Total Chimney Care's Blog

We clean and reline oil flues, too

Most homeowners know about the need for wood-burning, gas and pellet-burning fireplace to be inspected and cleaned. But if you have an oil furnace, did you know your chimney furnace also requires regular maintenance? The flue to your oil furnace should also be annually swept and inspected, and will eventually need to be relined.

modern steel chimney on house roof

Scheduling your oil furnace flue cleaning and inspection

Just like any combustion appliance, your oil furnace generates soot and gases each time you burn it. In the winter, oil furnaces work overtime, running long cycles to keep your home warm. During these long cycles, the oil flue accumulates soot and debris. Chunks of soot will begin to fall to the base of the chimney, accumulating on the top of your chimney furnace. That debris can interfere with the venting of your oil furnace. At an extreme, it can block carbon monoxide from safely exiting your home, putting those inside in danger. Additionally, the soot that accumulates within your chimney is highly corrosive; It can cause a breakdown of your oil chimney flue when it’s allowed to sit on the walls for a while.

To keep your oil furnace’s chimney clean and safe from soot, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends having your oil furnace flue swept and inspected by a CSIA-certified chimney sweep at least once per year. The CSIA recommends having your oil furnace flue cleaned in the spring to remove damaging soot as soon as possible. When you schedule service for your oil furnace, beware that many furnace technicians will remove debris from a brick firebox, but they will not fully clean and inspect the chimney.

Having your oil furnace flue relined

Eventually, you may find that your oil flue needs to be relined. The liner will eventually break down after years of abuse from your furnace exhaust. Or, if you have your oil furnace replaced, you may have to have your furnace flue relined to accommodate your new unit. Many older, less efficient oil furnaces required larger chimney flues. Newer, more energy efficient models require much smaller flues. In that case, your oil furnace flue will have to be relined to optimize the efficiency of your new furnace and prevent problems with draft or other operation.

If your home is warmed with an oil furnace, this is the time to schedule your oil furnace chimney’s annual chimney sweeping and inspection. Total Chimney Care can help! Our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps can clean and inspect your oil furnace flue to ensure safety and efficiency. If your oil furnace flue needs to be relined, call Total Chimney Care! We can fit your oil furnace flue with a new liner to optimize its function.

By Steve Sobczak on April 15th, 2019 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Spring chimney cleaning

Spring has sprung, and for many homeowners, that means deep cleaning the house. Is your chimney on your spring cleaning to-do list? While chimney sweeping is often associated with the fall, your chimney sweeping and inspection can be done at any time throughout the year. Here’s why you should consider scheduling your annual chimney sweeping and inspection as part of your spring cleaning.

man with bucket on ladder looking into chimney

Clean away wintertime soot

Your chimney works overtime during the fall and winter. Come spring, it’s well filled with soot and creosote. Most homeowners worry about cleaning creosote away to prevent chimney fires in the fall. While that is important, soot and creosote can be corrosive and harsh on your chimney liner. Clearing it away in the spring not only removes flammable creosote. It also prevents soot from damaging your chimney all summer long.

Prevent foul chimney odors

It’s not just the damaging aspect of soot that can cause problems in your chimney during the summer. Creosote also can cause foul smells in the chimney that can enter your home and make the indoor atmosphere unpleasant on hot, humid summer days. Have your chimney swept in the spring to help prevent chimney odors in your home this summer.

Spot winter chimney damage

Winter is hard on your chimney. The moisture and freezing temperature can cause cracks to form and weaken the chimney’s masonry. Winter damage can bring about leaking chimney in the spring. A spring chimney inspection allows your chimney sweep to identify wintertime damage that could lead to damaging chimney leaks.

Leave time for repairs

Should your chimney inspection turn up signs of a chimney leak or chimney damage, a spring inspection leaves ample time for repairs. Spring and summer are the ideal seasons for chimney repairs, thanks to the warm, dry weather. And you won’t have to rush your chimney repairs to have them completed in time for fall fires.

