Our Company Blog

Identifying Chimney Discoloration

What do your fingernails and chimney have in common? A trained professional can gain insight as to your health and that of your chimney by looking at their appearance. Changes in color and texture indicate the need for further attention. Look at your fingernails, if you see any of these symptoms, be sure to consult your physician. When it comes to discoloration of your chimney it may not be so easy to inspect. That’s why homeowners in the Long Island area call chimney professional Chief Chimney Services to look for any chimney discoloration and identify the cause and solution to prevent damage.

Chimney Discoloration Image - Suffolk NY - Chief Chimney Services 1You may not be able to see the discoloration on your chimney from the ground and the last thing an untrained homeowner needs to do is start climbing around on their roof. (Ladder accidents are one of the major causes injuries especially from folks who swore they’d be careful. Maintaining your safety and the health of your chimney are two of the reasons you call a chimney professional once a year for a thorough inspection and cleaning.) Simply washing the stains away without tending to the underlying causes puts you and your home at risk.

 

Discoloration on chimneys can be white, black, brown, green, or red depending on the cause.

White stains are caused by evaporated water. When you see the white powder or crystals it is an alert that further investigation is needed. The white substance, efflorescence, can be just simple evaporation from rain, snow, and ice. However, efflorescence can also be a sign that water is running inside your chimney or flue and you have a problem. The website InspectAPedia cautions, “Although efflorescence is not mold, it often indicates wet conditions that cause problem mold growth elsewhere in the same building. You’ll need to identify the sources of moisture or leaks and correct them, and depending on other building air quality complaints or health concerns it may be appropriate to inspect and screen the building for problem mold or other moisture or water-related problems. Efflorescence is always a cause for professional attention.”

Green, blueish, and black stains send out a loud SOS to have your chimney professional check for algae growth and or mold. Both thrive on moisture and cause serious health and infestation issues which are expensive to correct. It is imperative that water leaks are caught early, identified, and cured to prevent mold.

Rust colored stains are also the result of water leaks and the source must be identified and corrected.

Black and brown stains can appear on your chimney, roof, and on sides of your home; dark stains have a variety of root causes. These stains can be caused by clogged gutters, leaks and cracks in your masonry or actual chimney flue, or a missing, dislodged or no rain cap. None of which can be diagnosed from a ground level inspection. Black and brown stains can also mean you have a very serious health and safety issue that require immediate attention if the dark stains are the result of creosote and soot. Creosote and soot are highly combustible and may be the result of malfunctioning heating appliances. Dark stains can also indicate a fire occurred that you weren’t aware happened.

Take Away: No matter what color they are, stains on your home are not simply a cosmetic issue. Stains send a message that something needs the attention of a trained chimney professional before you jeopardize your health, safety, the integrity of your structure. Like most things in life, the longer the problem is left unattended, the more complicated and costly the cure becomes. If you live in Long Island, call Chief Chimney Services for help. If not, be sure you contact a chimney professional with strong credentials ASAP.

What To Do About a Smelly Chimney

When you have a smelly chimney it’s easy to know what to do…CALL A PROFESSIONAL CHIMNEY SWEEP. Chief Chimney Services has been serving residents of Long Island and curing smelly chimney issues in Suffolk County since 1983.

On those oh so familiar hot humid summer days, when your nose connects with that foul pungent odor from your fireplace and chimney, hear warning bells in your mind alerting you that something needs attention. Just like the warning tone your ears hear when your fire and carbon monoxide alarms go off, when your nose detects that putrid smell it’s time to call your chimney professional.

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Stinking chimneys can be caused by a single problem or a combination of several. Most likely the cause of your smelly chimney won’t be apparent to the naked eye, and even if you forsook your own safety and climbed on the roof, you wouldn’t be able to see far enough into your chimney to locate the problem. Smelly chimneys occur when there is mold growing or water seeping in your chimney, a build-up of creosote, nesting and decaying animals and birds, all of which are complicated by negative air pressure in your home.

Mold remains one of the top health hazards and special care must be given not only to remove it, but also to prevent its re-occurrence. A common misconception is that bleach is a mold inhibitor, which it is not. Mold can exacerbate breathing and pulmonary issues and cause severe health issues. It spreads quickly and needs prompt attention. Seeping moisture breeds mold. A professional chimney sweep will locate the source of the moisture and correct the problem and remove the existing accumulation; both are necessary to solve mold issues and their subsequent odors.

Your chimney presents an attractive living space for birds and rodents as it is warm, dry, and protected from predators. The troubles occur for when the animal droppings build in the chimney and/or they die inside. Both the decaying bodies and parasites the carcasses attract linger inside your chimney. It is not only unhealthy, but it also blocks proper airflow and causes an awful stench. Adding further to the problem is the fact that in many communities, nesting birds cannot be disturbed. Part of the training professional and certified chimney sweeps receive is how to prevent wildlife from turning your chimney into public housing in the first place and what to do if they have while conforming to wildlife protection laws.

Downdrafts present their own issues and causes of smelly chimneys. The Professional Home Inspection Service wants homeowners to recognize, “While a mild smoke odor is a minor problem, the issue can be very serious if the same thing occurs with naturally drafting gas appliances. The same negative pressure could be drawing combustion gases including carbon monoxide back down the utility chimney, posing a very unhealthy situation. If this problem is a possibility in your house, make sure your carbon monoxide detector is in good working order, and call in a professional for further assessment.”

Professional chimney technicians will pro-actively troubleshoot the potential causes of a smelly chimney and remedy them during their annual inspections. Built up creosote, along with all of these causes of smelly chimneys can be identified and corrected by following the guidelines recommended by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) for annual chimney inspections and cleaning.

Remember a smelly chimney is a warning for you to call your chimney professional! Chief Chimney Services is here for homeowners on Long Island.

We Serve Suffolk County

There is no better place in the county for us to provide comprehensive chimney services than in Suffolk County, New York. Chief Chimney Services has been part of the Suffolk Country business community for over 30 years. Over that time we have seen a lot of changes to our area; however, nothing can offset the rich history and the spirit of past and current residents.

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For those who have never been to Suffolk County, let us introduce you. Long Island is in Suffolk County. The peninsula extends into the Atlantic Ocean. The world renowned Hamptons is also part of Suffolk County. The area is characterized by its beaches, wharfs, farmlands, seaside villages, rolling hills, and farmlands. Long Island was named one of the Top Ten Wine Regions in the World by Wine Enthusiast magazine. Dr. Beach, a noted, beach expert, named Main Beach in East Hampton the Best Beach in America.

The first inhabitants of Long Island were the Algonquin Indians. The Algonquins and others who came to settle in the area were attracted by the waterways, local game, rich farmland, and native nuts, berries, and grains. Those interested in the development and chronological history of Suffolk County can click here.

There are almost 300 places in Suffolk County currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places which preserve the area’s rich history. Click here for a complete list.

The Vanderbilt name is synonymous with Suffolk County. Visitors and residents enjoy visiting the mansion, museum, and planetarium on the Vanderbilt estate. For more information click here.

It’s the local nuances of an area that gives it its character. Here are a few bits of information to enlighten and amuse you.

  • You can never get really lost on Long Island.All you have to do is drive until you come to water and then turn around, “re-routing re-routing”.Suffolk County is described as an “epicurean’s dream”.
  • “The word “fresh” takes on a different meaning. Here, the menu’s ‘catch of the day’ was likely hauled in that morning from the waters off our Island shores, prepared and served with vegetables – picked from a nearby farm – seasoned with herbs from the garden then paired with a Pinot Grigio from a vineyard just down the road.” Click here for more information on great dining experiences.

Suffolk County has several aviation museums and places to explore science, mathematics, history, energy, astronomy, and technology. To learn more click here.

Those interested in live entertainment will not be disappointed. The theatres and auditoriums in the North Shore area have performances for all entertainment genres and audiences. Click here for more information.

New York City is close enough to visit when you want to participate in all that one of the world’s most dynamic cities offer, yet far enough away not to interfere with the tranquility and charm and quaintness this historic county offers.

Quality of life is important to residents visiting in Suffolk County. Chief Chimney Services is proud to maintain chimneys and fireplaces and offer comprehensive and related service to new residents of Suffolk County as well as those whose ancestors are part of the area’s history.

What Is Creosote?

What Is Creosote? The term creosote in relation to fireplaces and chimney occurs when the by-products of wood are not totally burned off and the residue travels in the smoke as a vapor. When it is cooled to a liquid it coats whatever it encounters. The wood-tar substance is a blackish brown sticky gooey oil mixture that builds up on the interior surfaces of your chimney and fireplace. It is extremely combustible. Due to the hazardous nature of creosote and its offensive odor, Chief Chimney Services takes special care to remove it and protect homeowners from fire and toxic gas risks associated with creosote.

The Hearth.com website explains, “Creosote buildup is pretty sneaky. You may not notice it at first but it tends to feed on itself. As it builds up, it restricts the flow in the chimney and/or stove pipes. This slows the smoke on its way out, allowing more time for it to cool and for the creosote to condense and deposit on itself thus further restricting the flow.”.

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The fire hazard occurs when it is ignited by a hot fire. Pieces of the built up creosote can also become loose and flake and travel upwards to your roof, or down your chimney into your fireplace and into your home. No matter the direction, the result of burning creosote is no good. A traveling piece of burning creosote can bring on a dangerous and expansive fire.

The inspectapedia website lists these considerations about creosote build up:

  • The temperature of the chimney. Consider long low smoldering fires make more creosote that hotter roaring fires
  • The wood to sap ratio of the wood you burn, the greener the wood the more moisture and the more creosote
  • The moisture content of the wood, wet wood burns more slowly and produces more creosote
  • The chimney size, height, location, and construction materials also influence the buildup of creosote.

There are important things for homeowners to understand about creosote that you need to know if you are even considering to attempt to remove creosote buildup yourself. First, without the professional equipment and cameras a chimney professional uses, you are not able to view the entire length of your chimney and therefore you may not be aware of the buildup that occurs out of sight which still puts you at risk. There are two other considerations as well as access. Dislodging the creosote is extremely dangerous for several reasons. First, as you chip away at the creosote you may do damage to the underlying chimney structure. Worse you will be breathing the extremely toxic materials even if you wear a mask. Worst yet, if you dislodge the creosote it may travel in the smoke and downdrafts of future fires and ignite whatever it lands upon.

Creosote inspection and removal is critical to the safety and security of your home and best done by a technician certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. CSIA certified technicians know the proper methods, cleaning agent, and tools to keep your chimney unblocked. Chief Chimney Services, Inc.wants to be your chimney professional. Contact us today!

Spring Into Action

Spring Into Action This Spring & Have Your Annual Chimney Inspection

The importance of having a yearly inspection and evaluation of your chimney cannot be stressed strongly enough. When your health and safety are at risk, it is important make sure you call a trained professional to evaluate and clean your chimney and its components on annual basis. Chief Chimney Services, Inc. has earned the prestigious credentials of certified chimney sweep from the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) to perform a complete evaluation and inspection in order to keep your venting operating at peak capacity, controlling energy consumption and costs, and protect you from fire and toxic gas hazards.

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Spring is the ideal time to have your inspections performed.

Our mothers and grandmothers used the end of winter to signal time for their spring cleaning. A thorough cleaning helped make the transition from the demands of winter to the demands of summer. Springtime is an excellent time to also have a professional inspection of your chimney performed.

The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary.”

During the winter, you use your chimney more than other times during the year. The residue from your fires builds up in your fireplace and chimney. Not only that, the masonry of your chimney is subjected to temperature changes as the weather freezes and thaws. These temperature changes can cause cracks, leaks, and lose bricks which allow water, smoke, and toxic gasses to seep back into your home. In addition, since your chimney is warm, birds and animals may decide to make your chimney home for the winter and then may die or get trapped inside and cause dangers.

3 Levels of Inspection as described by the Chimney Safety Institute of America*

Level 1 Inspections –During a Level 1 inspection, your chimney service technician examines the readily accessible portions of the chimney exterior, interior and accessible portions of the appliance and the chimney connection. The technician will also verify the chimney is free of obstruction and combustible deposits.

Level 2 Inspections –A Level 2 inspection is required when any changes are made to the system. Level 2 inspections are required when property is sold or transferred. Fires, seismic events, and weather events are reasons for a Level 2 inspection.

Level 3 Inspection – Includes all the areas and items checked in a Level 1 and a Level 2 inspection, as well as the removal of certain components of the building or chimney where necessary. When serious hazards are suspected, a Level 3 inspection may well be required to determine the condition of the chimney system.

* See more here.

The Department of Consumer Protection echoes the recommendations of property experts, fire departments, insurance companies, and chimney professionals in all 50 states, “Have your chimney inspected and cleaned, preferably in late spring or early summer when heating season is over. That way, you’ll have enough time to schedule any repairs you may need before the heating season begins in the fall.”