Pozzi Chimney Sweep Blog

The Different Levels of a Chimney Inspection

Whether you use your fireplace a little or a lot over the course of a winter, you know safety is important. The most important thing you can do to keep it running efficiently and safely is to have it inspected and cleaned on an annual basis. But did you know that there are actually different levels of inspections that you can have done? The level of inspection you need will depend on factors such as:The Different Levels of a Chimney Inspection Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney

  • how often you use your fireplace,
  • what type of wood you burn,
  • if you have made any improvements,
  • if any natural disasters occured,
  • and what state of repair your chimney is in.

Level One

If you use your fireplace on a regular basis, but don’t put it to through too much rigor, and if you keep it maintained on a regular basis, you’ll just need a level one inspection and cleaning. In this type of inspection, your chimney specialist will just look for the obvious. They’ll inspect those things that are accessible on the exterior of your chimney, the interior, and the actual appliance itself. This is all that’s necessary if your appliance has stayed the same and if you’d made no changes in the exterior of the chimney or how you burn your fire. The inspector will also be looking for any signs that a good cleaning is needed, such as an excessive creosote buildup. If so, your chimney sweep will be able to do the cleaning on the spot.

Level Two

If you’ve made changes to the fireplace, gotten a new type of burning appliance, bought a new house that has a fireplace, or had damage to your home due to a chimney fire, tornado, high winds, or any other natural disaster, you’ll want to call your inspector and schedule a level two inspection. This will entail a more in-depth, detailed inspection, which could include a video inspection of the interior of your chimney in order to see if there is further damage that needs to be repaired. The inspector may also decide to inspect your attic and your roof.

Level Three

If the inspector finds that there is damage that needs repair, he’ll probably recommend a level three type inspection. This means that they will probably have to do an intrusive investigation. This may require tearing down parts of the fireplace or chimney and then rebuilding after repair work is complete. This type of inspection may require special tools, and it often takes place after a chimney fire has occurred.

Call in Quality Inspectors

At Pozzi Chimney Sweep we pride ourselves on doing a professional, quality job, regardless of what level of inspection you are looking to have completed. They have the training and tools to make sure your chimney and fireplace system stays running safely and efficiently.

Scheduling a Chimney Sweeping for Santa

Ho, ho, ho! How excited are you for Christmas?! It’s time for presents and carols, twinkling lights and shining stars. The house is starting to look and smell like a bakery with all of your favorite holiday dishes. Guests are invited, parties are planned, and your favorite Christmas sweater is ready to go. Soon Santa will be making a trip down your chimney, and it better not be dirty!Scheduling a Chimney Sweeping for Santa Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney

The last thing you need to worry about during this holiday season is how safe your fireplace is, especially when you know nothing is quite as welcoming as a crackling, glowing fire for your guests to gather in front of. So if you’ve neglected having your chimney cleaned, now is the time to call!

What Will They Be Looking For?

When you use your fireplace a lot, it obviously is going to get dirty and sooty. But did you know that your chimney is also getting a buildup of something called creosote? The smoke that is created from the fire is full of water vapor and lots of chemicals, and when that smoke hits the cool surface of the inside of your chimney, it forms a thick layer of a black and shiny or maybe brown and gummy substance called creosote. No matter what form it takes, creosote should be removed! And that’s where Pozzi Chimney Sweep comes into play. They have the tools and the expertise to clean creosote out and make your fireplace safe throughout the holiday season and all winter long.

One thing that can cause additional creosote buildup is the type of wood that you use in your fireplace. It’s recommended that you use hardwoods, such as oak, maple, ash, or beech. These hardwoods will burn hotter and cause less creosote buildup in your chimney.

Odor in Your Chimney

Sometimes you might notice an odor coming from your fireplace, especially if you haven’t started using it yet. What could be happening is that your dampers aren’t tight enough, and a downdraft is causing odors from your dirty chimney to flow down the chimney and into your house. You don’t want your guests to be subjected to any odors but the delicious smells of holiday cooking and pine needles!

All Your Chimney Parts

Don’t let worrying about dangerous creosote buildup and nasty odors spoil your holiday season. Keep your family and your home safe and sound by calling in the experts from Pozzi Chimney Sweep to clean your chimney now, before your company starts arriving and the party starts in full swing. You’ll be able to enjoy the holidays worry-free knowing that your chimney is squeaky clean and fresh smelling. And Pozzi’s technicians won’t just be checking out your damper system, they’ll make sure that all of the parts of your chimney and fireplace system are working and in tip-top shape. Give them a call today!

Winter Fireplace Preparation

Some things are pretty easy to maintain. Get new carpet and vacuum it to keep it looking good. Plug in your microwave and you’re good to go. Run vinegar through a coffee pot every once in awhile and you’re set. Your fireplace? Taking care of it from use to use will help ensure that you’ll be able to use it all winter long without worrying about something going wrong. Here are some things that you can do to make sure that you get the maximum enjoyment from your fireplace all winter long.

Preparing Your FireplaceWinter Fireplace Preparation Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney Sweep

Of course, the number one most important thing to do to prepare your fireplace is to have it inspected and cleaned by a CSIA certified chimney sweep company like Pozzi Chimney Sweep. They will make sure your chimney is clean and free of obstructions so that you can be worry-free about the possibility of a chimney fire all winter long. There are other things you can do to make sure that you’re set for a long winter of cozy nights in front of a snapping fire, as well.

Gather the Right Wood

Another thing to do is to make sure you have an ample supply of properly cured firewood. Different types of wood burn differently, so make sure that you get the proper wood for the burn you’re looking for. Generally speaking, you’ll want to use hardwoods when you use your fireplace; this will give you a fire that burns hot and that will last as long into the evening as you want it to. Not only this, but a hot burning fire will create less creosote buildup than cooler burning fires that are created using softer woods.

Another thing to understand is that you really don’t need to clean your fireplace after every fire. When you burn with wood, you’re going to end up with ash, and it may be tempting to sweep the firebox clean – but don’t do it! Ash is actually a good thing when it comes to building a fire. If you can have about an inch of ash on the bottom of your firebox, you’ll have more success in building and maintaining your fire. A good ash bed gives the hot coals a place to rest, which keeps the fire burning hot

Safety First

Remember, the most important thing to remember when using your fireplace is that safety must come first. Check the area around your fireplace to make sure that any combustible items are nowhere near the actual fire. You’ll also want to make sure that your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly and that the batteries are charged.

Call Pozzi Chimney Sweep

If you have questions or concerns about running your fireplace this winter, give Pozzi Chimney Sweep a call. They’ll be happy to answer your questions and help ensure that your family is kept safe and snug all winter long!

Fall Weather is Not Optimal for Masonry Work

In the fall, there are many things that you look forward to getting done. It feels good to get ready for winter by getting the leaves raked, the gutters cleaned out, and the windows washed, inside and out. If you have some areas that need added insulation, fall is a great time to get it done before cold weather hits. If you have windows or other seam areas that need to be caulked, make sure you get that job finished before the snow falls as well. Additionally, you will want to have your fireplace and chimney system inspected before starting your first fire.

Unfortunately, if you’ve been waiting to have your chimney masonry repair work done, you may have to wait until next spring, because that is one job that is definitely better done when the weather is warmer.

Why Wait Until It’s WarmFall Weather is Not Optimal for Masonry Work Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney

If you happen to live in a warmer climate, you’ll be fine having your chimney masonry work done anytime. But if you live in a colder area of the country, like northern Illinois, it’s important to wait until the weather will be warm for a more extended period of time to have mortar work completed. The problem with working with mortar in colder weather comes from the freeze-thaw cycle. When a mason is working with mortar, the mortar needs to be kept at a certain moisture level. When the weather freezes and the mortar contains more than a 6% water content, the expansion that occurs because of freezing may cause the mortar to crack.

Can Work Be Completed In The Winter?

There are some masons that may take on mortar repair in the winter, but this is risky. For example, it may be possible to work under an insulated tarp or to use heat lamps in order to keep the mortar from freezing. Also, if you did decide that this was the route you wanted to take, it would be necessary to have your chimney wrapped after the job was completed to make sure that it stays warm enough for your chimney work to dry properly. Most contractors, however, will probably recommend that you just wait until the weather warms up to make sure that the job can be done without these special procedures.

Call A Top Rated Company for Expert Advice

If you’re looking for advice on whether to get your chimney repaired now or wait until warmer weather, give Pozzi Chimney Sweep a call today. They are certified with the National Chimney Sweep Guild, and have received numerous service awards because of their excellent customer service. You can count on them to give honest advice and expert service. That’ll be one more thing to check off your autumn to-do list!

