Total Chimney Care's Blog

We Repair and Rebuild Fireplace Fireboxes

Masonry fireplaces will last for generations, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need the occasional repair or even minor rebuilding. One of the portions of the firebox that is most likely to need to be repaired or rebuilt is the firebox. The firebox is the portion of your fireplace where the fire burns.  It’s constructed of heavy-duty firebricks that are made to withstand the intense heat of your fires. However, these heavy-duty bricks are susceptible to breakdown over time. The extreme heat of the fires can cause bricks to crack, as can the natural settling of your home over time, and the mortar that holds the firebricks together can deteriorate.

How to know if your firebox needs to be repairedFirebox Rebuild and repairs

Without a professional evaluation, it can be hard to determine if your firebox needs to be repaired or replaced, but there are some signs you can look for that indicate that your firebox needs to be inspected. Some warning signs to look for in your firebox include:

• Cracks in the firebricks. Cracked firebricks can allow the heat and smoke from your fireplace to seep out of the confines of the firebox and damage your home’s structure or even put your home at risk for a fire. Some minor cracking in the firebrick is normal, but cracks should be evaluated annually by a certified chimney professional so you can be alerted when cracks are severe enough that they pose a hazard and should be addressed.

• Crumbling mortar. Mortar is often the first component of the firebox to break down. Crumbling masonry can weaken the overall structure of the firebox and lead to further damage. The good news about crumbling mortar is that it generally can be repaired with a relatively simple process called tuckpointing: The old mortar is scraped away and new mortar is smoothed into place, restoring the look and function of the firebox.

• An unsightly firebox. In some cases, there is nothing wrong with the structure of the firebox, but the color or style of the firebox is outdated, unattractive or out of sync with your style or the style of your home. In these cases, old fireboxes can be ripped out and replaced to create an attractive, updated look for your hearth.

Who to call when your firebox needs to be repaired or rebuilt

If you notice the warning signs that your firebox needs to be repaired or replaced, or if you want to have your firebox rebuilt to update your home and reflect your home’s style, call Total Chimney Care!  For safety or aesthetic reasons, we are able to repair or replace fireboxes, and we do it in a professional, mess-free way, taking care to protect your furniture and floors. With Total Chimney Care, you can have a beautiful, hand-built firebox that restores the beauty and safety of your hearth.

By Steve Sobczak on November 30th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Get Your Chimney Cleaned Before the Cold Strikes!

Fall is in full swing, and soon enough, winter will be upon us with its cold, windy snowy weather. You want to be sure that your home is ready to combat the cold with a safe and functional fireplace or heating stove. Here’s why you should be sure to have your chimney swept and inspected before the cold strikes.

Reduce the risk of chimney firesGet your chimney cleaned before the cold

The No. 1 reason to have your chimney swept and inspected before you light a fire this fall is to reduce your home’s risk of a chimney fire. Every time you build a fire, creosote or soot builds up within your chimney. Between fire-burning seasons, animals or debris can find their way into your chimney. Any of those things in your chimney can spark a chimney fire if an errant spark comes into contact with it or if the temperature of your fireplace increases drastically. For that reason, the National Fire Protection Association recommends having your chimney swept and inspected by a certified professional at least once per year.  This recommendation applies to all types of vented hearth appliances, including gas fireplaces and heating stoves.

Identify any deficiencies with your fireplace

Hearth appliances can malfunction like any appliance, and there is nothing worse than realizing your fireplace won’t light when the temperature drops and your home needs the supplemental heat. During your annual chimney sweeping and inspection, your chimney sweep will check all of the working components of your fireplace. He or she will identify any potential problems or failing equipment so that you can address those problems so that your fireplace will work when you want it to this winter.

Address chimney damage

Winter is notoriously hard on chimneys. Moisture finds its way into any weakness in the masonry, and when that moisture freezes and expands, it causes chimney masonry to break down even further, which can cause problems ranging from chimney leaks to structural failure. During your chimney inspection, your sweep will look for any cracks or weaknesses that would allow moisture into your chimney so you can protect your chimney against moisture this winter.

Make improvements to your hearth

Making an appointment with your chimney sweep this winter goes beyond regular maintenance; it gives you the opportunity to plan and carry out any improvements to your hearth system. Whether you’re looking to install a new insert to increase the efficiency or you want to upgrade the look of your fireplace with new fireplace doors, your chimney sweep can talk to you about your options and help you plan your hearth improvements.

Don’t be caught unaware by the cold this winter; be sure to have your chimney swept and inspected before the cold strikes! Call Total Chimney Care to schedule your appointment today.

By Steve Sobczak on November 16th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Shop our online store to find your perfect fireplace

Fall is here, and winter won’t be far behind! Would your home benefit from a fireplace or heating stove? Is your current fireplace or heating stove in need of replacement? We have what you need to stay warm and cozy this winter! Shop Total Chimney Care’s online store to find your perfect fireplace. Here’s what you’ll find.


gas log fireWhether you’re installing a new fireplace or looking to replace an old fireplace, Total Chimney Care’s online store has plenty of fireplace options for you. Whether you’re looking for a gas, wood-burning or electric fireplace, we have a model that will suit your tastes and provide the adequate amount of  heat you need.

Direct vent fireplaces

Many homeowners long for fireplaces but worry about the expense and space required. What if you could get the coziness of fireplace without the need for a bulky chimney? That’s just what you can get with a direct-vent fireplace. Direct-vent fireplaces can exhaust out of your home through any exterior wall or through a vent system. That means you can install a fireplace nearly anywhere in your home.

