Total Chimney Care's Blog

Serving You & Serving Our Nation

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

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

What Is Creosote Anyway?

If you own a fireplace, you’ve probably heard your chimney company refer to creosote a number of times. It’s clear that this substance is bad for your chimney and that it needs to be regularly removed, but many find themselves unaware of what it actually is – what it looks like, how it forms, the damage it does, etc. At Total Chimney Care, we feel that our customers should be informed and educated on it all when it comes to their fireplace, which is why we’re here to tell you a little bit more about creosote and why it’s a threat to your system.

Read below to get the facts and, if you are still experiencing questions, please contact our team to learn more. We’re always here to help!

creosote

What It Looks Like

Creosote can take on a few different forms, depending on how your fires burn and how long it has been in your chimney. If you only burn well-seasoned wood, keep your fires nice and hot, and regularly invest in chimney sweepings, then the creosote that accumulates in your chimney should remain light, flaky, and easy to remove. In these cases, your sweep should be able to use basic tools and techniques to clear your chimney and ensure it stays safer for regular use.

Other times, creosote will take on a more sticky or tar-like texture. In these cases, removal is a bit more challenging, but can still be tackled with ordinary equipment and products. No matter which of the two forms your creosote takes, it is always highly flammable, which means removal is a must!

Finally, there’s stage three, or glazed, creosote. This type is hard, glossy, and shiny, and it needs to be approached a bit differently, otherwise, your structure may experience damage. It will take the application of special chemical treatments to get the texture back to a more workable state, after which your sweep can more easily get rid of it.

The Dangers Of Chimney Fires

Like we said, creosote is highly flammable. This may not seem like a big deal since heat and smoke are already flowing through your chimney on a regular basis, but the truth is that these events can cause a lot of damage. You see, your masonry and chimney liner are both strong and sturdy, but they simply aren’t built to withstand the intense temperatures that accompany direct contact with actual flames.

Should one occur, you’ll be looking at a lot of time-consuming and expensive repair and reconstruction work. You also face a serious risk of smoke, carbon monoxide, and flames entering your home. Decay and deterioration create clear pathways for these substances to escape into your living space, and your liner will face significant damage, as well. All in all, your family will be facing serious danger should you light fires after a chimney fire has occurred.

Now, some chimney fires are loud, obvious events, but most of the time they occur slowly and quietly, meaning many homeowners continue using their fireplace without realizing they are at risk by doing so. Because of this, doing everything possible to avoid them is essential. Along with this, be sure to invest in annual inspections, especially before the start of your burning season. This way, your sweep will be able to detect any issues well ahead of time, and you can have them resolved before lighting any fires.

Avoiding Build-Up

If you use your fireplace at all, then at some point you will require chimney sweeping services. There is, unfortunately, no way to avoid the formation of creosote altogether, and investing in regular maintenance is simply a part of owning a fireplace. That being said, there are things you can do to slow the rate at which it accumulates. Keep in mind the following tips:

  • Only burn dry, well-seasoned wood in your fireplace. No trash, wet logs, or outside debris should be thrown into the fire.
  • Keep your fires burning hot. The cooler they are, the smokier they’ll be, and you’ll notice higher creosote deposits in the end.
  • Ensure the damper is open wide enough so that your fires get plenty of oxygen. This will also guarantee better airflow, which prevents build-up from occurring.
  • Invest in regular care from a CSIA certified chimney sweep.
  • Never burn artificial logs.

Our Team Of Experts Can Remove Your Creosote In No Time

If your annual inspection revealed excess creosote in your flue, then the time to have it removed is now. Like we said, avoiding sweeping services can put your home and family at serious risk, and it’s not worth taking any chances when it comes to the safety and wellbeing of loved ones. Ensure your holiday season is the best one yet by relying on our team of experts from start to finish. We would be happy to help you out every step of the way!

Our crew has been serving the area for well over 20 years now, and our long list of positive reviews speak for themselves. There is simply no one better to trust, and our team is dedicated to staying informed, educated, and up-to-date on it all. Ready to work with the best? Snowy weather is arriving soon, so reach out today. We’re ready to take your call!

