Our Company Blog

Holy Smoke! My Fireplace is Smoking!

It’s one of those nice cool evenings when you just want to sit back and enjoy the warmth of your fireplace. You gather up the wood and get the fire started, but just as you’re getting comfortable a waft of smoke floats by your nose, and then more and more smoke is building up in your home. That definitely is not a good sign. Something is preventing your draft from working properly and smoke is escaping your fireplace.

If you notice smoke thickening in your fireplace and slowly spreading throughout your home, that's not normal! Have it inspected to know what's causing it.

If you notice smoke thickening in your fireplace and slowly spreading throughout your home, that’s not normal! Have it inspected to know what’s causing it.

Of course smoke should go up the chimney, not into the living area. That’s the very purpose of the chimney, to allow the harmful gases from combustion to exit the house not dwell in it. As you might have already figured out, your smoky fireplace might be an indication of an underlying problem.

Possible Causes

Moist Wood

The first thing that you can do by yourself is to check the kind of wood you are burning. Certain types of wood just naturally produce more smoke – the more moisture the wood contains, the more smoke (and production of creosote). That is why a drying process is necessary before using any kind of wood to burn in your fireplace.

Chimney Problems

Other more critical issues that could cause a smoking fireplace are chimney related, particularly pointing to the airflow, or the lack of it. When proper airflow is impaired smoke easily flows back into the house causing a lot of problems for homeowners, ranging from discolored furniture to severe health risks. That’s why you always want to make sure your fireplace and chimney are well-kept by having them inspected annually.

The most common impediment to proper chimney function is the presence of obstructions within the flue. These can come in the form of creosote buildup, dead leaves, and unusually, small animals. Creosote buildup is an inevitable occurrence with chimneys that are frequently used. Creosote is a normal byproduct of burning wood and over time it mounts up on the walls of the flue, narrowing the passageway of smoke as it tries to get out. This is the very reason why a regular chimney sweeping should be done because creosote is also very flammable and might even cause an unnecessary chimney fire. As for leaves and animals, having a chimney cap or crown installed will help you solve your troubles as it provides a barrier against these unwanted visitors inside your chimney. These accessories also hit two birds with one stone by complimenting the waterproofing of your chimney as well.

If you have a chimney damper installed, also make sure that it is still functioning properly. Otherwise, replace it because if it is always closed or will not open anymore, it defeats its purpose of controlling the amount of air flowing down to the fireplace. Instead it will be a trap for the rising smoke, which will have nowhere else to go but back down into the fireplace.

Whatever the reason for your fireplace and chimney woes, Chief Chimney Services, Inc. is ready to serve you. Contact us today for an inspection so we can help you determine the root of the problem. After which our licensed experts will do what they do best until your fireplace and chimney seem almost brand new. Soon you’ll be back having relaxing nights by your fireplace.

By John Pilger on January 24th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Holy Smoke! My Fireplace is Smoking!

Creosote in the Chimney

Dealing with Creosote Build-up inside the Home

What’s that black, shiny, coal-like substance that’s starting to accumulate in your chimney walls? That’s creosote and it can get thicker and thicker if not removed by a certified sweep. It can lead to bigger problems like negative air pressure and worse, a house fire. Here at Chief Chimney, we take this very seriously and encourage homeowners to have their chimney inspected annually. The safety, security and stability of your home is at stake and we want to make sure that you and your family get maximum enjoyment without having to worry about chimney problems.

Creosote forms naturally when you burn anything. However, you need to ensure that it is removed regularly to keep it from building up.

Creosote forms naturally when you burn anything. However, you need to ensure that it is removed regularly to keep it from building up.

Creosote is the result of incomplete combustion of wood and coal products that eventually forms tar. The residue of smoke that comes out of it results in soot build-up or what we earlier identified as creosote.  It sticks to the chimney walls and in the chimney flues making it harder for air to exhaust out into the open via the chimney flue.