Fireplace inserts

If you love having a fireplace, but feel like you’re losing efficiency through your open-hearth fireplace, then a fireplace insert is the perfect solution. Fireplace inserts are fitted into existing fireplaces. Available in wood-burning, gas or pellet varieties, fireplace inserts dramatically increase the efficiency of your fireplace, providing more heat for less work and money.

Heating stoves

Heating stoves can add supplemental heat to the any chilly rooms in your home. They can also be put in a discreet spot to vent heat to the main rooms in your home. In Total Chimney Care’s online store, you’ll find gas, pellet and wood-burning heating stoves that will help to keep your home warmer this winter, while lowering your home’s heating bills.

Gas logs

Many homeowners love the charm and glow of a traditional, open-heart wood-burning fireplace, but often leave them unused because all of the work involved in building and tending a wood fire. With a gas log set from Total Chimney Care, you can enjoy a roaring fire in your fireplace all with a flip of a switch.

Fireplace accessories

Do you love your existing fireplace, but you think your hearth needs a little love and care? Total Chimney Care’s online store has what you need! In our online store, you’ll find new fireplace doors, mantels and many other accessories. The accessories in our online store can enhance the look of your fireplace and increase its efficiency.

Fall temperatures are setting in, but there is still plenty of time to find the perfect fireplace for your home before winter. Visit Total Chimney Care’s online store to start shopping now!

By Steve Sobczak on October 31st, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

We repair and replace chimney caps!

Fall, winter and spring bring a lot of wet weather. All of the water from it can cause serious damage to your home, if your chimney lacks adequate protection. And by proper protection, we mean having a chimney cap in place and making sure that it is in excellent condition.

About chimney caps

a new & stylish chimney capChimney caps top your chimney like a roof for a house, it works to protect your chimney from a host of problems. Chimney caps are made from a variety of materials and come in different levels of quality. Aluminum chimney caps wear out quickly. Whereas, stainless steel or copper chimney caps can last a lifetime. Some reasons to be sure that your chimney is capped securely includes:

  • Keeping water out. Without a chimney cap, water can flow freely down the walls of your chimney. Water in a chimney cause liners to break down or masonry to crack and crumble. It can also get into your firebox to cause your damper, fire grate, fireplace doors and other metal components to rust and break down. If water intrusion is severe, it can seep from your chimney into your home, causing mold growth, wood rot and water damage in your home’s structure.
  • Stopping animal intrusion. Ideally, chimney caps should be surrounded by a wire cage. These cages stop birds, animals or bats from entering your chimney. An animal in your chimney is a nuisance. It can also invade your home through your firebox.
  • Blocking downdrafts. A sudden gust of wind can come down your chimney, chilling your home or sending sparks, embers and logs from your home flying. A chimney cap provides a block to your chimney opening, which stops inconvenient or dangerous downdrafts.
  • Preventing a buildup of debris. With an unprotected chimney, water, animals and downdrafts can make their way into your chimney. Limbs or leaves from trees can enter your unprotected chimney. If this persists, natural debris can completely block off your chimney. It can catch fire and pose a danger or it can allow carbon monoxide and smoke from your fire to build up dangerously within your home.

Protecting your chimney with a chimney cap

Don’t put your chimney at risk of damage or other problems this winter; make sure it’s protected with a chimney cap! If you’re unsure of the state of your chimney cap, if your chimney cap is missing or inadequate, contact Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment today! We can inspect your existing chimney cap and repair or replace it if needed. Or if your chimney is missing a cap or has an inadequate cap, we can install a quality, new chimney cap to protect your chimney for years to come.

By Steve Sobczak on October 16th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Benefits of a top-sealing damper

A failing chimney damper is very frustrating. Most chimney dampers are located in the throat of a chimney and feature a metal disk that closes on a metal rim. Over time, that metal warps and rusts due to the heat of your fireplace and moisture that finds its way in. When a damper degrades or fails completely, you’re left with lots of problems. It causes your damper to fail to open and close easily, and even when closed, it might let air into your home.

If your chimney damper is no longer working, a top-sealing chimney damper is the solution and perfect fit for you. A top-sealing damper sits on the top opening of your chimney flue, rather than within the chimney. It’s operated with a lever or chain down inside the firebox. Top-sealing chimney dampers either pivot open on a hinge or pop open on a collapsible metal frame. They offer a host of benefits than throat dampers. Here are some of the advantages of a top-sealing damper.

A complete seal against the cold

houses with chimneys and chimney capsEven brand new throat dampers do a poor job of sealing out the cold when your chimney isn’t in use. That’s because the metal construction doesn’t allow for a complete seal. As a damper ages, the problem only get worse. A top-sealing chimney damper features a rubber gasket that completely seals off the opening of your chimney flue when your chimney isn’t in use. The tight seal prevents warm air from rising up your chimney, and it blocks cold drafts from blowing down through the chimney.

Protection against moisture

Nothing damage your chimney and fireplace like moisture. A chimney cap and a properly constructed chimney crown can help prevent rain, snow and sleet from your chimney flue. It’s impossible to keep moisture from entering your chimney and damaging your chimney liner and fireplace. However, a top-sealing damper can offer a tight seal, this prevents moisture from entering your chimney when the damper is closed. The pop-up dampers even keep your chimney covered when your fireplace is in use and damper is open.

Odor prevention

Your chimney holds a lot of smells, from damp musty odors to the pungent, burning smell of creosote. These odors can enter your house if your chimney drafts in the wrong direction. However, top-sealing dampers block foul odors from coming down your chimney and home.

Enjoy the benefits of a top-sealing chimney damper this winter! If your chimney damper is failing or struggling with cold air, moisture or foul odors entering your chimney, call Total Chimney Care! We can install a top-sealing damper on your chimney flue today!

By Steve Sobczak on September 28th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment