Pozzi Chimney Sweep Blog

Effects of Winter on Your Chimney

When winter weather strikes Aurora, your chimney can experience some major issues if you are not adequately prepared. If you do not take the proper precautions, you could find yourself facing some costly repairs in the future. Getting your chimney inspected and getting some of these preventative measures completed will cost you a little right now, but will save you a lot of money in the long run when it comes to the extensive damage that could be caused by excess moisture and bad weather.Effects of Winter on Your Chimney - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney Sweep

Moisture and Masonry

The biggest thing that you can do to protect your chimney during winter is getting it waterproofed. Water and masonry are not meant to mix and excess moisture can cause a lot of damage throughout time. The main problem you will experience is dealing with freeze/thaw process. If water gets sucked into your brick, it will cause it to expand in the winter when it freezes. It then thaws out again and sinks down, putting a lot of stress on your brick and decreasing its lifespan significantly.

On top of this, too much exposure to moisture will cause rust, cracks, water stains, and various forms of deterioration. All of these things add up to cause big problems. Your chimney will eventually either tilt, settle, or just collapse altogether. There is a lot of work involved in repairing these things and it will cost you a lot of money to get everything properly addressed, so you will want to avoid these issues at all costs.

Preventing Damage

There are many things you can do to keep water away from your chimney. Here are just some ways to prep for nasty weather conditions.

  • Add A Chimney Cap: By adding a chimney cap you are preventing all types of weather from entering you chimney and causing wear and tear. They also keep out animals and other pests that may build nests and cause blockages.
  • Waterproof: A professional will know how to properly waterproof your chimney so that moisture cannot enter the brick. Get an expert in today to ensure your masonry is safe for whatever the winter weather brings.
  • Address Damaged Mortar: Water can easily penetrate your chimney if the mortar is not in top shape. Any cracks or holes need to be addressed and fixed to ensure that water is given no opportunity to cause your chimney damage.

Whatever you decide to do, seeking a professional’s help is strongly advised. Experts know exactly what your chimney needs and how to address any needed repairs. They also know the proper techniques to use when waterproofing and preparing your chimney for any type of weather, so you can rest assured that your chimney is good to go year round. On top of all that, taking on these tasks yourself can be challenging and dangerous, especially if you are not adequately trained on the correct procedures.

Save yourself the time and hassle and give Pozzi Chimney Sweep a call today at 815-286-9922! We have everything you need to get your chimney ready for whatever comes its way.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

Three Levels of Chimney Inspection

Level 1

If your appliance or your venting system has not changed and you plan to use your system as you have in the past, then a Level 1 inspection is a minimum requirement. A Level 1 inspection is recommended for a chimney under continued service, under the same conditions, and with the continued use of the same appliance. In a Level 1 inspection, your chimney service technician should examine the readily accessible** portions of the chimney exterior, interior and accessible* portions of the appliance and the chimney connection. Your technician will be looking for the basic soundness of the chimney structure and flue as well as the basic appliance installation and connections. The technician will also verify the chimney is free of obstruction and combustible deposits.

Hire a Certified Chimney Sweep for Annual Inspection - Pozzi Chimney Sweep

Hire a Certified Chimney Sweep for Annual Inspection – Pozzi Chimney Sweep

 Level 2

Level 2 inspection is required when any changes are made to the system. Changes can include a change in the fuel type, changes to the shape of, or material in, the flue (i.e. relining), or the replacement or addition of an appliance of a dissimilar type, input rating or efficiency. Additionally, a Level 2 inspection is required upon the sale or transfer of a property or after an operation malfunction or external event that is likely to have caused damage to the chimney. Building fires, chimney fires, seismic events as well as weather events are all indicators that this level of inspection is warranted. A Level 2 inspection is a more in-depth inspection than a Level 1 inspection.– When a Level 1 or Level 2 inspection suggests a hidden hazard and the evaluation cannot be performed without special tools to access concealed areas of the chimney or flue, a Level 3 inspection is recommended. A Level 3 inspection addresses the proper construction and the condition of concealed portions of the chimney structure and the flue. Removal or destruction, as necessary, of permanently attached portions of the chimney or building structure will be required for the completion of a Level 3 inspection. A Level 2 inspection includes everything in a Level 1 inspection, plus the accessible portions of the chimney exterior and interior including attics, crawl spaces and basements. It will address proper clearances from combustibles in accessible locations.

There are no specialty tools (i.e. demolition equipment) required to open doors, panels or coverings in performing a Level 2 inspection. A Level 2 inspection shall also include a visual inspection by video scanning or other means in order to examine the internal surfaces and joints of all flue liners incorporated within the chimney. No removal or destruction of permanently attached portions of the chimney or building structure or finish shall be required by a Level 2 inspection.

Level 3

A Level 3 inspection includes all the areas and items checked in a Level 1 and a Level 2 inspection, as well as the removal of certain components of the building or chimney where necessary. Removal of components (i.e., chimney crown, interior chimney wall) shall be required only when necessary to gain access to areas that are the subject of the inspection. When serious hazards are suspected, a Level 3  inspection may well be required to determine the condition of the chimney system.

* Accessible: May require the use of commonly available tools to remove doors, panels or coverings, but will not damage the chimney or building structure or finish. 

 ** Readily Accessible: Exposed, or capable of being exposed, for operation, inspection, maintenance or repair without the use of tools to open or remove doors, panels or coverings.