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Schedule Your Chimney Inspection and Repairs Now!

Too many homeowners wait until the last few days of summer, or the early days of fall, to schedule their chimney inspection and repairs. For the easiest scheduling of cleaning and repairs, schedule your chimney services now!

Avoid the Fall Rush

As soon as Labor Day strikes and temperatures show signs of cooling off, nearly every homeowner with a fireplace calls to schedule their annual sweeping and inspection, along with any repairs they may have planned. While that’s certainly fine, waiting until the late summer or early fall can have you struggling to get on a chimney’s sweep’s schedule. By calling to schedule your chimney sweeping and inspection now, you can avoid the fall rush. You will be able to schedule your appointment more easily, have a wider range of dates and times available to you, and you won’t risk delaying lighting your first fire while you wait to have your fireplace and chimney serviced.

Leave Ample Time for RepairsSchedule Your Chimney Inspection and Repairs Now Image - Fairfield CT - Total Chimney Care

The other major problem with waiting until fall to have your chimney swept and inspected is that if your sweep finds the need for repairs, you might not have time to have the repairs completed before cold, wet weather sets in. Most masonry materials require warmer, dry weather to properly set. To make sure you can have your chimney repaired while the weather is optimal, call now to schedule your chimney sweeping and inspection. Or, if you see cracks or damaged masonry on your chimney and expect that repairs are needed, call now to get those repairs scheduled!

Stop Further Chimney Damage

Most chimney damage occurs in the winter, as the result of winter precipitation, freezing temperatures, and vicious winter winds. And with most chimney damage, the longer the damage goes unchecked, the more severe the problem becomes and the more expensive it can become to fix. That’s why it’s wise to have your chimney inspected in the spring or early summer. That allows you to catch and repair any damage incurred over the winter before it can worsen.

Make Upgrades

Most people think of upgrading their fireplace or chimney when it’s in use for the season. They put off the improvements because they don’t want to interrupt the usage of their hearth. Then summer rolls around, and the improvements go forgotten until it’s time to light the fire again. If you want to improve your hearth with a new insert, new fuel type, new damper or hearth rebuild, summer is the time to make your upgrades! By planning for upgrades in the summer, your improved hearth will be ready for your first fire come fall.

Don’t wait to have your chimney swept and inspected, your fireplace repaired or your hearth upgraded! Call Total Chimney Care now to schedule your chimney service or to speak to one of our fireplace and chimney experts about the possibility of upgrades or repairs!

By Steve Sobczak on June 19th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

How Does a Top-Sealing Damper Work?

Your chimney’s aging damper could be costing you money. Most chimney dampers lie within the chimney throat. They comprise two metal pieces that, when new, make a relatively tight seal. Over time, however, those metal components warp due from exposure to moisture and the extreme heat of your fireplace. Once that seal is broken, the warm air from your home can flow freely up your chimney and cold drafts can find their way in when the fireplace isn’t in use.

You can solve this problem with a top-sealing damper. Top-sealing dampers securely close off the top of your chimney flue, keeping hot air in and cold air out.

Top-Sealing Dampers Save MoneyHow Does a Top-Sealing Damper Work Image - Fairfield CT - Total Chimney Care

Unlike a traditional chimney damper, top-sealing dampers are constructed to form a tight seal.  They don’t break down the way throat dampers do. With a top-sealing damper in place, air can’t easily escape through your chimney flue when your fireplace isn’t in use. In fact, it’s estimated that top-sealing dampers can reduce heat loss by 90 percent!

Top-sealing dampers come in two basic forms. Some models feature a stainless steel cap atop a diagonal spring wire. The wire expands to open the damper and compresses to close it. The top of the damper stays horizontal the entire time, so in the “open” position, the damper also serves as a chimney cap. Other models feature a low-profile frame that fits the very top of the damper. A spring pulls open the hinged damper top.

From the inside, the operation of both types of top-sealing dampers is the same. A stainless steel cable attaches the damper to a lever within the firebox that is used to open and close the damper, similar to the operation of a traditional throat damper. Both types of dampers also feature rubber gaskets that form a tight seal between the chimney flue and the outside. Top-sealing dampers most often come in stainless steel or cast aluminum, so rust and corrosion don’t wear down their utility.

Other Benefits of Top-Sealing Dampers

While preventing heat exchange might be the biggest benefit to a top-sealing damper, the benefits don’t stop there. Top-sealing dampers also do a better job at keeping water and moisture out of your chimney, saving your chimney from damage. Some top-sealing dampers are fitted with metal cages. These cages keep animals and debris out even if the damper is open. If you want to prevent warm air from escaping your home through your chimney and costing you money on your home-heating bills,

If you want to prevent warm air from escaping your home through your chimney and costing you money on your home-heating bills, call Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment today! We can fit your chimney with a top-sealing damper to keep warm air in while protecting your chimney from water, animals, and debris.

By Steve Sobczak on June 5th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

What causes chimneys to leak?

Spring’s wet weather can bring some unexpected — and unpleasant — surprises: Chimney leaks. There are some things you should be looking at to determine what is causing your chimney to leak. That includes water gathering in your firebox, warped or stained walls around your chimney, or rust in your fireplace.

Missing or Damaged Chimney Cap

Often, preventing or stopping chimney leaks comes with a simple solution. Top your chimney with a sturdy chimney cap in good repair. Builder-grade chimney caps can fail within a few years, and even the sturdiest of chimney caps can get blown off course during wicked weather. If you notice water coming in through your chimney, check your chimney cap first!

Cracked Chimney Crown or Chase Cover

Chimney crowns cover the vertical layers of your masonry chimney, from the exterior edges of the chimney masonry to the inner edge of your flue. In a prefabricated chimney, this job is performed by the chase cover. Chase covers can corrode over time and let water in. Masonry chimney crowns can crack and crumble during cold winter weather. Either a failing crown or chase cover can let water into your chimney.

Falling MasonryWhat Causes Chimneys to Leak Image - Fairfield CT - Total Chimney Care

Winter moisture coupled with freezing temperatures can cause your chimney’s masonry to deteriorate. If your masonry bricks have cracked, or if mortar has crumbled away, that can allow water to seep into your chimney and cause additional water damage.

Loose Flashing

Often, when homeowners think their chimney is leaking, water is actually finding its way in through the chimney flashing. Flashing surrounds the base of your chimney where it meets the roofline so that water can leak in at the joint. If the flashing has been improperly installed, it can allow water to gain access to your chimney and your home’s structure. Even properly installed flashing can pull away from the chimney base or develop cracks or holes over time. If you’ve ruled out other chimney issues, call a professional to inspect the flashing around your chimney. They will make sure it is fitted snuggly between the roof and the chimney and that it is free from any damage.

A chimney leak should never be ignored! If left unchecked, even minor chimney leaks can cause major damage. If you see water in your fireplace, stains on the exterior of your chimney or signs of water damage on your walls or ceiling, it’s time to call in chimney experts! Call Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment today! Our chimney technicians can locate the cause of your chimney leak and diagnose the best way to fix your chimney leak.

By Steve Sobczak on May 22nd, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

What is creosote?

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, fireplace insert or heating stove, you undoubtedly have heard of creosote. You likely know that your chimney sweep’s goal is to remove creosote from your chimney to prevent chimney fires. But what exactly is creosote? How does creosote form? And what, exactly, are the dangers of creosote?

What is creosote?

Creosote is the substance the builds up inside your chimney when you burn a wood fire. Usually, when people refer to creosote, they refer to all of the buildup within the chimney, which includes the creosote itself, soot, ash and tar. Creosote buildup can be hard and smooth or sticky and tar like. Creosote can be dark brown in color or a dark black.

How does creosote form? What is Creosote Image - Fairfield CT - Total Chimney Care LLC

When wood burns, the smoke that travels up the chimney carries all sorts of byproducts, including unburned wood particles, tar fog, hydrocarbon, water vapor, gases like carbon monoxide and minerals. As the smoke that carries the byproducts travels up the chimney, it cools and forms condensation on the chimney walls. That condensation hardens over time into creosote.

What are the dangers of creosote?

