3 Reasons to Call a Chimney Sweep

Plenty of people enjoy the relaxing ambiance of a fireplace in their den or living room. However, this ambiance does not come without risk. Before operating your fireplace, you need to make sure that it’s clean and safe to use.

Here at Above All Chimney & Masonry, the chimney repair experts of Philadelphia, we highly recommend that you have your chimney professionally cleaned and inspected at least once every year. There are many reasons why this is necessary. Here are three of the most important reasons.
 

1. Prevent a Chimney Fire

A chimney fire can be devastating with its dense smoke and a strong odor, but surprisingly, they aren’t always dramatic enough that neighbors will notice. They can burn slowly while still reaching high temperatures and seeping into the walls of your house. Flames from a chimney fire can spread rapidly into the walls or roof, causing massive damage, if not the complete destruction of your home. This scenario can easily be avoided with a proper cleaning of your chimney.

The most common cause of chimney fire is failing to clean it. Over time they clog with creosote, a natural, tar-like substance that builds up due to burning wood. It’s black or brown and leaves a glaze inside your chimney. This glaze is highly combustible, so just a small amount can start a fire. Restricted air supply is another factor that contributes to the accumulation of creosote, another reason why you must clean your chimney regularly.
 

2. Protect Your Health

Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced when fuel burns. Even low levels of CO can result in headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion and fainting. A clogged chimney or a chimney with an improperly functioning flue can cause this dangerous gas to build up. Unfortunately, CO is responsible for thousands of deaths in this country every year, many of which are due to blocked chimneys.
 

3. Prevent Smoke Damage

If your chimney isn’t serviced regularly, soot will accumulate near the flue. This buildup makes it difficult for the flue to pull the smoke upwards, causing the smoke to enter the room instead. This soot leaves a black film around your hearth and soils any furniture, carpeting or decorations closeby. Smoke may even cause a black stain around your chimney, which can be impossible to remove.

If you take shortcuts or get lazy with chimney and fireplace maintenance, you are putting lives at risk. Fortunately, this risk can be minimized.

 

If you need your chimney cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney professional, call our technicians at Above All Chimney & Masonry, the hardscaping and masonry experts serving Montgomery County, PA and beyond. Schedule your sweep today by calling 215-396-4294!

I Scheduled A Chimney Sweep … Now What?

Fall is the ideal time to start huddling up by the fire with family or friends and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. Without regular chimney maintenance, this isn’t possible. Time, as well as weather are causes of chimney damage. It isn’t easy to identify whether or not your chimney is in good condition from the outside. If you live near or around Philadelphia, you’ll want to schedule a chimney sweep with Above All Chimney & Masonry.

Once you’ve scheduled an appointment for a chimney cleaning, there are some things you can do to prepare that will allow the chimney sweep to go more smoothly.

Clear the mantel. Remove any picture frames, knick knacks or whatever is resting on your mantel. Doing this will help our team member service your chimney faster while making sure none of your belongings are accidentally broken during the process. Also, please remove any other items that you have around the hearth, as well as wood or gas that is still inside the fireplace.

Cover the furnishings. Our technician will cover areas close to the fireplace with robust linen or sponge blocks. We use an industrial vacuum cleaner that prevents dust from escaping into the room. However, we encourage you to cover any valuable household items and delicate furniture nearby with plastic or sheets, just in case.

Think about what questions you want to ask. Before our chimney sweep expert arrives, think about what questions you have regarding your chimney. You might even want to write them down, so you don’t forget. You won’t forget to ask something, forcing you to remain in the dark, or having to call us back later, which you are more than welcome to do to make sure you understand everything.

Our experienced staff will meticulously inspect the entire structure for any issues. We’ll provide a thorough report of the inspection which includes an estimate of the repairs we recommend.

Have you had your chimney cleaned for this fall? If you are in need of a chimney cleaning in Philadelphia or another nearby area, contact us at Above All Chimney & Masonry.

Is It Time to Clean My Chimney?

One of the primary reasons to have your chimney serviced near Langhorne, PA is creosote. It can generate when wood isn’t burned completely. A smoky fire without sufficient oxygen emits a lot of unburned tar vapors that may condense inside the flue, causing a chimney fire. You can lessen creosote buildup in your fireplace by providing adequate combustion air, encouraging a clean-burning fire.
How Do I Know if I Have Creosote?

To inspect for creosote on your own, first, check that there’s no downdraft coming from the chimney. If you feel a draft, open a door or window on the same floor as the fireplace until the downdraft stops, or until it reverses and air flows up instead.

Tape a tissue to the fireplace opening and see which way it blows.

For this next part, you’ll want to be wearing goggles and a dust mask. Use a fireplace poker to scratch the black surface above the damper (smoke chamber). If you scratch the groove and the creosote is paper thin, it’s in good shape. On the other hand, if it’s just 1/8 inch thick, you’ll want to schedule a cleaning.

If you have 1/4 inch of creosote, your fireplace is too dangerous to use and is at risk of causing a fire. Do not use it again until it is cleaned by professionals.

To check for creosote, shine a flashlight at the top of the firebox, in the smoke chamber and around the damper. Also check the flue, especially on exterior chimneys. Creosote can build up more quickly on exterior chimneys than on interiors because of the lower temperatures outside.

How Do I Get Rid of It?


Creosote is easy to remove if it’s feather-light dull gray, brown or black soot. The next form is a black granular accumulation, which can also be removed using a stiff chimney brush. The third kind of creosote is a road tar-like coating that can be very difficult to remove even with a good chimney brush, scraper or power rotary whip. The final and most dangerous kind is a shiny, glaze-like coating on the flue that is almost impossible to get rid of.

If you spot this black or shiny creosote and need a chimney cleaning in Feasterville, PA or other nearby areas, call us as soon as possible.

3 Animals That May Try to Move Into Your Chimney This Fall

If you hear rustling in your chimney this fall, it’s probably an animal trying to make a home in your chimney! Chimneys can be at risk for animal burrowing and nesting during the cooler months. If you’ve noticed unusual animal activity near or inside your chimney, remember to check your chimney for holes or any signs of degrading in your stone pointing in Philadelphia, and call animal control if any of these three common critters take shelter in your chimney.

 

  • Bats love cold and dark places, and to them, your chimney looks like an appealing cave. Bats commonly carry rabies, so if you have bats living in your chimney, call an animal control service; don’t try to remove them on your own. After the bats have been cleared out, installing a top sealing combination damper and cap. This completely seals off the flue when the chimney is not in use, which is necessary because bats can squeeze themselves into spaces as small as one-half inch wide.

 

  • Squirrels. Squirrels often move into chimneys and build small nests in holes in the mortar. If a nest is clogging your chimney, you’ll immediately be able to tell when a fire is lit, as a large amount of smoke will be produced. Squirrels can be kept out of your chimney by making sure that all your mortar is in shape and up to date, and by adding a heavy stainless steel chimney cover provided by your chimney sweep.

 

  • Raccoons. Raccoons might be cute, but they’re one of the animals that you should never attempt to remove on your own, as they can be aggressive and carry rabies. Only a licensed animal removal service should ever deal with raccoons. You can prevent raccoons from entering your chimney with a very heavy stainless steel chimney cover; don’t go with a cheap version, as raccoons will easily tear through aluminum covers.

 

If you are looking for more helpful tips or masonry services in Philadelphia, contact our experts at Above All Chimney & Masonry today for more information.

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