If you think there’s something stuck in your chimney, have it checked and swept before using it again.
If you haven’t lit a fire in your fireplace in a while, chances are you have something in your chimney blocking its exit. A hazardous condition, chimney blockages are a leading cause of chimney fires. Filled with soot, debris, nesting, creosote, and other materials, unclean chimneys are fire hazards. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires as the common blockages are all things that can be resolved by an annual chimney sweeping from a CSIA-certified company like Old Hat Chimney Services. With experience cleaning masonry chimneys, factory-built fireplaces, wood stoves, and wood-burning inserts, we want to protect you from a chimney fire, whether it is an explosive fire with flames shooting from your chimney or a slow-burning internal upper chimney fire with temperatures high enough to cause the same amount of damage.
Knowing what the common chimney blockages are, along with a bit on how to prevent and alleviate them, is another part of the proper maintenance needed to keep your chimney fire hazard-free.
animals and their nestings
Stray birds, squirrels, raccoons, and other animals are always looking for a warm place to call home for the winter, and sometimes your chimney becomes a nesting spot. Once they vacate, they leave behind their nests and other debris that need to be removed by the annual sweeping by Old Hat Chimney Services before you light a fire in your fireplace, or you risk starting a chimney fire. In a worst-case scenario, an animal could get stuck or injured inside your chimney and not be able to leave on its own. In this situation, it is strongly advised you call a professional animal remover to take care of the matter, rather than you yourself attempting to free the animal.
soot, debris, and settlement
Over the year, settlement, leaves, twigs, and other foliage work their way down your chimney and can accumulate a large enough blockage, risking smoke to be driven into your home because of negative air pressure and combustion issues. You could also end up with cracks in your flue that lead to possible carbon monoxide leaks into your house. Both this blockage and the animal blockage above can be prevented by a new chimney cap, customized by Old Hat Chimney Services to fit and cover your chimney perfectly, keeping animals and debris out of your home.
A compound naturally formed by the condensation process that occurs when the by-products of combustion (smoke, vapors, tar fog, gases, unburned wood particles, and other minerals) exit through the upper (and cooler) flue of your chimney, creosote sticks to the walls and can build up enough to cause a very dangerous blockage. Highly combustible, creosote builds and thickens to the point where it can block your flue, keep your chimney from venting properly, and easily ignite if the temperature within your chimney becomes high enough, starting a chimney fire. Experienced with removing all creosote deposits from chimneys, the CSIA-certified chimney sweeps at Old Hat Chimney Services will rid your chimney from creosote during the annual chimney sweeping.
Keep your chimney free of hazardous blockages and prevent a possible chimney fire by scheduling an appointment today for your annual chimney sweeping from Old Hat Chimney Services. Our CSIA-certified sweeps will ensure your chimney is clean and safe from any fire hazards.
Nothing lasts forever. But if you want to make things last longer, you have to take good care of them. Here’s what you need to know to extend your chimney’s life.
Whether you’ve had a masonry chimney built on-site or a factory-built chimney installed, your system was designed to provide years of efficient service, with components built in to protect not only your home but the chimney itself from heat and weather and wear. That said, even the best-built chimney system will sustain damage when it isn’t properly maintained and cared for. In a sense, it’s like your car — if you treat it right, you can expect proper performance for a good long haul. If you keep putting it to work without paying any mind to its routine needs and preventative care, you can pretty much put money on a breakdown occurring.
Part of our job at Old Hat Chimney Service is sharing our knowledge about proper chimney care with our valued clients. If you call us for chimney service, our technicians will always be glad to share pointers and tips for keeping your chimney system in top shape. In that spirit of sharing, here are a few tidbits that can help you extend the life of your chimney — and have fewer chimney-related headaches along the way.
Always Be Diligent About Annual Maintenance
You don’t have to be a chimney professional to recognize that a chimney system is doing hard work — use after use, it’s dealing with high heat and taking on acidic deposits; day after day, it’s having to stand up to the effects of weather, whether it’s baking sun or pounding rain. It never gets a break. And that’s why regular maintenance is so important — we want to do our best to give the chimney system a little help along the way and to make sure there isn’t damage that needs our attention.
The first step is having a regular chimney sweeping. When you use your heating appliance, the byproducts of combustion are traveling through your flue, creating creosote deposits and/or leaving other acidic materials on the flue walls. Left unswept, those deposits can block the flue, degrade your flue liner or — since creosote is extremely flammable — even lead to a chimney fire. Sweeping is key to the short-term performance and long-term durability of your chimney system, so we recommend scheduling a sweeping appointment every year before the heating season starts again.
We’ll make sure that all of the components that are helping your chimney to fend off water intrusion — like your chimney cap and chimney flashing — are in good shape and performing effectively. If we find a problem, we can repair or replace the failing components, and get your system back to keeping water out.
In the immediate sense, a chimney inspection also allows Old Hat Chimney Service to make sure that you’re not using a chimney system that has potentially hazardous defects, like a blockage that’s allowing toxic carbon monoxide to leak into your living area.
Use The Right Fuel
If you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, choosing the right wood is important now and long-term. Burning green or moist wood won’t allow the fire to get hot enough, which creates excess smoke now and excess creosote later – you may even develop Stage 3 creosote, which is highly dangerous and difficult to remove. Burning trash or other materials can create similar issues and release toxic chemicals into your living area. Burn seasoned or kiln-dried cordwood only.
Take An Extra Step To Fight Off Water Intrusion
Masonry materials are porous, so from the beginning, your bricks and mortar joints will absorb a certain amount of water. Over time as that masonry wears down, though, excessive amounts of moisture can start wicking into your chimney, leading to chimney leaks and further damage. We highly recommend having a waterproofing sealant applied to your masonry chimney. Chimney waterproofing helps your masonry deflect water in the short term, but also contributes to its long-term health, extending its service life.
If you have any questions or concerns about your chimney system’s health, Old Hat Chimney Service is always here to help. Give us a call!
Spring: When folks’ thoughts turn to sunshine and flowers and short sleeves — our chimneys, often not so much.
Thoughts of Spring don’t usually consist of your chimney’s needs (maintenance and repairs). Well, it’s time to include it, for you and your home’s sake.
It’s natural to give the most thought to your chimney system maintenance when the temperatures are getting chilly, since those shivers remind you of how much enjoyment your fireplace or stove brings on cool nights. But at Old Hat Chimney Service, we consider the beginning of spring an ideal time to think about your chimney system’s needs. Because one of your chimney system’s most distinct needs is protection against moisture intrusion — and spring always brings a lot of moisture.
Stay Ahead Of The Spring Rains
We’ll never complain about a rainy spring, since all that moisture is a big part of feeding the bursts of colorful flowers and verdant green that comes out during the spring in Georgia too. But we can’t sugarcoat the fact that spring and summer humidity has its downsides, and your chimney knows that all too well.
If there’s a small problem in your chimney system — say, hairline cracks in your chimney crown, masonry joints that are starting to recede or loose or missing caulk around your chimney flashing — you may be looking at a welcome from spring in the form of a chimney leak or moisture damage.
If you schedule your annual chimney inspection as part of your spring home maintenance checklist, Old Hat technicians can find potential problems before they become big problems, and make repairs that will keep your chimney system strong and watertight through the rainy season.
Extra Protection Against Moisture Helps Your Masonry Chimney All Year
Part of protecting your chimney system against moisture intrusion is insuring that its lines of defense — like the chimney cap, crown and flashing — are in great working order. But there’s another really effective way to keep water out, and make your chimney stronger for years to come.
Old Hat Chimney Service technicians recommend and apply a specially formulated waterproofing sealant to masonry chimneys — it keeps excess water from being absorbed into your chimney’s interior, and protects the masonry itself long term. You’ll have extra protection against leaks, and a longer service life from the brick and mortar that makes up your chimney too.
And spring is the perfect time to have chimney waterproofing done, since it’s surely beneficial to have your system protected during the spring rains and humid summer.
If you have any questions about the best approach to chimney care throughout the year, Old Hat Chimney Service is always glad to help our valued clients. Give us a call!
Understanding the dangers associated with carbon monoxide poisoning is important for everyone; prevention is the key to avoiding this tragic but preventable fate. Nearly one thousand people die accidentally from non-fire related carbon monoxide poisoning each year. A large percentage of the accidental deaths are directly linked to fuel-burning appliances that are faulty, improperly used, or incorrectly vented. The CSIA- and NFI-certified chimney sweeps are here to help you provide everyone in your household with the protection they deserve from these dangers.
Make sure your house is safe and free from potential leaks of Carbon Monoxide.
The Silent Killer
You cannot see, taste, or smell carbon monoxide, hence the reason it has earned a rather fitting moniker: the silent killer. At high enough levels, carbon monoxide can kill a person in minutes. It is created anytime a fuel is burned. When fuel-burning appliances are maintained and used properly, the amount of carbon monoxide produced doesn’t typically reach hazardous levels; however, if these same appliances aren’t properly maintained or are used incorrectly, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can be produced. As a precautionary measure, having your heating equipment cleaned and inspected by a professional annually is an absolute must.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Learning the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and the steps you can take to minimize your risk of exposure are an integral part to keeping you and your loved ones safe. At moderate levels of carbon monoxide exposure, you and your family can get severe headaches, become dizzy or disoriented, mentally confused, nauseated, or faint. It’s even possible to die if these levels persist for an extended period of time. Low levels of carbon monoxide can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea and headaches, and may have longer-term effects on overall health.
Because many of these symptoms are similar to those of more common ailments like the flu and food poisoning, many people don’t even think of carbon monoxide poisoning as a possibility. This is the first mistake. If these symptoms only appear when you’re in the house and then get better when you leave home, carbon monoxide poisoning could very likely be the reason. Getting fresh air as soon as any of these symptoms surface is key.
Carbon Monoxide Detection Saves Lives
Another key precautionary measure is installing at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, especially near sleeping quarters. If you install a battery-powered unit, plan to check the batteries regularly to ensure your home is still being monitored. Upgrading each of these units every 5-7 years is also strongly recommended, as it will help to ensure that you have the most up-to-date technology monitoring the air quality conditions within your home. You can never be too careful when it comes to life-or-death issues.
As a quick refresher, make sure to have your fuel-burning appliances inspected and cleaned by a certified professional prior to the beginning of every heating season. Ensure that the flues and chimneys are connected, in good working condition, and unobstructed. If you or anyone in your home notices symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, go outside to get fresh air immediately, and seek medical attention thereafter. Lastly, install carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Remember, carbon monoxide cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled; the only defense against this silent killer is forethought, knowledge, and prevention. It’s never too late to make the right decision!
We've had two house chimneys inspected and cleaned by Old Hat. The older of the houses required a chimney cap, damper replacement and other services. We were most pleased with the responsiveness, punctuality and pricing of Old Hat. David showed up right on time, did a good job, and billed us what we thought was a fair price. We would not hesitate to recommend them to other folks needing fireplace services.
~ Leon Adams