Total Chimney Care's Blog

Throat vs top-sealing chimney dampers

Did you know that you have an alternative to a traditional chimney damper? Most homeowners are familiar with throat dampers, which are located just above their fireboxes. While most fireplaces and chimneys have this type of damper, throat dampers actually aren’t the best option for sealing your chimney. If your chimney throat damper isn’t performing the way it should, you should consider installing a top-sealing damper.

The problem with traditional throat dampers

Just because chimney throat dampers are the most common dampers doesn’t mean they are ideal. Throat chimney dampers feature a metal-on-metal closure. The dampers are a metal disc or flap that sits inside a metal ring or frame. When the damper closes, the flap sits in place to block off the chimney opening. Because these dampers are metal on metal, air can seep around the edges of the damper flap. On chilly winter days, that can allow warm air from your home to escape around the edges of the chimney flap, which means you waste energy. When cold winds blow, they can blow down your chimney and around the edges of the damper, chilling your home and making it feel drafty.

Over time, throat chimney dampers tend to get worse in terms of performance. The extreme heat from your fireplace can cause the damper to warp. Any moisture that finds its way down the chimney can cause the damper to rust. Warping and rusting can cause gaps around the chimney damper to become more severe. They can even cause the damper to get stuck in place so it won’t open or close at all.

Top-sealing chimney dampers

Top-sealing chimney dampers are the superior choice when it comes to efficiency, durability, and function. They are installed at the top of the chimney flue opening, on the exterior of your home. It has a rubber gasket around the edge that seals completely when the damper is closed. This prevents warm air from rising out of the chimney and cold blasts from finding their way down your chimney and home. The tight seal also prevents moisture from finding its way into your chimney. It will seal out any animals or debris that might accidentally find their way into your chimney. Top-sealing chimney dampers operate as simply as throat dampers, so you won’t notice much of a difference. However, you will see rewards as you lose less heat from your chimney and your chimney securely blocks out cold air, moisture, animals, and debris.

Top-sealing dampers are far superior compared to traditional throat dampers in every way. If you are ready to make your home more efficient, you should seal off your chimney with a top-sealing damper, call Total Chimney Care! We can install a top-sealing damper to make your home more efficient and protect your home and chimney from water damage!

By Steve Sobczak on June 28th, 2019 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

The dangers of clogged clothing dryer vents

Keeping your clothes dryer running safely and efficiently depends on your care and maintenance of it. When your dryer is in use, lint from clothes and linens escapes and gets sucked into the dryer vent. Some of it is captured by the lint screen, but some of the lint gets into the vents. In the vents, the lint sticks to the vent walls.

Over time, that lint builds up and can severely restrict or completely block the dryer vents. Clogged dryer vents create several dangers for your home. Those dangers include:

  • Clothes dryer fires
  • Carbon monoxide buildup
  • Inefficient dryer operation
  • Shortened dryer lifespan

Dangers of clogged dryer vents

Clothes dryers do have heating elements that can catch fire, and clogged dryer vents are the leading cause of dryer fires. Clogged vents prevent hot air from escaping the dryer. That hot air builds up, and the heating element begins working overtime to compensate and cause the heating element to burst into flames. 

There is more than hot air exhausts through your clothes dryer vents. If you have a gas dryer, the carbon monoxide generated by the combustion in the dryer exhausts through the dryer vents. If the vents are clogged, carbon monoxide can’t escape through the vent. Instead, it builds up within your home. If it goes unchecked, it can build up to sicken your family and there is even a risk of death.

At a minimum, clogged dryer vents prevent your dryer from operating properly and efficiently. It will take longer for you to dry each load of laundry. You’ll run your dryer multiple times, which cost you more time and money. Because clogged dryer vents cause your dryer to work overtime to compensate for inefficient exhausting, it can shorten the lifespan of it.

Keeping your home safe from the dangers of clogged dryer vents

The best way to keep your home safe from the dangers of clogged dryer vents is to prevent a buildup of lint in your dryer vents. To keep your dryer vents clear of lint and keep your dryer operating safely and efficiently, there are some things you can do.

You can clean the lint trap between each load of laundry. If the lint trap is full of lint, there is nowhere for the lint to go but into your dryer vents. You should never run your dryer without the lint trap in place. It’s also a great idea to schedule a professional dryer vent inspection and cleaning with us at least once a year. Professional dryer vent cleaning employs rotating brushes and high-powered vacuums to fully clear all the lint from your dryer vents.

Reach out to our professional for a dryer vent cleaning or inspection

You need to know the signs of clogged dryer vents. When you know the warning signs of clogged dryer vents, this gives you time to get a much-needed dryer vent cleaning before it is a major hazard. When vents are restricted, dryer cycles will take longer to dry your laundry, clothes may smell musty. You may also smell a burning smell when the dryer is running, or laundry room may become unusually warm when the dryer is operating.

If your clothes dryer is showing signs of clogged vents or if you’re overdue for a professional dryer vent cleaning, call Total Chimney Care! Our certified technicians can clean your dryer vents to keep your home safe from the dangers of clogged dryer vents!

By Steve Sobczak on June 14th, 2019 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Chimney caps keep critters out

You hear the sound of rustling in your chimney, or the chirping of birds coming from your walls. Or worse, you start to smell a rotting smell coming from your fireplace — An animal has become trapped in your chimney and died. Many homeowners worry about the possibility of birds or animals entering their chimneys. Too few take measure to keep birds, bats and wild animals from entering their chimney. Don’t take a risk; install a chimney cap — Chimney caps keep critters out of chimneys!

Chimney Caps - New Have CT - Total Chimney Care

Are birds and animals in the chimney really a problem?

Birds and animals are naturally attracted to your chimney. For some animals, like squirrels, raccoons, swifts and bats, chimneys provide a warm, dark refuge from the elements. Other animals happen upon a chimney, make the mistake of exploring and become trapped. Once an animal is in your chimney, they can cause damage to the chimney liner. They also can build nests that block your chimney, preventing smoke from escaping and causing a fire hazard. Birds and animals in the chimney also have the potential to introduce bacteria into your home. A trapped animal trying to find its way out just might find its way past your chimney damper and into your home, where it can cause chaos and damage and even injure your family or pets. Animals can also introduce all sorts of odors into your home. They can leave behind food scraps that rot, build smelly nests or even become trapped and die. The best way to protect your home from potential problems caused by an animal intrusion through the chimney is to keep animals out of your chimney from the start.

Keeping animals out of your chimney with a chimney cap

The easiest, cheapest, and best way to keep out critters out of your chimney is to install a chimney cap. When it comes to keeping animals out of your chimney, not all chimney caps are created equal. To keep critters out, you must install a sturdy chimney cap that is surrounded on all sides by metal caging that is small enough to prevent, birds, bats, chipmunks and other small pests from accessing the opening of your chimney flue. Keep in mind that not all chimney caps are designed to keep critters out of your chimney flue as well as rainwater; some are only designed as small roofs to shelter the chimney flue from precipitation. Look for a chimney cap that’s specifically designed to keep birds, bats and animals out of the chimney flue.

When it comes to dealing with animals in the chimney, it’s far better to prevent the problem by blocking your chimney off from animals in the first place. Keep critters out with a chimney cap! Call Total Chimney Care; we can recommend a chimney cap that will protect your chimney from birds, bats and pests, and we will install it securely to fully protect your chimney from an animal invasion.

By Steve Sobczak on May 31st, 2019 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , | Leave a Comment

April showers bring May flowers… and chimney leaks?

Spring always means one thing: Rain. Rainy spring weather ushers in spring blooms and green grass, but it can usher in something far less desirable: a chimney leak. Water from spring rains can seriously damage your chimney, and that damage can spread to the portion of your home that surrounds your chimney. When you consider how damaging water can be to a chimney, it’s no wonder that the Chimney Safety Institute of America has declared water chimneys’ top enemy.

What can you do to help protect your home and your chimney from water damage? Be on the lookout for signs of chimney leaks, especially after rainy spring weather comes to an end. Here are some common signs of chimney leaks and chimney water damage:

• Discoloration on the chimney’s exterior. If you see streaks of color on the sides of your chimney, it is a sign that water is entering and damaging your chimney. Water damage can cause a variety of colors to appear on your chimney’s exterior, including white, green, blue, and black. If you have a metal chimney chase cover on top of your chimney, you also might see streaks of rust down the sides of your chimney.

  • Water in the bottom of the firebox. Not surprisingly, water pooling at the bottom of your firebox is a sign that water is coming down into your chimney and entering your fireplace. In addition to water, you might find debris from your chimney, such as pieces of masonry chimney tiles, in the bottom of your firebox if your chimney is leaking.
  • Rust. Rust is another sign that water is leaking into your chimney. You might see rust forming on your fireplace doors, your fireplace grate or your chimney damper if water is leaking into your chimney.
  • Discoloration on your walls or ceiling. When the flashing that seals the juncture between your chimney base and your roof fails, you can end up with a major chimney leak. Failing flashing usually leads to water damage on the walls and ceiling around your chimney, which looks like dark water spots, drooping or warping walls or ceiling boards, or peeling paint or wallpaper.
  • Crumbling masonry. Masonry chimney materials absorb water, which can cause damage and chimney leaks. When water is entering and damaging your chimney’s masonry, you might notice that your chimney masonry begins to crack and crumble. Look for cracks in the masonry and soft mortar as a sign that the chimney is leaking.

After spring’s rains, it’s important to be on the lookout for signs of chimney leaks. Leaking chimneys cause water damage, and when leaks go undetected or unaddressed, that water damage can become severe and incredibly expensive to repair. For that reason, it’s crucial that you address chimney leaks right away. If you notice any of the above signs of chimney leaks, call Total Chimney Care to have your chimney inspected today! We can repair chimney leaks to save your home from further water damage.

By Steve Sobczak on May 16th, 2019 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , | Leave a Comment

We specialize in masonry repairs

How is your chimney masonry looking after the long and cold winter? The exterior of your chimney masonry endures all the moisture and freezing temperatures during the winter that cause masonry to crack and crumble. The interior of your chimney and fireplace masonry also bears the extreme heat and byproducts of your hearth. Because of that, many homeowners find their fireplaces and chimneys in need of masonry repair in the spring. Fortunately, Total Chimney Care specializes in the chimney and fireplace masonry repairs!

Chimney crown repair

Chimney crowns is the masonry component that surrounds the top opening of your chimney flue. They often need repairs in the spring, since they endure all the weathering through the winter. Many chimney crowns might be improperly constructed from inadequate masonry materials from the start. When they are exposed to moisture and freezing temperatures in the winter, they form cracks or begin to crumble. If your chimney crown is in need of repair this spring, Total Chimney Care can repair or reconstruct your chimney crown.


Tuckpointing is one of the most common types of chimney masonry repair. While bricks and stones will last for decades on a chimney’s exterior, the mortar that holds them together is not so durable. Overtime, the mortar begin to soften and crumble away. This causes unsightly chimneys, and it can also compromise the strength of your chimney structure. Tuckpointing involves scraping out the old mortar and replacing it with new reinforced mortar. Total Chimney Care provides tuckpointing services to restore the strength and appearance of it.

Chimney relining & Firebox rebuild

Inside your chimney, your clay tile liner can develop cracks due to exposure to moisture and heat from your fireplace. When these cracks are severe, they allow the heat and smoke from your fireplace to access the surrounding structure of your home. In these cases, the chimney should be relined so your chimney can continue to safely contain the heat and smoke from your fireplace.

Like the chimney flue, the firebox can develop cracks in the masonry to compromise the firebox’s ability to contain the heat and embers of your fireplace. To keep your fireplace safe, Total Chimney Care can rebuild your firebox to restore it.

Chimney waterproofing

If your chimney masonry isn’t showing signs of water damage, and you’d like to keep it that way, Total Chimney Care can help protect your chimney masonry with waterproofing. Waterproofing keeps porous masonry from absorbing the water to causes damage to your chimney.

If you see signs of masonry damage on your chimney or in your fireplace this spring, don’t let it get worse. Let Total Chimney Care repair your damaged masonry! We specialize in chimney masonry repairs. Call to schedule an evaluation for your chimney today!

By Steve Sobczak on April 30th, 2019 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment