Chimney Care Company's Blog
When it comes to keeping your chimney and fireplace system safe and sound, keeping water out should be your No. 1 priority. When water is allowed to make its way into your chimney, it can damage your flue liner; rust your damper, firebox or fireplace doors; or even cause water damage to the walls and ceilings that abut your chimney.
If you have a manufactured fireplace, your chimney top should be enclosed with a chimney chase cover. Each fall, as you prepare your chimney for the fire-burning season, it’s important to make sure that your chase cover is firmly in place and damage free. If your chase top is corroding, it’s crucial that you have your chase cover replaced.
What is a chimney chase cover?
Unless you have visited your roof, you’ve likely never seen your chimney chase cover. It’s a flat metal box that encloses the top of your chimney. It should be fitted with a chimney cap that allows smoke to escape the flue while keeping water from running down the chimney flue.
What does a chimney chase cover do?
Your chimney chase cover should seal your chimney’s chase. That is, the box framing that surrounds your prefabricated chimney. The chase cover prevents water, animals and debris from entering the chimney flue. It also keeps water from seeping down between the sides of the chimney and the sides of the chase, which can cause water damage to your home’s structure.
Why do chimney chase covers need to be replaced?
Like anything, chimney chase tops will wear down over time. When homes are built or fireplaces or heating stoves installed, contractors often will keep costs low by installing the cheapest possible materials. Because of that, many chase covers are made from cheap galvanized metal. That metal breaks down within the span of about five years, rusting and corroding and failing to keep out water.
How can you tell if your chimney chase cap needs to be replaced?
Often, the first sign of a failing chimney chase top is a water leak within your chimney. If your chimney chase cap has developed a hole or crack, you might notice water pooling within your firebox, rust around your damper or a discolored wall or ceiling near your chimney. To avoid a leaking chimney, it’s important to have your chimney inspected annually! Your chimney technician will check your chimney chase cover and warn you of any signs of weakness.
What should I look for in a new chimney chase top?
At The Chimney Care Co. we recommend installing a chimney chase cap made from a durable metal that will protect your chimney for years to come. We install chimney caps made from stainless steel or copper, both of which will provide a beautiful finish to your chimney and keep your chimney dry.
If you’ve noticed water leaks in your chimney, if you’ve noticed rust or corrosion on your chimney chase cap, or if you are due for your annual chimney sweeping and inspection, call The Chimney Care Co. to schedule an appointment today.
When you bought your home, you probably treasured the open-hearth fireplace. You may have even searched for a home with a fireplace. And why wouldn’t you? Fireplaces add warmth, comfort and ambiance to a home. In addition, they add an element of design to any room and serve as a gathering point for families and friends.
The reality of a wood-burning fireplace, however, is that they often sit unused. Consequently, this means wood-burning fireplaces take a lot of work. Wood must be chopped or purchased, stacked and stored, and hauled into the house. A fire must be built and can be tricky to get burning efficiently. If you would like to make your fireplace more use-able and increase its value in your home, there is a solution: Install gas logs.
Benefits of Gas Logs
The primary benefit of gas logs is convenience. You don’t have to worry about stacking, storing or hauling wood to fuel your fires. In addition, you don’t have to build or tend your fire. Different logs light in different ways. In most cases, you push a button or flip a switch that either ignites the fire or a pilot light. Gas-fueled fires also are cleaner than wood fires. While wood fires can compromise your indoor air quality and fill your neighborhood air with fine particles, gas fires burn much cleaner. They won’t fill your home or your neighborhood with soot.
Angie’s List suggests two primary styles of gas logs: vented and vent free.
Vented gas logs require a chimney. If you’re installing vented gas logs in an existing wood-burning fireplace, so that might mean that your chimney will have to be relined to accommodate the new fuel type. Vented gas logs produce a yellow flame that more closely mirrors a wood-burning fire.
