Pozzi Chimney Sweep Blog

How Often Should I Have My Chimney Cleaned?

It is the dream of most people to own their own home. Being able to decorate however you want, take out walls, put up new walls, and do your yard work. All of these things bring with them a certain sense of pride of ownership. Not to mention, the fact that owning your home can be a great investment. However, home ownership also brings many responsibilities.

How Often Should I Have My Chimney Cleaned Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepIf something breaks, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to fix it. When the grass gets long, the homeowner is responsible to mow it. Also, if the home has a fireplace, it’s the homeowner’s responsibility to have that chimney inspected and cleaned to ensure the safety of the family. So, this brings up the question of how often that chimney needs to be inspected and swept. It would seem that if you don’t use the fireplace very often over the course of the winter, you probably won’t need to have it cleaned, right? Not necessarily.

What Do the Experts Say?

Do you have a question about something as important to the safety of your family as getting your chimney inspected and cleaned? If so, it’s best to ask the experts! In this case, that would be the Chimney Safety Institute of America. The CSIA website is very clear about this topic: “The simple answer is: The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, ‘Chimneys, 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.’ This is the national safety standard and is the correct way to approach the problem.” Even if you don’t use your chimney very often during the previous winter, you can experience blockages from birds or other animals. In addition, have debris that gets blown into your chimney. This must be removed to avoid a dangerous chimney fire!

Chimney Repairs

Even if you don’t use your chimney very often, there are other factors to consider. These include weathering and precipitation that can cause breakdowns to occur. Some of this wear and tear is easily observed, even by an untrained person. Other damages aren’t as easily detected, however. An annual inspection by a CSIA trained professional will give you peace of mind; knowing that any damages that might cause instability in the structure of your chimney have been discovered and repaired.

Creosote

Even if you didn’t use your fireplace very often over the past winter, creosote can still build up. In fact, there are some conditions that cause creosote to build up more quickly. If the temperature in your chimney is cooler than normal, or if you burn unseasoned firewood, creosote will build up more quickly. Also, if you don’t open your damper wide enough to allow for a good airflow, you will find that creosote will form more quickly.

Annual Inspection and Cleaning

Call Pozzi Chimney Sweep today to schedule your annual chimney inspection and cleaning. Even if your chimney didn’t receive much use over the past winter, you’ll want to make sure that everything is clean and in good working order so that it’s ready to go next winter. Give them a call today!

Preventing Chimney Fires

Imagine this scene: You are sitting in your family room, enjoying food and fun with family and friends. Suddenly, you notice a crackling and popping sound, and smoke starts rolling out of your chimney. It’s a chimney fire! As terrifying as this sounds, this type of chimney fire can occur. However, this isn’t normally how a chimney fire presents itself. In fact, most chimney fires actually go undetected. A chimney fire can be a major occurrence or barely noticeable. Either way, both types of fire can cause major damage. This is why it’s important to do your research! Know what causes a chimney fire. In addition, know how to prevent this scenario from becoming a reality.

Preventing Chimney Fires Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepCauses of a Chimney Fire

The number one cause of chimney fires is creosote build-up. Creosote is a by-product of burning wood in your fireplace. When wood burns, by-products are released. These include smoke, water vapor, gases, unburned wood particles, and tar fog. These are released up your chimney and hits the cooler walls of the chimney. Afterwards, it sticks to the sides and forms a black or brown sticky crust. This crust is creosote, a highly flammable material.

There are some conditions that cause creosote to build up more quickly. Using unseasoned wood is one contributing factor. Fires using unseasoned wood don’t burn as hot. They also burn smoky and cause creosote to build up more quickly. According to Montana Homesteader, if you use a harder wood, you’ll get a hotter fire. This helps prevent creosote build-up. Additionally, if you use a wood stove, don’t overload the firebox. Doing so will also cause a thicker build-up of creosote. Building smaller, hotter fires on a frequent basis is a great way to help minimize creosote build-up.
It may be tempting to get rid of some of your paper trash by burning it in your fireplace. However, this is not a good idea. These items are not meant to be burned in this manner! Consequently, burning these items sparks a chimney fire.

Cleaning the Creosote

So, what is the best preventative measure you can take when it comes to preventing a chimney fire? Have your chimney and fireplace inspected and cleaned on an annual basis. As stated on the CSIA website, “Clean chimneys don’t catch fire.” Trusting your annual inspection to a CSIA certified sweep such as those at Pozzi Chimney Service will ensure that the job is done correctly. Another benefit of hiring a CSIA certified sweep? They will assess any damage that your chimney has sustained over the course of the winter. Also, they’ll recommend necessary repairs. Since all chimney fires aren’t always easily detectable, a CSIA certified chimney sweep will be able to tell you if a fire has taken place. Plus, explain what repairs need to take place or whether a rebuild is necessary.

Be Worry Free

Although chimney fires are a very real worry, you can take steps to ensure that your family will not be put at risk. Be sure to have your chimney inspected yearly!  Then sit back and enjoy worry free evenings in front of a relaxing, crackling fire.

