If your home contains a fireplace, you must understand the importance of having a proper sweep and inspection administered at least once a year. Without these precautions, your chimney could become a hazard to you and your family’s health. Chimney sweeping has developed over time, making it more convenient for you and the technician. What started as a job for young orphan boys has now developed into a much easier process with big brushes and machines in modern times. If you need to schedule your chimney’s appointment call Old Hat Chimney.
Why do I need a sweep?
It is important that you have an annual sweep because things you cannot see are building up in your chimney as you read this article. First, there are creosotes, which are particles produced when the fire burns and that are released up into your chimney. Over time, creosote clumps together and causes blockages which could lead to draft problems or chimney fires. Draft problems are linked to carbon monoxide poisoning, because smoke is not able to exit the home properly. Chimney fires are fires that originate inside of the chimney structure, not the fireplace, and can be devastating. Also, nature can block your chimney when animal droppings or twigs make it inside.
It is important that you make sure whoever does your chimney sweep is Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified. This means that the technicians follow certain guidelines that will get you the most from your sweep. You can find information on these businesses through the CSIA website or by asking around your community.
A level one chimney inspection is the most common level of inspection and what your technician will typically do if there have been no trouble with your unit. If you keep your maintenance up to date this basic procedure can be used for you too. With a level one inspection, you will get a chimney sweep and an inspection of any visible parts of the chimney. To top it off, they will check your flue to make sure its in working order.
A level two inspection is more detailed than a level 1 inspection. These are usually administered when the technician notices a potential problem in your chimney during your annual inspection. If they do alert you of a problem, do not use the unit, as it could be a safety hazard. Also, if you change the way you use your fireplace or chimney, such as the addition or replacement of different parts, fuel types, or relining, have a level two inspection done. Lastly, if you are new to the chimney, it is important to have a level two to become familiar with what you are using.
A level three inspection is the most in depth form of inspecting. This should be done whenever a problem is not only in the chimney, but spreading to the rest of the home as well. For example, if you have had mold grow inside of your chimney and it is spreading to your foundation you need a more complicated procedure in which they may have to remove parts of the wall to rid your home of the mold.
How can I prepare?
Since a sweep is similar to an overall health screening you would have done on yourself, there are ways to prepare for it. First, do not burn any fires in your home or at least 24 hours to make sure the unit is cool enough to work in. Also, have enough space in your home for the crew to work. Even though they try to keep the mess minimal and do clean up after themselves, move furniture and anything valuable away from the unit. Lastly, keep your pets away for both their safety and the also the workers. If you have questions, call your local chimney experts.
History of Chimney Sweeping
When you think of the people who keep your chimneys in tip-top condition, did you ever wonder how they evolved? If you did, here’s a brief history lesson on chimney sweeps.
It all started in England. The use of chimneys were very popular and the government found an avenue to make money out of it that they created a mandatory rule of paying a hearth tax. This affected the people in many ways because the amount paid for having a chimney was a bit huge for an average person. Because of this, people started to look for ways to lessen the tax amount by way of interconnecting chimney flues to one fireplace.
Also during this time, coal products were in demand. The bad part about it was that after combustion, the fireplace became very dirty and needed to be cleaned every single day which became very tiring and stressful for homeowners. However, this situation paved the way to what is now known as chimney sweeps. The dirty fireplaces and chimneys needed some cleaning and so it created jobs for people.
Chimney sweeping actually started with children; homeless, poor, orphaned kids. They had a chimney master who fed them, clothed them and gave them a place to live in exchange for hard labor in cleaning big factory chimneys for big companies with only a small brush to use. This was mainly because they were the only ones who can fit inside the small areas of the chimney. But this did not go on for a long time thanks to the efforts of the British Parliament that passed the Act of Regulation of Chimney Sweepers in 1864.
At present, the chimney sweeping industry has developed highly sophisticated and innovative equipment to make the chimney sweep’s job a little easier. Chimney sweeps have come to be very handy because they are now able to not only do the basic cleaning but also do repairs and replacements for certain parts of the chimney that needs attention too.
With the help of the CSIA, a world-renowned organization that produces professional and credible chimney sweeps, they are now, more than ever, ready to properly maintain the stability and overall efficacy of your chimney. We here at Old Hat Chimney Services pride ourselves in that. So for all your chimney worries and needs, just give us a call and we’ll give you the best service a chimney sweep is expected of.
Get Those Vents Cleaned
“Yeah, yeah, yeah—I’ll get it done,” you might say, “There are a million other things on my to-do list though—and dryer vents…well, they don’t rate very high on the list.”
Most homeowners try to take care of their appliances, especially the ones that heat. You know all about the fire hazards of leaving a heated stove or fireplace unattended, and not to leave the curling iron plugged in or the space heater running. Those things are dangerous, right? But you probably don’t think much about the appliance you leave running all the time—the clothes dryer. It’s easy to forget that the dryer needs maintenance, especially when your to-do list is a mile long and you’ve barely got time to throw the load from the washer into the dryer.
You might be surprised to hear that the NFPA reports 1 out of every 22 home structure fires to haves originated with clothes dryers and washers. In fact, the #1 cause of clothes dryer fires is that the vents weren’t cleaned. “Yeah, but I ALWAYS clean my lint trap out,” you say. Well, that’s good, but even though cleaning the lint trap will definitely give you more efficiency between cleanings, the vents still get clogged from buildup—even when the lint traps are cleaned after every load of laundry.
Lint buildup in the dryer hose reduces the air flow from the dryer to the exhaust, causing the dryer to overheat. Lint is highly flammable, so if it catches fire you’re in trouble. “But I’ve got one of those new dryers,” you say with a snort. Which is great, of course, because newer dryers are equipped with sensors to trigger shut-down if things get too hot. The problem is—that sensor can get worn down pretty fast if it’s being triggered constantly because of buildup. And we all know how much it costs to replace electronic parts…a lot.
Your dryer vent is telling you it’s time for a cleaning if:
- Clothes are drying slowly
- Lint is building up behind the dryer
- Clothes/dryer feel too hot
- Heat element in dryer burns out
- Water spots appear on nearby walls
- Carbon monoxide alarm goes off
If any of those signs opened up your eyes, here’s what you need to do:
Schedule a cleaning by an NFPA certified dryer vent technician, and keep up with it annually from now on. Even though cleaning vents is ‘old hat’ to us, we keep up on all the codes and certifications that give you the peace of mind that your home has been cleared of a fire hazard, not to mention the fact that we just made sure your dryer is saving you money by running more efficiently. So give us a call today to schedule your vent cleaning.
What Carbon Monoxide Can Do to You
Have you experienced problems with your health lately — particularly with breathing, blurry vision or memory loss? Do you experience these symptoms only when you are at home? There are many causes, but one not to dismiss is the possibility of carbon monoxide coming back into your home because of improper draft.
What is carbon monoxide poisoning anyway? According to a medical dictionary, carbon monoxide poisoning is a potentially fatal acute or chronic intoxication caused by inhalation of carbon monoxide gas, which has an affinity 210 times, that of oxygen for binding with hemoglobin and thus interferes with the transportation of oxygen and carbon dioxide by the blood.
Simply put, carbon dioxide is stronger and easier to get into your red blood cells compared to oxygen (the element that the body needs more of). What usually happens in the body is this: carbon monoxide vies with oxygen for binding sites on hemoglobin (this carries oxygen from the lungs to all the major tissues and parts of the body) Now, oxygen cannot carry itself on its own so if carbon monoxide will fill the hemoglobin molecules, tendencies are the tissues in our body will start to deteriorate and eventually die because of deprivation of oxygen.
Carbon monoxide is a by-product of combustion and it has no smell or taste. This is why its flu-like symptoms are usually mistaken to be just a mild flu or sickness. Truth of the matter is, diagnosing carbon monoxide in the body is difficult and you would need a second opinion from other doctors and pulmonary specialists to confirm their findings. But like any other sickness or disease, mild forms can be treated and doctors can eventually take carbon monoxide out of your body.But if you happen to have more exposure to this dangerous gas, it can cause bigger problems like heart disease, brain damage and major problems in your urinary tract. Prolonged exposure can be fatal. Because the gas is tasteless, odorless and invisible, you must have a working detector in your home to catch it.
There are many ways to prevent this from happening and one in particular is to make sure your chimneys and fireplaces are checked, inspected and cleaned regularly. A yearly inspection and clean-up will do. The expert team of professional sweeps from Old Hat Chimney Service will definitely help you with all your chimney concerns. We offer the best service to the people in Metro Atlanta since 1992. We’re certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America and the National Fire Institute.