Chimney Care Company's Blog
Winter weather can be rough, and it can be especially rough on your masonry chimney. Snow, sleet, ice and freezing temperatures can all damage your chimney during the winter months, and it’s important that you are aware of the signs of winter chimney damage so you can stay on top of needed repairs.
Cold weather can damage your chimney’s masonry much like it damages the roadways and causes potholes each winter. Water penetrates your masonry’s porous surfaces. Once trapped inside, that moisture freezes and expands, causing your chimney’s masonry to crack and crumble.
That cracking and crumbling can have a major, negative impact on your chimney and your home. First and foremost, it can cause your chimney to look unsightly, harming your home’s aesthetics. Secondly, cracks and weaknesses in your chimney’s masonry can allow water to gain entry into the chimney’s interior or into your home’s structure, which can cause serious damage to walls, ceilings, your fireplace or heating stove, and your chimney flue. Finally, if left unchecked and allowed to progress, the cracking and crumbling of your chimney’s masonry can cause the chimney structure itself to become weakened and even fail.
Spotting Cold Weather Damage
It is important to be on the lookout for winter chimney damage so that you can have any damage addressed as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration. Some signs of freeze-thaw and winter water damage include:
- Crumbling mortar
- Spalling, or the popping off of pieces of chimney bricks
- Cracking or crumbing of the chimney crown
- Staining on walls or ceilings around the chimney
- Crumbling pieces of chimney flue tiles found inside the firebox
- Rusting of the chimney damper, fireplace grate or fireplace doors.
If you notice any of these signs of chimney masonry damage, it is important to call in chimney professionals to have your chimney inspected and repaired. When you ignore winter chimney damage, it only get worse over time.
Preventing Cold Weather Masonry Damage
To prevent winter masonry damage, your primary goal should be protecting your chimney from water and moisture. A chimney cap prevents water from running down your chimney flue and doing damage; make sure that your chimney cap is in place and in good repair. Your chimney’s crown deflects water away from the chimney flue and should provide some protection to the exterior sides of your chimney. During your annual chimney inspection, make sure you ask your sweep if your chimney crown has been properly constructed and is free from damage. Finally, chimney waterproofing provides a protective barrier for your chimney’s masonry that seals out water to prevent freeze-thaw damage.
If winter’s cold weather has been hard on your chimney’s masonry, call the chimney experts at The Chimney Care Co. We can evaluate wintertime chimney damage and restore your chimney’s look and function.
We live in an era of online reviews. Before most people make a purchasing or hiring decision — whether it’s deciding which restaurant to go to or which contractor to hire — they research the business to see what others have said about the business online. An online review can greatly hurt or help a business’s success.
What you might not realize is that when you provide a review of your chimney sweep, you benefit more than just the company; you help your neighbors and even yourself.
How reviews help the business
It is pretty clear that a well-reviewed business likely will do better than one with bad reviews. If you have a positive experience with your chimney sweep, you absolutely should provide them with a good online review! Providing your chimney sweep with a positive online review is a great way to support a small, local business and to thank your chimney sweep for their exemplary service.
How reviews help your neighbor
As we have observed, most people now research businesses online before they make hiring or purchasing decision. Your online review can help you neighbor to make a good decision. An honest review can help steer your neighbors to the right company, saving them from the hassle or dealing with poor service or from wasting their money all together. Additionally, your review can help your neighbor make an educated purchasing decision that they feel confident with.
How reviews help you
You might not realize it, but leaving online reviews of your chimney sweep can help you, too! Potential customers aren’t the only ones who read online reviews; the companies that are reviewed read those reviews as well. A smart company will learn from and react to those reviews. A good online review will detail honestly what you did and did not like about your chimney service. Your chimney sweep will read your honest feedback and work to improve what you did not like, which means you will see better service the next time you are in the market for chimney services.
Keep in mind that there are a few guidelines involved in writing a good online review that helps your neighbor, the business and you. Never write a review while you are upset about the service, as others will see that anger and question the fairness of your review, and the business likely will be less willing to help you resolve the issue you are upset about. Second, make describe the service in detail. Include pertinent details that will give others a clear picture of your service. Finally, make sure your review is free of grammatical and spelling errors, as well as typos. Others are less likely to take your review seriously if it is riddled with obvious mistakes.
Leaving an online review for your chimney sweep won’t take you very long, and your efforts will be appreciated by your neighbors and your chimney sweep — and hopefully, you will be rewarded with even better service in the future!
Your fireplace helps you to keep your home warm and cozy all winter long. But the knowledge that fireplaces also can be a fire hazard can leave you feeling anything but cozy. You can implement fireplace safety tips to reduce fireplace hazards and enjoy your fireplace without fear this winter.
Have your fireplace swept and inspected.
The No. 1 thing you can do to lower the fire hazard in your home is to have your chimney swept and inspected at least once per year, preferably between fire-burning seasons. A chimney sweeping and inspection ensures that your chimney is free of flammable creosote and other obstructions that could pose a danger. It also ensures that the fireplace and chimney are free from damage and in good operating condition.
Clear the space around the fireplace.
Embers can jump out of the fireplace and ignite nearby objects or burn anyone sitting too close. Items that are too close to a fireplace can overheat and begin to burn. To reduce this fire hazard, make sure that the area around your fireplace is free of any flammable materials, and encourage pets and children to stay away from the hearth when a fire is burning. All flammable objects be kept at least two feet from the hearth to avoid a fire hazard. Make sure you also check your mantle to be sure that there aren’t any objects dangling too close to the flames.
Screen your fireplace.
Another way to keep popping embers from your fireplace from posing a fire hazard is to use a fireplace screen. Keep mesh curtains on your fireplace and close them when a fire is burning. If your fireplace doesn’t have a built-in screen, invest in a removable screen or spark arrestor to keep sparks, ashes and logs safely in the fireplace.
Don’t burn anything other than the intended fuel.
Wood-burning fireplaces were designed to safely burn seasoned firewood. Gas fireplaces are made to safely handle gas fires. Pellet stoves safely accommodate pellets. Never burn anything other than the intended fuel in your fireplace. Wrapping paper, cardboard boxes and scraps of woods can cause flare ups that can’t be safely contained by your firebox and chimney.
Practice proper ash disposal.
After your fire has visibly extinguished, the ashes can still pose a danger. Embers hidden within the ashes can burn for days after your fire was put out. When clearing out your fireplace, be sure to use a metal shovel to scoop ashes into a metal bucket with a tight-fitting lid. Only remove the ashes to a garbage bag or other receptacle once you are sure that they have cooled entirely.
Consult the experts.
If you have concerns about fire hazards and your fireplace, make sure you consult the experts. At The Chimney Care Co., we view it as part of our responsibility to educate our customers on the safe operation of their fireplaces. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns about your fireplace.
Your home houses many devices that create carbon monoxide: Your furnace, your fireplace or heating stove, your gas stove or oven, your clothing dryer, your water heater and your car, to name a few. We all know that these devices are perfectly safe when they are well vented and operating properly. But when vents get blocked or damaged, when appliances fail, or when human error intervenes, these devices can put you and your family at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.
At its lowest levels, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause nausea, vomited, feeling lightheaded or sleepiness. At worst, it can result in confusion, organ damage or even death. That is why it is crucial that you take steps to protect your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide.
To prevent carbon monoxide from building up within your home and to keep your family safe:
- Have heating appliances cleaned and inspected annually. Furnaces, fireplaces and heating stoves should have their vents cleaned at least once per year, and the appliances should be checked for damage or malfunction that could put your home or your family in danger.
- Make sure appliance vents stay clear. Appliance vents should remain clear at all times. Check that vents are clear after major storms or in heavy snows. Make sure that vents do not get covered during home renovations.
- Clean your dryer vents. Over time, clothing dryer vents can become clogged with lint. Just like your chimney and furnace flues, your dryer vents should be cleaned at least once per year to lower your risk of carbon monoxide buildup or a home fire.
- Only use gas appliances as directed. Never use your gas stove or oven as a heat source. Leave camp stoves or portable gas heaters outdoors where they belong. Do not run a gas-powered generator within your home.
- Never leave your car running inside your garage. Your car’s exhaust can cause carbon monoxide to build up to dangerous levels in your garage and in your attached home, even if the garage door has been left open while the car is running.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide detectors can be life savers, literally. You should have carbon monoxide detectors installed on each level of your home and near each sleeping area within your home. Test carbon monoxide detectors at least once per month, and replace batteries at least once per year.
Know what to do when carbon monoxide detectors sound!
Make sure every member of your home knows what the alarms sound like and what to do if they hear the alarms’ signals. Exit the home immediately and call 911. Do not re-enter the home until the danger has been cleared. If you experience any of the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning — dizziness, nausea, sleepiness, confusion — seek medical attention.
The prospect of carbon monoxide poisoning frightens most homeowners, as it should, but by taking precautions to prevent it and by having alarms in place, you can keep your family safe from the dangers of carbon monoxide.
Fireplaces are the heart of a home.
Some common fireplace upgrades include:
- Fireplace repairs. Often, the problem with the fireplace is that the fireplace is showing its age. The firebox tiles crack. The hearth becomes stained. The metal grates corrode. How can you give someone a fireplace facelift? Hiring skilled fireplace technicians to fix their fireplace’s simple cosmetic problems! This provides a restored, beautiful fireplace that is once again a pleasure to look at and that is safe for lighting a fire.
- Fireplace accessories. Fireplace accessories can dress up the hearth and provide and instant fireplace facelift. Andirons, a quality set of fireplace tools, or a well-crafted fireplace screen are all great gift options. This is especially true when you’re looking to dress up someone’s fireplace.
- Fireplace façade. Perhaps nothing reveals a fireplace’s age like the façade. Fireplace trends come and go, and a façade that was trendy 10 years ago can age a home. Fortunately, there are many ways to give the fireplace a facelift. That includes adding tile or veneers over outdates surfaces, changing out fireplace doors, or replacing a passé mantle. Sometimes the right coat of paint or finishing treatment can make a hearth look like new.
- Fireplace insert. One of the most dramatic fireplace facelifts you can gift someone is a fireplace insert. A fireplace insert can instantly change the look of the hearth. In addition, it can upgrade fireplace efficiency and lower home heating bills. An insert also can make a fireplace more use-able.