Minimizing Creosote Buildup

As a fireplace owner, you already know the positives that a fireplace holds. A crackling fire can be both beautiful and practical, heating a room with something that you can also cozy up in front of. But, if you want to continue to enjoy the ambiance that your fireplace brings, you need to make sure to take care of it. This is done by having it inspected, repaired, and swept on a yearly basis by certified professionals.

Minimizing Creosote Buildup Image - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepWhat We’ll Look For

You may ask yourself why annual inspection is so important. There are actually several things that your chimney sweep will be looking for. According to houselogic, if you have your chimney maintained on a regular basis, your technician may do a level one inspection. They will be looking for any damage, obstructions, and soot and creosote build-up. If your chimney needs cleaning, they’ll be able to do a certified sweeping job, too.

Structural Damage

Damage that occurs during the freeze-thaw cycle is the type that is most likely to occur during the winter months. When water gets into the cracks of your mortar and then freezes, it will expand, causing bigger cracks to occur. This continuous cycle can eventually cause structural damage. Consequently, that can cause big problems that can cost you a lot of money. That’s one reason to stay on top of the yearly inspections.

Creosote

Another problem that your chimney sweep will be looking for is creosote build-up. What is creosote? As stated on the Chimney Safety Institute of America website, when you burn wood in your fireplace, byproducts are released in the smoke that is channeled up the chimney. As the warm smoke hits the cooler chimney, it condenses and sticks to the inside of your chimney. The residue can be black or brown, crusty and flaky or tar-like, sticky, and drippy, or even hard and shiny. No matter what it looks like, this creosote is a big problem because it is extremely flammable. And the last thing you want is a chimney fire in the middle of winter. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help keep the creosote build-up down.

One thing you can do, according to Mother Earth News, is to build a hot fire. When you build a smoldering fire, up to 48% times more creosote can build up then when a hot flaming fire is burned. The way to accomplish this is by using smaller fuel loads and larger air settings on your fireplace.

Hiring A Quality Company

Yearly maintenance for your chimney is so important. However, even more important is picking the right company to take care of that yearly maintenance. For professionals who are CSIA certified and who stay on top of all the latest cleaning and inspection technology, call the experts at Pozzi Chimney Sweep. Not only can we take care of existing problems, but we can also offer advice on how to avoid the creosote build-up that can cause chimney fires. If you are having problems with your chimney or if you are just looking for words of wisdom on caring for your fireplace and chimney, give us a call today.

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!

Schedule a Cleaning Today to Beat the Fall Rush

We all know how fast the summer can speed by. Vacations, visits to the local pool, picnics, hiking – all of these fun activities make the time fly. Before you know it, the leaves are changing color and there’s a cool chill in the air, and you realize you haven’t had your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned yet! Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time left before the snow flies – but you should schedule your cleaning now!

Every Year?

Having your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned every year is a necessity, even if it wasn’t a particularly hard winter and your fireplace didn’t get much use. Although it may be tempting to let this slide, there are many reasons why this is not a good idea.

Creosote

First, when you use your fireplace, unburned wood particles, water vapor, tar, and other minerals are released. These particles, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) website, are known as creosote, and creosote is released into the atmosphere through the chimney. However, not all the particles are released; some actually stick to the inside of your chimney, and, over time, a build-up can occur. Creosote build-up is more likely to occur during heavy usage during a cold winter, but it can also occur during mild winters when fires don’t burn as hot and intense because these fires tend to smolder more, which can also cause a creosote build-up.

Structural DamageChimney Structural Damage - Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney Sweep

Although it may not be visible to the untrained eye, your chimney may have structural damage caused by water damage. Although the bricks, stones, or blocks that make up your chimney can be damaged by water, the area that is especially predisposed to damage from the natural elements, such as rain, sleet, and snow, is the mortar between the bricks. This is because these liquids can get into the mortar, and when the temperature falls to freezing or below, the liquids expand and can cause structural damage that can lead to the need for major repairs.

Blockages

Your chimney offers a great place for dried leaves, sticks, and other debris to accumulate. Chimneys.com reports that birds and squirrels (as well as other critters) are attracted to your chimney because it offers a handy space outside of the elements to build a nest. Unfortunately, these nests and other materials can cause blockages in your chimney. This can cause the air that is supposed to be escaping from your chimney to be trapped inside your home instead. Worse, blockages can also catch sparks from the fire in your fireplace and cause a chimney or a house fire.

Pozzi Chimney Sweep For All Your Chimney Needs

These are some of the reasons it’s important that you don’t neglect an annual chimney inspection and cleaning. The professionals at Pozzi Chimney Sweep are CSIA certified and highly trained to make sure that your fireplace and chimney are safe and clean. Be sure to beat the fall rush and schedule your inspection and cleaning today so that you’ll be ready for the cool autumn days that will be here before you know it!

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!

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.