Plan your improvements

Have you been thinking about chimney or fireplace improvements, but every fall, you set them aside in your haste to prepare your fireplace for the season? When you schedule your chimney sweeping and inspection in the spring, you can talk to your sweep about the possibility for hearth improvements. And you will have plenty of time to make those improvements before the fire-burning season.

Enjoy easier scheduling

Because most homeowners associate chimney sweeping with the fall, chimney sweeps’ schedules tend to be lighter in the spring and summer. That means that when you schedule your chimney sweeping during the spring, you will be able to make an appointment faster, and you will have more appointment times and dates available to you. With a spring sweeping, you can schedule an appointment that fits better into your schedule.

If you are undertaking your annual spring cleaning, don’t leave your chimney off of your spring cleaning to-do list. Call Total Chimney Care to schedule your appointment for a chimney cleaning and inspection. You will have an easier time scheduling an appointment, you’ll catch any signs of winter damage early and have time for repairs or improvements, and you will clear away damaging and stinky creosote from your chimney’s interior. Make your appointment now!

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

We fix leaky chimneys!

What kind of shape is your chimney in after all of the stress of winter? Of course, you know that your chimney was bearing a lot of abuse from the inside, as you put your fireplace or heating stove to good use. But the real abuse a chimney faces during the winter months happens to its exterior. Come spring, the harsh conditions your chimney endured can become evident in the form of chimney leaks. If your chimney is showing signs of a leak this spring, call Total Chimney Care — We fix leaky chimneys!

How chimney leaks formwhite ceiling with brown water damage spots

So how does winter’s freezing weather affect your chimney’s exterior? Masonry materials, like the bricks, stone, and mortar used to build chimneys, are highly porous. Those materials absorb water. The water by itself isn’t a danger, but when temperatures drop, the water freezes and expands. That frozen, expanding water damages your chimney’s masonry. The damage caused by water trapped in your chimney’s masonry and freezing temperatures can lead to leaks.


Common causes of chimney leaks

Some common chimney damage that can lead to chimney leaks includes:

  • Cracks in the chimney crown. Your chimney crown is your chimney’s seal against water damage. At the top of your chimney, it protects the inner layers of your chimney by preventing water from pouring down in. When water trapped in the chimney crown freezes, it can cause the masonry to crack. Those cracks can allow water to leak into your chimney.
  • Deteriorated chimney masonry. Just like freezing water in the chimney crown can cause damage, freezing water trapped in your chimney’s masonry can cause damage. The chimney’s bricks and stones can crack or crumble, or pieces of the stones or bricks can pop off entirely. In addition to being unsightly, this damage can let water leak in through the sides of your chimney.
  • Crumbling mortar. The mortar joints that hold your chimney’s bricks or stones together can begin to soften and crumble away due to freeze-thaw damage. Water can seep in through these damaged mortar joints, causing chimney leaks.
  • Leaky flashing. It’s not just masonry materials that can be damaged during the winter months, opening your chimney up to the possibility of leaks. The flashing that seals the juncture between your chimney and your roofline can crack at the seams or develop holes. That can allow water to pour freely into your home around your chimney.

What to do about chimney leaks

If your chimney is clearly leaking, or if it shows signs of damage that can allow water to leak in, don’t ignore the leak or the damage! Water coming in through your chimney cause serious damage to your chimney or to your home’s structure. A chimney leak, or chimney damage, should be dealt with immediately to prevent serious water damage to your home. Call Total Chimney Care to fix your chimney leak or chimney damage today!

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

Get a professional air duct cleaning this year!

Everyone likes to keep a clean house. The one area often neglected that can make it difficult to have a truly clean house is your air ducts. From keeping your house warm in the winter to cool in  summer, your air ducts are constantly working. That means your air ducts can have a major impact on the cleanliness, and the health, of your home. Here’s why you should have a professional air duct cleaning this year.

Increase indoor air qualityprofessional air duct cleaning

Air is constantly flowing through your air ducts and into the living spaces of your home. Your air ducts can be home to some very undesirable things, from simple dust to mold to bacteria and animal droppings. Whatever is lurking in your air ducts is picked up by the air and circulated to the rest of your home. This why indoor air quality can be worse than outdoor air quality. Professional air duct cleaning improves the air quality in your home by removing all of the dirt and debris from your ducts to prevent it from making its way into your home.

Reduce allergens

If someone in your home is living with allergies, asthma or other chronic lung issue, the dust, debris and allergens in your air ducts can aggravate their condition. Professional air duct cleaning removes dust, pet dander, the fine particles left behind by cigarette or cigar smoke, mold and other allergens. This can make a huge difference to someone who is suffering.

Improve your HVAC system performance and save money

The dust and debris that collect in your air ducts don’t just find their way into your home’s living spaces, they also find their way back into your HVAC system. That dust and debris can clog ducts, blowers and vents and can decrease your HVAC system’s performance and its ability to efficiently circulate air. Having your air ducts professionally cleaned can increase the performance of your HVAC system and increase its lifespan. That increased performance also can save you money. A one-time cleaning of a moderately soiled air duct system can reduce home energy bills by 11 percent, while regular system cleanings can save homeowners as much as 25 to 40 percent on bills.

Keep your home cleaner

Do you feel like you are constantly dusting your home? Do dust bunnies build up in corners or in your air vents and air returns? Your dirty air duct system could be to blame! If your air ducts are full of dirt and dust, that dirt and dust gets blown out of vents. It then collects on furniture, in corners and in and around vents. Professional air duct cleaning can help you to keep your home cleaner by removing dust before it collects around your home.

Enjoy a cleaner home, improved air quality and better HVAC efficiency this year with a professional air duct cleaning. Call Total Chimney Care to schedule your cleaning today!

By Steve Sobczak on February 27th, 2019 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

What causes chimney leaks?

Chimney leaks tend to spring up in the winter, when snow, rain and ice attack your roof lines. If you see water in your firebox, rust forming on your damper, fireplace grate or fireplace doors, or ominous dark spots on your ceiling or walls, water has found a way through your chimney. When you see water coming into your home, you must identify and address the source of the leak before the water causes major damage to your home. To help you identify the source of your chimney leak, here are some common reasons for chimneys leak.

Missing or damaged chimney cap

metal chimney capA chimney cap is essential for keeping water out of your chimney. A chimney cap covers your chimney’s exterior opening, to prevent water from flowing down the chimney flue. Water in the chimney can cause damage to chimney flue tiles and rust on metal chimney and fireplace components.

Freeze-thaw masonry damage

Damaged chimney masonry causes water to seep in through your chimney. Masonry materials are highly porous, and they absorb moisture from rain, sleet and snow very easily. When the temperatures drop, the water trapped inside the masonry freezes and expands. This causes the masonry to crack or crumble. Once the masonry is damaged or weakened, more water can find its way into the chimney. Over time, this can lead to extensive water damage that can threaten the structure of the chimney itself.

Damaged chimney crown or chase cover

If you have a masonry chimney, the top of the chimney should be protected by a chimney crown. The chimney for a prefabricated fireplace or heating stove is protected by a chimney chase cover. Crowns and chase covers divert water away from the chimney opening. Both are subject to breaking down over time, which can allow water to flow down into your fireplace and chimney, which causes rust or water damage.

Faulty flashing or roofing

Sometimes the cause of a chimney leak isn’t the chimney itself, but rather the flashing or the roofing. Damage to the chimney flashing, which is meant to keep water from coming in where the chimney meets the roof, is especially damaging to your home. If your chimney flashing is failing, water can pour into your home, damaging ceilings, walls and your home’s structure.

No matter what the cause is for your chimney leak, a chimney leak can cause extensive water damage. Don’t wait to have the cause of your chimney leak identified and addressed! Call Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment today! We’ll identify the source of water damage and prescribe a course of repair to reseal your chimney.

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