As experts we look out for these three things:

  • The length of time creosote has been inside the chimney
  • The thickness of the creosote
  • The color, texture and odor of the creosote

Through this, we can determine the level of creosote. Once we know what level your creosote has reached, we perform the task of literally scraping them out by use of a specific, unique kind of brush that can thoroughly clean the inside of your chimney. However, if creosote has already become too thick, we can do weekly scraping to somehow lessen the thickness but completely getting it out of your chimney, unfortunately, is not possible. That’s why it is always important to have your chimneys inspected and cleaned annually (and more often if you use your fireplace often) to see if creosote has started to build-up in your furnaces.

With regards to your health, creosote definitely poses a threat. It can cause toxic air or carbon monoxide to fill the room and poison you — make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector.

There are many ways for creosote to destroy your home but don’t allow it to happen. Call on us! We will remove and clean your chimney making it creosote-free. Our experts can help you understand the risks and damages of what creosote can do to your home and also to your health. We can assure you the money you invest in us is definitely worth it.

By John Pilger on December 31st, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Creosote in the Chimney

Let’s Keep That Chimney Clear!

Make sure your chimney flue looks like this. There should be no blockages of any sort.

Make sure your chimney flue looks like this. There should be no blockages of any sort.

For your chimney to function at its highest levels of efficiency and performance — sending heat and byproducts up and into the outside air — there needs to be a clean, unobstructed and uncompromised flue. Cracks and gaps will harm your draft, keeping the air from flowing the way it should. And blockages will, as that word implies, block the air from flowing, partially or completely, trapping heat and dangerous byproducts, and likely sending smoke and harmful gases billowing into your home.

A blocked flue is dangerous on several fronts — it can adversely affect the air inside your home, even lead to chimney fires. If you see smoke in your living area, notice a musty or smoky smell around your fireplace or find that dark stains are showing up around your appliance or chimney, you may have some flue blockage. It might be that you’re just overdue for a chimney sweeping appointment, or there might be other issues at work.

If you notice a problem, give Chief Chimney Services a call — our experienced technicians can find, remove and repair any issues related to chimney blockage. In the meantime, here are a few common contributors to a blocked chimney:


When you use your wood-burning fireplace or stove, creosote is a natural result — it’s a deposit that builds up over time, as particulates and hot gases rise in your flue, hit the cooler flue walls and condense. Chimney professionals recommend regular chimney sweeping appointments because creosote deposits lead to a number of different problems and worries. If deposits are thick enough, they can block your flue, impeding the draft and letting toxic carbon monoxide get into the air you’re breathing. Since creosote is highly flammable, heavy creosote deposits can also become a serious fire hazard. And if creosote develops into third stage “glazed creosote” (often due to repeatedly burning wood with a higher moisture content), you’ll end up with higher chances of a chimney fire and a really difficult removal process.

Following proper burning practices (keeping your flue wide open during fires, using only seasoned cordwood, having your chimney regularly swept) can minimize creosote, and keep your chimney air flowing freely.

Animal And Plant Debris

If your flue isn’t topped with a chimney cap, you have a couple of big worries: things falling into your flue, and things climbing into your flue. An open flue makes it easier for branches, leaves and twigs to fall into your chimney, creating piles of highly flammable debris that impacts your draft and can become a fire hazard. But haphazard debris definitely isn’t your biggest issue — animals are drawn to the warm, confined safety of a chimney, so without a cap, you’re inviting anything from birds to squirrels and raccoons to move right in. Those new roommates bring in debris and create nests that can block your flue. They also tow in sounds, smells and bugs that you don’t want in your chimney, either. The best way to avoid all that: Make sure you have a correctly sized, correctly installed chimney cap on your system.

Broken Flue Tile Or Masonry Pieces

Many older chimneys were built and installed with terra cotta clay tile flue liners. And while those liners can hold up well with diligent maintenance, it’s not uncommon for tiles to crack or break, and for pieces to then fall into the flue. That leaves your chimney less protected, less efficient and potentially blocked up, too. Pieces of brick and mortar can crack and fall into the flue, too, bringing similar issues.

If damaged masonry pieces are blocking your flue, Chief Chimney can make the necessary repairs to clear out the flue and make the chimney whole again.

