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Schedule a New Year’s Chimney Inspection

Although the Bomb Cyclone is bringing freezing temperatures now and throughout January, you have likely been using your fireplace for several weeks. In fact, your fireplace and chimney may be in need of a little maintenance before you spend the rest of the season burning fires. Don’t wait until spring to schedule a chimney sweep or inspection. Schedule services now so that you can prevent damage, carbon monoxide intrusion, fire, and more. Schedule a New Year’s Chimney Inspection - Suffolk NY - Chief Chimney

Why Schedule an Inspection?

Both the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommend routine chimney sweeps and annual inspections for a safe and efficient chimney and fireplace. Neglecting this type of maintenance is exactly what causes a chimney to fall into disrepair, become unsafe, and can lead to leaks, fire, and damage to the home, but also to the family’s health. Schedule an inspection now and rest assured that your chimney is ready for the second half of winter. When your certified chimney sweep gives you the A-okay, it means all the parts of your chimney are installed and working properly, there are no visible hazards, and it’s safe for regular use.

When Do You Need an Inspection?

Homeowners have some freedom to decide when to schedule a chimney inspection. They are recommended annually, but if you haven’t had yours inspected this fall or winter, do it now. Don’t wait! Every fire you light in your fireplace puts your family at risk when you haven’t had it inspected in the last 12 months.
Other reasons to schedule an inspection include:

  • Before selling or transferring property ownership
  • After a change is made to the system (repair, installation, change in fuel-type)
  • After a natural disaster such as tornado, hurricane, or earthquake
  • After a flue fire

Who Can Do Your Inspection?

Only a certified chimney sweep should complete a chimney inspection. The home inspector before a real estate sale does not know how to properly assess a chimney system, nor does a general contractor. A CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep can complete a CSIA inspection, offer a professional report, and sign it with authority. Your realtor, lawyer, and homeowners insurance provider will look for the CSIA signature, which is the industry standard for chimney care. If you hire an amateur, their work will not be insured, their business may not be licensed, and your homeowner’s insurance may not pay-out if you have to file a claim.

Choose the best chimney sweep company to work on your chimney so that you know the work is done correctly. When you choose Chief Chimney Services, you can depend on us for all of your comprehensive chimney needs. We offer chimney sweeps, inspections, repairs, installations, and more. Schedule with Chief

By John Pilger on January 15th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

The Different Levels of Chimney Inspections

Like every working part of a home, the chimney system is one that must be maintained properly in order to work properly. It should have the correct fuel, should be used properly, and should be assessed regularly.Chimney Inspection Levels - Suffolk NY - Chief Chimney Services

CSIA Inspections

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) along with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend routine maintenance for a safe and efficient chimney system. This includes regular chimney sweeps as needed to keep an individual chimney system clean, and annual inspections to assess safety and function. CSIA inspections are the national standard to which chimneys are held. Officials will look for the CSIA signature for insurance claims, code enforcement, and home sales.

Three Levels for a Thorough Inspection

Because of the varied use of chimneys and fireplaces, not every chimney will need the same inspection. A chimney that has just endured a flue fire will need a more thorough assessment than a chimney that is used periodically and has never had a problem or change. This is why CSIA has three levels of inspections.

  • Level One – This inspection is required annually when there have been no changes to the chimney system and it has been and will be used in the same way. The technician will assess all readily accessible portions of the system and needs no tools for this level of inspection. If a problem is recognized, there will need to be a more thorough examination.
  • Level Two – This inspection is recommended when a hazard is discovered in a level one inspection. It is also required upon the sale or transfer of property, following a natural disaster that affects the home, or when a change is made to the chimney system. The level two inspection includes all that found in a level one inspection, in addition to an assessment of hidden portions of the system (attics, crawlspaces).
  • Level Three – The most thorough inspection is recommended when a serious hazard is suspected and may include the removal of components to access those hazards. During this inspection the technician may use special tools to remove interior walls or components of the chimney in order to access the hazard, but only if required to reach the hazard. This inspection will determine what repairs must be made in order to use your chimney without putting your home and family in danger.

There are many hidden damages when you use a chimney and fireplace for home heating, but these dangers are decreased when the chimney system is properly maintained. Schedule an inspection today so that you don’t have to worry about a dangerous health emergency or accidental fire this winter.

Chief Chimney Services offers chimney inspections that include video scanning for added visibility. Our sweeps are CSIA certified, and experienced to catch even the slightest weakness in your chimney system. Call and speak to one of our sweeps today at 631-863-2460.

By John Pilger on October 26th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

The Rundown on Chimney Mold

Molds can pose serious health risks to you and your family. Don't allow them to flourish in your chimney. Make sure water and moisture stay out!

Molds can pose serious health risks to you and your family. Don’t allow them to flourish in your chimney. Make sure water and moisture stay out!

Mold is something you never want in your home, and most people think of the basement as the most common area for mold growth. However, if you have a leaky chimney with water penetrating your chimney walls, your chimney can be a prime spot for mold growth. Mold can spread quickly through your house, so if you have chimney mold, it should be removed as soon as possible to keep you and your family safe from the adverse health effects breathing in mold spores can cause. Chief Chimney Services would like to answer a few questions for you about chimney mold to inform you how to be on the lookout for a mold invasion of your fireplace and chimney.

What causes fireplace and chimney mold?

According to the website Mold Advisor, unused fireplaces are the most common places for chimney mold to develop. The dark, damp, and poorly vented unused fireplace creates the perfect environment for mold to grow. The warm summer months, when you are not using your fireplace, is the perfect time for this to occur. The most likely fireplaces and chimneys to develop mold growth have leaks somewhere in the chimney because water is needed to allow mold to grow. Chief Chimney Services can not only take care of removing chimney mold, but we can also repair leaky chimneys to keep water out which lowers the possibility of mold to even occur.

What are the signs of chimney mold?

If the mold has spread, you may see mold growing on the bricks of your outer fireplace or even on the walls or ceiling of the room that contains the fireplace. If you do spot mold growth on the outside of your fireplace or in the room, call Chief Chimney Services immediately to have us inspect the inside of your chimney for more mold. Most likely, the mold is unable to be seen because it is only growing on the walls of the inside of your chimney. However, you will probably notice the distinctive musty smell of mold coming from your fireplace. You and your family may also be suffering from respiratory problems due to breathing the mold. If you suspect chimney mold, again call us as soon as possible to inspect your chimney and fireplace and remove the mold.

What are the adverse health effects mold can have on me and my family?

In the beginning, mold can cause breathing problems similar to the common cold with sneezing, coughing, headache, runny nose, and a sore throat. However, prolonged breathing of mold spores can cause serious illnesses like asthma attacks, chronic sinusitis, allergic reactions, and pneumonia.

How do I remove chimney mold from my fireplace and chimney?

You are strongly advised to allow professionals like Chief Chimney Services to remove all of the chimney mold growth as it can be a hazardous job. However, if your doctor okays it, you can clean up any exterior mold from bricks by using an antifungal cleanser and a stiff brush. Be sure to wear a breathing mask when cleaning up mold.

If you have any other questions about chimney mold, contact Chief Chimney Services today. Our staff is happy to assist you quickly with this possibly dangerous problem.

Help, My Chimney Stinks!

A stinky chimney is an indicator of an even greater chimney problem that exists or can possibly exist in the future. To get to the bottom of it, let our experts at Chief Chimney help you out.

A stinky chimney is an indicator of an even greater chimney problem that exists or can possibly exist in the future. To get to the bottom of it, let our experts at Chief Chimney help you out.

We all want the same things from our chimney systems. We want a chimney that vents properly and thoroughly. We want a firebox and flue that provides the protection from high heat that they were designed to provide. We want a system that keeps moisture from making its way into the interior of our chimney — and the interior of our home. And we want a chimney that doesn’t stink.

As CSIA-certified chimney professionals, Chief Chimney technicians are focused on helping our clients get all of that from their chimney systems — optimum performance, optimum levels of safety, minimum levels of moisture intrusion, and a pleasant absence of stink. If you’ve been frustrated by a stinky chimney, we can help.

Chimney Odors Are A Warning Sign

The thing about chimney odor that we often don’t think about as we’re turning up our noses: It’s helpful, in a sense. That’s because ultimately, chimney odor is an indication that there’s a bigger problem going on in your chimney or with the use of your heating appliance.

A Musty, Dank Odor

If the smell you’re noticing is dirty, musty and dank, that’s most likely related to moisture, and very possibly is coming from mold growth. If you have mold or moisture, odds are you have a chimney leak.

Chief Chimney technicians can inspect your system thoroughly to figure out what’s allowing moisture to get into your chimney — which can be anything from a cracked chimney crown to damaged flashing, or something as simple as a missing chimney cap. When we find the culprit or culprits, we can make repairs to get rid of your leak — and get rid of that smell!

A Singed, Smoky Odor

Even though you’re routinely lighting a fire in your fireplace or stove, you shouldn’t smell a smoky odor in your home —your chimney is meant to carry away the byproducts that contribute to a smoky odor. So if you smell (or see) a lot of smoke when you’re using your appliance or in between uses, that’s an indication of a problem either with your venting system, or your burning practices.