Vent-free gas logs burn much hotter, burning away most of the byproducts of the fire. As a result, they don’t require a chimney. The hotter fire typically produces a blue flame. In an existing wood-burning fireplace, vent-free gas logs can be installed and burn with the damper closed. Vent-free gas logs also can be installed into a firebox in nearly any room of your home. That makes vent-free gas logs a great option for installing a fireplace in a room that can’t accommodate a vent or a chimney.
Styles of Gas Logs
Another major benefit of gas logs is they come in a variety of styles to suit your home’s decor. There are traditionally designed gas logs that closely mirror the look of real wood logs. They come in different sizes and wood types with different colors and textures. For a more modern look, you can forego logs all together and outfit your fireplace with stones, rocks or multicolored glass stones.
If you are ready to increase the usability of your fireplace, call The Chimney Care Co. today! We can talk to you about your different gas log options to make your fireplace more attractive and easier to use.
Just like your chimney, your clothing dryer vent requires regular cleaning to prevent it from becoming clogged with debris and posing fire and carbon monoxide hazards. Each time you dry a load of laundry, tiny pieces of moist lint bypass the lint screen. First, those moist pieces of lint cling to the sides of your dryer vent, and then they cling to each other until the vent becomes clogged. A clogged vent can overheat, igniting the highly flammable lint or your dryer’s heating mechanism, or it can block carbon monoxide from exiting the vent, forcing it back into your home.
Because of these dangers, the National Fire Protection Association recommends that dryer vents are cleaned at least once per year, or more often for dryers that do a high volume of laundry. When it comes to determining whether your dryer vent need to be cleaned, your dryer will send you signs that its vent is clogged with lint and are no longer working properly. Those signs include:
- Longer than normal drying times. When your dryer isn’t venting properly, it can no longer operate efficiently. That means it takes longer to dry each load of clothes. One of the first signs that a vent is dirty is clothes that are still wet when the drying cycle stops.
- Laundry that is hot to the touch. A clogged vent prevents heat from escaping the dryer. That means you may notice that clothes feel unusually hot when the cycle ends and you go to remove them from the dryer.
- An overheated laundry room. Similarly, if heat isn’t escaping your dryer, it will build up within the laundry room. If your laundry room becomes warm when the dryer is running, that is a sure sign the dryer vent needs to be cleaned.
- A burning, musty or overwhelming laundry smell. A clogged dryer vent also can cause odors to permeate your laundry room when the dryer is in operation. When the vent is clogged, you may smell a burning odor, a musty odor or the overwhelming scent of your fabric softener.
- The accumulation of lint or debris. If lint has filled your dryer vent, new lint doesn’t have anywhere else to go. If the vent is clogged, you may notice lint or debris accumulating around the lint trap, behind the dryer or even on the ground below the spot where the dryer vent exits the home.
- A closed dryer vent flap. The flap that covers your dryer vent outside should open when the dryer is in use, with the force of the air that is being exhausted. If that flap is remaining closed, it means that air is no longer escaping through the dryer vent.
If you notice any of these signs that your dryer vent has become clogged with lint, call The Chimney Care Co. today to schedule a dryer vent cleaning. Our technicians will use rotating brushes to loosen the lint from your dryer vent and then clear away the debris with a high-powered vacuum. We will also inspect your dryer vent system to ensure that it is free from damage and exhausting your dryer safely and efficiently.
Chimney parging ranks as one of the most common chimney repairs, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), but it is a repair that most people know little about. So what is smoke chamber parging, and why is it so important?
About your smoke chamber
The smoke chamber is the area just above your firebox. It angles from the wide area of your fireplace to the narrower opening of your chimney to funnel smoke from the firebox into the chimney. An improperly sized or improperly constructed smoke chamber can impede the flow of smoke into your chimney, causing a bad draft. When your chimney isn’t drafting correctly, smoke flows back into your home rather than up your chimney.
When smoke chamber parging is needed
In many chimneys, especially older chimneys, the walls of the smoke chamber are constructed from brick. The bricks are laid in a “stepping” pattern toward the chimney. The CSIA recommends that all smoke chambers have smooth walls, and most building codes require it. Jagged steps of older smoke chambers can impede your chimney’s draft. That means smoke can flow back into your home, and more heat transfer between your fireplace and the surrounding home structures. In the case of an uneven, or corbeled, smoke chambers, the CSIA recommends parging.
