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What is a Witches Crook?

Chimneys do a lot for a home. They ensure the smoke and fumes from your fireplace are sent safely outdoors, they protect your woodwork from the heat your fires produce, and they add anWitch aesthetic appeal that is undeniable. Yet, as we approach Halloween, there’s another feature some chimneys possess that you might want to know about… the witches crook!

If you’ve ever noticed a peculiar bend in your chimney (most likely in the attic), then you are the proud owner of a witches crook. Not all chimneys have them, but if yours does you won’t have to worry about any scheming enchantresses entering your home on October 31st! Learn more about these (and how to maintain them) below.

The History of the Witches Crook

So, where did this term originate from? Well, it’s said that witches can only fly in a straight line, which means that if they wanted to get into your home to cast a spell, all they’d need to do is take a quick downward trip through your chimney. Yet, if your chimney has a slight bend, the cackling hag would be stopped dead in her tracks and forced to retreat – easy solution, right?

Now, this is a fun old wives’ tale, but the truth behind the origin of a witches crook is actually a lot more practical. Back in the day, homeowners would prefer their fireplace be in the center of the home (to ensure more heat), but masons didn’t have the high-tech equipment we currently do. They had to make a rough guess as to where to start! This means the structure often wouldn’t line up correctly with the peak of the roof, which was the common look for homes back then.

If they were a little off, adjustments would need to be made, and that’s where the witches crook comes in. Once they got to the attic (where these imperfections could be easily hidden), they would build the bricks at an angle, and when they got to the peak of the roof, they would simply extend the chimney straight again. It still looked aesthetically-pleasing from the outside, and no one was the wiser – pretty tricky, huh?

I Have a Witches Crook! Should I Be Worried About Structural Issues?

If you have a witches crook, you may be concerned that you face greater risk of experiencing structural issues, but there typically isn’t a need to worry. In reality, constructing a masonry chimney at an angle takes great skill, so it was likely completed by someone who was very knowledgeable in their trade. An angled chimney should function just as efficiently as one that is straight, so don’t stress too much!

That being said, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye out for structural flaws that are common in masonry chimneys. While the slanted design won’t hinder anything, water damage, bad weather, animal entry, chimney fires, and more definitely will. As with any fireplace, keep an open eye for damages, and always call in a certified expert to look things over if you have concerns about anything.

Here at Total Chimney Care, we offer a wide range of repair services, such as tuckpointing, crown repair, brick replacement, and more. We’ll get your system looking good and standing strong, so you can rest easy through the end of the year. Reach out now, so we can figure out which of our services would be best suited to your unique needs.

And Don’t Forget Your Inspection!

Witches crook or not, annual inspections are always recommended before starting your burning season. This time of year is spooky enough without the added stress of house fires, gas leaks, and more, and our team of CSIA certified sweeps can spot any malfunctions well before they become big and dangerous problems. Even if you don’t notice any obvious concerns, hidden obstructions or interior decay could be triggering some pretty substantial threats.

What can you expect from our crew? Well, if you have your chimney inspected every year, haven’t made any big structural changes, haven’t changed your fuel type, and do your best to burn only dry, well-seasoned wood, a level 1 inspection should be all you need. We’ll look things over to ensure all of your visible chimney parts are still intact, and we’ll check for build-up and excess creosote, too. Once we’re done, you’ll be good to go. It’s an easy and effective way to get that peace of mind you and your family deserve!

In other situations, a level 2 inspection might be needed. These include everything in a level 1 inspection, along with a video scan of your chimney’s interior. We’ll snake camera equipment up your flue to get an in-depth and up-close look at everything. A level 2 inspection should be completed after buying/selling a home, as well as after natural disasters, chimney fires, changes in fuel types, and any type of reconstruction work.

And finally, there are level 3 inspections. These are rare, and will only be needed if parts of your fireplace or chimney need to be deconstructed in order to access the problem at hand.

Don’t Delay!

Now, we know witches find these chimney bends challenging, but don’t let that worry you come Christmas… the slant actually makes it much easier for Santa to slide right on down! Just be certain your chimney is ready for him by having us look everything over as soon as you can. Have a safe holiday, and be sure to count on Total Chimney Care for all of your fireplace needs this fall and winter. Call or reach out on our website today.

By Steve Sobczak on October 29th, 2020 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment

What Causes Chimney Leaks?

Spring’s wet weather is often a welcome sight after months of snow and cold temperatures but, unfortunately, it can bring with it some unexpected (and unpleasant) surprises. One of these is chimney leaks. If you notice water spots forming on your ceiling, peeling wallpaper, warping wallboard, water dripping into your home from above, water in your firebox, or fireplace rust, don’t rush to blame your roof! Often, when water is coming in from above, it’s your chimney that’s to blame.

Learn more about the causes of leaks and water damage below, then count on the team here at Total Chimney Care to provide the top-notch care and high-quality services you deserve. We’re here and ready to help!

What Causes Chimneys Leaks? - Fairfield CT - Total Chimney Care LLC

A Missing or Damaged Chimney Cap

Chimney caps are essential when it comes to keeping water out of your chimney. These devices cover your chimney’s exterior opening ensuring water doesn’t flow down the chimney flue and wreak havoc. Along with this, caps are known for preventing debris build-up, animal entry, and downdrafts, and they are great at stopping stray sparks from landing on your roof, too. Unfortunately, builder-grade chimney caps can fail within a few years, and even the sturdiest of chimney caps can get blown off or damaged during bad weather.

On the bright side, addressing a broken chimney cap is not a complicated matter – simply have a professional replace the unit! Caps are typically quite affordable, and the protection they offer is unparalleled. If you need yours repaired or replaced, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team right away.

Cracked Chimney Crown or Chase Cover

Constructed from a cement-based mixture, chimney crowns play a big role in protecting your masonry chimney. They sit on the top of your chimney and extend from the inner edge of your flue to the exterior edges of your chimney masonry. They are designed to slant downwards, which ensures any water coming down flows out and away from both the inside of the chimney and its outside masonry walls.

Now, in a prefabricated chimney, this job is performed by the chase cover. While both crowns and chase covers can provide years of protection when installed correctly and constructed from appropriate materials, both are subject to breaking down over time, which can leave you with some big problems to address.

If you notice any issues, invest in repair work or replacement parts, as needed (and right away). Failing to do so will only cause more damage, and you’ll soon be left with some time-consuming and expensive work to address.

Loose/Rusted Flashing

Flashing consists of metal sheets that surround the base of your chimney where it meets the roofline to prevent water coming in through this especially vulnerable spot. It provides a great service, but if it is damaged, rusted, bent, loose, or incorrectly installed, water will gain easy access to your home in a hurry.

If you’ve ruled out other chimney issues, call in our professional crew to inspect the flashing around your chimney. They will make sure it is fitted snugly between the roof and the chimney and that it is free from any damage.

Damaged masonry

Most masonry damage is due to water penetration. As your porous bricks and mortar joints absorb water, that water can freeze and expand, causing cracking and crumbling. This is known as the freeze/thaw process, and it can lead to major leaks and water penetration that will eventually compromise your chimney’s structure. If you are concerned that your system is deteriorating, address the issue right away before it leads to extensive and costly chimney leaks.

How can you prevent masonry damage from occurring in the first place? Well, the best thing you can do is invest in waterproofing services. The application of specialized waterproofing products applied by a certified professional will guarantee better protection for your structure, and it will block all that water from getting soaked up. At the same time, these waterproofing agents are 100% vapor-permeable, so any moisture already in the masonry can easily evaporate, and gases created by your winter fires can still be exhausted.

What Happens If I Ignore A Leak?

A chimney leak should never be ignored! If left unaddressed, even minor chimney leaks can cause major damage. It is imperative to be on the lookout for signs of chimney leaks this spring. Walk around your chimney and look for cracked or crumbling bricks, crumbling mortar joints, and discoloration. If you’re able, it’s also wise to check the top of your chimney to make sure your chimney cap is firmly in place and that the flashing at the base of the chimney hasn’t pulled away from the chimney or cracked. Inside your home, look for stains on your walls and ceiling near your chimney. A rusted damper or rusting fireplace doors can be a sign of a chimney leak.

The more your structure crumbles, the more prone you are to experience gas leaks, house fires, chimney fires, and more. Don’t take any chances! If you notice any signs of leaks, get in touch with a technician from Total Chimney Care today, Our qualified experts are here for you.

By Steve Sobczak on April 13th, 2020 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment

Does An Oil-Burning Appliance Need A Chimney Sweeping?

Many people ask: If I have an oil-burning heating appliance, does it need as much care and regular maintenance as other fuel types? Our answer is always yes! Just like any other chimney, an oil-burning flue needs to be inspected at least once per year, after which the expert can determine if a sweeping is then necessary.

gas burner

Regular care and maintenance ensures your system stays functioning as safely and as efficiently as possible, and it guarantees other parts of your chimney don’t break down and deteriorate, as well. All in all, if you’re due for some insight, then it’d be a good idea to reach out to our team as soon as you can. We’re here for you every step of the way!

What Happens If Sweepings Are Put Off?

So, why exactly is avoiding maintenance such an issue? Well, over time (and especially throughout the colder, winter months), soot builds up in your oil-burning appliance, and the more you have of it, the higher your chances will be of experiencing issues with draft and airflow. Before you know it, your flue will be really blocked up, and these clogs can lead to efficiency problems, as well as cause dangerous fumes to enter your home.

One example of the dangers a homeowner might face comes in the form of carbon monoxide. If this colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas is given the opportunity to flow back into your home, it is only a matter of time before loved ones will need medical attention. The longer symptoms are ignored, the higher the likelihood is of things turning fatal, so we advise all customers to leave their home immediately and seek medical attention if you experience the following ailments: dizziness, confusion, nausea, headaches, chest pain, vomiting, weakness, or other flu-like symptoms.

Unfortunately, these symptoms are not always clear, and it can be hard to know whether or not this gas is present until matters take a turn for the worse. Practice extra caution by having carbon monoxide detectors installed throughout your home. Because this gas is impossible to detect with basic human senses, these devices play a big role in saving countless lives every year, and they will quickly alert you should air levels become concerning.

Along with all this, restricted airflow will lead to inefficiency, as your system is forced to work much harder than normal to function normally. This results in less heat for your home and higher energy bills – a lose-lose! In the end, your system will experience a lot of strain and wear and tear, and the lifespan of the unit will shorten quite a bit.

As you can see, it’s a lot better for your health, comfort, safety, and wallet to simply invest in the care you need now! Our crew is standing by and ready to be of service. There’s no team better to trust, so call right away.

My Oil Burner Technician Already Stopped By – Am I Good To Go?

A lot of time homeowners assume that since their oil burner technician was already out to their home and looked things over that everything is okay. We understand why you would assume this, but unfortunately, it doesn’t mean your chimney is free of debris and build-up, and you could still very likely be at risk.

They may have removed some debris from one area, and they might have even informed you that you have nothing to be concerned about, but the truth is that they simply do not have the training to properly assess your chimney, and it would be unwise to follow their advice. When it comes to flues and chimneys, it’s always best to rely on a CSIA certified professional to handle it all and, fortunately for folks throughout New Haven and its surrounding cities, Total Chimney Care is trained, equipped, and ready to serve.

Need A New Liner?

Now, in extreme cases where a thorough sweeping just won’t do it, we will recommend investing in a new liner altogether. Having this installed correctly and ensuring it is appropriately fitted is vital, as even a small mistake or minor mishap could lead to even more damage (and another big dent in your bank account}.

Ensure the job gets done right the first time by trusting in our team. We can make recommendations based upon your specific needs and budget, and we carry stainless steel liners, too, if you’re looking to get the long-lasting, high-quality protection you deserve. When it comes to oil-burning units, we really know our stuff, and we can assure you there is no better techs to trust than the ones here at Total Chimney Care! Call today, and we’d be happy to get you started.

More About Our Team

Above all else, we strive to be a business that always puts customer satisfaction at the top of our list of priorities, and you can best we take every possible course of action to improve ourselves and be the best that we can be. In a field that is constantly updating techniques, regulations, tools, technologies, and more, it’s important to stay up-to-date and on top of it all, and thanks to our association with the CSIA, the NCSG, Angie’s List, and more, we always know the best way to approach your chimney-related concerns.

There’s no time to lose, so set up your appointment today. We’d love to help you out soon!

By Steve Sobczak on March 23rd, 2020 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Issues That Occur With A Faulty Chimney

Has your chimney and fireplace been showing signs of damage, inefficiency, and/or poor airflow? It may be time to have things looked over! The worse any issues become, the more problems you are prone to experience, and in the end your home, family, and fireplace could face some serious risks. Learn more about these scenarios below, then reach out to our team right away, so that we can do everything possible to help you avoid any dangers. Total Chimney Care has got your back through it all!


Smoke In Your Home

The last thing anyone wants to experience when lighting a fire is smoke billowing out of the firebox and into their living space. This can have a big impact on the health of loved ones, especially if there are young children or infants in the home, and it is especially threatening to those with asthma or other breathing-related struggles.

On top of all this, smoke leaves an unpleasant aroma in the space, and the smell tends to seep into carpet, rugs, curtains, blankets, and furniture, making it harder than ever to get rid of. All in all, smoke in the home is something to avoid at all costs!

There are a lot of reasons why smoke might be entering your home whenever you try to light a fire. Things like a closed damper, unseasoned firewood, or a cold flue are easy to address, but if there are bigger issues at hand, the help of a certified technician will be necessary. Call us in, and we can check for build-up or damages. In some cases, the structure of the chimney needs to be modified, in which case some reconstruction work will be in order.

No matter what the problem is, the crew at Total Chimney Care can find the issue and get you the help you need. Get on the phone with our experts today, so that we can get this process started!

Excess Creosote

Another problem that occurs when there are problems throughout a chimney is excess creosote accumulation. The more creosote you have, the more problems you’ll have with air flow, and your chances of experiencing a chimney fire will increase, too. All in all, keeping creosote deposits to a minimum is always the best route to take, but problems with your structure can make this challenging.

One thing that encourages creosote to form is poor draft. Regularly clearing your flue out is essential, as is ensuring you are set up with everything you need to encourage airflow to effectively travel through your structure’s openings. Let us check things over to ensure you are totally equipped to light fires in a manner that is safe and efficient – and we’d be more than happy to answer any questions you have along the way!

Less Heat In Your Living Space

Fireplaces add a great ambiance to your home, and they create a beautiful focal point that helps bring any living space together. That being said, they aren’t just there for decoration! When used correctly, a fireplace can pour a lot of heat into your home, giving you the power to lower your energy bills and bring your loved ones closer together. Unfortunately, some fires don’t burn as hot as others, and the way your system is set up can have a big impact on this.

Burning well-seasoned wood and ensuring your damper is open wide are two things you can do to get more heat from your fires, but sometimes these steps still don’t cut it. The amount of debris and creosote throughout your flue can play a big role in how hot your fires burn, as can the set-up of your structure. These are things that need to be tackled by a professional to ensure the best results possible.

Increased Risk Of House Fires & Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Now, a faulty chimney can make any fireplace experience less than ideal, but by not addressing problems throughout the structure, you actually put your home and family at risk, too. Any cracks, gaps, and openings give heat and flames easy access to adjacent woodwork, and putting your home at great risk of a fire.

Along with this, carbon monoxide could easily enter through these same areas, putting your loved ones at great risk. Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, making it next to impossible to detect, and exposure can result in serious illness or death. This gas causes thousands to visit the hospital every year and is known for causing hundreds of deaths annually, too.

When it comes right down to it, there is simply no point in taking any risks, especially when scheduling an inspection with our team is as easy as making a quick phone call. You can even request an appointment online through our website! All in all, we want our customer base to feel as safe and as protected as possible, all while being able to enjoy their fireplace to the fullest anytime they wish.

