Pozzi Chimney Sweep Blog

How Often Should I Have My Chimney Cleaned?

It is the dream of most people to own their own home. Being able to decorate however you want, take out walls, put up new walls, and do your yard work. All of these things bring with them a certain sense of pride of ownership. Not to mention, the fact that owning your home can be a great investment. However, home ownership also brings many responsibilities.

How Often Should I Have My Chimney Cleaned Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepIf something breaks, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to fix it. When the grass gets long, the homeowner is responsible to mow it. Also, if the home has a fireplace, it’s the homeowner’s responsibility to have that chimney inspected and cleaned to ensure the safety of the family. So, this brings up the question of how often that chimney needs to be inspected and swept. It would seem that if you don’t use the fireplace very often over the course of the winter, you probably won’t need to have it cleaned, right? Not necessarily.

What Do the Experts Say?

Do you have a question about something as important to the safety of your family as getting your chimney inspected and cleaned? If so, it’s best to ask the experts! In this case, that would be the Chimney Safety Institute of America. The CSIA website is very clear about this topic: “The simple answer is: 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.’ This is the national safety standard and is the correct way to approach the problem.” Even if you don’t use your chimney very often during the previous winter, you can experience blockages from birds or other animals. In addition, have debris that gets blown into your chimney. This must be removed to avoid a dangerous chimney fire!

Chimney Repairs

Even if you don’t use your chimney very often, there are other factors to consider. These include weathering and precipitation that can cause breakdowns to occur. Some of this wear and tear is easily observed, even by an untrained person. Other damages aren’t as easily detected, however. An annual inspection by a CSIA trained professional will give you peace of mind; knowing that any damages that might cause instability in the structure of your chimney have been discovered and repaired.

Creosote

Even if you didn’t use your fireplace very often over the past winter, creosote can still build up. In fact, there are some conditions that cause creosote to build up more quickly. If the temperature in your chimney is cooler than normal, or if you burn unseasoned firewood, creosote will build up more quickly. Also, if you don’t open your damper wide enough to allow for a good airflow, you will find that creosote will form more quickly.

Annual Inspection and Cleaning

Call Pozzi Chimney Sweep today to schedule your annual chimney inspection and cleaning. Even if your chimney didn’t receive much use over the past winter, you’ll want to make sure that everything is clean and in good working order so that it’s ready to go next winter. Give them a call today!

Benefits of a Top Sealing Damper

Ever wonder what it is that keeps the cold air from rushing into your home through your chimney on a cold winter day? Maybe even what keeps the air conditioned air from leaving your home on a hot summer day? The answer to that question is the damper in your chimney. According to Homesaver, the damper is usually located in the throat of your masonry chimney, right above the firebox.

Benefits of a Top Sealing Damper Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepIt actually does two things:

  • It stops the cold air from coming down your chimney, when you’re not using your fireplace.
  • Also, it stops the heated or cold air in your home from exiting through the chimney.

Is your damper is open when it’s not supposed to be? If so, you could be adding hundreds of dollars a year to your heating and cooling costs!

How Your Damper System Breaks Down

Over time, your damper is susceptible to wear and tear, just like anything else you own. Even in the process of simply opening and closing your damper during fireplace season makes it less effective. Also, when this little metal piece is exposed to precipitation or the moist air in smoke, it can rust. This will make it harder to open and close. Exposure to heat and ashes can also cause problems with the damper over time, causing to to become warped or sticky.

The reason your damper system works is because there is a tight seal between the damper and the chimney. So, if this little mechanism gets warped or rusted, that seal is going to be compromised. Unfortunately, this can cause you to pay higher heating and cooling bills. Also, some dampers are made of steel or cast iron. These materials make it more difficult for a tight seal to be formed as well.

