Pozzi Chimney Sweep Blog

Keep Your Outdoor Fireplace in Top Working Condition

An Outdoor Fireplace Image -  Aurora IL - Pozzi Chimney SweepYou’ve remodeled your backyard, maybe added a new patio, a swimming pool, patio furniture. One item that’s becoming more and more popular in backyard remodels is the outdoor fireplace. There’s something about sitting outdoors in front of a crackling fire on a warm evening, roasting marshmallows, talking about old times that just can’t be topped. But special care needs to be taken to keep your outdoor fireplace in good working condition.

Outdoor Fireplaces –Weathering the Elements

One of the most obvious problems that outdoor fireplaces undergo is being constantly exposed to weather. Rain, wind, sleet, snow – all of these can cause special complications for your fireplace.
Just as with your chimney, your outdoor fireplace is subject to the freeze-thaw cycle. When precipitation permeates the mortar in your fireplace and then freezes, it expands, causing bigger cracks to occur. Over time, these cracks can cause structural damage to your fireplace, and major repairs will be necessary.

Damage Due to Settling

According to the Borst Landscaping and Design website, another source of damage to your fireplace can be ground movement and settling. Even though your fireplace is built on your patio or on a concrete pad, the ground under the concrete will continue to settle over time, causing cracks in the cement and to your fireplace. These cracks can make your fireplace look bad, but worse, may cause safety concerns as you use your fireplace.

Heat and Wind Damage

Another problem that can occur with your outdoor fireplace can be caused by the heat that it is exposed to. Heat and wind can cause the materials your fireplace is built from to dry out and crack or crumble. Again, this can be a serious safety concern.

Birds, Twigs, and Debris

Another problem that presents itself with outdoor fireplaces is the debris that can find its way into the chimney. This happens with the chimney for your indoor fireplace, but even more so in your outdoor fireplace because there are no protective walls surrounding it. Bird and squirrel nests, twigs, leaves, and paper and other trash can all be wind-blown into your outdoor fireplace’s chimney, and these can all increase the possibility of a chimney fire.

Annual Inspection and Cleaning

Just like your indoor fireplace and chimney, your outdoor fireplace needs to be inspected and cleaned on a regular basis. Although the frequency of cleaning can depend on the amount of times you use your fireplace over the course of the spring, summer, and fall, you should have your outdoor fireplace inspected on a yearly basis for safety and to keep your fireplace running efficiently. CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of America) recommends that inspection and cleaning is done on an annual basis.

The expert technicians at Pozzi Chimney Sweep are CSIA certified to take care of any and all of your outdoor fireplace needs. They take special care with each job they do, and take pride in offering quality service at a fair price. Call them today and let them show you what quality service looks like.

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.