Ready to work with a team that always puts your needs first? Reach out today. We’re eager to hear from you!

By Steve Sobczak on February 10th, 2020 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment

Serving You & Serving Our Nation

Steve Sobczak and Stephen Jr

As a military family, you can bet that we take pride in serving others, whether we are fighting for our country or fighting creosote in your fireplace. Our owner, Steve Sobczak, and his father are both Navy veterans, and Steve’s son, Stephen Jr., is a graduate of the US Marines. Along with this, Stephen Jr.’s other grandfather served in the Army – it clearly runs in the blood!

Both Steve and Stephen Jr. have put in countless hours providing chimney care for folks throughout Fairfield and its surrounding cities, but come January Stephen Jr. will ship out to his duty station. Because of this, the team at Total Chimney Care would like to talk some time to state just how proud we are to serve both this nation and our loyal service area.

Trained To Do The Job Right

Stephen Jr and Steve Sobzcak at marine graduation

As you’re likely aware, training for the military isn’t always an easy road. It takes dedication, a commitment to excellence, and a lot of hard work! Well, becoming the best in the chimney industry requires a lot of the same things. It’s no wonder our award-winning team has seen so much success – they put in the hours and sweat to earn it!

One reason our sweeps excel in this company is due to our CSIA certifications. The CSIA is a nonprofit that is dedicated to educating both sweeps and the public on the importance of fire safety and proper fireplace practices. Sweeps that aim to earn their certification must spend hours studying various tests, then pass an extensive exam testing their knowledge. Once the certification is earned, it must be renewed every few years to ensure sweeps are truly up-to-date on it all. In an industry that is constantly advancing and evolving, this is a must!

We are also members of the NCSG, which lends countless opportunities for advancement. By associating with various organizations in our field, we can stay aware of any seminars and training programs that are occurring, all of which help us to improve with every passing season. If you want a team that can provide you with the answers you are looking for, we’re it!

Tackling Even The Toughest Jobs

Another way owner and founder Steve Sobczak has used his military background is to prepare for the toughest chimney jobs around. If you have challenging rebuilds to tackle, a broken down liner, or maybe even stuck-on glazed creosote, we can take it on. There’s no job too big for our crew!

And if we can find solutions for even your most complicated messes, you can bet that we know how to do all kinds of basic maintenance, too. If you’re due for an inspection, sweeping, or just some simple upkeep, please reach out to our team today, and we can get an appointment on the books.

Struggling with leaks and water damage? Not only will we repair your structure, but we can provide lots of preventative maintenance to ensure the same issues don’t keep recurring. Ask us about waterproofing, crown repair, chimney cap installation, flashing repair, and more!

We even offer stone and specialty masonry work, as well as venting services! There isn’t much we can’t do for you, so please feel free to contact us with any questions. We’ll be there for you every step of the way.

Our Guarantees

Now, there’s a lot we guarantee when we agree to do a job, and you can bet that our team follows through every single time. This is a company that promotes honesty and ethical values above all else, so when we make a commitment, we always stick to it! First of all, know that we guarantee that you can put your trust in us. We set up our business in a way so that you feel comfortable working with our technicians, and we always have our credentials on hand, so you don’t have to stress about getting scammed or manipulated.

We also promise to never leave you with a mess. Chimney sweeping can be a dirty business, but with the help of our tarps and specialized HEPA vacuums and tarps to protect your floors, you don’t have to worry about your home turning into a disaster by the end of it all. And our techs always know their stuff! They don’t train in your home – they train in our in-house training facility, ensuring they are totally prepared to take on anything when the time comes to enter your property.

And if our inspections reveal any further damages, we promise to provide an accurate and honest assessment of the situation. We won’t recommend more maintenance than necessary, and we will do our best to work with your home and budget, ensuring the final results work best for everyone involved. In the end, it’s all about finding services that work best for you!

All in all, you won’t find a team that is as dedicated, respectful, and knowledgeable as ours anywhere else. We would love the opportunity to prove ourselves to you! Reach out now to set something up with our qualified experts.

By Steve Sobczak on January 6th, 2020 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , | Leave a Comment