Top Sealing Dampers

Does all this talk makes it seem as though there’s no way to avoid a higher heating and cooling bill? Well, that assumption is wrong! Just look into the idea of buying a top sealing damper. A top sealing damper fits on top of your chimney rather than being inside the chimney. In addition, it has a rubber gasket that seals it to the opening of your chimney when it is in the down position. This assures that you will always have a tight seal; so the cool air from your house (in the summer) or the cold air from outside (in the winter) will not be allowed to go where it shouldn’t be going. Plus, this type of damper has a cable attached that hangs down within easy reach, so it’s easy to operate from inside your home. It’s a simple idea that can save you lots of money!

Call Pozzi Chimney Sweep

Are you tired of paying higher heating and cooling bills because of faulty dampers? Then consider giving Pozzi Chimney Sweep a call. They will be able to determine whether a top sealing damper is right for your chimney system, and their friendly professionals will help you find just what you need to kiss those high electric bills good-bye!

Summer is the Best Time for Masonry Repairs

Remember last fall? You took the time to really look at your chimney. Finally, you noticed that some of the mortar was beginning to look a little cracked and flaky! That probably made you a bit worried about the structure of the chimney. Also, about whether it was safe to use for another winter fireplace season. So you did just what you should do; you called a chimney sweep company to do some inspection, repair, and cleaning.

Summer is the Best Time for Masonry Repairs Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepThe trouble was, you had called too late in the season! So, chances are that chimney technician probably made recommendations for repairs. Afterwards, they then told you you’d have to wait until next summer to do those repairs. The truth of the matter is, he was right. There are many chimney repairs that work best when they are done in warm weather, and that’s why it’s important to give Pozzi Chimney Sweep a call as soon as you can to set up another inspection and cleaning and to have any recommended repair work done.

Causes of Mortar Breakdown

Your mortar and brick chimney is a very solid structure. Even so, it is still susceptible to wear and tear over many years. When snow, rain, and other precipitation hits your chimney, it causes deterioration to occur, especially to the mortar. Over time, leaks can appear in the chimney itself and the metal parts of your fireplace system can start to show rust. The damage that occurs goes beyond ordinary wear and tear. However, the freeze/thaw cycle can also have a damaging effect on the mortar and bricks that make up your chimney!

Repairs

When your chimney specialist recommends work to your mortar, most likely he will recommend tuckpointing. This process involves removing the old mortar and then replacing it with new mortar. This is done using special tools and making sure that the colors match up to your existing chimney mortar. The mortar needs several days to cure, which is one reason that it is a job best left for summer time.

Once your chimney is repaired and cured, you may want to consider waterproofing it. This will prevent the moisture from entering your new masonry as quickly. In addition, gives you protection from the deteriorating effects of precipitation. Waterproofing is another job that is best done while the weather is warm. Plus, when properly applied by a CSIA certified professional, can give your chimney up to ten years of waterproofing protection!

Call Pozzi

When it comes to taking care of your chimney, it’s clear that sooner is better than later – especially when you’re talking about early summer vs. late autumn. Call Pozzi Chimney Sweep soon to make sure that you can get your chimney inspection and cleaning done now, in the late spring. That way any necessary repairs to your mortar can be completed and cured by the time the weather starts to get cooler. Beat the rush and secure your place on the early summer schedule by giving Pozzi Chimney Sweep a call today!

Dryer Vent Blockage May Be Increasing Your Dryer Time

You’re getting ready to go out on a fun night. Whether it’s a night out on the town, meeting up with your family, or just a romantic supper with that someone special. You’ve been looking forward to it all day, and you’re just waiting to pull your #1 pair of jeans out of the dryer and you’ll be ready to go. So, you run into the laundry room, pull the jeans out, and – no! They’re still too wet to wear. I think everyone has had this happen and it’s so disappointing. You may think that you need to start looking for a new dryer. However, before you start looking, have your dryer vent checked instead!

