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Top-Sealing Dampers: The Best Way to Keep the Cold Air Out

Benefits of a Top Sealing Damper - Atlanta GA - Old Hat Chimney ServiceA damper is a crucial component of every chimney, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). Essential for an energy-efficient home, the damper keeps the heat in and the cold air out of your house to reduce your heating costs. Your damper also keeps you and your family safe by controlling the flow of smoke, gases, and the other byproducts of combustion up the chimney to exit your home. Available in two different types, you can choose between the throat damper and the top-sealing damper. Also known as the traditional fireplace damper, a throat damper is installed right above the firebox and is found in many old masonry chimneys. However, this type of damper has many flaws and issues as it does not do as good of a job of keeping out the cold air. We at Old Hat Chimney Service strongly recommend the top-sealing damper over the throat damper. We would like to tell you more why we feel a top-sealing damper is the best way to keep out cold air, along with its other benefits.

A top-sealing damper can take care of two functions at once.

One of our favorite features of a top-sealing damper is that it also serves as a chimney cap when the damper is closed, and, quite frankly, this type of damper actually gives you better protection than an ordinary chimney cap. Equipped with a silicone rubber gasket that seals in heat and air conditioning as a damper, a top-sealing damper also gives you an air-tight seal to keep out water, debris, birds, squirrels, and raccoons — just as a chimney cap would. When our customers need a new chimney cap, Old Hat Chimney Service recommends installing a top-sealing damper instead of a chimney cap. Some models of top-sealing dampers come with protective meshing, so even when the damper is open, your chimney is still protected from debris and animals.

A top-sealing damper saves you both energy and money.

This clip is courtesy of Richie Baxley at Environmental Chimney Service in Asheville NC.Throat dampers just do not completely seal as well as top-sealing dampers. You will not have to worry about cold air, ice, and snow entering your flue to create a cold core in your chimney. This cold core will attempt to cool your home at the same time that your heating system is trying to warm it up, which is a waste of both fuel and money. Because a top-sealing damper sits atop your chimney, cold air never even has a chance to get anywhere inside because your entire flue is sealed air-tight with the silicone rubber gasket. Trust us when we say you will save money on both cooling and heating bills by installing a top-sealing damper.

A top-sealing damper is easy to operate.

With some throat dampers, you have to almost stick your head up the fireplace to open and close them. When you have a top-sealing damper, opening and closing the damper is simple. A stainless steel cable from the damper drops down the chimney and connects to an easily-accessed handle which is mounted inside the firebox. Different models will have different opening and closing methods, but we promise you will find all easy to use.

Want to know more about the benefits of top-sealing dampers? Contact Old Hat Chimney Service to find out even more advantages to this type of damper.

The Benefits of Hiring a CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep

csia-certified-northern_va_atlanta_ga_old_hat_chimney_serviceHiring a chimney sweep who has been certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) to perform your annual chimney cleaning and inspecting means you are guaranteed that you have a highly trained and qualified technician doing the job. A CSIA-certified chimney sweep can be entrusted to be certain your chimney is properly cleaned, safe to use, and in excellent working condition. At Old Hat Chimney Service, our chimney sweeps have been through the CSIA certification process, which has given them further training, skills, and knowledge in this industry. Our customers often ask us what the benefits of this certification are, and we would like to answer this by telling you more about the importance of this professional credential.

What exactly is the CSIA? 

A non-profit, educational organization, the CSIA dedicates itself to the prevention and elimination of chimney fires, carbon monoxide leaks, and other chimney-related dangers that can result in injuries or death. To achieve this goal, the CSIA provides a vast collection of resources to educate the public, chimney and venting system professionals, and fire prevention specialists about how to properly maintain fireplace, chimney, and venting systems. The CSIA offers the only national certification program in the chimney and venting system industry, which sets the standard for chimney sweeps.

What are the responsibilities and commitments of a CSIA-certified chimney sweep? 

When a chimney sweep completes the training for CSIA certification, he or she must uphold specific obligations listed in the CSIA Code of Ethics, which include:

  • practicing CSIA-recommended chimney and venting safety techniques
  • improving skills, extending a knowledge base, and learning new techniques to stay updated on safety standards for the chimney and venting of fireplaces
  • knowing all applicable local building codes concerning chimneys and fully complying with these codes
  • following closely all manufacturers’ installation instructions for chimney and venting products
  • dealing honestly with customers, refraining from unfair and deceptive practices, and informing customers about essential chimney and venting safety procedures
  • behaving professionally and respectfully when performing chimney and venting duties.

What is the process of CSIA certification?

To become certified by the CSIA, one must do the following:

  • attend a one-day intensive review session in person or a one-week review session online
  • pass a one-hour exam based on the 2011 edition of the CSIA publication [italics]Successful Chimney Sweeping[italics] and the 2013 edition of [italics]NFPA 211: Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances[italics] from the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA)
  • pass an open-book 90-minute exam using his/her copy of [italics]2006 International Residential Code[italics], published by the International Code Council
  • agree to pay the Annual Certification Fee
  • sign the CSIA Code of Ethics

What topics are covered in the reviews and exams for certification?

To receive CSIA certification, one must prove knowledge and proficiency in the following areas:

  • the technical aspects of chimney dynamics and construction
  • skilled performances of the best and current techniques in the industry
  • wood-burning physics and the formation of creosote residue, which is one of the leading causes of chimney fires
  • familiarity of and compliance with all applicable codes, regulations, clearances, and standards
  • the care and installation of a variety of types of solid fuel appliances
  • all requirements by the US Environmental Protection Agency

To hire one of our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, contact Old Hat Chimney Service today to schedule an appointment for your annual chimney sweeping and inspection.

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Why Your Chimney Should Always Be Capped

Chimney Cap Replacement - Atlanta GA - Old Hat Chimney ServiceOne of the best tools to prevent water leaking into your chimney and causing expensive damage, a chimney cap is an important part of your fireplace and chimney system. However, if your chimney cap is cracked, damaged, does not fit correctly, or missing, you may have to deal with rain and snow in your home, animals taking up residence inside your chimney, and even potential chimney fires. At Old Hat Chimney Service, our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney technicians are experienced with the proper installation of chimney caps, and we strongly believe every chimney needs to be capped. We would like to share with you why a chimney cap is such a crucial part of your chimney system and should be replaced as soon as possible if our chimney sweeps discover your cap is damaged, cracked, or missing during our annual inspection of your chimney.

A Chimney Cap Protects Your Chimney from the Elements.

If your chimney is not capped, you basically have a square foot hole in your roof where rain and snow can enter at any time and penetrate the masonry work of your chimney. Water penetration can cause extensive and expensive damage. Unfortunately, repairing this damage is necessary to keep your chimney safely working. Additionally, wind can cause chimney issues as well by causing persistent drafts and allowing cold air to enter your home, which reduces the efficiency of your fireplace. A basic chimney cap can take care of all of these problems.

A Chimney Cap Keeps Wild Animals from Entering Your Chimney.

Some animals, usually birds, squirrels, and raccoons, look at chimneys as hibernation spots, and without a chimney cap, you are giving these animals a wide-open, unlocked entrance. Not only are the sounds of animals annoying, but they can also bring diseases into your home. Additionally, the nesting materials of these animals are typically flammable and can also create fire hazards by preventing proper airflow through your chimney by blocking the flue. To ensure your chimney cap will keep wild animals out, Old Hat Chimney Service will install a chimney cap that is equipped with protective mesh screening.

A Chimney Cap Can Be Adjusted and Customized to Perfectly Fit Your Chimney:

Prefabricated Chimneys

All of the parts of a factory-made fireplace and chimney system, including the chimney cap have been designed to work safely and efficiently together. The cap size will be determined by the specifications by the manufacturers. However, chimney caps can be blown off by strong winds as well as become damaged and deteriorated. If this should happen, you can count on our expert technicians to measure your chimney to custom fit a new cap.

Masonry Chimneys

The flue size of your chimney will determine the size of its chimney cap. Our chimney experts at Old Hat Chimney Service can take these measurements of your flue and install a correctly sized cap.

Custom Caps

If your chimney has more than one flue, you can get a single, multi-flued cap custom made for your chimney. You can find various designs and decorative caps made from a variety of different materials as well.

Chimney Caps Should Always Be Professionally Installed.

According to EBSCO Research [], chimney caps may seem relatively simple to install; however, removing a rusted cap can be quite a challenge. Proper sizing is crucial during a chimney cap installation, and our professionals at Old Hat Chimney Service carry different sized caps with them so that they can quickly install the properly sized cap.

If you would like to have your chimney cap inspected, contact [] Old Hat Chimney Service today. We would be happy to set up an appointment for our technicians to check out your cap and install a new one if needed.

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Fireplace Safety Tips

Fireplace Safety Tips - Atlanta, GA - Old Hat Chimney ServiceWith winter upon us, your fireplace is most likely being used very frequently. However, certain safety measures should be taken into consideration during fireplace season. Old Hat Chimney Service would like to tell you more about wood-burning stove and fireplace safety. As part of our duty as CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, we like to educate our customers to help them prevent disasters like a house fire or a carbon monoxide leak. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have worked together to release an educational brochure with important winter fire safety tips, and we would like to share these tips with you.

Schedule an annual chimney sweeping and inspection, preferably right before winter begins.

This tip ranks high in fire safety importance as having your chimney swept and inspected before winter will guarantee your chimney is free from hazardous and combustible creosote deposits. A natural residue from the byproducts of combustion, creosote forms during the condensation process and builds up on the interior walls of your chimney. Creosote deposits are one of the main causes of chimney fires. A pre-winter chimney inspection is equally important to check the components of your chimney to see if any essential repairs are needed.

