Pozzi Chimney Sweep Blog

Helpful Tips for Efficiently Burning Firewood

Proper storage of firewood goes a long way toward an efficient fire. Learn more tips here!

Proper storage of firewood goes a long way toward an efficient fire. Learn more tips here!

At Pozzi Chimney Sweep, we like to inform our customers on the best ways to use their fireplaces, including wood burning tips. Burning wood correctly significantly improves the efficiency of your fireplace and stove and increases the life of your chimney and heating appliance. The US Environmental Protection Agency has developed a program, Burn Wise, to teach the public proper wood burning practices to protect your home, your health, and the air we all breathe. Our staff at Pozzi Chimney Sweep would like to share with you some of the EPA’s wood burning tips to help you use your fireplace and stove responsibly.

FIRE BUILDING TIPS

• Only use seasoned wood as firewood. To season your firewood, you should store in outside over the summer and let it dry for at least six months after the wood has been cut. To know if the wood has been properly seasoned, it should be darker, have cracks in the end grain, and give a hollow sound when knocked into another piece of wood.
• Use a moisture meter to check the moisture percentage of your firewood. Look for wood that has a moisture content of 20% or less as that is the best wood to burn.
• Store firewood outside. You should neatly stack your firewood off of the ground to keep moisture from seeping in through the bottom. Also, be sure your firewood is covered, either under a wood shed or covered with a tarp.
• Start your fires with newspaper and dry kindling. You can also have one of our certified technicians at Pozzi Chimney Sweep install a natural gas or propane lighter in your fireplace.
• Remove ashes to keep the air flowing properly. Clean out the ashes from your firebox on a regular basis and store these ashes outside in a metal, lidded container.

WOOD-BURNING SAFETY TIPS

•Keep all flammable household items away from the fireplace. Curtains, newspaper, books, and furniture can all catch on fire if placed too closely to the fireplace.
•Never start a fire with kerosene, gasoline, or charcoal starter. As mentioned above, only use newspaper and dry kindling to start a fire.
•Never use unseasoned, freshly-cut wood as firewood. Trying to start a fire with wet wood is close to impossible, and it can cause hazardous issues such as a rapid development of large creosote deposits.
•If you use manufactured logs, ensure they are made from 100 percent compressed sawdust.  Never use logs made from wax in a fireplace insert of wood-burning stove.
•Keep the screens of your fireplace closed. You should only open the screens to load in wood or to stoke a lit fire.
•Always build hot fires.A smoldering fire is neither safe nor efficient.
•Keep a fire extinguisher ready.You never know when you may need to put out a fire that has become out-of-control.

Looking for more wood burning tips? Contact Pozzi Chimney Sweep today to ask us for more advice.

Annual Chimney Check: Beat the Rush!

During these late summer months, most Americans are packing for last minute vacations, shopping for school supplies, and breathing a sigh of relief as the worst of the heat waves subside, leaving them to relax in comfort. Not many, however, are scheduling chimney maintenance. Unfortunately, most homeowners will wait until fall or even early winter to schedule a chimney inspection and chimney sweep, in anticipation of long, chilly nights. There are several reasons why you should consider scheduling your appointment during the summer to beat the fall rush.

Availability of certified technicians

Our goal is to make sure that you are well-informed about the importance of having your chimney inspected annually and swept and repaired when needed. In doing so, you will be doing all you can to protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning and fire and your property from costly damages. You will also maximize enjoyment of your fireplace or furnace.

Our goal is to make sure that you are well-informed about the importance of having your chimney inspected annually and swept and repaired when needed. In doing so, you will be doing all you can to protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning and fire and your property from costly damages. You will also maximize enjoyment of your fireplace or furnace.

You want only the best for your family and the peace of mind that accompanies the knowledge that your chimney is clean and clear of creosote and other debris. Creosote is a highly flammable, tar-like substance that is the leading cause of chimney fires. Chimney fires, in turn, are a leading cause of house fires and can occur quite suddenly. Only a certified professional should attempt to rid your chimney system of creosote, but experienced and certified technicians may be difficult to schedule during the busy fall months. Schedule your appointment during the summer months to avoid the wait, and ensure that your fireplace is ready to use when you are ready to use it.

Removal of animals and animal nests

You want your home to be warm, inviting and festive for holiday guests. You do not, however, wish for your home to invite “other” guests, such as squirrels, snakes or birds. While some animals will find their way out of your chimney, others will take up residence and build nests. Animal nests are, quite simply, a fire hazard. Sparks from your fire will travel upward, and can ignite anything left behind by resident wildlife. During your chimney sweep, a technician can determine whether any animals have inhabited your chimney system and can recommend the best way to remove them. It is best to do this during the summer months, as removal may involve animal control or even protected wildlife services and can cause delays in the service of your chimney. They may even be able to remove the problem during the service visit.

Time for additional maintenance

You want quality. While your chimney sweep may not vary in cost of service from season to season, chances are that a home repair contractor will. During the spring thaw and summer rains, your roof and chimney may show signs of structural deficiency or damage. Whether a leaky roof, a need for a new flue or a cracked masonry structure, you will need to repair any damage caused by bad weather before the onset of winter. A certified chimney sweep is able to determine which services your chimney needs, and you will have more time to find a reputable and qualified repair service if the problem is spotted early in the season. Time is on your side, so shop around!

Don’t wait until October to schedule an annual inspection of your chimney system. Your fireplace is not only a focal point and gathering place, but also a source of security and comfort to your family. Schedule your maintenance appointment during the summer months and you will be ready to showcase your fireplace with no hassle when the cold fronts arrive.

5 Advantages of a Gas Fireplace

With the rapid rise in technology, the chimney and fireplace industry is constantly being updated. Every year there are new methods and products that are being introduced to the market, each with their respective set of advantages and disadvantages.

Here at Pozzi Chimney Sweep, we do our best to update everyone with regard to what’s new in the chimney and fireplace world in terms of technology and best practices. For now, we are going to share with you some significant advantages in relation to gas fireplaces.

Pozzi Chimney Sweep uses Hargrove Vented Gas Logs, which usually require a fully functional wood-burning fireplace. Vented gas logs are designed to take the place of wood in a traditional hearth and chimney. These units may burn either natural or propane gas, but both types are burned with the damper open.

Pozzi Chimney Sweep uses Hargrove Vented Gas Logs, which usually require a fully functional wood-burning fireplace. Vented gas logs are designed to take the place of wood in a traditional hearth and chimney. These units may burn either natural or propane gas, but both types are burned with the damper open.

Easy to use

One of the biggest advantages of a gas fireplace compared to other alternatives is that it is—relatively speaking—easier to use. You get the roaring fire that you want (at the flip of a switch or the push of a button) but don’t have to worry about splitting, stacking, seasoning or hauling logs, tending the fire or cleaning up any ashes afterwards.

More energy efficient

A natural gas fireplace, compared to other models on the market today, is by far the most energy efficient. You can save anywhere from $75-$250 on your energy bill once you opt to install a more energy efficient unit. While this may not sound like a lot of money considering the upfront costs of the system itself, the savings over the long haul can really start to add up over the years. Your home is an investment, and, as such, any decision you make needs to involve at least a small amount of foresight.

It’s safe

As mandated by the Chimney Safety Institute of America, every chimney and fireplace should be safe for use. But then, no product is perfect. Every model has its set of pros and cons in terms of safety. But with a gas fireplace, you are safer since there is no open flame, which lessens the likelihood of a fire; in addition, you no longer need to worry about fire pops and cracks that spark out every now and then.

Convenient and flexible

Because of the nature and distinct features of the gas fireplace, you are not limited in terms of location for its installation. You can basically have it installed anywhere in your home. Imagine having the chance to experience the comfort and benefits of a fireplace in any room you want.

Consistent and steady heat source

As opposed to a traditional wood-burning fireplace, the heat doesn’t depend on the number of logs thrown on the fire. In a gas fireplace, the heat is continuous and steady, giving you with the heating that you need without the added hassle of adding firewood or logs every now and then.

Heating is the largest energy expense in most homes, accounting for over 30% of annual energy bills. Clearly, there are a handful of advantages that you could get out of a gas fireplace. But if you still aren’t convinced and if you have other questions and concerns, please don’t hesitate to call or email us to schedule your next appointment. Let Pozzi Chimney Sweep put your mind at ease and ensure that your home is heated and vented safely.

3 Common Chimney Repairs

Look out for the three most common chimney repairs. Even if you think the repair needed is just minor, have it fixed so it won't create a bigger problem in the future.

Look out for the three most common chimney repairs. Even if you think the repair needed is just minor, have it fixed so it won’t create a bigger problem in the future.

Due to the nature of the materials used in their construction, chimney repairs are inevitable. Some repairs are more common than others, however, all repairs are important. Making minor repairs as soon as problems arise will help you prevent or at least postpone major chimney system repairs down the road.

Some parts of the system are exposed to the outside elements and are adversely affected by them, whereas other parts are exposed to the heat of your fires, which causes them to wear out. Either way you cut it, these parts will need to be repaired or replaced at one point or another.

Repointing

Your chimney is exposed to the elements on the outside and the heat from your firebox on the inside. As a result of this two-front attack, the weathering process is sped up. As such, it isn’t atypical for your mortar to begin to crumble and/or break away.

This leaves open areas between the bricks, which exposes more surface area to these weathering agents and processes. Repointing your chimney might be recommended. During this process, your chimney’s damaged, old and loose mortar is removed from the joints between the bricks and replaced with new mortar.

Chimney Crown Repair

Your chimney crown is a reinforced concrete cap placed over the top of your brick and mortar chimney. A properly constructed crown sheds water and serves as a protective covering for your chimney against harsh weather. Your chimney crown is exposed to the same elements that wreak havoc on your chimney itself.

As such, it can eventually crack or break and need to be replaced. The replacement will either be cast-in-place (a form is placed on the top of your chimney and filled with cement to the exact specifications required by your particular chimney) or precast (a prefabricated unit that is placed atop your chimney).

Flue Liner Repair/Replacement

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, problems in your chimney’s flue pose serious risks to your home and family, because it’s no longer able to safely contain and vent the harmful gases that are products of the combustion process to the outside of your home.

If your current liner was installed improperly or is beginning to crack, it is highly recommended that you have a licensed professional either repair it or install a new one altogether. It’s a critical component of your chimney system! Every functioning chimney needs a working flue liner.

Dealing with masonry repairs can be frustrating. Your chimney and fireplace play a large role in your home; when issues arise, we know you want them taken care of correctly, quickly and affordably.

The central theme here is clear: repairing minor problems in a timely manner will decrease the likelihood of them becoming major problems down the road. We encourage our customers to have annual chimney inspections and cleanings to help reduce the chances of chimney system surprises.

The expert technicians at Pozzi Chimney Sweep are dedicated to making your system look and feel like new again. If your system is in need of repair, or you need a chimney inspection to determine the cause of a problem, call us today. We are ready to help!

Chimney Mold 101

We hear about mold all the time but we don’t really pay much attention to the health risks it poses on our household. Let’s take a closer look at the basics of chimney mold.

Molds as defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, otherwise known as the EPA, molds survive in the environment. They can usually thrive in land, on plants, and even on dead or decomposing matter.

If we go back to our biology classes, molds are classified under the kingdom Fungi. Compared to plants, fungi lack chlorophyll and lives by feeding on plant materials, using plant and other organic components for their main food source.

What are the effects of exposure to molds and how can they be hazardous to one’s health?

One danger that comes from too much moisture in your chimney is the growth of chimney mold. Learn more here.

One danger that comes from too much moisture in your chimney is the growth of chimney mold. Learn more here.

Mold growth results from moisture problems.  The common symptom of the presence of mold would be the stench it gives out which can grow into a number of health problems, like headaches, allergies, respiratory problems (asthma), and skin irritations.

To go into depth with some health reactions to exposure to mold:

  1. Asthma – Asthma is a common respiratory problem caused by many allergies such as pollen, animal hair or certain food intake but molds can also be a culprit. Molds can cause the onset of asthma attacks in individuals who are persons who are allergic to molds.
  2. Allergic Reactions – Some people that inhale or touch mold can have allergic reactions, especially in very sensitive people.  Their allergies may come after immediate contact to mold or may sometime appear later on. Some allergic responses that individuals show may come in sneezing, having colds, red itchy eyes, or even rashes on their skin.
  3. Infections – Individuals that have poor or weakened immune systems may be more prone to infections by molds. Some people may breathe in the mold spores which may begin to grow in their lungs. Some infections caused by mold sometimes appear in skin disorders such as yeast infections and athlete’s foot.
  4. Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis – Hypersensitivity pneumonitis may develop following either short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic) exposure to molds. The disease resembles bacterial pneumonia and is uncommon.

Having discussed the different health hazards of mold, it’s high time we do something to eliminate it, especially from our chimneys. As we know, chimneys are used by many during the winter seasons. Its debris can also be the breeding ground of a lot of mold so it should be checked regularly.

This is where Pozzi Chimney Sweep can be of assistance. Chimney maintenance is our forte.

Frequently Asked Questions About Chimneys and Carbon Monoxide

A big part of the role that Pozzi Chimney Sweep plays in our community—and where we derive much of our purpose—is keeping Illinois homeowners and their families safe. By thoroughly inspecting and cleaning chimneys and dryer vents, we keep people safe from potential fires, but we also keep them protected from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide, known as “the silent killer,” is often the last thing on a homeowner’s mind when they get their fire lit for the first time each year or when they turn on their clothes dryer, but if a chimney or dyer is blocked or its draft is impeded in some other way, it may not be able to vent properly.

Pozzi Chimney Sweep offers the full gamut of chimney services, including chimney sweeping, inspection, and repair, along with dryer ventilation cleaning.

Pozzi Chimney Sweep offers the full gamut of chimney services, including chimney sweeping, inspection, and repair, along with dryer ventilation cleaning.

Why is carbon monoxide so dangerous?

The Chimney Safety Institute of America reports that more than 200 people die each year because of venting problems that lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. An additional 10,000 carbon monoxide-related injuries are reported annually. Simply put, too much CO in your blood will kill you, and our bodies will mistakenly choose carbon monoxide over oxygen when exposed to both. To make matters worse, this is an invisible, odorless, and tasteless gas.

Experts will tell you that the symptoms of prolonged, low-level carbon monoxide poisoning mimic flu symptoms so closely that people sometimes don’t discover the real culprit until it’s too late and permanent damage has already been done to the brain or organs. Common CO poisoning symptoms include: headaches, nausea, dizziness, exhaustion, even depression.

How can my chimney create carbon monoxide?

Because houses today are more tightly sealed, saving us energy dollars, they do not naturally vent toxic gases, which are the byproducts of combustion, so well as they once did. Furthermore, new high-efficiency heating appliances, when paired with an existing chimney flue or improperly installed, may not function correctly and can cause CO to build up in the home. Chimneys that are blocked by birds’ nests or creosote build-up may also prevent toxic gases from filtering as they should.

How can a chimney sweep company prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

The most important thing to do is to have your fireplace, chimney, and your heating system inspected annually. This is a recommendation shared by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Fire Protection Association, and the American Lung Association. During an inspection, your Pozzi Chimney Sweep technician will be able to alert you to any areas of concern in your chimney or heating appliance. We also recommend having a certified technician inspect your clothes dryer vent to search for any blockages.

If you live in or around Hinckley, Illinois, we hope you will schedule your chimney inspection and/or dryer vent inspection with Pozzi Chimney Sweep today.

Why is my Chimney’s Masonry Crumbling?

There are lots of reasons why your chimney’s masonry may be crumbling, and a professional chimney mason will likely be able to take a look at your chimney and determine exactly what has caused the damage based on the way your chimney brick has responded. For instance, spalling brick—characterized by brick faces popping off—usually indicates severe moisture damage.

If you can see damage on the outside of your chimney, just imagine all the damage hiding on the inside. The chimney masons at Pozzi Chimney Sweep want to help make your home safe again so that your family and home are protected.

If you can see damage on the outside of your chimney, just imagine all the damage hiding on the inside. The chimney masons at Pozzi Chimney Sweep want to help make your home safe again so that your family and home are protected.

The most important thing to do is to not ignore your crumbling masonry and to call a CSIA-certified professional to remedy it. Masonry in bad condition will only grow worse and lead to greater problems such as water damage to the interior of your chimney and to the ceiling and walls adjacent to your chimney.

Here are some of the things that may be causing your chimney masonry to crumble:

  • It’s water-damaged – This is the problem we see most often. Mortar is surprisingly absorbent and can draw rainwater into the chimney. The freeze-thaw cycle can worsen this problem.
  • It’s old – If you have an ancient masonry chimney, just think of all the things it has likely had to withstand, sticking out from the top of your roof all these years. Weather, flue gases, and time have surely taken a toll. It’s only natural that your old masonry chimney would eventually need attention.
  • It’s unprotected -All chimneys need to be professionally waterproofed to keep water from seeping into the brick and mortar, while still allowing your chimney to “breathe” so that flue gases won’t be trapped inside the masonry.
  • It was built with the wrong bricks – Different bricks are designed to be utilized in different ways. If your chimney’s masonry seems especially vulnerable, it may be that improper materials were used during its construction.
  • It was damaged by sandblasters or pressure washers -It may seem like a good idea to clean your chimney with one of these high-powered tools, but this can be problematic, as these machines can force water into your bricks, shortening their lifespan.

How We Restore Crumbling Brick Chimneys

At Pozzi Chimney Sweep, we don’t think there are any chimney problems that we have yet to encounter. Our chimney masons are usually able to diagnose the problem with your chimney’s masonry during our initial consultation. We’ll then recommend the best, most affordable and durable method for repairing your chimney.

In addition, there are some great ways to protect your chimney’s brick and mortar from future harm once we get it repaired for you. We always recommend waterproofing following any of the masonry repairs we do.

For information on chimney repairs, contact us today. We serve customers in and around the Hinckley, Illinois, area.

Dryer Vent Safety

Many homeowners don’t pay as much attention to their dryer vent’s maintenance thinking that it doesn’t pose a threat to their family’s safety. Well, this infographic will enlighten you of the dangers of dirty dryer vents and how you can prevent it.

It's easy to overlook your dryer vents, thinking it doesn't pose a threat to your safety. But now you know that it can, in fact, cause serious destruction and harm. Don't neglect it.

It’s easy to overlook your dryer vents, thinking it doesn’t pose a threat to your safety. But now you know that it can, in fact, cause serious destruction and harm. Don’t neglect it.

Dangers of a Dirty Chimney

Don't allow your family to be in harm's way just because of a dirty chimney.

Don’t allow your family to be in harm’s way just because of a dirty chimney.

For good reasons, the Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends you have your chimney swept and inspected annually. Of course, your chimney gets dirty from soot throughout the year whenever you burn a fire in your fireplace and should be cleaned; however, one of the main reasons for this maintenance recommendation is to protect you from the dangers of a dirty chimney. A CSIA-certified company, Pozzi Chimney Sweep offers superior service in chimney sweeping and inspecting and will help you prevent the leading causes of these two deadly dangers of a dirty chimney.

chimney fires

The CSIA stresses that dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires, both dramatic, flame-shooting fires and slow-burning, quiet fires. Luckily, this danger can be easily prevented by having your chimney swept annually by Pozzi Chimney Sweep. Yearly inspections are equally important to check to see if any fire hazards are remaining in your chimney after its cleaning. The reason a chimney cleaning is so essential is to remove creosote build-up, the leading cause of chimney fires. Creosote is formed naturally during the wood-burning process. When the by-products of combustion (smoke, gases, vapors, tar fog, unburned wood particles, etc.) exit your fireplace through your cooler upper chimney, condensation occurs, and the remaining residue that sticks to your chimney walls is creosote. Black or brown in color, the appearance of creosote can vary from shiny and hardened, crusty and cracked, or gummy and sticky, but no matter what it looks like, creosote is highly combustible and a dangerous fire hazard, especially if the build-up is significant and your internal flue reaches a certain temperature. This is why it is so important to schedule a chimney sweep to clean out all of the built-up creosote deposits in your chimney. The CSIA-certified chimney sweeps at Pozzi Chimney Sweep even use a “Chim-Scan” video camera attached to a long pole to record the exterior of your chimney walls up close to be sure all creosote is removed after they finish sweeping.

carbon monoxide poisoning

The second deadly danger of a dirty chimney, carbon monoxide poisoning claims the lives of thousands of Americans every year as well as causes around 10,000 cases of illnesses, according to the CSIA. Carbon monoxide, another by-product of combustion, enters your home from your chimney when you have a damaged or deteriorated flue liner, debris clogging the flue, soot and creosote build-up, or animals or nests obstructing the passageway of your chimney. Restricted air flow also contributes to carbon monoxide leaking into your house because not enough air flowing does not allow the combustion by-products to exit, forcing them back into your living space. When you breathe carbon monoxide, the protein hemoglobin in your blood latches on to it rather than live-giving oxygen. Low-level exposure to carbon monoxide can result in permanent brain and organ damage and death. Preventing carbon monoxide leaks is simple: schedule a chimney sweeping and inspection from Pozzi Chimney Sweep to clean out soot, creosote, and debris and to check the condition of your flue liner.

To protect you, your family, and your home from the deadly dangers of a dirty chimney, schedule an appointment today for your annual chimney sweep and inspection from Pozzi Chimney Sweep. We will ensure no chimney fires or carbon monoxide poisoning will endanger you and your family.

All About Chimney Liners

The flue and flue liner of your chimney system is one of the most critical components.  According to the CSIA, problems in your chimney’s flue can present serious risks to your home and family, as it’s no longer able to perform its primary function: to safely contain and vent the byproducts of combustion to the outside of your home.

Every chimney needs a working liner to usher the deadly byproducts of the combustion process out of your home.

Every chimney needs a working liner to usher the deadly byproducts of the combustion process out of your home.