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Keep Pests and Debris Out with a Chimney Cap

Some homeowners, particularly the older generation of homeowners, have never felt the need for a chimney cap. For the most part this is also the generation that cleaned the chimney Keep Pests and Debris Out with a Chimney Cap- Suffolk NY- Chief Chimney Service INCthemselves, and probably never saw damage because they didn’t know what to look for.

Really there is no way to prevent water damage when the chimney cap is missing. During a full year Long Island receives around 49 inches of rain on average. That is a lot of water in the chimney. More than that, with rain and other weather comes debris and animals seeking refuge. Keep pests and debris out with a chimney cap. It’s a simple and inexpensive preventative step you can take to avoid extreme costs later.

Why is it so Important?

The chimney cap is a simple and effective preventative measure that homeowners can have easily installed and it works exceptionally. The cap fits over the chimney crown and covers the flue opening, while allowing ventilation for the vapors and other byproducts from the fire. Chimney caps not only keep weather and critters outside, but also prevents sparks from leaving the chimney and igniting nearby debris. When the cap is missing, it is recommended to have it replaced immediately.

Risks of Pests and Debris in the Chimney

During stormy or freezing days, your chimney is warm and inviting to certain animals. Pests like squirrels, chipmunks, and even raccoons and opossums can make a home in your chimney. Once inside they can become trapped and die, as well as obstruct the chimney flue with nesting materials. A dead animal in the chimney will most definitely cause blockage, but it will also stink! Also, the nesting materials, like other types of debris can cause chimney issues and raise risks to the home as well.

If your chimney flue is left open with no cap it is likely that debris will fall into it. Twigs and leaves are easily ignited, and can cause serious fire danger if allowed into the chimney flue. Once inside the chimney, both outside debris and animals are hard to remove and should be done so by a certified chimney sweep.

The Professional Advantage

It’s always best to hire a professional chimney expert when you need a chimney check-up. Chimney professionals know what to look for, understand certain risk factors, and can assess and repair quickly. At Chief Chimney Services we pride ourselves in offering the best services on Long Island for all of our neighbors with chimneys and fireplaces. When we send out a chief chimney sweep you can rest assured that you will get the a recommendation based on safety and efficiency. If your chimney is missing a chimney cap, our sweep can offer the best options and you can make a installation plan right then.

Don’t wait until burn season to have your chimney assessed. Call Chief Chimney Services or contact us online to schedule an appointment to assess your chimney cap.

By John Pilger on August 2nd, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

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:

Creosote

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!

I Hear Noises in My Chimney!

No, your chimney hasn’t developed a social media life. All that tweeting might mean you have a case of chimney swifts. And they aren’t the only things that like to call your chimney home. If you’ve been hearing noises or smelling odors that are less than pleasing lately, you just might be hosting animals or birds—keep reading to see just who might be taking up residence inside your chimney.

A right sized chimney cap should keep critters from setting up a home inside your chimney.

A right sized chimney cap should keep critters from setting up a home inside your chimney.

Raccoons aren’t an animal you want hanging around your house, much less in it. They carry many diseases, including rabies, and are especially good at finding their way through the chimney—some can even make it into or past the damper. Bats are another disease-ridden animal that like to take shelter in chimneys. While these animals are a nuisance to homeowners throughout the country, we deal with a high percentage of animals infected with rabies in New York State—raccoons and bats topping the statistics. This moves critters into the hazard zone for New York State homeowners with chimneys.

Probably the most audibly annoying chimney residents are the chimney swift. They earned their name because they love to build their nests along the inside of the flue by using their saliva to attach small twigs. When their young hatch, you’ll be dealing with about 2 weeks of chirping before the young are off and on their own. If your chimney has developed a case of chirping, you’ll have to wait until the swifts have moved out to have your chimney cleaned. You have to get a permit to remove chimney swifts, since they are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. So, if you aren’t into hosting wildlife, you’ll need to take some proactive measures to keep your chimney tweet-free.

Installing a chimney cap is the best way to keep any kind of critter out, and will also provide you with other benefits. Chimney caps keep all kinds of things out—debris, rain and other moisture from weather. If you have a metal flue, it’s very important to have a chimney cap, since animals have nothing to grip on to escape. This creates an unpleasant smell and harder mess to clean up.

If you suspect that you have animals or birds in your chimney, don’t hesitate to call us to provide you with solutions. Keeping your chimney clean each year will ensure that debris from animals is removed so it doesn’t catch fire.  You can reach us at 631-863-2460 or schedule your appointment online.

By John Pilger on October 10th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , | Leave a Comment

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.