What Can Happen If You Neglect Your Chimney

The holidays always swing back around quicker than expected and that often leads to a busy fall and winter for us as sweeps! Here at Total Chimney Care, we’ve been inspecting, repairing, and sweeping countless chimneys over the last few months, and we would love to get yours all set and ready for the weeks of festivities that are soon approaching.

Unfortunately, because most chimney companies get extra busy this time of year, many customers are forced to wait a bit longer than normal to get their system looked over. This scenario leaves many considering just how important this maintenance actually is and if they can put it off until spring or summer.

damaged chimney

Well, we encourage all of our customers to please be patient and get their annual chimney services completed before lighting any fires. The CSIA recommends yearly inspections because there are countless issues that can arise if you neglect to give your system the care and attention it needs, and we would hate to see families in the area get in harm’s way over a problem that is so easily avoided.

GIve us a call today to get the help you need from a team that is certified, trained, and eager to excel!

The Impacts Of Water Damage

One reason your chimney should be inspected regularly is so your sweep can look for any signs of water damage. Water and your masonry don’t mix well, and you could find yourself with a lot of decay if you don’t invest in preventative measures early on. One thing we encourage homeowners to look into is our waterproofing services.

By having our chimney techs waterproof your brickwork, you guarantee no moisture can penetrate the bricks or mortar and cause damage. These materials are very absorbent, and when water works its way in, it breaks things down significantly. Along with this, the freezing temperatures we so often face in Fairfield and its surrounding cities can lead to the freeze/thaw process.

What’s the freeze/thaw process? Well, when this preabsorbed moisture freezes and expands it puts a lot of strain on your masonry. Once it thaws and settles, your structure feels a lot of pressure, too, and if this happens multiple times of year (which is typically the case), you’re looking at a lot of extra stress on your chimney, as a whole. All of this wear and tear will lead to significant damage or, in some cases, a chimney collapse or settlement.

Along with all this, water throughout your flue and chimney can cause your metal components to rust, your crown to crumble, and your liner to deteriorate, all of which leaves you vulnerable to even more problems. The more your structure breaks down, the higher your chances are smoke, flames, and carbon monoxide entering your home. Why take the risk? Call on our team today – we would be happy to set you up right.

The Dangers Of Excess Creosote

Another major reason why inspections are needed before the start of every burning season is so that the sweeps are able to detect and remove any creosote that is building up. Creosote is especially harmful due to its flammable nature, and if it ignites it could send flames up your chimney. Your masonry isn’t designed to withstand these high temperatures, so your brickwork and mortar will crack, crumble, and deteriorate, and your flashing, chimney cap, and liner will likely face some serious problems, as well.

As you can imagine, the aftermath of a chimney fire can take quite a bit of time and money to address, and you’ll be left without a usable appliance until all damages can be appropriately repaired. In the end, you’re a lot better off investing in an affordable cleaning now, rather than expensive repair and restoration work down the line.

On top of everything, chimney fires are really threatening to the well-being of your home. More often than not, they occur slowly and quietly, leaving most homeowners unaware that they have a problem at all. This means countless families will light fires in a fireplace that is really unsafe, and it increases the odds of gas leaks, fires, and chimney collapses significantly. This is another big reason why investing in annual inspections is important!

Spotting Wear & Tear Early

All in all, by getting an expert’s eye on your fireplace and chimney, you ensure any early signs of damage or wear and tear is spotted right away and can be taken care of before your family experiences any risks. Detecting problems early on is always the preferred route, and it will put less strain on your budget and schedule in the end. Most importantly, your loved ones will stay as safe as possible.

We’re Here To Inspect, Sweep, Repair & More

At Total Chimney Care, we care about making you feel comfortable and totally satisfied with any and all of the services we offer. We put our sweeps through extensive training, and we work with reputable organizations like the CSIA and the NCSG to ensure we stay knowledgeable and up-to-date on it all. Your needs will always come first, and we are proud to offer mess-free, on-time care every single time.

So, what are you waiting for? The time to reach out to our reliable team is now. Call today!

Keep Your Air Cleaner With Air Duct Cleanings

Temperatures are already starting to drop, and before long we’ll be hit with snow, ice, and sleet. Throughout these weeks, families tend to stay indoors as much as possible, either cozied up by the fire, baking something sweet to eat, or simply curled up on the couch with a good movie or book. If this sounds all too familiar, then perhaps it’s time to ensure the air ducts in your home are free of contaminants and running as efficiently as possible!

air duct

Dust, Mold & Other Potential Threats

It’s inevitable that foreign substances will accumulate in your air duct system. Dust, dirt, and other debris can work their way in easily, then continue spreading throughout your home until someone eventually removes them. While their presence cannot be altogether avoided, what can be controlled is how much of it there is.

