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Chimney Health Hazards You Should Know About

Fireplaces are warm and cozy, and it’s easy to understand why the hearth often serves as the heart of the home. Unfortunately, the reality of fireplaces is that they aren’t always the ideal feature for a healthy home. There are some chimney health hazards you should know about.


Chimney Health Hazards You Should Know About Image - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care CompanySome chimney health hazards include:

  • Particle inhalation.
    When you burn a fire in your open-hearth fireplace, fine particles are released into the air within your home. These fine particles can make eyes burn and itch, noses run and cause lung infections like bronchitis. Regular, long-term exposure to the particles from wood-burning fires can lead to lung diseases. The health risk is greater for small children, the elderly and people with chronic lung conditions.
  • Creosote exposure.
    Each time a fire burns, creosote builds up within the chimney. That creosote can become a hazard if it breaks free and begins to flake into the fireplace and find its way into your home. Creosote can irritate skin, the eyes and the lungs. Chronic, long-term exposure can lead to organ damage.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning.
    When a chimney becomes clogged, carbon monoxide from your fireplace can’t exit your home, and the levels of carbon monoxide in your home can build up to dangerous levels. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause faintness, dizziness, nausea, confusion, organ damage and even death.
  • Disease exposure.
    Birds and bats often find their ways into chimneys and leave behind their droppings. These droppings contain a variety of bacteria. Cleaning bird droppings from your fireplace is especially dangerous because it sends the disease-causing spores airborne.

Health hazards associated with a chimney could be enough to scare any homeowner away from using their fireplace. However, you don’t need to go to extremes to keep you and your family healthy. There are several ways to protect your family from chimney-related health hazards.

To mitigate chimney health hazards:

  • Have your chimney swept at least once per year.
    When it comes to operating a chimney safely, keeping your chimney clean has the greatest impact. A clean chimney drafts more efficiently, drawing smoke and fine particles away from your home more effectively. A chimney sweeping also removes dangerous creosote, any chimney clogs that could prevent carbon monoxide from being vented and disease-carrying bird droppings or other animal waste.
  • Upgrade your appliance.
    There are other options to warm your hearth in a healthier way. You could install gas logs or a gas insert in your open-hearth fireplace. Gas burns hotter and more cleanly, reducing the amount of pollution released into your home. If you love the look of burning wood, you could consider an EPA-certified wood-burning insert, which creates less particulate matter and creates a barrier between the fire and your home.
  • Burn only dry, seasoned firewood.
    Dry, seasoned firewood burns hotter and more cleanly. That means less pollution released into your home and a slower creosote buildup within your chimney.
  • Install a chimney cap.
    A chimney cap can keep birds, bats, animals, and the diseases they carry, out of your chimney.

If you’re looking to reduce chimney health hazards in your home, call The Chimney Care Co!

Whether you need to have your chimney swept, want to upgrade your appliance, or are in need of a chimney cap to keep critters out, we can help!

Summer is a great time to have your chimney cleaned and inspected!

Come summer, most homeowners forget about their fireplace and chimney. Then, as fall begins to chill the air, everyone rushes to schedule their annual chimney cleaning and inspection! However, don’t wait. For a variety of reasons, summer is a great time to schedule your chimney sweeping and inspection!

Have your chimney cleaned and inspected Image - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care CompanyTake advantage of summer weather.

No homeowner likes to think about the possibility of chimney repairs.  Having said that, one of the main purposes of your annual chimney sweeping and inspection is to spot repairs.  Schedule your chimney cleaning and inspection for the summer. By doing this, you give yourself time for any repairs that might need to be made to your chimney. In fact, many masonry repairs can’t be performed in cold or damp weather and are ideally completed in the summer. This means that if damage is spotted during the fall, you might need to wait until spring to have the damage repaired. That could mean rendering your chimney unusable for an entire winter season! In addition, allowing damage to worsen as you wait for suitable weather for repairs.

Avoid a stinky chimney!

When you burn fires in your fireplace, creosote builds up within your chimney. During the cold winter months, you might not give much thought to creosote. Unfortunately, during the summer, creosote in your chimney mixes with hot, humid weather. This can make creosote stink like hot asphalt! By having your chimney cleaned in the summer, you can avoid having your home filled with foul chimney odors all summer.