Regardless of what’s doing the blocking, a blocked flue makes for a much less efficient, much less effective and much less safe chimney. If you have any questions about blockages — or want to have our experienced technicians take a look at your system — just give Chief Chimney Services a call. We’re always here to help!

By John Pilger on December 12th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Let’s Keep That Chimney Clear!

My Chimney Smells! Should I Worry?

Normal Smell or Alarming Smell?

Anyone who has a fireplace and chimney in their home knows that some odor is unavoidable. Whenever there is something burning, there is going to be a faint smell of smoke. However, in some cases, an odor coming from the chimney is a sign of a bigger problem. In order to understand what that problem might be, it is important to get very specific in describing the odor in question. This will help you communicate clearly with the certified sweep you hire to inspect your chimney.

Sometimes the smell from your chimney indicates that animals or birds have been in your chimney.

Sometimes the smell from your chimney indicates that animals or birds have been in your chimney.

If the smell coming from the chimney is a musty odor, the problem is most likely an accumulation of water in the chimney. If this is the case, the problem could go far beyond the smell. Water damage in the chimney can weaken the foundation, causing it to crumble or flake. This damage could spread throughout the home, compromising the structural integrity of the entire house. In addition, it causes mold, which can lead to illness in as well as the unpleasant smell.

In some cases, the smell will be similar to burning asphalt or unappetizing barbeque. If this is what the smell is like, there is a good chance that there is too much creosote building up in the chimney. Creosote is a chemical compound left behind after treated wood or coal is burned in the fireplace. If it is not cleaned out regularly, it puts the home at risk for a dangerous house fire. In addition, anyone who comes into contact with the substance may find themselves with respiratory issues as well as skin irritation.

If the smell is one of rotting material, it is likely that there are leaves or other plant material rotting away inside of the chimney. When these elements are combined with the soot and ash left behind after a fire, the smell is intensified. Leaves often find their way into the chimney during a rainstorm and, like water, can cause problems beyond the smell. If they clog up the chimney, it will not ventilate properly and the home will fill with smoke.

In some instances, homeowners notice the smell of animal waste coming from their chimney. If that is what it smells like, it is most likely exactly the problem. There are many species of small rodents and birds that like to make their homes in chimneys. The result will be an array of animal waste left behind and, over time, the smell will start to make its way into the home.

There are many different things that can cause unpleasant smells coming from the chimney, but there are also ways to avoid the problem. One of the simplest is to install a chimney cap. This simple piece keeps animals, water and plant life from getting into the chimney. In addition, it is a good idea to have a professional chimney sweep come and maintain the chimney at least once a year. A thorough annual cleaning will help take care of dangerous issues that a chimney cap cannot help, such as the accumulation of creosote.

Many people love the smell of a crackling fire but few people like the other odors that often come from a chimney. Pinpointing exactly what the smell smells like is the best way to identify from where it is coming. Most chimney odor problems can be solved with a good cleaning and a chimney cap to keep out unwanted elements.

By John Pilger on September 26th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on My Chimney Smells! Should I Worry?

Air Quality & Your Chimney

How does your chimney impact air quality in the home?

Picture it—sitting beside the fireplace on a cold, frosty night. You’ve got the fire going, no smoke billowing into the house, logs burning evenly, and you’re enjoying the warmth and the subtle scent of wood burning. Before you take a deep breath, though, you may not realize that being able to smell a wood fire burning in the fireplace is actually a sign of danger. If you are smelling smoke, even in small amounts, this indicates that your chimney is not functioning properly, and that the air quality of your home is being compromised. This is especially dangerous for children and elderly, and those with lung cancer or heart disease, whose lung function is more vulnerable.

Children and those advanced in age are particularly vulnerable to poor air quality.

Children and those advanced in age are particularly vulnerable to poor air quality.

There are many things that release pollutants into the air of our homes, and chimneys are no exception. Wood smoke pollution can cause respiratory issues, cardiovascular illness, cancer, and can damage lung tissue. You can, however, have peace of mind in knowing that there are ways  to reduce wood smoke pollution and to increase the safety and efficiency of your fireplace so that it can continue to contribute to the enjoyment of your home.

