplace is less expensive than a masonry fireplace. This is, again, because metal is a less expensive material than brick, especially in the quantity used for building a fireplace and chimney. If new homeowners are on a budget and trying to save money, a factory built fireplace is one way that they can accomplish that. They will still be able to enjoy all of the benefits of having a fireplace in their home on a cold winter night.

In many cases, the choice simply comes down to the homeowners’ sense of aesthetics. With a masonry fireplace, the area surrounding the hearth and the chimney will be made of brick. Those who go with a factory built option will have a structure that is made almost entirely out of metal. Some homeowners prefer the look of one to the other and allow that to be the final factor in making their decision.

Choosing a fireplace for a new home is a big decision because the fireplace will likely be used every day during the cold weather season. When choosing between a masonry fireplace and a factory built fireplace, keep in mind that both options are equally safe if they are properly cleaned and maintained. However, it is also important to remember that a masonry fireplace may last longer, while a factory built fireplace is more affordable. Those who have trouble making a choice can simply decide whether they prefer the look of metal or brick in their home.

By Ronald Caillais on October 26th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

My Fireplace Stinks!

What Is That Odor Coming from My Chimney?

Anyone who uses his or her chimney on a regular basis has most likely noticed an odor coming from it at one time or another. In order to know what to do about the problem, it is necessary to know exactly what is causing the problem. There are many different factors that may lead to smells coming from the chimney. Most of them can be easily fixed with some basic chimney maintenance.

A certified sweep can help you identify the cause of the odor and suggest ways to address the problem. Call Basic Chimney today to schedule an appointment.

A certified sweep can help you identify the cause of the odor and suggest ways to address the problem. Call Basic Chimney today to schedule an appointment.

If a chimney is not properly protected, it becomes the perfect place for birds and rodents to set up their homes. Once they have set up camp, there is any number of ways that odors can find their way into the home. Animal waste will eventually accumulate in the chimney as well as their fur and debris from their nests. A simple way to fix this problem is to install a chimney cap that will block animals from entering the chimney in the first place.

Another common cause of chimney odor is the accumulation of water in the chimney. Excess water often gets into the chimney in the way of rainfall or snow. It becomes a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, which not only smell unpleasant but can also be quite dangerous. Just as animals can be kept out with a chimney cap, this simple structure is a great way to keep excess water from entering the chimney and starting trouble.

When someone burns wood or coal that has been treated in their fireplace, it leaves behind creosote, a combination of chemicals. There are many side effects to a build up of creosote. For example, anyone who is exposed to it is at risk for skin and eye irritation as well as respiratory illness. However, creosote also leaves behind an unpleasant smell, which will eventually enter the home.

Of course, it is important for homeowners to keep in mind that some odor coming out of the chimney is perfectly normal. Whenever there are treated materials burning, there is going to be some ash and soot left behind. This is not something to be concerned about unless it is causing a disturbance in the home. If the smell becomes overwhelming or is irritating family members with allergies, it should be addressed immediately.

The best way to handle chimney odor and to avoid it completely is to have the chimney professionally cleaned at least once a year. This can be done at the start of fireplace season or at the end, it doesn’t matter — as long as it gets done. A professional chimney sweep will have the tools and skills to completely clean the chimney while, at the same time, checking for evidence of any problems that may occur in the near future.

Chimney odor is a perfectly normal part of using a fireplace and chimney. However, there are some instances in which the odor becomes overwhelming and needs to be taken care of by a professional. This may be caused by the accumulation of creosote, excess water, or even by animals that have set up their homes in the chimney. Some of these situations not only cause an unpleasant smell but also put the family at other risks, such as house fire or illness. Here at Basic Chimney, we have your safety and comfort in mind with everything we do.

Upkeep for Your Pre-Fab Fireplace

The Basics of Maintaining Your Prefabricated Fireplace.

A prefabricated fireplace is a great option for someone who does not have a masonry fireplace included in the structure of their home. However, some homeowners do not realize that these structures require just as much attention and maintenance as their counterparts. In order to safely enjoy a prefabricated fireplace, it is absolutely necessary to follow a few important guidelines for maintenance.

When purchasing a prefabricated fireplace, it will be necessary to also purchase a chimney and a cap. What people must keep in mind is that the manufacturers create all three of these pieces to be used together. It is absolutely necessary to only use the chimney and cap that are intended to go with the particular fireplace. Mixing and matching will affect not only the efficiency but also the safety of the entire system and should be avoided at all times.

As with any fireplace, it is necessary to keep a prefabricated fireplace clean in order to have it function properly. Be sure to remove any excess material left in the fireplace, but you will need to leave about one eighth of an inch on the bottom for proper insulation. It is best to double-check the cleanliness of the fireplace before starting a fire and then to clean it thoroughly after putting the fire out.

A properly fitted chimney cap keeps debris, birds and animals from your chimney.

Some people think that their prefabricated fireplace is not vulnerable to the same type of problems as a masonry fireplace. However, this is not the case and it is important to provide some of the same maintenance. For example, birds are just as likely to make their nests in a prefabricated chimney as they are in a masonry one. Be on the lookout for these issues and resolve them as quickly as possible.