If there’s a problem with your chimney’s draft — the upward movement of air that carries out combustion byproducts and smoke — you’ll most likely get an indication of that through a smoky stink. If you haven’t had the chimney swept in more than a year, there’s a good chance your problem is excess creosote buildup. But the problem could also have to do with chimney blockages, wind-induced downdrafts or a variety of other issues. We can inspect your chimney system to find your issue and correct it.

Smoky odors can sometimes just be the result of less-than-optimum burning practices, though — even something as simple as neglecting to open your flue completely during your fires.

Burning anything other than seasoned or kiln-dried cordwood — like wood that isn’t properly dried, trash or Christmas trees — can also cause your fire to produce excess smoke and excess creosote. In the case of burning green or moist wood, it can contribute to the development of troubling Glazed Creosote, which is extremely combustible, has a particularly strong odor and is really difficult to remove. If your flue has glazed creosote, we can remove it, and bring your system back to proper (and less stinky) condition.

If you have questions about the best burning practices and chimney odor problems, we’re always happy to help our valued clients. Just give Chief Chimney Services a call!

Tell Me About Chimney Mold

Water in your chimney allows molds to thrive. This is not a good thing. Make sure to waterproof your chimney.

Water in your chimney allows mold to thrive. This is not a good thing. Make sure to waterproof your chimney.

As chimney professionals, a lot of what Chief Chimney Services technicians will talk to homeowners about regularly focuses on preventing fire hazards, maintaining proper draft and keeping up with regular maintenance. It’s also important for us to talk about something that might seem a little less obvious with your chimney system: mold growth.

Mold can and will grow and spread just about anywhere it gets access to moisture and food (like the building materials that make up your home). So if moisture makes its way into your chimney — through damaged masonry or other damaged components — that dark, enclosed and moist space can make a perfect home for mold. Since our chimneys are largely dormant for months out of the year, and Long Island humidity contributes a healthy share of moisture just about year-round, we need to be particularly aware of chimney mold here.

Why Do I Need To Know About Chimney Mold?

Mold growth creates stains and smells, and those annoyances are reason enough to not want it in your home. But related health issues are more concerning. Airborne mold spores have been shown to contribute to a variety of health issues, including respiratory problems, skin and eye irritation and longer-term illnesses. Certain types of mold — so-called “black mold” — are toxic, and have been linked to severe issues from pulmonary illnesses to nerve damage and more. People who already struggle with asthma and other respiratory illnesses or have weakened immune systems have been found to be particularly susceptible to the effects of mold. So it’s important to know about mold growth, and to deal with it quickly if it’s found in your home.

How Do I Know If There’s Mold In My Chimney?

It’s possible that you’ll see the signs of mold on or around your chimney — like discoloration of the masonry or adjacent building materials, or flaky and crystallized white efflorescence, which isn’t mold, but does point to a moisture intrusion problem. More often, though, if mold is growing inside your chimney where it isn’t in plain sight, the first indication will be a musty odor. We all know the smell of mold — it’s what most of us think of as that dank and unpleasant old-basement smell. If you notice an odor, Chief Chimney Services can inspect the chimney to assess whether there’s a moisture issue and mold growth.

How Does Mold End Up In My Chimney?

Mold spores are everywhere, and if they get a dark space to thrive and moisture to feed on, they’ll grow. So mold growth in your chimney is a sure indication that there’s a moisture issue — and dealing with that moisture issue is the key to dealing with your mold.

What Can I Do To Get Rid Of Mold In My Chimney?

The most effective way to get rid of chimney mold: Call Chief Chimney Services. Since breathing mold spores can be dangerous, it’s generally not advised to clean mold yourself on a space that’s any larger than 10 square feet (about a 3 by 3 square). If there’s mold growth inside your chimney, it’ll require special tools to properly get to it, as well. But beyond that, cleaning mold without addressing the moisture intrusion or leak issues is a temporary fix — the mold will grow back again. We can inspect and clean your chimney, find any leaks or moisture intrusion issues (which can be anything from degraded masonry to a cracked chimney crown  or damaged flashing) and provide solutions and repairs.

If you have any questions or concerns about chimney mold, we’re always here to help. Just give Chief Chimney Services a call!

Chimney Care Checklist for Spring

Your chimney should be a priority in your home maintenance checklist this Spring.  Do this every year and you'll have a longer lasting, efficient, and healthy chimney system.

Your chimney should be a priority in your home maintenance checklist this Spring. Do this every year and you’ll have a longer lasting, efficient, and healthy chimney system.