Using the Correct Firewood for your Fireplace

Burn the Right Firewood - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepWhen you use the correct oil in your car, it’s going to run better. Using the correct sized measuring cup will ensure that your recipe will turn out right. If you’re taking a college class, you’ll definitely want to buy the right book so that you can pass the class. And using the right firewood will make sure that you have a fire that burns clean and hot so that you can enjoy a safe fire that doesn’t get too smoky and that doesn’t contribute to a big buildup of creosote in your chimney.

What to Look For

One of the most important things to look for when you are buying firewood is how dry (seasoned) it is. The dryer the firewood, the hotter the burn. If you try to burn wet firewood, a couple things will happen. First, you’ll get a lot of smoke. When you burn wet firewood, you are basically burning water – and everyone knows that water doesn’t burn, so it’ll be tougher for you to get a fire going and keep it going. Probably one of the most important reasons to make sure you use dry firewood is that using wet firewood will encourage a bigger buildup of creosote, which is a highly flammable substance that can coat the inside of your fireplace.

So, how will you know if firewood is dry? If you cut your own firewood, you can ensure that your firewood is dry by splitting the wood and storing it on pallets, stacking it loosely and leaving it to dry for at least six months, and longer if possible. If you’re buying firewood, look for wood that is grayer in color and that has a less intense wood smell. Also, many times wood that is dry will have cracks in it, especially in the ends. Try hitting two pieces of wood together; dryer wood sounds more hollow than wetter wood and will make a cracking sound rather than a dull sound. Dry wood will be lighter in weight, as well.

Types of Wood

Does the type of wood you burn make a difference? You bet your boots it does! Different types of wood burn differently, so it depends on what type of fire you’re looking for when you’re deciding which type to burn. Harder woods burn longer, so if you’re looking to spend a long evening relaxing in front of a hot fire, you’ll want to burn a hardwood like oak, locust, or hickory. If you don’t have as long to relax but still want to enjoy a short time in front of a nice fire, burn a softer wood, like birch or maple. Softer woods are also good to burn in the spring and the fall, because they won’t burn as hot so you don’t have to worry about overheating your home in the cool, not cold, months.

Ask for Advice

If you have questions about what type of firewood you should be burning, give the experts at Pozzi Chimney Sweeps a call. They can give great advice on just which firewood you should be using.

What is Creosote and Why is it Harmful?

Creosote Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepThe Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that you have your chimney inspected and cleaned on an annual basis, and there are many reasons why this is a good idea. They will be looking for things like obstructions in your chimney, such as birds nests or dry twigs and leaves, that could catch a spark and cause a chimney fire. A good inspector will look for any structural damage that may be occurring, and will also be keeping an eye out for damage to key components of your chimney, such as the chimney cap or the damper system. All of these things are very important because they help make your chimney and fireplace system more efficient and your fire burning experiences more pleasant. But one of the most important things that your inspector will be looking for is creosote buildup.

Creosote Composition

One of the problems with burning a fire in a fireplace is smoke production. No one wants to sit in a smoky room, and that’s where your chimney comes into play. A chimney has two main functions: to help create a draft, which helps your fire burn, and to pull smoke out of the chimney. When wood burns, several chemical elements are released and carried up and out on the water vapor, which is also released during the burn process. When this chemical-laced vapor rises and hits the relatively cooler surface of the upper interior of the chimney, it condenses and forms a layer of crusty, flaky, dark-colored gunk: creosote. Creosote is extremely flammable, so if it is allowed to build up into a thick layer (an eighth of an inch is thick enough to cause problems, you are looking at a dangerous situation waiting to happen. To avoid this problem, you’ll want to hire a CSIA certified chimney sweep like the ones at Pozzi Chimney Sweep to come in and clean your chimney.

Ways to Cut Down on Creosote Buildup

There are some things you can do which will help cut down creosote buildup between those annual inspections and cleanings. One of the most important things to do is to make sure that the wood you burn has been properly seasoned. When you cut a tree into firewood, it can initially have at least a 45% water content, and usually much more. The higher the water content, the harder the wood is to burn and the greater the creosote buildup. Therefore, using dried (seasoned) firewood is a good way to reduce creosote buildup over the course of the year. It’s a good rule of thumb to let your firewood sit for at least six months after cutting, and more is better. Also, burning a hotter fire will help decrease the amount of creosote that collects.

Annual Inspection and Cleaning

Most important, however, is that annual cleaning. Call Pozzi Chimney Sweep to set up an appointment today, before the cold winds of winter start to blow.