In general, it is necessary to monitor normal wear and tear on a prefabricated fireplace a bit more closely than a masonry option. Since they are made out of materials that are not quite as durable as, for example, brick, they will not stand up to as much stress. In order to make sure it is functioning properly at all times, inspect the fireplace regularly and call a professional immediately if there are any unexplained changes.

Although a prefabricated fireplace differs structurally from a masonry fireplace, many of the same safety and maintenance rules apply. For example, it is important to only burn properly dried wood and to not put any foreign material into the fireplace. It is also important to make sure the chimney is clear of obstructions to avoid smoke in the home. Failure to follow these simple rules can cause serious safety hazards.

A prefabricated fireplace is a great option for anyone who does not have a fireplace attached to their home. In order to use it safely, it is important to remember that many of the same safety and maintenance rules apply to a masonry fireplace. In fact, they require a bit more attention because they are not built to withstand the same normal wear and tear as masonry fireplaces. Be sure to only use them with the appropriately compatible pieces, such as the chimney and cap. Keep the fireplace clean at all times and keep in mind that it can have the same issues as other fireplaces, such as dangerous obstructions in the chimney.

How Do I Find a Chimney Sweep?

How to Choose a Chimney Sweep

A responsible homeowner knows that they should have their chimney inspected and cleaned by a chimney sweep at least once a year. However, the problem often comes when they need to choose a chimney sweep to get the job done. How do you know who to trust to ensure the safety and efficiency of your heating system? There are a few guidelines that anyone can follow to make sure the job is done right.

Chimney Sweep - Baton Rouge LA - Basic Chimney

Chimney Sweep – Baton Rouge LA – Basic Chimney

The best place to start when looking for a chimney sweep is with friends and family members who also have chimneys in their homes. Ask them which company they use to maintain their chimney and how they felt about the experience. These people will not be invested in the company and will therefore have no problem giving their unbiased opinion. They will be able to speak to the chimney sweep’s ability but also to their professionalism and customer service.  If no one has a good recommendation, consider contacting the Better Business Bureau for a recommendation of a reputable company.

Even after speaking with someone who can make an informed recommendation, it is important to do some independent research before making a decision. When speaking with the company for the first time, be sure to ask if they have contact information for recent customer references. It is important to make sure that references are current in order to get the most accurate information. A less recent client may have dealt with someone who is no longer with the company and is not indicative of the service they provide now.

Another thing to consider is that many chimney sweep companies get a great deal of their business through word of mouth. For this reason, it is important to ask for how long the company has been in business. If a company has been providing consistent, sub par service in a community, it is unlikely that they will stay in business for very long. This will also give an indication of how experienced the individual chimney sweeps are likely to be.

Many people do not realize that it takes a special certification to become a chimney sweep. All reputable chimney sweeps are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. However, this does not mean that every technician working for a given company is certified. Before making an appointment, make sure the company can ensure a certified technician will actually be the one to do the job.

After doing all of this legwork, it is reasonable to expect that the chimney cleaning will go off without a hitch. However, even the most experienced and reliable chimney sweeps have been known to have accidents from time to time. It is necessary to choose a company that can provide proof of insurance for all workers. This will ensure that everyone is protected in the event of an injury or if there is any damage to the chimney and fireplace.

Finding a reliable chimney sweep is an important task because the chimney and fireplace are such vital parts of the home. After asking friends and relatives for recommendations, do not forget to ask the company themselves for recent references. Make sure that the chosen company is insured and can guarantee a chimney sweep that is certified by the CSIA. Taking all of these steps will ensure that the home has a clean and safe chimney.

The NFPA Is a Good Resource for Fire Prevention

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA, www.NFPA.org) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fire safety awareness. The association was formed in 1896 with the mission to “reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life.” This organization regularly holds demonstrations regarding fire safety and its website provides a wealth of information.

National Fire Protection Association

Setting Codes and Standards
There are over 300 codes and standards established by the NFPA. These codes and standards are meant to minimize the danger and tragic effects of fires. The codes and standards board is comprised of over 6,000 volunteers. These volunteers establish and vote on all new standards and revisions to existing standards.

Public Safety Education
The NFPA is extremely active in local communities regarding public safety education as it pertains to fire. For instance, the organization has sponsored Fire Prevention Week since 1922. Programs such as Remembering When, Learn Not To Burn, and Risk Watch are also sponsored by the organization. It also tries to make education fun and relevant to children and has used Sparky the Fire Dog as its official mascot as a way to promote education.

Public Advocacy
There are numerous advocacy programs in place that look to the NFPA for guidance. For example, the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes, which has backed fire-safe cigarette legislation, and the Alliance to Stop Consume Fireworks, which urges citizens to avoid purchasing and using fireworks, are both affiliated with the NFPA.

Educational Resource
One quick glance on the website and you have easy access to virtually every type of educational resource needed in regard to fire safety. The organization has various self-published journals and guides that can be used as a resource as well as links to external sources to provide even more fire safety education. The site is constantly updated with the latest codes and standards for fire prevention and safety.

By Ronald Caillais on December 10th, 2012 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment
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