We know how it goes: The weather starts to warm up, and your fireplace and chimney system heads out of your mind. It’s understandable to close your flue for the season and not want to think about your chimney until next fall. But making chimney care and maintenance part of your spring home checklist can make your life easier, and your chimney system perform better.

Here are a few spring chimney checklist suggestions we have at Chief Chimney Services, with a little bit of “why” behind them.

Schedule Your Chimney Sweeping Appointment In The Spring

Every chimney system is different, but one thing we can tell you for sure: If you’ve been using your wood-burning fireplace or stove all fall and winter, your flue has creosote built up on its walls. As you burn wood, heated byproducts rise up to vent through your chimney, and your cooler chimney walls turn some of those gases back into liquid. That liquid layers and layers, and there you have it: creosote.

Ideally, you should have creosote removed during a chimney sweeping appointment before you start using the system over the next heating season. But here’s one reason why we think it’s preferable and better to make that appointment this spring: Your home will smell better all summer. That creosote has a smoky, sooty odor, and the heat and humidity of the summer brings that odor out. If you’ve ever noticed an acrid smell in your home during the summer — even though you haven’t used your fireplace in months — creosote is the source. Having your chimney swept in the spring means nicer-smelling air in the summer.

Schedule Your Annual Chimney Inspection In The Spring Too

To properly maintain your chimney system, an annual chimney inspection is a must. And again, you’ll want to make sure it’s done before you start using your heating appliance when the weather cools again. But there are definite benefits to getting this work done early, in the spring.

First, you’ll catch Chief Chimney Services before our busiest season, which means you’ll have broader options for appointments. But also, when that first cool night comes around, you won’t have anything to think about — your system will already be ready for warm, cozy fires.

Prepare Your System For Spring Rains

A lot of the chimney repairs we do at Chief Chimney are to the parts of your system that are designed to keep moisture out. Water is your chimney’s worst enemy, and we’ll do anything and everything we can to keep it from making its way in.

Moisture and your chimney’s relationship with it is something well worth thinking about in the spring, before the heavy rainy season rolls in. If a small problem in your chimney crown or chimney flashing has developed over the winter, spring rains can lead to chimney leaks and water damage to the interior of your home. Chief Chimney Services technicians can find those issues during a spring chimney inspection, and make any repairs necessary to arm the system against moisture intrusion again.

We can also recommend and apply a specially formulated waterproofing sealant for your masonry chimney that will significantly boost its ability to protect against water. Waterproofing keeps moisture from permeating the masonry itself, which not only keeps water out in the short term, but can protect your bricks and mortar joints in the long term.

If you have any questions about chimney maintenance and care — including making that part of your spring routine — Chief Chimney Services is always here to help. Give us a call!

Removing Ash in Your Fireplace

How long has the ashes in your fireplace been sitting there? Make sure to remove ash the right way.

How long has the ashes in your fireplace been sitting there? Make sure to remove ash the right way.

Do you have the habit of leaving ash to sit and accumulate in the fireplace after use? It’s important for every homeowner to understand the consequences of leaving ash in the fireplace and to know what you can do to properly dispose of it. Our company, Chief Chimney Services will help you understand how you can remove ash safely and why it’s not a good idea to leave it there the whole year round.

What about Ash?

Fireplaces were built to put wood or any combustible material that will give out heat to warm the room or the entire house. The reason for its design is so that the fire will just be enclosed in that area, making sure nothing gets to it while it’s supplementing heat to the home. Then it is attached to the chimney so that the air is properly suctioned out into the open environment.

The ash that is left after open combustion needs to be properly disposed because it has harmful chemicals in it that are just not suitable for the sensitive noses of the people who live inside the house. It is great for your garden when cooled though.

The Process

Before anything else, make sure you have a metal dust pan and trash bin. The first thing you have to do is to let the ash cool first before attempting to sweep it. It still might have hot charcoal. Second, take out the firebox because that’s where all the ash resides. Then carefully put the ash into the metal dust pan. After which, place the cooled ash into the empty metal trash bin where it can continue to cool. After this process is done, make sure to put the trash bin outside, far from your home as a preventive measure in case some of the coals can still ignite a fire. Do this process at least twice a week or more when you constantly use your fireplace.

Knowing the basics of ash removal is a good first step to make sure you have a clean and heating system. However, in most cases, this might not be enough. That is why it is best to call CSIA-licensed chimney sweeps to do the annual cleaning and the regular inspection. Chief Chimney Services, Incorporated guarantees outstanding service and trustworthy chimney sweeps that are ready to maintain the performance of your fireplace and chimney.

 

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.

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!