Pozzi Chimney Sweep Blog

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!

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!

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.

 

Identifying Flue Liner Damage

It may seem upon a simple visual inspection that your chimney is in great shape. This may tempt you to overlook having your chimney inspected by a professional this year. But, there are things to look for that indicate that you may have a problem. One of these issues is damage to your flue liner. Read on for information on how to identify if your flue liner has been damaged. Also, who to call to get quality repairs at a reasonable price.

Identifying Flue Liner Damage - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepPurpose of a Flue Liner

First off, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, “(A) flue lining in a masonry chimney is defined as “A clay, ceramic, or metal conduit installed inside of a chimney, intended to contain the combustion products, direct them to the outside atmosphere, and protect the chimney walls from heat and corrosion.” It is important that the gases from your fire are not allowed to flow back into your home. This is one reason why it is so vital that flue liner damage is detected and repaired.

Damage to the Flue Liner

There are ways to tell if your flue liner has been damaged. First, the flue liner is designed to draw the gases out of your home. When your chimney doesn’t seem to be smoking much when there is a fire in the fireplace, there’s a good chance that there is a problem with your chimney liner. That’s easy enough to check. Walk outside and see how much smoke is emitting from your chimney while a fire is burning.

Another sign that you may have problems with your flue liner? A peculiar, unpleasant odor coming from your chimney. This is likely caused by a build-up of creosote in your chimney. When you burn wood in your fireplace, especially if the fire is smoky and not as hot, creosote will build up. Creosote, as defined by corrosionpedia.com, is a gummy, very flammable material that forms when volatile gases combine and condense in your chimney. If your flue liner is damaged, the gases will not have a smooth transfer out of your chimney. Then, it is more likely that a heavy creosote buildup will occur. Not only does this leave an unpleasant smell, but even worse, this creosote buildup may lead to a chimney fire.

What to Do

If you are seeing signs that your flue liner may be damaged, it’s definitely time to call in the professionals. The technicians at Pozzi Chimney Sweep have been specially trained to inspect your chimney for damage to your flue liner, and all parts of your fireplace and chimney. Pozzi inspectors can use a “Chim-Scan” video camera to see what is happening inside your chimney. This allows us to determine what repairs need to take place to get your chimney running efficiently and effectively. An added benefit to this type of inspection is that it allows you, the homeowner, to see the damage while it is explained to you by your chimney inspector. The work they do is transparent, so you know that you aren’t being advised on work that isn’t completely necessary.

The workers at Pozzi Chimney Sweep take pride in providing you with thorough inspections and cleanings and repair work. Their years of experience and expertise will make you one happy fireplace owner. Call us today and let us have a look at your chimney system!

Prepare for Winter by Having Your Chimney Inspected and Cleaned

Chimney Winter Sweeping Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi ChimneyWhen the weather starts to cool down and winter is just around the corner, many people start to think about preparing their homes for winter. It just feels so good to cozy down into a house that has been cleaned from top to bottom. But in the midst of your fall cleaning, don’t forget about your fireplace and chimney. This is a job that you shouldn’t tackle yourself – you’ll want to hire Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified technicians like those from Pozzi Chimney Sweep.

The Importance of Yearly Inspections

Over a year of usage, your chimney can undergo some serious wear and tear. Although some of this wear and tear might be obvious, your chimney might also have structural damage that isn’t visible to the untrained eye. If this is the case, you’ll want to have the latest in technology to let you know exactly what is going on with your chimney. Pozzi Chimney Sweep uses a Chim-Scan to help see what problems might exist that need repair before another fireplace season begins. This Chim-Scan video camera is attached to a rod that the sweep can insert into your chimney. The video can be seen in real time on the computer screen so that you can see the problems and have them explained to you by your chimney sweeping professional.

The more obvious problem you may be having with your chimney is something you can see: the dirt and grime that can build up. A big part of this build-up is creosote – the black, sticky substance that is a natural byproduct of burning wood in your fireplace. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, creosote build-up is the cause of most chimney and fireplace fires.

Get rid of chimney odors

You may have noticed that over the summer your fireplace may have developed an unpleasant odor. This smell is from the creosote build-up inside your chimney, and the odor can become stronger in the summer because of high humidity. Although, according to the CSIA website, there are ways that you can reduce this problem on your own, there are also ways that Pozzi Chimney Sweep can help you with a more permanent solution. “The real problem is the air being drawn down the chimney, a symptom of overall pressure problems in the house.” Your home may need a tight-sealing, top mounted damper that would reduce the air flow that is coming down your chimney, and this is a problem that Pozzi Chimney Sweep can solve.

Clean Service

You love the feeling of a house that has been deep-cleaned in preparation for winter. Rest assured that Pozzi Chimney Sweep experts use state-of-the-art equipment that have special vacuums attached, so that your clean house will stay that way.

If you’re ready to have your chimney inspected and cleaned, make sure that you make a call to Pozzi Chimney Sweep. Their CSIA certified professionals will make sure that they take care of all your chimney cleaning and repair needs, so that your fireplace and chimney will be as ready for winter as the rest of your house!

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!

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.

A Spring Checklist for Your Chimney

Give your chimney some much needed care. Don't forget to include you chimney in your spring home maintenance checklist.

Give your chimney some much needed care. Don’t forget to include you chimney in your spring home maintenance checklist.

Spring is finally here, and that means spring cleaning is on your mind. It’s time to rid your home from that dusty, winter air, and your fireplace and your chimney should not be left out. After using your fireplace all winter to warm your home from the chilling winter air, spring is the best time to schedule your annual chimney sweep and chimney inspection, and Pozzi Chimney Sweep is ready to take on your spring checklist for your chimney because you only have one step to check off: contact us today to schedule an appointment for a chimney cleaning.

When Pozzi Chimney Sweep arrives at your home for your chimney sweep and inspection, we have a spring checklist for your chimney that we follow in our modern chimney sweep with state-of-the-art tools:

  • Clean the chimney with powerful tools. We use a long-handled chimney brush and rotary cleaning rods, all powered by a cordless drill and equipped with vacuums to keep your house free from any debris or dust.
  • Video the entire cleaning process. With a “Chim-Scan” video camera attached to a rod, we can video and take still images up close of your chimney, allowing us to find problems like cracks in the mortar, creosote buildup, or broken tile. You can also see for yourself exactly what your chimney interior looks like, so you know for certain when we tell you that you have a problem.
  • Decide if your chimney needs maintenance. After cleaning and inspecting your chimney and watching the footage from the “Chim-Scan,” we then evaluate whether your chimney needs any repairs.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America lists three obvious signs that your chimney is in need of maintenance sooner than later:

  1. A strong odor. Your fireplace should not put off any smell at all, so if it does smell smoky, this means you may be having problems with your damper or issues with air ventilation.
  2. A stained-black or discolored fireplace opening. This is an obvious sign smoke is escaping through your fireplace. You need to have your venting replaced immediately before using your fireplace again.
  3. Loose bricks or cracks in the mortar. This means water is getting into your chimney and causing structural damage, leading to all kinds of nightmares. This also should be repaired immediately, as in tomorrow.

There are other things you as a homeowner can look for to see if your chimney needs repairing, so add these to the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s signs:

  • a dripping noise coming from your chimney
  • soot on your furniture or smoke in your home
  • a campfire smell coming from your chimney
  • a dead animal smell coming from your chimney
  • a powdery white substance on the bricks and mortar on the exterior of your chimney, indicating water damage.

With proper chimney maintenance, you can enjoy your fireplace inexpensively for years. The importance of an annual chimney sweeping and inspection is stressed highly by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. Ignoring this step on your spring cleaning list can be dangerous. Schedule an appointment today with Pozzi Chimney Sweep, and let us handle all of your chimney maintenance this spring.