Dryer Vent Blockage May Be Increasing Your Dryer Time Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepProblems Caused by a Full Vent

When your dryer runs, it is basically pulling the leftover water from the wash cycle out of the clothes. Additionally, with that water comes tiny particles, or lint. This lint is carried out of your house through the dryer vent. Over time, some gets stuck. Consequently, as more damp, warm air continues to carry more lint through that dryer vent, more lint clings to what is already stuck there. Eventually the path gets so small that it’s harder for your dryer’s motor to work the air through. This can cause your dryer to not work as efficiently. So, that means more dryer time per load of clothes, which is frustrating as well as expensive!

Dry time isn’t the only problem; in fact, it might not even be the biggest problem that lint buildup might cause. That blockage of lint particles is highly flammable. If a spark hits, it can instantly turn into a dryer fire. In fact, according to a report by the U.S. Fire Administration, “2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss.”

Prevention

So, what can you do to prevent a clogged dryer vent? The first, and easiest, solution is to hire a qualified cleaning company. This should be done on a yearly basis. Also, look at your dryer vent to see if it is the plastic or foil accordion style of duct material. If it is, consider replacing it with rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct. This type of duct doesn’t catch the lint as easily. Also, when you have your dryer vent cleaned, have your dryer appliance cleaned as well, as this can also be a place where lint can build up.

Who To Call

Are you noticing that your dryer is taking longer and longer to dry a load of clothes? If so, you may need a new dryer. Before you look, though, call in professionals to check out your dryer vent for blockages. Who should you call? Pozzi Chimney Sweep, that’s who! Not only are they CSIA certified chimney inspectors and sweeps, they also are experts at cleaning your dryer vents. Let them take care of clearing out your dryer vent and soon you’ll be having dry clothes in a fraction of the time!

Tuckpoint or Rebuild: Which Does Your Chimney Need?

Your masonry chimney was built to last for years – 100 years or more! Unfortunately, the mortar that is holding the bricks together isn’t made to last quite that long, and it will, from time to time, need to be replaced. But if you wait too long, you may be in for a bigger repair job than you are asking for. So…to repair or rebuild – that’s the question.

Chimney Damage

As strange as it may seem, one thing that can really cause damage to your chimney is precipitation. Heavy rains can wear away at the mortar that holds the bricks or block together. In an Illinois winter, the freeze/thaw cycle can wreak havoc by causing larger cracks in the mortar as well. As stated by the Chimney Safety Institute of America website, “(M)asonry materials deteriorate quickly when exposed to the freeze/thaw process, in which moisture that has penetrated the materials periodically freezes and expands causing undue stress.”Tuckpoint or Rebuild Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney Sweep

Tuckpointing

Every homeowner knows that it’s very important to have your chimney inspected and cleaned on an annual basis. Your chimney inspector will have kept a close eye on the condition of your mortar. If this is the case, then you can be pretty confident in going with the tuckpointing procedure.

Tuckpointing is the process of taking out the old, crumbling mortar joints and replacing them with fresh mortar. The fresh mortar has to be pressed into the cracks between the bricks. The tools that are used to do this are called points, lending to the term “tuckpointing”.

This may not seem like too complicated of a process. However, the balance.com website is quite clear in stating that this is a job that needs to be left to the professionals.

Rebuild

Perhaps, you neglected to complete this repair job in a timely manner, you may be looking at a bigger repair job. One strong indication that you may need to go the rebuilding route rather than the tuckpointing route is if there are bricks that are actually loose. If this is the case, you’re looking at a rebuild rather than a tuckpointing procedure. This is a more complicated, more costly repair job which involves actually taking down the existing wall and rebuilding it back up.

Signals that Repair is Needed

If you are an observant home owner, it may be apparent by looking at your mortar is in need of repair. If your mortar looks soft and crumbly, it’s a pretty sure bet that some tuckpointing is required. However, it’s a good idea to bring in the experts to determine exactly how much work needs to be done. If you’re looking for expert advice, give Pozzi Chimney Sweep a call. Their technicians are CSIA certified and will be able to give an honest, expert assessment of the repairs that are necessary to get your chimney up and running. Spring is the perfect time to get this assessment done, so you have the summer to make any necessary repairs.

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Build-Up

Those cool nights of autumn, the freezing storms of winter, and the chilly evenings of spring. All of these are made so cozy by sitting in front of a crackling fire. Getting together with family members or just playing games for a quiet evening in, you gather around the fireplace. However, inside that warm scene lurks a hidden danger: carbon monoxide. It’s important to understand this dangerous gas and the precautions you can take to avoid a tragic situation.

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Build-Up Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepWhat is Carbon Monoxide

When you burn a fire in your fireplace, carbon monoxide is formed. This gas is colorless and odorless, which makes it virtually impossible to detect until symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning occur. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website states that carbon monoxide is formed when any type of fuel is burned. Whether in your car, furnace, or even your fireplace. If carbon monoxide is allowed to build up in your house, it can cause illness and even death.

How Does Carbon Monoxide Invade Your Home

Today’s homes are built tight. This is great when it comes to paying your energy bill, because a tight home will be more energy efficient. For people who use their fireplace, however, this can be a problem. The carbon monoxide that’s formed when a fire is burning needs a place to escape, which in older homes is not a problem because there are some chinks that give this gas a place to sneak out. With today’s energy efficient homes, that doesn’t happen. If you have a new home, one simple solution is to crack a window slightly when you are enjoying a fire in your fireplace. It is also important that you have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home, do monthly battery checks, and replace the batteries every six months.

Symptoms To Be Aware Of

Whether you take these precautions or not, you can still experience a carbon monoxide build-up. That’s why it’s important to know and take notice of symptoms that can occur if a build-up is present. The Mayo Clinic website lists some of the following symptoms that may indicate you have a problem:

  • shortness of breath
  • confusion
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • dull headache
  • blurry vision

Pets can display these symptoms as well, so if you and/or other living creatures in your home are exhibiting these symptoms, be sure to have them checked out immediately. Be aware that a loss of consciousness can take place in extreme situations; do not let it get to that point because death will occur if not removed from the premises.

What To Do

The best thing to do to avoid a carbon monoxide build-up is to install carbon monoxide detectors and have your chimney cleaned and inspected on a yearly basis by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified chimney sweep company like Pozzi Chimney Sweep. We are educated on the latest regulations and chimney cleaning and inspection techniques, and we are dedicated to giving their customers the best service possible. Now that spring is here, it’s the perfect time to schedule your annual inspection and cleaning!

Install A Chimney Cap For Weather Protection

Chimney inspections are the number one way to ensure that your home and family stay safe from chimney fires and other home damage. There are, however, other things that you need to stay on top of to make sure that your fireplace runs efficiently and effectively. An important component of your fireplace that often gets overlooked is a chimney cap. In fact, some homes don’t even have a chimney cap. That can cause real problems for homeowners. A simple way to find out if your chimney cap is in tip-top shape? Call in the experts, like those at Pozzi Chimney Sweep.

Install A Chimney Cap For Weather Protection Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepWeather Protection

There are several reasons that a chimney cap is important. One of these is to protect your chimney from the damages that weather can bring. Believe it or not, water is a number one culprit in damaging your chimney. When water enters your chimney system, it will permeate the mortar that holds your bricks together. When this water freezes, it expands, and that in turn causes the cracks to expand. As this cycle continues, these cracks get bigger and, over time, structural damage can occur. A chimney cap helps protect your chimney from this danger. According to the CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) website, “(U)nderwriters Laboratories (UL) specifies that any chimney lining system that is to be listed to their test standard must include a chimney cap.”

Other Reasons For A Chimney Cap

When you burn a fire in your fireplace, sparks can shoot up your chimney and escape onto your roof with disastrous consequences. These sparks could start a roof fire. Consequently, if they get all the way out and hit your yard, it could cause a serious grass fire. A chimney cap can help stop those sparks from getting out of your chimney!