Additionally, parging can be recommended when the bricks of the smoke chamber break down. The walls of smoke chambers can be damaged by fire, or the inner core of the bricks can become exposed over time, threatening the strength of your smoke chamber. In cases where the walls of the smoke chamber are not smooth, or where the masonry of the smoke chamber is wearing down, the CSIA recommends parging of the smoke chamber to improve the chimney’s draft and strength.
How smoke chamber parging is done
To parge your smoke chamber, we use a refractory mortar to smooth out the “steps” of your uneven smoke chamber or to rebuild the walls of your damaged or deteriorating smoke chamber. The refractory mortar holds up to the heat of your fireplace, enhancing its strength, and the newly smooth surface will improve your chimney’s draft, preventing smoke from flowing back into your home.
Determining whether your smoke chamber needs to be parged
You may notice some subtle signs that your smoke chamber needs to be parged, such as smoke flowing back into your living spaces or soot stains forming at the top of your hearth, above your firebox. A peek inside the smoke chamber may reveal cracks or exposed bricks. The only way to determine whether your smoke chamber needs to be parged is through a chimney inspection. During your inspection, your certified chimney sweep will examine the smoke chamber to see whether it is corbeled or showing signs of wear or damage.
If you have noticed that your chimney isn’t drafting properly or if you are overdue for a chimney inspection, call the Chimney Care Co. today, and our chimney experts will help you determine whether your smoke chamber needs to be parged.
Gas fireplaces, inserts and heating stoves are valued for their ease of use, but just like their wood-burning counterparts, they require regular maintenance and care, as well as occasional servicing. At The Chimney Care Co., we clean, inspect, repair and install all types of gas heating appliances!
Gas appliance maintenance
Like any heating appliance, your gas fireplace, insert or heating stove should be cleaned and inspected at least once per year. The Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) recommends that gas heating appliances be inspected annually by CSIA-certified chimney sweeps like our sweeps at The Chimney Care Company. According to the HPBA, the pilot light, burners, fan, vents and thermostat should be inspected to make sure that they are all operating properly. Our technicians also will clean all components of your fireplace to keep it working well and looking its best.
Gas appliance repair
There’s nothing more frustrating than flipping the switch of your gas fireplace or heating stove on the first chilly day of fall only to find it won’t light. When that happens to you, you can call The Chimney Care Co. Our technicians service all brands and models of gas heating appliances, and we can locate the source of your problem and have your gas fireplace or heating stove ready to provide you with a winter full of comfort. While failure to light might be the most common reason for calling for gas fireplace repair, you also should have your fireplace serviced if you notice soot stains around your gas appliance, a foul odor coming from your appliance or if the fire in your fireplace or stove doesn’t stay lit once you turn it on.
Gas appliance installation
Gas fireplaces and heating stoves are becoming the most common types of heating appliances, as they can be installed virtually anywhere within the home, can be turned on with the flip of a switch or the press of a button, require little maintenance and provide a clean and efficient source of heat. At The Chimney Care Co., we can replace your old gas heating appliance, fit your wood-burning fireplace with a gas insert and install a new gas fireplace or heating stove in your home. The Chimney Care Co. carries top-of-the-line gas appliances from Hearthstone, Avalon, Lopi and Fireplace Xtrordinair. Whether you are looking going for a classic looking fireplace or stove that mimics the look of a wood-burning appliance or for a clean, modern gas fireplace that will stun your home’s visitors, The Chimney Care Co. can help you find the make and model of gas appliance that fits with your vision for your home and that will provide the best heat source for your family.
If your existing gas fireplace, insert or stove needs routine cleaning and maintenance or isn’t operating properly, or if you are ready to install a new gas heating appliance in your home, call The Chimney Care Co. to schedule an appointment today!