By regularly investing in cleanings (at least one per year), you minimize the number of contaminants that are regularly in your air. This will do a lot for the health of you and your family members, and it is especially beneficial for those with allergies, asthma, or a weakened immune system.

If you have a pet, you also risk pet dander floating through your home on a constant basis. This could leave guests and loved ones sick in a hurry and, if anyone has been down the flu or some other illness in the recent past, those viruses will be shuffling through your air system, too. All in all, a regular cleaning can play a big part in keeping everyone happier, healthier, and more comfortable.

The Impact On Your Bank Account

Another thing many fail to consider is the impact of poor circulation on one’s monthly energy bills. As your vents get dirtier and dirtier, they have to work a lot harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. In a time where you’ll likely be running the heat a lot more, this is the last thing you need, and higher bills could make holiday shopping and meal planning more of a struggle, as well.

In the long run, paying for a cleaning now will be a lot more beneficial than paying more for energy usage month-to-month. Not to mention, you’ll avoid costly doctor bills, too, since family members will be less likely to get sick! It’s a win all around.

Do My Ducts Need Attention?

Not sure when you had your last cleaning or if your ducts are in poor shape? Here are a few signs to watch for:

  • You’ve been sweeping and wiping up more dust than usual.
  • Higher than normal energy bills.
  • You’ve undergone reconstruction work. (This tends to bring a lot of dust and other particles into your home.)
  • You notice a constant layer of dust throughout your home.

Our Team Is The Best

We use EPA-approved equipment on every cleaning job we tackle, and our certified and experienced team is sure to get the job done right every time. We don’t cut corners, and you can bet we won’t miss a thing! If you’re ready to work with a reliable crew, we’re it. Call today to set up your appointment.

By Steve Sobczak on October 20th, 2019 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Are You Ready For Your Burning Season?

Are the dropping temperatures putting you in the mood to light a fire? When the chilly winds of fall arrive, there’s no better spot to be than curled up inside next to a warm, crackling flame. Guarantee yourself peace of mind and comfort by ensuring your fireplace and chimney are all set and ready for use. Our team is here to help with it all!

Schedule An Inspection

First things first, get that annual inspection on the calendar. Our team of CSIA certified technicians are able to perform all three levels of chimney inspections, so we can help you out, no matter what. We have the tools, know-how, and equipment necessary to get a thorough and in-depth look, and we can suggest further maintenance based upon our findings. If you want to know where your chimney stands, this is the way to learn.

Address Damages & Build-Up

If our inspection reveals obstructions, creosote build-up, crumbling masonry, damaged chimney parts, or anything else of concern, then it is important to resolve all issues before lighting any fires. While this may mean putting off the start of your burning season for a bit, it is really the only option. Operating a damaged or clogged chimney would put your home and family at serious risk of gas exposure and fires.

Check Your Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Once you have the go-ahead to put your appliance to use, make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working appropriately before getting a fire going. These devices have saved countless lives over the years, alarming people of potential threats all throughout the night and day. If there’s smoke or poisonous gas in your home, your detectors will be sure to let you know.

Fuel Up

Do you have a wood-burning fireplace, stove, or insert? Then, finding the right fuel is essential! Never use unseasoned wood or garbage as this encourages the accumulation of creosote, and it makes your fires a lot more smokey, too. Rather, invest in well-seasoned logs that have been drying out for at least six months. These pieces should be lightweight, split and dark at the ends, shorter in length, and will make a hollow, “clunking” noise when smacked against each other.

Rely On Us

If you want to guarantee a successful burning period this fall and winter, the best way to do so is to rely on our experienced and qualified team. We’ve been serving the area for over 20 years now, and it’s clear that we are passionate about keeping homes and families as safe and as comfortable as possible.

Ready to work with a team that you can trust in for many years to come? Reach out today. Total Chimney Care is ready to have your back through it all!

By Steve Sobczak on October 6th, 2019 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment