Pozzi Chimney Sweep Blog

Do I Really Need To Have My Chimney Cleaned After A Mild Winter?

So, you’ve just experienced a very mild winter; your fireplace was hardly used at all, and you may find yourself thinking that maybe it would be okay to skip your yearly chimney inspection and cleaning. After all, if you didn’t use it much, there’s no real reason to clean it, right? Wrong! Here are a couple of reasons why.

National Fire Protection Agency Says So

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), National Fire Protection Agency Standard 211 states that “(C)himneys, 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.” Although it may seem that there would be less reason for a cleaning because you’ve used your fireplace so seldom, it isn’t necessarily the quantity of time that you’ve used your fireplace, it’s the type of the fire that you get in a mild winter that is the real culprit.

Creosote Build Up

When you burn a fire during a mild winter, you may just be concerned about getting the chill out of the air, and not be too concerned about building up a hot fire. These smaller fires tend to smolder more rather than burn hot and steady. When you have a smoldering fire burning in your fireplace, creosote will build up more quickly.

So, what is creosote? When using your masonry fireplace by-products such as smoke, unburned wood particles, hydrocarbons, and more are released. The purpose of your chimney is to provide a passage to release these by-products into the air rather than into your home. As they move up your chimney, they cool and leave a residue behind which coats the inside of your chimney. This residue is known as creosote. Creosote that builds up in your chimney is a fire hazard and must be removed.

Small AnimalsAnimals In Chimney - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney Sweep

Another reason that it is important to clean and inspect your chimney after a mild winter is because you are more likely to have animals build nests in your chimney when you aren’t using it as often. These nests can cause a blockage in your chimney. One major consequence of this could be a chimney fire; another may be that the dangerous gases that should be released into the air through your chimney may actually be pushed back into your home.

Who Should I Call For My Yearly Cleanings/Inspections

When looking to hire someone to do your yearly fireplace inspection and cleaning, it is recommended that you hire someone who has been certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America. The professionals at Pozzi Chimney Sweep have been CSIA certified and National Chimney Sweep Guild certified. Pozzi Chimney Sweep has also received the Angie’s List Super Service Award for three years.

Make sure that you don’t neglect having your chimney inspected and cleaned every year, regardless if the winter is cold and snowy or warm and mild. And to make sure that the job is done correctly, call the professionals at Pozzi Chimney Sweep. You can rest easy knowing that your chimney will be clean and clear of debris, ready for next winter – which might not be so mild!

Why You Need a Chimney Cap

Don't overlook this seemingly small part that plays a big role in your chimney system - the chimney cap.

Don’t overlook this seemingly small part that plays a big role in your chimney system – the chimney cap.

A chimney that isn’t topped with a chimney cap looks unfinished, shabby and uncared for. But that’s only a footnote on our list of reasons why having a chimney cap on your chimney is important.

The chimney cap is ostensibly a small part of your chimney, but you might be surprised: It carries a heavy load of work and provides a significant amount of protection. Here’s a bit of a deeper look into this unsung hero of the chimney system:

What Chimney Caps Do For Your Chimney System

Chimney Caps Help Keep Moisture Out

One of the key elements in chimney system design is protection against moisture intrusion. Many parts of the system — including the masonry chimney crown or metal chimney chase cover at the top, or the flashing where the chimney and roofline meet — were designed and installed specifically to route water away.

But think about your chimney, and its exposure to rain and sleet and other precipitation. It’s easy to see that the chimney cap’s position — up at the very top of your flue, over the flue opening — makes it the first line of defense against moisture intrusion. Without a chimney cap, your flue is open to the elements directly, and rain and its friends will most certainly make their way in. Over time, that moisture can wear at the joints in your clay tile flue liner, start corroding your throat damper, even damage interior masonry, like the brick and mortar in your smoke chamber.

Preventing that starts with making sure to have a properly installed, properly sized, durable chimney cap installed. It’s also hugely important to make sure to have your system inspected annually for any other problems that might be allowing a leak to develop.

Chimney Caps Keep Animals Out

To you, a chimney probably looks like a beautiful part of your home and a workhorse that protects you from the dangerous byproducts of combustion and your home from excess heat. To lots of animals — from birds to squirrels and bats — your chimney looks like a safe and warm place to set up shop.

When animals move into your chimney to nest, they bring along lots of unwanted things: annoying noises, unpalatable smells, unsanitary bugs and often combustible nesting materials too. Those animal visitors aren’t just frustrating — their presence can be dangerous. The best way to put out the “No Vacancy” sign for the furry or feathered friends in your neighborhood: A well-made and properly installed chimney cap.

Chimney Caps Keep Debris Out

It’s not just animals that we need to worry about getting into your flue. Brush, leaves and twigs can fall into an open flue, blocking off its ability to vent properly and potentially causing a fire hazard. With a chimney cap in place, that’s prevented.

If you need to have your chimney cap repaired or replaced, Pozzi Chimney Sweep Can Help. Give us a call, or reach out through our website!

Problems with Draft

Are you having trouble with a smoky fire? Maybe your fire is having difficulty igniting or staying lit. These problems indicate you may have a draft problem. The professionals at Pozzi Chimney Sweep know how to handle all of your chimney needs, whether it be your chimney sweep and inspection or something a little more serious.

If anything is blocking the process of combustion inside your chimney, your risks increase.

If anything is blocking the process of combustion inside your chimney, your risks increase.

What is a chimney draft?

When thinking about things that could go wrong inside of a chimney, draft problems is probably not the first thing that comes to your mind.  A proper chimney draft is important because that is how all of the toxic air is flushed out of the home.  As the air inside of your chimney begins to get hotter, it pulls air up and through the firebox, causing the draft.  Your chimney’s draft can be varied by increasing or decreasing fire levels and changing the temperature, or by adding or taking away the height of the chimney.

What happens to change the draft? 

There are many things that can go on with a chimney to disrupt its flow.  One of the mot common reasons is a large amount of creosote build up within the structure.  Creosote is released during the burning of a fire and clumps together inside of your chimney.  This is one reason that having your annual chimney sweep is so important.  When hiring a sweep make sure it is someone that you trust.  ‘

One way to find an experienced professional is to ask neighbors, family and friends, and internet websites.  You should also make sure that whoever you hire is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. (CSIA)  This means that they follow a set of guidelines used across the country that will leave you safe and getting the most out of your appointment.

In addition to the draft, having a chimney sweep will reduce the chance of any fires.  When having a chimney sweep, make sure that you do not burn any fires for at least 24 hours prior so the area is cooled down enough for the technicians.  Also, have all furniture and valuables pulled away from the chimney to keep them from becoming dirty or damaged.  Lastly, lock away any pets for their safety and the safety of the sweeps.  Other things that could cause draft problems include clogged dampers, dirty chimney caps, structural damage, and building issues.

What happens when the draft is changed?

With improper chimney draft, the air that has become filled with gases from the fire cannot escape the home.  Carbon monoxide, which is a colorless, odorless, gas, is so discrete that you are unable to tell when it is filling the area around you.  Unfortunately, this means for most people that they will begin to feel symptoms before they realize anything is wrong.

Symptoms can range anywhere from cold and flu-like symptoms with nausea, fatigue, and dizziness, to severe problems such as chest pains and fatality depending on how much they are exposed to.  If you feel as if the area you are in is questionable evacuate immediately and seek medical help.  When you arrive at the doctor, they will evaluate you.  If levels are high enough, you can be admitted into the hospital where they will give you additional oxygen.  Even if you open windows and doors, that will not be enough to immediately air out the area.  Carbon monoxide monitors have been invented where you can be alerted if levels start to rise.  You should scatter them throughout the floor plan of your home, and on multiple levels if necessary.  Even though these devices are similar to smoke detectors, they should not be used as replacements.

Why Does My Fireplace Stink?

Everyone wants their home to be appealing to their visitors.  Many have the living room as a common gathering place, and during the holidays the fireplace is a symbol of the warm feeling in the home.  However, you may notice a foul smell coming from your fireplace. A certified sweep can help you identify the cause of the smell and help craft a solution. Your annual cleaning and inspection gives the sweep critical information to assist in making your living room pleasant again.

Enjoy your fireplace odor-free! Call a certified sweep today to make sure you don't have a dangerous build up of creosote.

Enjoy your fireplace odor-free! Call a certified sweep today to make sure you don’t have a dangerous build up of creosote.

Smells in fireplaces are formed from creosote deposits in the chimney.  These odors are usually worse in the summer when the humidity rises, when it begins to rain, or when the air conditioner is running in the home.  While a chimney sweep will help reduce some of the built up odors, it will not eliminate them.  Creosotes will absorb into the construction of your chimney, going beyond the surface.  The chimney sweep is designed more to remove buildup that can cause fires.

The problem with smells is the amount of air and pressure sending the air through the chimney, flushing the various odors down as well.  There are many reasons for pressure change, some caused by problems with old parts such as damper closure and exhaust vents.  New equipment, such as a new furnace or water heater, or new windows, being added can also change airflow.

There are ways to fix the negative air being brought in by your chimney, and most are simple steps.  If one method does not work, it is recommended that you try more than one way to remove the smell.  The first thing to do is to close your fire damper when it is not in use.  This usually stops all problems, unless there is a problem with the seal.  Also, some people have a glass screen installed so that the air cannot pass through.  Also, you can change the airflow in the other appliances that are helping create the negative air.

Ask your sweep to confirm at your cleaning and inspection that there are no critters or birds that have taken up residence in your chimney. Chimney Swifts are a federally protected bird and cannot just be removed. The sweep will help you narrow down the probable cause of the smell. The sweep will also be able to help you make decisions about a chimney cap that can help keep curious animals and birds out of your chimney.