For the average homeowner, the biggest danger of creosote is a chimney fire or blockage. Creosote is highly flammable. If it builds up too thickly within a chimney — as little as one-eighth of an inch buildup is considered dangerous — creosote can catch fire and ignite the entire chimney.

If neglected long-term, creosote can build up so thickly within a chimney that it can prevent smoke and gases from escaping the fireplace altogether; that can cause carbon monoxide and other gases to build up dangerously within your home. Creosote can be a health hazard, causing everything from skin and eye irritation to lung damage, but only to people who are in regular, direct contact with creosote and creosote particles.

How can you keep your home safe from creosote?

While creosote can pose a danger to your chimney and your home, it doesn’t have to. Regular chimney sweepings clear away creosote to reduce your risk of a dangerous chimney fire. Per the National Fire Protection Association, chimneys should be swept and inspected at least once per year to eliminate a fire hazard. If you use your fireplace heavily each winter, you might want to consider having your chimney cleaned again during the fire-burning season.

How can you reduce creosote buildup?

In between chimney sweepings, it’s also positive to slow the accumulation of creosote within your chimney. Cooler, less efficient fires cause more condensation, and thus more creosote, to build up within the chimney. Burn only hard, seasoned firewood in your fireplace. Fireplace doors and the fireplace damper should be opened fully each time a fire is burning so the fire can get adequate oxygen to burn hotly.

If your chimney is due to be cleared of creosote, call Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment today! We can clear away any dangerous creosote and answer any questions you have about creosote formation and how to reduce its buildup in your chimney.

By Steve Sobczak on May 8th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Is carbon monoxide dangerous?

Carbon monoxide gets a lot of buzz. We hear warnings in the news regularly about the dangers of carbon monoxide and how we should protect ourselves, our homes and our families from the potentially deadly gas. But is all the buzz just hype, or is carbon monoxide truly dangerous? If it is, how can you keep your home and family safe?

Dangers of Carbon Monoxide img - New Haven CT - Total Chimney CareThe dangers of carbon monoxide

The truth is carbon monoxide is dangerous. It can cause irreparable damage and even death. Here’s why: When inhaled, carbon monoxide bonds with the cells in your blood, taking the place of oxygen. Also, with carbon monoxide edging it out, oxygen can no longer enter your blood stream and make its way throughout your body and to your organs. That can lead to organ damage and even death. Carbon monoxide is made more dangerous by the fact that it is odorless and invisible. So, in most cases, most people can’t tell that they are being exposed to carbon monoxide.

How carbon monoxide forms

Carbon monoxide results from incomplete combustion. So, whether it’s a malfunctioning heating appliance or hot water heater, a fireplace with a blocked chimney, or a car or generator that isn’t properly ventilated, carbon monoxide can come from any appliance or machine fueled by combustion.

Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning

At the early stages, carbon monoxide exposure mimics symptoms of the flu. Also, people who breathe in carbon monoxide experience headaches, fatigue, nausea, achiness and exhaustion. If not removed from the source of the carbon monoxide, people can become weak, confused or forgetful. And, they can vomit or lose consciousness.

How to prevent carbon monoxide exposure

Maintaining your appliances is the first step in protecting your home from carbon monoxide poisoning. So, fireplaces, furnaces and chimneys should be cleaned and inspected by a professional at least once per year. Clothing dryer vents also need to be cleaned once per year to prevent blockages that can allow carbon monoxide to back up into your home. Also, make sure that you never burn anything in your fireplace or heating stove that wasn’t intended to be burned, don’t use outdoor appliances — like camp stoves or generators — indoors. Never leave a car running in the garage, even with the door opened.

Carbon monoxide detection

To keep your home and family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning, you also should equip your home with carbon monoxide detectors. Also, carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on each floor of your home and outside of all sleeping areas. Check your carbon monoxide detectors regularly to make sure the batteries are fresh and the carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.

If you are concerned about carbon monoxide hazards in your home, call the experts at Total Chimney Care! We clean and inspect chimneys, oil flues and clothing dryer vents. And, we can spot carbon monoxide hazards in and around your appliances. We can help you resolve any hazards and provide you with carbon monoxide safety tips.

By Steve Sobczak on April 24th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment