A chimney sweep is a technician that sweeps a chimney's furnace flues, stove flues, fireplaces, and fireplace flues in order to prevent soot fires and gas emissions.
Your chimney system works hard all year long to vent smoke, combustion gases, and other byproducts out of the home quickly. All of those byproducts can build up and leave your chimney in need of a good sweep. Sweeping your chimney flues regularly can prevent glaze build up, flue deterioration, back drafting and potential chimney fires.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 211 says, "Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Sweeping, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary." Following this yearly standard will help determine if any animals have built nests in the flue or if there has been any other types of deterioration that could make the chimney unsafe to use.
For Fireplaces and Stoves:
Creosote is a byproduct of wood combustion that consists mainly of tar. Traces of creosote are found in the smoke that rises from open flames; when the smoke travels upward and mixes with cold air and water near the top of a chimney, it solidifies and sticks to the chimney liner (or, if the chimney is unlined, the brickwork itself). Creosote in your chimney has three different stages:
Stage 1 – Creosote begins as a loose, flaky deposit that can be easily brushed away.
Stage 2 – Then it turns into a tar-like deposit which can be difficult to remove, often requiring specialized brushes or scrapers.
Stage 3 – The creosote becomes hardened and is much more difficult to remove. At this stage, it will also begin to drip like candle wax when it reaches a high enough temperature.
The main issue with creosote is that it’s extremely flammable. As the amount of creosote inside the chimney flue increases, so does your risk of a chimney fire. This can not only damage your chimney, but it can also turn into a destructive and deadly house fire.
The other problem with creosote is that a lack of open ventilation causes the creosote to coat and accumulate within the walls of the chimney flue. This accumulation narrows the passageway, thus leading to a further restriction of ventilation. This cycle continues and causes more creosote to accumulate inside the chimney flue until it finally leads to a total blockage or fire, rendering the structure completely unusable.
There’s really no way to stop creosote completely. Since creosote forms naturally when fuel sources are burned, trying to prevent a fire from creating creosote is a bit like trying to prevent a fire from creating smoke. That said, the presence of SMALL amounts of creosote in your chimney isn’t a cause for major concern—it’s a buildup of creosote that’s problematic. You can reduce the rate at which creosote compounds by making sure that your chimney is adequately ventilated and swept regularly.
The difference depends on what stage the creosote within your flue is in.
Stage 1 Creosote Buildup:
The Initial coating of soot can easily be brushed away by a technician using a specialized brush.
Stage 2 Creosote Buildup:
Brushing alone may be ineffective for removing creosote at this stage, so chemical solvents and rotary loops are often used to loosen things up.
Stage 3 Creosote Buildup:
Brushing will now be completely ineffective, and chemical solvents and rotary loops will have trouble getting through the gunk. In some Stage 3 cases, it may actually be more cost-effective to simply replace the chimney liner than try to clean it!
The length of time it takes to clean each flue depends on the amount of creosote that is found. It can take anywhere between 20 mins to 1 hr per flue swept. Sweeps that run longer than one hour are subject to additional fees.
Chimney inspections are designed to let you know when your chimney system needs attention or when problems are present. Some of the things an inspection can reveal:
Level I chimney inspections are included in our standard sweeps. They are for chimneys that have been regularly maintained, inspected annually, and used under normal conditions. If no changes have occurred within your flue. At this level, our experienced team will assess all readily accessible portions of the your chimney including the firebox, smoke chamber, damper, crown, chimney cap, masonry, and flue. While this level of inspection is only visual and doesn’t involve the use of any special tools, we will check for any obvious signs of damage, fire hazards, or chimney leaks based on what we can easily see with our eyes.
Level II chimney inspections are for chimneys and fireplaces that have undergone a change in appliance, flue liner, performance level, or that have been damaged by a chimney fire or severe weather event. Level II inspections are also important when you’re buying or selling your home. During our level II inspections, we will use video scanning equipment to get a closer, more detailed look at the flue interior. When performing a level II, our crew will asses all items from a level I, but also look at areas that are connected to your chimney flue such as the crawlspace, attic, or basement.
Our level II inspections not only include a camera scan, but also include a typed report of failing items with pictures and how to correct all failed items to safely use your chimney.
Level III chimney inspections are for chimneys with serious problems that can’t be identified, addressed, or repaired without removing portions of the chimney or home. We will still look at everything we would look at at a level I or II, but since demolition might be involved during a level III, we would never proceed unless it’s absolutely necessary and the homeowner has agreed to it.
If one of our technicians or inspectors inform you that your chimney has some failing items or if they notice problem areas within your chimney, DO NOT USE your chimney under any circumstance until you have made the needed repairs. Proceeding with the use of your chimney, fireplace, stoves, furnaces, or water heaters after our crew has found problem areas could lead to serious personal injury or property damage.
Our reports take about 1-2 business days to complete and send. However, we understand that home buying can sometimes be a fast paced process. If you need a report sent faster, a rush can be provided at an additional cost.
Masonry repair consists of patching and plugging gaps and cracks in the mortar. It also involves removing and replacing old mortar or bricks that have lost their structural integrity. If you have stone or cinder block that needs repair, masonry repair covers that, too.
We Install, rebuild , or repair just about everything associated with brick, stone, stucco. and cinder blocks. We can not only help repair, rebuild, and partially rebuild your chimney exterior and interior, but we can also help with minor masonry repairs such as steps, sidewalks, and more.
Absolutely! schedule a free no obligation consultation and we can discuss all fireplace design options that will fit your budget.
Many things contribute to your failing chimney but the most common happens when moisture inside the brick expands and contracts due to temperature changes. It causes the exterior to lose its topmost layer. Your chimney exterior can also be the result of poorly made mortar.
Yes! Spalling can be repaired through a process called top and bonding or replaced entirely.
The best way to prevent bricks from spalling is to stop water from entering the brick. It can be as simple as repairing or cleaning your gutters, adding a chimney cricket, or applying a water sealer to your chimney exterior.
Yes! Failing mortar joints can be repaired through a process called tuck pointing or replaced entirely.
Common chimney work like masonry repair, damper repair or chimney cover replacement in general are not covered by homeowners' insurance policies. When the repairs are part of normal wear and tear insurance companies again see this as a homeowner's responsibility in operating the fireplace and chimney safely.
To extend the life of our work, we do not do masonry repairs in the winter unless the temperature is well above freezing for at least 4 consecutive days.
We do prefer to go over the work with our clients before we get started and just prior to completion to ensure customer satisfaction. However, you are not required to be present while we are working on your home as long as we have access to electric and water.
The average job takes 1-2 days. Depending on the scope of work and the weather, the time frame may be greater.
First we will schedule a date and time to meet and discuss your chimney needs. After meeting, our technicians will return to our office where we will type a proposal with needed repairs and cost and send it to you via email. Once a final decision has been made by the homeowner, a contract is signed and the work is scheduled.
Depending on the scope of the project, anywhere from 15% to 33% of the total contract balance is required at contract signing. The remaining balance is then paid upon project completion.
We do not offer financing for projects. Payment is expected according to the contracted terms and is to be paid in full at the completion of the project.
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