Plan for improvements?

Have you been thinking about improving your fireplace or chimney? Whether it’s with a new fireplace insert, fireplace doors, or cosmetic masonry repairs, summer is the time to consult with chimney professionals! When you have your chimney swept and inspected in the summer, you can ask your chimney technician about possible improvements. Afterwards, have those improvements completed before you’re ready to use your fireplace in the fall!

Beat the fall rush.

Most homeowners plan their annual chimney sweeping and inspection for the fall. Fortunately, you can skip the fall rush by scheduling your sweeping and inspection for the summer! When you wait to schedule your annual chimney maintenance until the fall, you risk calling the chimney sweep after his or her schedule has filled up for the season. That could have you waiting weeks for you annual sweeping and inspection. This could delay your first fire of the season!

Scheduling a summertime chimney sweeping and inspection comes with a host of benefits. Not to mention, it allows you to check something off your home maintenance to-do list. Enjoy the benefits of a summertime chimney cleaning and inspection. Call the Chimney Care Co. to schedule your appointment today!

Keeping Animals Out of Your Chimney

With warm spring days, animals are on the prowl! This means they’re making mischief and looking for places to nest. Many animals, from squirrels and raccoons to swallows and bats, are apt to wander into your chimney. While it may seem innocuous, animals or birds in your chimney can cause a host of problems. This is why it’s important to take measures to prevent animals from entering your chimney.

Keeping Animals Out of Your Chimney Image - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care CompanyThe problem with animals in your chimney.

Animals in your chimney can cause problems that range from a minor inconvenience to a major headache! Birds that nest in your chimney can rustle around and make a great deal of noise. However, when they fly off, a chimney sweeping should remove any evidence of their habitation. Animals like squirrels can build large nests that can completely block off your chimney opening. This renders your chimney unusable and poses a fire hazard. At a minimum, animals in your chimney can leave behind waste and debris. At worst, they can gain entry into your home, cause damage to your chimney, become aggressive or spread diseases.

While some animals might seek refuge in your chimney, others can accidentally wander in and become trapped. Few animals, such as squirrels and raccoons, can exit the chimney once the enter it. Trapped animals can make loud, panicked sounds within your chimney, disturbing your house. Should a trapped animal die, the corpse can fill your home with a horrible, putrid smell.

Preventing animals from entering your chimney.

With all of the problems animals and birds in the chimney can pose, whether inconvenient or downright dangerous, the goal of any homeowner should be to keep animals from entering the chimney and becoming a nuisance. There are two primary tools for keeping unwanted visitors from your chimney: Chimney caps and top-sealing chimney dampers.

Most chimney flues are covered with chimney caps to keep water from pouring down the inside of the chimney. Your chimney cap should be supported by a wire cage that prevents animals or birds from accessing the flue. Some top-sealing dampers can be used for a similar purpose: Top-sealing dampers completely seal off the flue opening when the chimney isn’t in use. In some models, the damper is fitted to the chimney with a collapsible metal cage. So, when the damper is open, the chimney flue is protected from animals, birds, and debris.

Don’t leave your chimney unprotected!

Once an animal enters your chimney, it must be professionally removed. Additionally, the chimney must be swept and inspected to make sure that no debris or damage remains behind. Prevent animals from becoming a problem in the first place! Call the Chimney Care Co. to schedule an appointment today. Have your chimney fitted with a chimney cap or top-sealing damper that will prevent birds and animals from entering your chimney.

Firebrick patterns for your interior fireplace

If you are looking to give your hearth a stunning makeover, one of the best ways to add style is by reconstructing your firebricks. The firebricks are the masonry component of your inner fireplace. Made from refractory cement, they insulate your fireplace. This holds in the heat from the fire so it can warm your home. This also prevents excessive heat from penetrating the part of your home’s structure that surrounds the fireplace.

Firebrick patterns for your interior fireplace img - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care CoWhile firebricks are an often overlooked component of the fireplace — unless they break down and pose a hazard — the firebricks can add a beautiful aesthetic appeal to your hearth. Altering your firebrick pattern can change the entire feel of your fireplace, providing a clean, modern look or a sophisticated design element. The trick is to choose a firebrick pattern that fits with the hearth style you’re looking to achieve.