Wood Smoke Pollution:

  • Hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that can cause cancer
  • Fine particle pollution (ash) that damages lung tissue and creates respiratory problems
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, nitrogen oxides

Thankfully, there are several solutions to reduce this pollution that can be created by your fireplace and chimney. One option is to replace your current fireplace with a newer, more efficient model that is certified by the EPA. This can be a costly solution, so let’s take a look at a few other things that you can do.

  • Burn only seasoned, dry wood.
  • Burn hardwoods, not softwoods. (Hardwoods burn more slowly and produce less smoke.)
  • Never burn waste of any kind.

The number one thing that you can do is preventive maintenance. Have a chimney specialist regularly inspect and clean your chimney, which will keep your chimney functioning properly and in good working condition.

By John Pilger on September 9th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Air Quality & Your Chimney

Three Common Chimney Inspection Stories

Fred and his family have lived in the same home since it was built over 9 years ago. Every year during the cooler months, they enjoy gathering around the big pot belly stove that sits in the corner of their living room, providing warmth and comfort as it always has. Fred marks the beginning of the season with his annual order of one cord of firewood, which usually gets him through, more or less. The wood is always properly seasoned and stored, and on the day it arrives, his wife will make a big pot of chili as she always does, and the kids will help him unload the wood and stack it on the rack. Afterwards, they will all gather around in the living room and enjoy the first golden fire of the season.

The Firewood is Ready - Suffolk NY - Chief Chimney Services

The Firewood is Ready – Suffolk NY – Chief Chimney Services

But Fred has never taken this important appliance for granted. Every year, he calls out his local chimney service company to perform a Level 1 inspection, and if necessary, a cleaning. The purpose of the inspection is to make sure that the stove and venting are in good serviceable condition, and there are no leaks, combustible deposits or obstructions. Since Fred uses the stove every year, and nothing has changed in 9 years, a Level 1 inspection is all that is needed to keep a well-maintained system working like it always has.

But late last spring there was an earthquake. Nothing too big, but everyone in the area felt it, and most of his neighbors had gathered out in the street in the middle of the night, in slippers and robes, comparing notes and calming down the kids and dogs before returning to bed. Later that same year, several friends down the street had reported some cracks they had never noticed before in the masonry of their homes. It was generally agreed that these new issues were probably related to the earthquake.

So this year, Fred needed a Level 2 inspection of his chimney, just to be safe. In a Level 2 inspection, a certified and trained chimney specialist will use a video camera to inspect the inside liner of the chimney flue, looking for cracks or gaps or other damage that would prevent safe use of a fireplace or stove. The professional will also access hidden areas that intersect with the chimney system, such as basements, crawl spaces or attics, to make sure that proper clearance to combustibles is observed.

During his inspection, the technician observed no damage to the brick, mortar or liner of the chimney system. But when he was in the attic, he did find that a large, high-placed box had spilled over, probably during the earthquake, and its clothing contents had landed against the outer bricks of the chimney, causing a fire hazard. Fred was more than happy to pay for this discovery, because it meant that his family was spared any unnecessary risk that year.

Also this year, Fred has an opportunity to purchase his first rental property. It’s a real country fixer-upper, but given the price and the way the market for such properties has been going, it’s almost too good a deal to pass up.

Given the age and condition of the house, Fred made sure that his offer was contingent upon a Level 3 inspection of the two chimneys, among other things. A Level 3 inspection means that it is necessary to remove certain components of the building or chimney in order to gain the access needed to properly inspect a chimney. In this case, it meant that a small section of plaster above the location of the old stove in the kitchen needed to be removed so that the inspector could determine if repairs would be necessary before a new wood-burning kitchen stove was installed. It also was necessary to remove a chimney crown on the second chimney, which was already in bad repair. These inspections revealed what they needed to reveal, and Fred made adjustments to his offer. If all goes well, his offer will be accepted, and he will start the renovations with his oldest son before the weather gets too chilly.

Chimney inspections are required in order to ensure proper and safe operation of any vented fire appliance. These inspections must be carried out by a certified chimney professional (A CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep). If you are unsure about which inspection level is appropriate in your circumstance, please call us. We would be happy to talk about what we do and how we can help you.