Another thing that chimney caps do? They stop natural elements from getting into your chimney. Birds and other small animals are drawn to an enclosed space to make their nests, and your chimney fits that bill. Leaves, twigs, and other debris can blow down your chimney. These things can cause an obstruction in your chimney, and if those obstructions catch a spark, it could cause a fire in your chimney. Even if this fire is contained in your chimney, it can cause structural damage. Other natural elements, like sleet, snow, and rain can also be kept out of your chimney by a chimney cap.

Is a Chimney Cap Necessary?

According the Chimney Safety Institute of America, chimney caps are “probably the most inexpensive preventive measure that a homeowner can employ to prevent water penetration and damage to the chimney.”

Who To Call

Pozzi Chimney Sweep is the place to call when it comes to quality chimney cap maintenance, inspection, and care. We will be able to fix your chimney cap if that is necessary, or we will be able to advise you in what chimney cap best suits your needs if a new one is needed. The professionals at Pozzi Chimney Sweep are committed to offering you expert advice and quality service. Give us a call today!

Why Did Chimney Sweeps Wear Top Hat and Tails?

What happens when the word chimney sweep comes to mind? Many people instantly think of the singing, dancing chimney sweeps from Mary Poppins. What a life! Jumping from roof top to roof top, singing and dancing. Not to mention, all decked out in top hat and tails. This romanticized version of the sweeps’ life was almost enough to make you want to go out become one. The truth, however, wasn’t quite so happy or romantic.

Why Did Chimney Sweeps Wear Top Hat and Tails Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepsWho Cleaned the Chimneys?

Early on in the eleventh century in Europe, people began to build two story homes. So, with this development in architecture, a fire in the middle of the floor no longer sufficed. The smoke needed to be funneled out of the home. However, the only way to accomplish this was by building an enclosed fireplace and chimney. It didn’t take long for people to realize that the inside of the chimney became filled with soot. Consequently, this soot build-up could lead to a dangerous chimney fire.

The solution? Find a way to clean the chimney. Thus began the new occupation of chimney sweeps. After the Great Fire of London in 1666, new regulations demanded smaller chimneys, and the chimney sweep professionals needed a smaller body to fit into the chimneys to clean them. The solution was to find young boys (and sometimes girls) to be their apprentices, often as young as 6 years old, and sometimes even younger.

A Dangerous Life

The life of these young children who were apprenticed (or sometimes bought) to become chimney sweeps was far from romantic. They were required to climb up the dirty chimney, wearing a hat that would brush the soot off the walls of the chimney, causing it to fall down onto the floor of the fireplace. Sweeps also scraped the walls to get any stubborn creosote off the interior. Once they reached the top, the sweep would then slide quickly back down the chimney onto the pile of soot, then bag it up to finish the cleaning process.

Why Top Hats and Tails?

There are several stories about why sweeps wear top hat and tails. The most common stories revolve around undertakers. It is said that undertakers took pity on the young children doing this job, and gave them the hats and tails they were going to throw out as a way to make the children feel better about their status. Another legend has it that in London, in the 1700’s, King George was riding his horse when it became startled by a barking dog. A sweep grabbed a hold of the reins, calming the horse and preventing a catastrophe. The grateful king declared that, from then on, sweeps would be considered lucky. It is most likely that this is where the link to top hats occurred.

Today’s Chimney Sweeps

Today’s chimney sweep is a far cry from the young child from long ago. Protective equipment is worn, safety regulations are in place, and the hazards that existed then have been prevented. But this doesn’t take anything away from the skill required of these professionals. They do an important job to keep other people safe, and the CSIA certified experts at Pozzi Chimney Service are among the best of the best. We do the job right!

Buying and Installing Gas Logs is Not a Do-It-Yourself Job!

It is so inviting to walk into a room that has a beautiful fireplace with a crackling fire burning. It feels so comfortable to sit on a cozy couch and settle in. Trouble is, it seems like just when you get good and settled in, you notice that the fire is burning down. Therefore, you need to get up to add more logs. There is a great option available to help you avoid this problem: have a set of gas logs installed.

Buying and Installing Gas Logs Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepAdvantages of Gas Logs

Do you love the look and feel of a wood fire but hate the inconvenience of buying wood? If so, then gas logs are the way to go. You can light your gas logs by remote control, or some start by just lighting a match. In addition, it continues to burn without ever adding more logs. The gas logs look natural. Also, if you have a preference for types of wood, you can find gas logs in almost any type of wood.

Safety: Wood Vs. Gas

Wood burning fireplaces require work. Not to mention, when you burn wood, your chimney gets dirty. The gases that escape up your chimney from a wood burning fire contain wood particles, tar fog, and other chemicals. When they hit the cooler surface of the chimney higher up, they condense to form creosote. This is a highly flammable substance. If left untreated and it catches a spark, a chimney fire could occur. Gas logs, on the other hand, don’t require as much maintenance as a wood fire. They also don’t produce sparks. In fact, if properly maintained, gas logs are a very safe option.

Of course, any time you are working with gas, there are dangers that you need to protect against. The biggest worries are carbon monoxide poisoning, or an unintended gas flame that could cause a fire.

Hire A Professional

If you’re looking at the ease and convenience of gas logs, you might be tempted to install them yourself. In a word: DON’T. The best way to avoid the safety concerns listed above is to hire a certified professional. Rosie of Rosie On The House states it as follows: “Hire a licensed contractor to convert your wood-burning fireplace to gas. Working with a gas line or a propane tank is a job for an experienced professional, not a do-it-yourselfer.”

Another important tip to remember? Have a carbon monoxide detector installed on every floor of your house. Make sure that you check the batteries on a monthly basis and change the batteries every six months.

Professional Installation

When it comes to gas logs, Pozzi Chimney Sweep has the experience and expertise to help you choose the right device for your fireplace needs. When it comes to installing your gas logs, you can trust Pozzi to properly install them. So, that the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or any other gas related issue is almost non-existent. Remember, just as with a wood burning fireplace, it is absolutely necessary to have your gas log set inspected and cleaned on a yearly basis!

Gary Pozzi Earns Master Chimney Certification

Are you in the market for a chimney sweep? If so, it is important to look for certified chimney sweeps. In fact, Angie’s List tells us that the most important question to ask is this: whether the hired sweep is certified. In addition to being certified, a chimney sweep can work to attain a Master Chimney Technician certification. We’re proud to announce that Gary Pozzi, owner of Pozzi Chimney Sweep, has attained this status!

pozzi master certification badgeMaster Chimney Sweep Certification

So what does it mean to have Master Chimney Sweep certification?  A sweep must be an active full time chimney sweep for a minimum of eight continuous years to attain the highly regarded status. They must also be actively certified as a chimney sweep for a minimum of 6 years. The applicant must be reviewed and approved by the application committee after going through an extensive application process.

Sweeps with Master Certification are also expected to hold a high standard of ethics.

Distinguished Position

The Master Chimney Technician certification process requires a rigorous education and routine.  The highly distinguished position is held by only a few people in the United States. Gary Pozzi has been involved in the firefighting field for 27 years. His work included serving as an arson investigator for the Aurora Fire Department. In that time, Gary realized that most fires were preventable, and started in the chimney or fireplace. Gary Pozzi wanted to make a real difference to the home owners of this area by opening his chimney sweep business.

Other Awards

Master Chimney Technician certification is not the only award that Pozzi Chimney Sweep as earned. Gary Pozzi is also National Fireplace Institute certified. In addition, the Pozzi Chimney Sweep has earned the Angie’s List Super Service Award three times. Gary’s goal is to ensure that every customer is treated to top-notch service.