Be sure your fireplace or stove has been properly installed.

If you have a wood-burning stove, it should have a clearance of at least 36 inches from combustible surfaces. Wood-burning stoves also require proper floor support and protection. Old Hat Chimney Service recommends you have your fireplace and your wood-burning stove professionally installed to ensure these fire safety measures are met.

Install glass fireplace doors or place a metal screen in front of your fireplace.

Glass doors and metal screens can prevent fires by keeping hot sparks and embers inside your fireplace instead of jumping out into your living space and possibly causing a fire. They also prevent objects from falling into the fireplace and protect people and animals from getting burned by the fire.

Before you go to sleep, be sure the fire in your fireplace is out.

If any hot ashes remain, you should never close the damper. Closing the damper allows the fire to heat up again, and this will force poisonous carbon monoxide back into your home. If the damper is closed, the toxic gas has no other means of escape.

When you use synthetic logs, always follow the manufacturer’s instruction.

You should never break a synthetic log in an attempt to get the fire to start more quickly. You should also only use one of these logs at a time because they often do not burn evenly, which causes them to release higher levels of carbon monoxide.

Never overbuild your fire.

Using excessive amounts of paper to get a roaring fire going can be a fire hazard. Overbuilding a fire can cause creosote deposits in your chimney to ignite and start a chimney fire.

Want to learn more fire safety tips for the winter? Contact Old Hat Chimney Service to find out more ways you can prevent hazards during the cold months.

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Fireplace, Insert, and Stove Identification Tips

Fireplace Identification Tips - Atlanta GA - Old Hat Chimney ServiceYou have moved into a new house, condominium, or apartment with a fireplace or another type of heating appliance like a stove; however, you have no idea what kind of heating appliance it actually is. You are filled with questions like “Do I burn wood in this fireplace?,” “How do I know if this is a fireplace insert?,” and “Is there a way to identify the manufacturer and serial number?” Burning the wrong type of fuel can be extremely dangerous. Before you start a fire in your new fireplace or stove, it is crucially important to know exactly what type of fireplace or stove you have. At Old Hat Chimney Service, we take our certifications with the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) very seriously, and educating our customers is part of our duties as CSIA-certified chimney sweeps. We would like to answer some commonly-asked questions for you to help you properly identify your heating appliance.

Do I have a masonry fireplace or a factory-built fireplace? 

According to the CSIA, there are only two types of fireplaces in modern construction: the masonry and the factory-built, also known as a pre-fab or prefabricated. The differences between the two are great and easily identifiable.


The standard of fireplace construction for hundreds of years, masonry fireplaces are made from hand-laid brick or stone during the time of the home’s construction. The chimney system for a masonry fireplace is much more complex. Its components consist of a mortar crown, the flue, ceiling, smoke chamber, smoke shelf, lintel, damper, firebox, ash dump, clean out door, footing, foundation, mantel, and hearth. Unless the fireplace has been converted by piping in a gas line or a gas fireplace insert has been installed, a masonry fireplace is strictly a wood-burning fireplace.


Gaining popularity in newer-built homes, a factory-built fireplace is usually less expensive to construct as the materials and installation costs are lower than the costs to build a masonry fireplace. Easily recognized by the grills near the floor and higher up on the wall or on the sides of the fireplace, the components of a factory-built chimney system include a chimney cap, chase cover, the firestop, metal chimney flue, fireplace, and hearth. Many factory-built fireplaces are equipped with a gas log set and burner and are designed, safety listed, and manufactured for use with gas only. However, some factory-built fireplaces are also designed as wood-burning fireplaces as well. To know for sure, you will have to look for the nameplate that lists the manufacturer, model, and serial number. This nameplate is usually located on the right hand facing of the fireplace just behind the screen. It could also be underneath the firebox if there is a grill at the bottom that flips down.

How do I know if I have a fireplace insert?

Almost exclusively installed in masonry fireplaces, an insert is a simple and cost-efficient way to convert the fuel type from wood-burning to the more convenient gas. You can generally tell you have a fireplace insert if the firebox is metal and surrounded by a steel shell. To know for sure what type of insert you have, look for the nameplate under the grill by the pilot light and gas valve. Sometimes these nameplates can be tucked up on top of the valve, which makes them hard to find.

How can I find the manufacturer information on a stove?

If you have a wood-burning or gas stove, the nameplate will be attached by wire underneath the firebox or attached to the back of the appliance. If you have a pellet stove, it could be located on the hopper lid, inside the hopper, on the back of the stove, or hidden in a removable panel on the appliance.

Have more fireplace and stove identification questions? Contact Old Hat Chimney Service to ask our certified staff to help you identify your heating appliance.