Chimney Care Company's Blog
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!
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When it comes to your home’s chimney, prevention begins with chimney inspections. A chimney inspection guarantees your chimney is free from leaks or weaknesses that can cause damage to the chimney structure and your home structure, or that can put your home at risk of a dangerous chimney fire. Chimney inspections are so important in keeping your chimney and your home safe from fire or damage that the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends that all chimneys are inspected annually.
Not all chimney inspections are the same. The CSIA breaks chimney inspections down into three levels. Your chimney’s unique situation will help determine which type of chimney inspection you need.
Level 1 inspection
A Level 1 inspection is a base-level chimney inspection. If you have a fireplace or heating stove that you have used for years, and you plan to continue to use it in the same manner, the CSIA recommends and annual Level 1 inspection. During a Level 1 inspection, a certified chimney sweep examines the easily accessible portions of your chimney on the inside and outside of your home, as well as the easily accessible portions of your heating appliance. If you have your chimney swept and inspected annually, a Level 1 inspection should be what your chimney sweep performs.
Level 2 inspection
A more detailed Level 2 inspection is recommended when a change is made to the chimney or the heating appliance. Some of those changes include chimney relining or changes in heating fuel types. Level 2 inspections also are recommended upon the sale of a property that includes a chimney, or when a chimney has been susceptible to structural damage, such as from an earthquake, severe storm or chimney or home fire. A Level 2 inspection should include a video scan of the chimney flue, all of the same checks as a Level 1 inspection and inspection of the portions of the chimney that can be accessed through attics, basements and crawl spaces.
Level 3 inspections
Level 3 inspections are performed when severe chimney damage that constitutes a hazard is suspected but can’t be observed with a Level 1 or Level 2 inspection. A Level 3 inspection involves all of the checks of Level 1 and Level 2 inspections, but the chimney technician will go further by removing parts of the chimney or building structure to better access and assess chimney damage.
If your chimney is overdue for an inspection, if you suspect your chimney is leaking or damaged, or if you are buying or selling a home with a chimney, call the Chimney Care Co. to schedule your inspection today! We can help you determine which level of inspection is appropriate, and we can help you prevent any further damage or dangers from unchecked problems in your chimney.
More than any other chimney repair, a leaky chimney should never be ignored. When leaking chimneys are neglected, they continue to allow water into the chimney system, or even into your home’s structure, causing major structural damage over time. A small chimney leak that is ignored now can mean a big home repair later.
If your home has a chimney, there are several signs of a chimney leak you should be on the lookout for:
Discoloration on your chimney’s masonry.
If your chimney is turning a funny color, that can be a sure sign that water is doing damage. White staining indicates that water is penetrating the chimney’s masonry, while black, blue or green stains can indicate mold or algae growth on your chimney’s masonry due to water penetration. Rust stains down the sides of your chimney can mean a rusting and failing chimney cap or chimney chase cover.
Water pooling in the bottom of your fireplace.
A puddle forming at the bottom of your fireplace is a clear indication that water is finding its way into your chimney’s interior.
Rusting firebox components
Rust in your fireplace means moisture is getting in somehow, likely by leaking in through your chimney. If you notice that your damper, fireplace doors or fireplace grate are rusting, your chimney should be inspected for a leak.
Cracked or spalling bricks
Masonry materials are highly porous, and the brick in your chimney will draw in moisture from rain, sleet and snow. When temperatures drop, that moisture freezes and causes the bricks to crack and crumble. If that breakdown is allowed to continue, it can lead to a larger and more problematic chimney leak, or to the structural breakdown of your chimney.
Sagging or discolored ceilings and walls
If you have water damage within your home and you think your roof might be leaking, check your chimney! Leaks around the base of the chimney can cause damage within your home, including staining on your ceiling or walls, peeling wallpaper or sagging ceilings. If left unchecked, the leak could cause wood rot and structural damage to your home’s supports.
If you notice these or any other signs of a water leak in your chimney, it is crucial to have your chimney inspected now! Any water damage will only get worse with time. Summer is the best time for chimney repairs, because the warm temperatures and sunny weather afford chimney experts the time to work and masonry materials the time to cure properly. And by scheduling your chimney repairs this summer, you can have your chimney ready to operate, and ready to resist wetter weather, before fall comes.
If your chimney is leaking, call the Chimney Care Company to schedule an appointment today! We can assess your leak and plan and execute the repairs needed to keep your home and chimney safe from further water damage.