Being a homeowner comes with a long to do list. From home improvement projects to daily upkeep, there’s probably a lot on your mind when it comes to your home. However, the last thing that may come to mind is one of the most important: your chimney. Just like the rest of your home, your chimney and fireplace need regular cleaning and maintenance to work properly. Keeping your chimney clean is also the best way to prevent chimney fires. Look out for these five signs it’s time to have your chimney professionally cleaned.

1. Check Your Calendar 

The National Fire Protection Association recommends having your chimney professionally cleaned and inspected at least once a year. If you’ve gone a year or more without having your chimney checked out, it’s best to go ahead and make an appointment with your local chimney sweep. Experienced chimney technicians like the ones at Sootmaster will make sure your chimney is clean and working properly.

2.  Fireplace Odors 

Do you have unpleasant smells coming from your fireplace? It’s most likely due to a buildup of soot and creosote, which are byproducts of burning wood. Creosote can stick to the walls of your chimney and is the leading cause of chimney fires.

3. Black Spots on Fireplace Walls

Have you noticed a black, oily substance on the walls of your fireplace? This is a buildup of creosote and can be removed by a chimney technician. It is important to remove creosote to prevent chimney fires. 

4. Weak Fires

If it’s difficult to start a fire in your fireplace, your chimney could be clogged. Poorly burning fires can also be a result of a malfunctioning damper. Both issues restrict the amount of oxygen that reaches your fire, stopping it from burning properly. These problems can be fixed by a knowledgeable chimney technician.

5. Animals In Your Chimney 

Animals and animal nests can restrict the flow of air in your chimney or even catch fire. If you hear noises coming from your chimney or notice nests on top of it, call your local chimney sweep to have the animals safely removed. 

Keeping your chimney clean is an important part of home maintenance. Not only does a clean chimney make your home look better, it also prevents dangerous chimney fires. Call the experts at Sootmaster to schedule an appointment for a cleaning and inspection.

chimney cap

Caps, Covers, & Damper Repairs

Living in the south, mainly along the Gulf Coast, then you know there are lost of rain storms. Actually, we get more rain than anywhere else in the country, including Seattle. The ranking of the most amount of rainfall goes as follows: Mobile, Pensacola, and Seattle in 41st.

This region has such a big deal about rain when it comes to chimneys and fireplaces. As the Chimney Safety Institute of America explains, “water, not fire, causes most chimney damage.”

“Whether masonry or factory-built,” says the CSIA, “prolonged water exposure can result in cracks or gaps in chimneys where creosote can collect and increase the risk of fire or where noxious gases can escape into your home and expose your family to carbon monoxide.”

Fireplaces, Chimneys and Leaks

In basic terms the problem with fireplace and chimney leakage is that water combines with the creosote that remains from fires to form an acidic mixture. Over time that mixture can eat out the silica in the mortar joints.
Once the joints are no longer secure, moisture — remember all that Gulf Coast rain — can get into the house through the chimney. For example, if water comes in through the chimney and is released under the shingles it can lead to the need for a roof replacement.

Also, without proper sealing, heat from fires can travel into areas which should not be exposed to heat, dry out wood, and in some cases actually cause the wood to catch on fire.

In fact, according to a staff report by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are about 22,000 fires a year which are associated with fireplaces, chimneys and chimney connectors. Such fires can cause substantial damage and in some cases may lead to fatalities.

Also, without caps it does happen that birds and animals get into fireplaces. Sometimes nests are built and in some cases animals unable to get out die inside chimneys and fireplaces. Noises and odors can result from such problems.

Caps, Covers and Dampers

You can protect your household with caps, covers and dampers. Caps with spark arresters are devices that go over the flue. They keep out both moisture and animals, plus they help prevent sparks from leaving the chimney. Covers are at the top of the chimney, go around the flue, and protect against moisture. Dampers are inside the chimney itself. They can help create a proper draft to achieve the best fire, plus when closed they prevent animals from getting into the house.

Cap, Cover and Damper Services

We can install, repair and maintain caps, covers and dampers. We inspect such devices as part of our basic chimney sweep services. We have many devices in stock and can recommend the equipment which is right for your fireplace and chimney, whether it is masonry or metal, new or historic.

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