By John Pilger on July 31st, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Three Common Chimney Inspection Stories

Is There Too Much Creosote In Your Chimney?

People who have chimneys in their home no doubt know about the obvious dangers that they come along with, including blazing chimney fires. However, creosote poses a serious risk if it is left to accumulate in the chimney and many homeowners are unaware of it. Understanding this chemical compound and what it can do is essential to maintaining a home that is healthy and safe for the entire family, even those who do not come into direct contact with the fireplace or chimney.

Creosote is a combination of chemicals that is used to treat wood and coal. When these materials burn in the fireplace, they leave a layer of the creosote behind on the inside of the chimney. Over time, the creosote will accumulate and then the family may have to face a number of different risks if they do not properly take care of it.

Creosote buildup can cause Chimney fires - Suffolk NY - Chief Chimney Services

Creosote buildup can cause Chimney fires – Suffolk NY – Chief Chimney Services

One of the biggest risk factors associated with creosote is that it is extremely flammable. It would take only a small spark from the fireplace to ignite the entire chimney. This can start a fire that will not only damage the structure of the chimney but that could potentially spread throughout the home. This is an especially significant risk in the event of negative air pressure, which sends material from the chimney into the home instead of out of the flue.

If creosote or smoke from burning creosote enters the air, everyone in the home will be at risk for health issues. Inhalation of creosote has been linked to a number of serious health problems, including respiratory illnesses as well as damage to various organs. These effects have been especially severe in the cases of children. Although some conditions can be treated, it is also possible that the effects of creosote could be fatal if left untreated over time.

In addition to doing internal damage, creosote can be dangerous for anyone who comes into physical contact with it. Just a bit of exposure can cause minor skin irritations and, in some people, severe rashes on the skin. The substance can also cause significant damage if it comes into contact with the eyes. Not only will it cause a painful irritation, but it has also been connected with a loss of sight.

Anyone who burns treated wood and coal in their fireplace should assume that they have at least some creosote inside of their chimney. There is no avoiding the residue when the treated material is burned. However, there are other signs that there is a significant accumulation of the material in the chimney. For example, when it burns, creosote will have a distinct smell that should come straight through the fireplace and into the home.

The best way to deal with accumulation of creosote is to have a cleaning by a professional chimney sweep at the end of each cold weather season. Since there are so many health dangers associated with it, the average, untrained person should not attempt to clean it up on their own. A chimney sweep has the proper tools and training to safely rid the chimney of excess creosote. An annual cleaning is the best way to keep the chimney safe and clear.

Creosote is a typical problem for anyone with a fireplace but it is a fairly easy issue to manage. Remember to have a chimney sweep come in each year to clear it out and to check for any damage to the chimney. Failure to take care of this could result in illness, physical injury, and devastating chimney fires. Let a professional bring peace of mind along with an efficient heating system.

By John Pilger on July 31st, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Is There Too Much Creosote In Your Chimney?


We Love our Customers!

Lauren and Diane came at the time promised and completed the work at the quoted price. They educated me about my fireplace, chimney and boiler with no sales pressure. The bottle of hot sauce was much appreciated! I have already recommended them to friends.
~ Jeffrey Morganstern, Dix Hills, NY

Chief Chimney did an efficient job cleaning the chimney and the fireplace box. Additionally, while they were here, I asked them to seal the outside ash-dump door, which was not closing properly. This problem was causing a significant draft in the house. This work was not in my original request. The work was completed without any problems. There was no mess left behind. I was very satisfied with the work. i thought the price for the original effort (chimney sweep and Fireplace cleaning) was a little high when I contacted them, but went with them because of the recommendations they received from prior customers. In the final analysis, it was worth it. Everything was done to our satisfaction.
~ Dominic Di Falco, Commack, NY

Chief Chimney showed up when they said they would and immediately put down a runner to protect my floors. Their experience showed as they work efficiently together to set up the ladder, drop cloth… They cleaned the chimney and then worked on the woodstove, cleaning even the glass when finished.
~ Thomas LaMarco, Port Jefferson Station, NY

I met Diane and Lauren from Chief Chimney Service at my house today and they impressed me right from the start. They showed up right on time and were very easy to talk to. As they started working they were very informative, showed me what they were seeing in the chimney and gave me some great tips on my fireplace. They did excellent work and were very honest in their assessment. The chimney connected to my oil burner clearly needed a new liner because we all could see the broken tiles that we falling out of it. The fireplace chimney only needed to be swept. They were very thorough checking everything from inside the house and on the roof. They really know the meaning of service which unfortunately seems rare these days. I highly recommend Diane and Lauren; they are dynamic mother and daughter duo!
~ Anthony Merolla, New Hyde Park, NY

I have used this Chief Chimney Services for several years and found them to be the most professional company that I’ve ever used. The crew begins as soon as they come through the front door by laying out drop cloths to protect my floors. They then, inspected the fireplace and chimney with flashlights and camera, pointing out all concerns and conditions. Cleaning is completed professionally and without any affects to my home. The staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and efficient. I am impressed with the fact that this company also trains other chimney sweeps, here in our country and abroad. This is comforting to the customer knowing that they are at the top of their profession. I highly recommend this organization if you want an honest and professional, no worry, job at your home.
~ Walter Wilson, Mount Sinai, NY

I can’t say enough good things about this company. Diane and Lauren arrived on time. Showed me pictures of the problem in my chimney, the lining was crumbling. They then sent me the most professional written proposal I have ever received. Communication was EXCELLENT from the first phone call to confirm the appointment to access the problem to the time they arrived to perform the work. They were punctual, neat and honest about what needed to be done. Forget about using any other chimney service…THIS IS THE ONE TO USE AND TRUST.
~ Donna Simone, Rocky Point, NY

Fantastic! We love Chief Chimney, and would use them again in a heartbeat, as well as recommend them to our friends. Very nice people, on time, responsive to our concerns. I don’t know much about chimneys, but they seem to be very good at what they do!
~ James Parles, Setauket, NY

I have used Chief Chimney Services to clean/repair my three fireplaces in my historic home for over 5 years. They have cleaned, repaired and maintained my fireplaces which date back to 1750 and a third to 1842. They have always been dependable, reliable and I wouldn’t use anyone else. I have been put on “prescheduled service” each year so I don’t “forget” to clean them every year. My husband and I couldn’t be happier with the performance of this company and their staff.
~ Rita Lee, Huntington, NY

Wow! A mother-daughter team, the most pleasant and professional of any chimney service I have encountered. Called in advance, showed up on time, explained everything in detail, was thorough and clean. In a profession full of questionable practices, this was a great experience and I would recommend Diane and Lauren without hesitation.
~ Zev Asch, East Northport, NY

Click here to schedule an appointment online!


Find out a little more about us and discover the history found in our Chief Chimney Collectables.

By John Pilger on July 13th, 2013 | Tagged with: | Comments Off on Testimonials

Service Area

Our Service Area

Chief Chimney Services, Inc. is dedicated to serving the following cities and zip codes in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York:

Amityville, North Amityville, Babylon, North Babylon, West Babylon, Copiague, Deer Park, East Farmingdale, Lindenhurst, Bohemia, North Lindenhurst, Cold Spring Harbor, Halesite, Huntington, Huntington Manor, Setauket, Melville, Strongs Neck, Centerport, Poquot, Greenlawn, Dix Hills, Oldfield, Northport, East Northport, East Setauket, Commack, Eatons Neck, Bay Shore, Holtsville, Brentwood, East Brentwood, Islip, East Islip, Central Islip, West Islip, Islip Terrace, Hauppauge, Great River, Sayville, West Sayville, Lakeland, Medford, Miller Place, Mount Sinai, Bayport, East Patchogue, Patchogue, Holbrook, Kings Park, North Patchogue,  Shoreham, Smithtown, Nesconset, Saint James, Stony Brook, Nissequogue, Ridge , Head of the Harbor, Rocky Point, Wading River, Bellport, Blue Point, Ronkonkoma, Selden, Port Jefferson, Port Jefferson Station, Brookhaven, Center Moriches, Sound Beach, Centereach, Coram, East Moriches, Eastport, Manorville, Mastic, Mastic Beach, Middle Island, Shirley, Yaphank