Running bond

The running bond is a traditional masonry pattern and you’d likely recognize it immediately. The running bond pattern is achieved by offsetting each layer of firebricks by half of a brick. While this pattern is firmly traditional, you can still use a running bond to vary the look of your interior firebox by selecting bricks that are a different size or color than your current firebox.

Stacked bond

The stacked bond is seeing a surge in popularity right now. Also, it is prized for its clean, modern look. In creating a stack bond, the firebricks are placed directly on top of one another, so the seams fall in straight lines.


Herringbone has become a major trend in home décor, from tile floors and tile showers to brickwork and fireplaces. In masonry, the herringbone pattern mocks the traditional herringbone weave. To achieve that look, two rows of bricks are laid toward one another at a 45-degree angle, creating W-like-patterns in the bricks.

Split herringbone

For those who love the herringbone pattern but want something different, the split herringbone offers a fun alternative. With the split herringbone pattern, the firebricks are laid in the same manner. However, the bricks themselves are “split” to a much smaller size. The result is a more delicate, intricate-looking pattern.

Basket weave

Like the stacked bond, the basket weave is a traditional masonry pattern. It’s most often used when homeowners are looking to achieve a more rustic look in their fireplaces. To achieve the basket weave pattern, two to three bricks are placed horizontally. Then, two to three bricks above are placed vertically. The alternating pattern repeats in all directions of the design.

If you are ready to liven up the look of your hearth with new firebricks, or if your existing firebricks need to be replaced for safety purposes, call the Chimney Care Co.! Our expert masons can reline your fireplace with a beautiful firebrick pattern that turns your hearth into an eye-catching focal feature you will love to show off.

By Jeff Keefer | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Protect Your Chimney With Waterproofing

So often, we focus our chimney maintenance efforts on sweeping and keeping our chimneys clear of creosote and debris to ward of the dangers of a chimney fire. While chimney sweeping is undoubtedly important, your chimney’s No. 1 enemy, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), is water. Fortunately, you can keep your chimney — and your home — safe from water damage with a waterproofing treatment from ChimneySaver.

Protect Your Chimney With Waterproofing Image - Cincinnati OH - Chimney Care CompanyHow water can damage your chimney.

The masonry materials many chimneys are constructed of are highly porous. Because your chimney rises high above your roof-line, it sees little protection from driving rain and melting snow. All of that water that comes into contact with your chimney is drawn into the chimney’s bricks and mortar. That can lead to several problems. The chimney itself can become damaged when temperatures drop and the water inside the chimney freezes and expands. The expanding water causes bricks and mortar to crack and crumble away. Over time, that damage can allow more water to penetrate the chimney, and it can weaken the entire chimney structure.

Additionally, moisture that enters through the chimney can damage your entire chimney and fireplace system. The damper can warp and rust, as can any metal components of the fireplace, including fireplace doors, fireboxes and fireplace grates. Moisture inside the chimney can cause flue tiles to crack or spall, and moisture into the chimney can cause a musty, smoky odor to fill your home. If chimney water damage is left unchecked, the leak can gain access to the rest of your home’s structure, causing mold to grow and wooden supports to rot away.

Protecting your chimney with ChimneySaver.

ChimneySaver has been protecting chimneys from water damage for more than 20 years. The solution is applied to the outside of your chimney, and once it is in place, it prevents more than 99 percent of moisture from entering your chimney’s masonry. At the same time, ChimneySaver still allows your chimney to “breathe.” That means vapors put off by your fireplace, which often includes water, can still exit through the chimney walls. Unlike ChimneySaver, other chimney waterproofing treatments can trap moisture, which can lead to crumbling, spalling masonry.

ChimneySaver’s water-based formula is environmentally friendly. It won’t leave a glossy finish on your chimney, and in addition to protecting your chimney from freeze-thaw damage, ChimneySaver can protect your chimney from mold and mildew growth and efflorescent stains. ChimneySaver’s waterproofing solution also comes with a 10-year warranty.

Call the Chimney Care Co. to protect your chimney from water damage!

If you want to keep your masonry chimney safe from water damage, call the Chimney Care Co. to schedule an appointment today! We can apply ChimneySaver’s waterproofing solution to protect your chimney from freeze-thaw damage, unsightly stains and mold, and to save you from have to repair costly water damage down the road.

By Jeff Keefer | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

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