Selecting the Right Firewood

Have you ever had to buy a present for someone and wanted it to be just the right thing? Or have you had to buy clothes for a very special event, and wanted it to be just the right outfit? And when you’re picking a new vehicle, you definitely want it to be just the right one, because you’ll be driving it for quite awhile. But did you know that there’s also a trick to picking just the right firewood to burn for the cleanest burn with the littlest amount of smoke?

Clean Burning WoodSelecting the Right Firewood Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney Sweep

When you are selecting wood, it’s a good idea to evaluate what your purpose is. If you’re looking to enjoy a long night in front of a nice, warm fire, consider using oak. Oak produces just this kind of slow, steady burn. But you don’t want to do this all the time, or at least make sure that you burn hot, quickly burning fires frequently in between; this type of fire will help burn out small amounts of creosote build up. Birch wood makes a quick-burning, hot fire and would be excellent for this purpose.

Hardwoods produce a long-lasting, low maintenance fire, which means you can spend more time with your family enjoying the fire. Some hardwoods you might consider burning would be maple, hickory, elm, or beech. These will make excellent fires, but they may take a little time to get started. The fire you get for the work is definitely worth the time it takes to get the fire going.

Smokeless Fire

Another thing to be concerned about is the amount of smoke that is produced by your fire. Although different types of wood produce different amounts of smoke, the biggest factor when it comes to smoke production is how dry the wood is. Most woods need a considerable drying time in order to get down to a low enough moisture content to burn a fire that produces a small amount of smoke. Freshly cut wood has a very high moisture content; the first water to leave the wood after it has been cut is the “free water” which is stored in the tiny fibrous tubes of the tree. Once this water leaves, the water content of your wood will be at around 30%; ideally, the water content of the wood should be at around 20% in order for it to be at its optimum burn. This process can take at least six months; longer dry time ensures dryer wood. Not only with this produce less smoke, it will also produce less creosote, so you won’t have to worry about this build-up as soon.

Cleaning Your Chimney

Although burning the right wood will make creosote build up less quickly, there’s really no way to stop creosote from building up. The only way to ensure that your chimney is creosote free is to have your chimney cleaned on an annual basis by a qualified company like Pozzi Chimney Sweep. Call them today to schedule before the fall rush!

Schedule Your Chimney Sweeping Today

Schedule Chimney Sweeping Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepThere are some thing that take lots of time and planning. If you’re planning a lengthy vacation, for instance, it’s best to start planning early. You’ll want to find a destination, map out the best route and places to stop along the way, call ahead for reservations so you have someplace to stay along the way, and decide which attractions you’re going to visit once you get there. Or how about a wedding? You set the day, pick the venue, ask the bridal party if they’ll do you the honor of standing up for you, buy the dress, send out the invitations, and so much more before the big day finally arrives. There are some things, however, that take almost no planning at all. Do you want to take a walk? Go for it! Getting a drink of water? No problem. Another thing to add to that list? Calling Pozzi Chimney Sweep to schedule your annual inspection and chimney sweeping. Pozzi’s friendly staff makes this the easiest call you’ll make all summer.

Why is an Annual Inspection Important

You might think that having your chimney cleaned isn’t really that big of a deal. How dirty can a chimney get, after all. The answer? Really dirty. Over the course of the winter of using your fireplace on a regular basis, lots of a highly flammable substance called creosote can build up. Depending on several conditions, this buildup can occur more or less quickly. The type of wood you burn, how cured the wood is, how restricted the air supply is, or even the temperature of the chimney itself can all affect how quickly creosote builds up in your chimney.

Can You Do it Yourself?

You may think that this is a do-it-yourself job. You’re a handy person, right? You can hang your own pictures, fix the loose tile, tighten up a leaky faucet. Perhaps this is a job you could tackle on your own. But do you really want to? There are a couple of reasons that this is best left to the professionals. For one, there are things that you will need to look for that only a professional really has the knowledge and experience to recognize – such as signs of structural deterioration or damage. Also, there are tools that can be used that make the process much easier and more efficient. And do you really want to deal with the mess and smell? It is much safer to leave this job to certified professionals.

Schedule a sweeping with us

Pozzi Chimney Sweep has certification from the National Chimney Sweep Guild, as well as being recognized by Angie’s List with the Super Service Award several years running. If you want expert service, give Pozzi a call today!

Invest In A Wood Burning Stove

Remember last winter on those cold, snowy nights? You’re trying to stay warm, while keeping the thermostat turned down to save money? Maybe you tried burying yourself under a pile of blankets. Or maybe you tried to convince your teenage children to snuggle up beside you to keep you all warm! How about buying a dog to lay across your feet just to keep your toes from feeling so icy cold? There’s a better way. Just make a phone call now and when winter hits, you’ll be warm and cozy beside a toasty warm wood burning stove!

Invest In A Wood Burning Stove Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepPros to a Wood Burning Stove

When you think of a wood burning stove, you might think of an inefficient, smoky mess. But that was then; this is now. Today’s wood burning stoves are much more efficient, and they also meet U.S. EPA emission guidelines. So if you’re looking to cut your heating bills while staying cozy and comfortable, think about investing in a wood burning stove.

One good thing about a wood burning stove is that the fuel source is readily available. Even if you’re not into the idea of spending time in the great outdoors, burning energy while you cut piles of firewood, it’s easy to find places to buy firewood – check out your local home improvement store. It is much cheaper to chop your own, however – and think of how great you’ll look after using those muscles to build up a big stack of firewood!

Install Them Anywhere

Because wood burning stoves can use prefab chimney pipes, they can be installed virtually anywhere. If you already have a fireplace, you can even install your wood burning stove right there – and fans can be used which will help circulate the warm air, making your wood burning stove even more effective in heating the room.

Many Styles and Sizes Available

Another good thing about wood burning stoves is the fact that there are many styles and sizes available. If your goal is to have a small stove to add warmth and ambiance to a small family room, you can install a smaller stove; if, on the other hand, your goal is to heat a larger area, you can find a stove that will be more efficient and effective. Also, the type of wood you burn will have an effect on how effective your wood stove is in heating a larger area. Part of the fun of owning a wood burning stove is that different types of wood can give off different smells as they burn – so you can enjoy a sweeter smell or even fill the room with a more cheery-type aroma when the holiday season rolls around.

Pick the Right Stove for Your Needs

If you are looking to purchase a wood burning stove, give Pozzi Chimney Sweep a call. They can advise you on which stove will best suit your living area and your expectations. Their expert technicians can have a cherry wood stove installed before the cold weather arrives so you’ll be comfortable and relaxed in front of a cozy fire by the time the first snow of winter hits!

The Benefits of a Gas Fireplace or Insert

Fireplaces are an amazing source of comfort and coziness. Unfortunately, many old-style wood burning fireplaces are not efficient. Unless you’ve had your dampers replaced, if you have an older fireplace system, chances are you aren’t getting a tight seal when you close your dampers. This means that the warm air from your room could be blowing right out the chimney.

Gas Fireplace or Insert Benefits Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepNot only this, but older wood burning fireplaces can create more dust in your home, more creosote buildup over time, and aren’t as good for the environment. Over time, this type of heating can cost homeowners a lot of money in energy costs. Luckily, there are some great alternatives that can heat more efficiently and save on fuel costs. Not to mention, causing less damage to the great outdoors!

Gas Fireplaces and Inserts

There are two ways to go if you’re looking to heat your home with a gas appliance. First, you can choose to have a gas fireplace installed. Do you already have a fireplace? If so, you can add a gas insert to that existing fireplace. So, now you can enjoy the convenience of gas heat without changing the fireplace you already have!

What makes a gas fireplace or insert such a good purchase? First, let’s talk convenience. When you want to add a crackling fire and you have a wood burning fireplace, you need to start up to a year earlier by cutting wood and letting it cure. You’ll also have to bring in the firewood, arrange it so that you know you’ll get a good burn, and then get it lit. In addition, as the fire burns down, keep adding more wood. However, if you have a gas burning appliance – just flip a switch! There you have it, a beautiful crackling fire!

Next, let’s talk efficiency. A gas burning appliance is more energy efficient than a wood burning appliance. According to the HGTV website, “(U)tility bills are lower when they can turn down the thermostat on a central furnace and use the gas fireplace as a supplemental heat source. Highly efficient natural gas fireplace inserts, for example, can heat up to 1,000 square feet of living space at low cost.”

Another consideration are the effects of a wood burning fire on the environment! Gas has been found to burn cleaner than wood, which is known to put unhealthy gases into the atmosphere. This happens as smoke goes out your chimney.

Installation

Whether installing a gas fireplace or gas insert, it is recommended that you have a CSIA certified chimney service company install your new appliance; just like your friends at Pozzi Chimney Sweep. You’ll know your new appliance is safe and correctly installed when you trust their expertise. It’s a job too important to leave to anyone other than the experts!