11701, 11702, 11703, 11704, 11705, 11706, 11707, 11713, 11715, 11716, 11717, 11719, 11720, 11721, 11722, 11724, 11725, 11726, 11727, 11729, 11730, 11731, 11733, 11735, 11739, 11740, 11741, 11743, 11746, 11747, 11749, 11751, 11752, 11754, 11757, 11761, 11763, 11764, 11766, 11767, 11768, 11772, 11775, 11776, 11777, 11779, 11780, 11782, 11784, 11786, 11787, 11788, 11789, 11790, 11792, 11795, 11796, 11934, 11940, 11941, 11949, 11950, 11951, 11953, 11967, 11980

If you do not see your city, town, or zip code listed, but you believe that you are located in our service area, please do not hesitate to contact us. Click here to schedule an appointment online.


We provide complete consultation services to diagnose problems or to help you select the best fireplace option for you and your budget. When you get to know us, we hope you’ll give us a try.

By John Pilger on May 14th, 2013 | Tagged with: | Comments Off on Service Area


Fireplace Information & Operation Tips & FAQs

Why do chimneys need to be regularly inspected and cleaned?
When wood burns, it creates a substance called “creosote”. Creosote builds up on the walls of the chimney over time. Creosote is flammable and must be removed to avoid a chimney fire. Rainwater penetration damage is also a major cause of chimney deterioration. Regular inspections are as important for your chimney as regular physical examinations by your physician or regular visits to your dentist. It’s vitally important to catch potentially hazardous conditions early! The National Fire Protection Association recommends an annual inspection and cleaning when necessary. As CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweeps, we can accurately advise you of any recommendations for servicing, usage and/or repair.

What causes creosote buildup?
The degree and severity of creosote varies from a fine powder to a non-removable tar-like substance. Creosote is created by the incomplete combustion of firewood. Low fire temperatures cause incomplete combustion. Low fire temperatures can be the result of unseasoned firewood, wet or soft firewood, intentional burning of firewood at a low temperature, or closing the combustion air supply to the fireplace before all of the wood is consumed

What is “unseasoned”, “wet”, and “soft” firewood?
Unseasoned firewood is wood that has not had the opportunity for the natural moisture in the log to evaporate. In order for this process to occur, the log needs to be split into halves or quarters and allowed to sit for six months to one year. Wet wood is firewood that has been stored outside and absorbed moisture from outside elements such as humidity, rain and snowfall. The ideal moisture content for firewood is between 15% and 25% moisture content. “Softwood” is a term used to describe certain types of wood that are “less dense” than other types of firewood.

How can I tell when firewood is properly “seasoned”?
Properly seasoned firewood will have a few easy-to-detect characteristics such as:

  • The wood will appear discolored or gray.
  • The wood will have natural cracks coming from the center to the outside of the log.
  • The wood will not have a “freshly-cut” look.

What Kind Of Wood Is Good To Burn?
Wood such as Oak, Cherry, Ash, Mulberry, Hackberry and other types of hardwoods are good to burn in your fireplace. All wood has the same Btu potential per pound. Hardwoods are more dense (they have less airspace in between the wood cells) than softwoods, therefore, there is more wood to burn in a piece of hardwood as opposed to a piece of softwood. A good rule of thumb is that if the tree produces a berry or a fruit, it is considered “hardwood”. NEVER burn driftwood in a fireplace or a wood-burning stove as it has a high salt content that may cause damage and corrosion to your system!

What about the logs I see for sale at the supermarkets, convenience stores and hardware stores?
Logs such as Duraflame, etc. can be burned in a fireplace. They have been tested to burn cleaner than regular firewood. The logs are usually made from compressed sawdust, copper sulfate and paraffin wax. Although they burn cleaner, some fireplace users dislike the odor that the wax creates. NEVER burn more than one of these logs at a time in a fireplace and NEVER burn these logs in a wood burning stove.

Is my chimney clogged if it smokes into my home?
Generally speaking, no. Some of the most common causes for smoke backing up into the home are:

  • The damper is not locked in the fully open position.
  • The wood is unseasoned, wet or soft and cannot create enough heat to cause the smoke to rise properly into the chimney.
  • The walls of the chimney are cold, not allowing the smoke to rise properly.
  • The house has a negative pressure problem.

How can I keep this from happening?

  • Make sure the damper is locked open before starting the fire.
  • Make sure that you are using seasoned firewood.
  • If the chimney walls are cold, light a piece of loosely rolled newspaper and place it near the damper. This will push heat into the chimney, creating the proper draft.
  • Make sure you start your fire with kindling (small pieces of woods and twigs) before you add the big logs to your fire.
  • Have an annual inspection conducted by a CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep!

Is there anything else I can do to burn wood more safely?
Yes. There is much more to burning wood than just throwing anything into the fireplace and striking a match. Many household items, when burned, can create toxic fumes. NEVER burn garbage, trash, painted lumber, treated lumber, construction scraps, your Christmas Tree or large amounts of paper in your fireplace. It is always best to burn only wood in your fireplace. You may wish to go to your local library and obtain information on the proper wood burning procedures. Always wear protective gloves when around the fireplace and never set anything on the hearth area – it may catch fire from radiated heat. When removing ashes from your fireplace, store them OUTSIDE in a metal container on a non-combustible (metal or concrete) surface and away from a combustible wall. Ashes can remain hot and can cause a fire for SEVERAL DAYS after they are removed.

What does a chimney cleaning consist of?
As CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweeps, we follow a Six-Step Cleaning Process, in which we clean the entire system from the fireplace up. This includes the firebox, smoke chamber, smoke shelf, and flue. We then check the system for any visible problems. If necessary, we use our closed circuit video inspection camera to evaluate the interior of the system.

Do you clean out ash pits?
No. Cleaning ash pits is considered homeowner’s maintenance.

Will cleaning my chimney get dust all over my house?
Absolutely Not! We use a professional, heavy-duty vacuum system designed specifically for dust control, and we guarantee no dust. You have our personal guarantee that we will not leave a mess in your home.

How often do I need to have my chimney cleaned?
The chimney should be checked after 1/2 cord (a “rick”) to 1 cord of wood has been burned in your system. A “cord” of wood is 4′ high x 4′ wide x 8′ long. A “rick” of wood is 1/2 that amount. The National Fire Protection Association recommends having your system inspected and cleaned annually, and as necessary.

How long does it take to sweep a chimney?
A typical sweeping can take anywhere from forty minutes to over an hour, depending on the type of chimney and the construction of the system.

Can Repairs Be Completed At The Time Of Sweeping?
It depends on the type of repair needed and our schedule for that day.

What is the difference between a factory-built fireplace and a masonry fireplace?
factoryFactory-built fireplaces are built in a factory and installed on-site from UL-listed components, while a masonry chimney is constructed on-site by brick masons. A factory-built chimney has a metal flue pipe system to vent smoke out of the house. Factory-built fireplaces are smaller and some have blowers built in to push heated air into the room. All factory-built fireplaces are UL-listed for safety and efficiency. The factory-built chimney is typically enclosed in a wooden chase covered by a metal cap to prevent water penetration. A termination cap is also typically provided on top. A benefit of factory-built fireplaces is that a damaged, factory-built fireplace can be removed and replaced with a new unit at a lower cost than a masonry system.

masonryA masonry chimney is built on site using brick, mortar and clay flue tiles for liners. It is typically more expensive to build and to maintain. Most masonry chimneys do not have chimney caps installed, which means water, leaves and animals can get inside of the structure and sometimes inside of your home. However, we can easily install a chimney cap on your masonry chimney.

Factory-built fireplaces are not any safer than masonry fireplaces – they are just different. Both types of fireplaces can provide years of warmth and enjoyment for you and your family.

Diagrams courtesy and copyright of CSIA

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By John Pilger on May 14th, 2013 | Tagged with: | Comments Off on FAQ’s