Total Chimney Care's Blog

How to Get Rid of Chimney Odors

Your chimney might sit unused during the warm summer months, but warmer temperatures can bring an unpleasant surprise from your flue: Chimney odors. There are several causes of chimney odors, and nearly all of those causes are intensified when the weather — and the air in your chimney — heats up. If the air in your home is less than fresh due to odors from your chimney, you’re likely eager to get rid of that smell. Here are several ways you can get rid of chimney odors.

Have your chimney swept

Many homeowners wait until the fall, until they’re ready to use their chimney again, to schedule their annual chimney sweeping. When it comes to preventing chimney odors from filling your home, that can backfire. Debris in your chimney, whether it’s creosote, twigs and leaves or animal remains or droppings, can generate smells when exposed to summer’s heat and humidity. By scheduling your annual chimney sweeping during the spring instead of the fall, you can save yourself from the frustration and embarrassment of chimney odors.

Address chimney leaks, and consider waterproofing

Moisture can be a major culprit when it comes to chimney odors. Whether water is making its way in through a crack or seeping in through your chimney’s masonry, it can make your chimney, and your home, stink. The moisture on its own can cause a musty or moldy smell, or it can exacerbate the smells generated by creosote or debris within the chimney. Alleviate chimney odors by having any leaks, no matter how minor, repaired. You also can consider having a waterproofing solution applied to your chimney to keep water from finding its way in through the masonry and causing damage or odors.

Install a top-sealing damper

If odors from your chimney are permeating your home, it means that air must be traveling down your chimney and back into your home. This backward chimney draft can be stopped with a top-sealing chimney damper. While any damper should keep air from traveling down your chimney and into your home, traditional throat dampers eventually fail and allow air to bypass the seal and enter your home. A top-sealing damper provides a tight seal to the top of your chimney’s flue, effectively keeping air from traveling down your chimney.

Consider your chimney’s draft

If your chimney’s draft is a regular problem, it might be time to consult a professional to consider the problem. Air should only travel through your fireplace and up and out of your chimney. If your chimney is drafting improperly, in addition to odors, you might notice smoke finds its way into your home when the fireplace is in use. The solution might be as simple as being mindful of the vented appliances that are operating near your hearth or cracking opening a window in your home. It might take some alterations to your chimney liner. A certified professional can help you find the best way to correct your chimney draft to keep odors out.

If you are plagued with chimney odors in the summer heat, Total Chimney Care can help — whether it’s with a cleaning, chimney repairs, waterproofing, installing a top-sealing damper or addressing an improper chimney draft. Don’t suffer with foul chimney odors all summer; call or go online to schedule your appointment today!

By Steve Sobczak on June 15th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

We fix leaky chimneys!

Leaky chimneys can manifest in many ways inside your home. Whether it’s water pooling in your firebox, stains on your ceilings or walls, discoloration on the exterior of your chimney, or chimney masonry that’s rapidly deteriorating due to excess moisture. The professionals from Total Chimney Care can help. We fix leaky chimneys!

Flashing repair

Most of the time, when there are chimneys leak, the flashing is to blame! Chimney flashing surrounds the base of your chimney, forming a tight seal where the chimney meets your roof to prevent water from leaking in. Over time, your chimney flashing inevitably breaks. It can crack or corrode, forming holes which let water into your chimney. Often, when water stains appear on the ceiling or walls around your chimney, a leak around the chimney flashing is the issue.

Chimney crown repair

Chimney crowns seal off the layers of your chimney at the top. Constructed from concrete, they are extremely susceptible to form cracks due to freeze/thaw process. Damaged chimney crown allows water to leak through the layers of your chimney, causing damage to the internal chimney structure or to your home’s structure. The only way to fix this problem is to repair or reconstruct your chimney crown.


Like your chimney crowns, the mortar joints on your masonry chimney are also incredibly susceptible to break due to water absorption and the freeze/thaw cycle. When your mortar joints form cracks and begin to crumble, water then gain access to your chimney. When water makes its way through the cracks, this can weaken the chimney structure or cause water damage to the chimney’s interior. We recommend getting your chimney repaired through tuckpointing. This process removes the damaged mortar joints and reinforces your chimney with newly applied mortar.


To protect your chimney from leaks in the first place, we can apply a waterproofing solution to your chimney! Chimney masonry absorbs water very easily, and when temperatures drop below freezing, the water within the masonry expands and cause cracks that lead to chimney leaks. When you waterproof your chimney with ChimneySaver solutions, your chimney’s masonry is protected from water absorption. ChimneySaver’s waterproofing solution prevents nearly 100 percent of water from being absorbed into your chimney’s masonry. They also work to allow your chimney to breath and exhaust the smoke and moisture generated by your fireplace at the same time.

Let us help!

If your chimney is plagued with leaks, call Total Chimney Care at 203-874-6772 to schedule an appointment today! Our experts can’t wait to fix your chimney leaks. We offer plenty of solutions to ensure the safety and efficiency of your fireplace by making sure your chimney crown, flashing and mortar joints are in good condition.

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

Avoid Late-Season Chimney Fires

The fire-burning season is largely over, but check your chimney before you light one last fire for the season. While you might worry about chimney fires when your fireplace is in full force for the season, you actually run the biggest risk for chimney fires late in the season. Here’s why late-season chimney fires are fairly common.

Why Chimney Fires are More Common in the Late Season

The saying goes that clean chimneys don’t catch fire. After a season’s worth of house-warming fires, your chimney isn’t clean anymore. Every time you burn a fire, the smoke from the fire cools as it travels up the chimney. This forms condensation on the walls of the chimney. That condensation hardens into creosote. Creosote is a highly flammable substance. If creosote has built up on your chimney thicker than 1/8 of an inch, it can ignite due to extreme heat from your fireplace or from a stray ember that makes its way up your chimney. You can check the level of creosote in your chimney by reaching inside and scraping off a small piece of creosote. If the depth of your scratch or the thickness of the piece of creosote is greater than 1/8 of an inch, call your chimney sweep.

How to Prevent Late-Season Chimney Fires

The key to preventing late-season chimney fires, or any chimney fire, is to keep your chimney clean. Most homeowners clean their chimney once per year in the fall. If you use your chimney heavily throughout the winter months, you might consider having a mid- or late-season chimney sweeping. This ensures that the creosote within your chimney hasn’t built up to potentially dangerous levels. A late-season chimney sweeping is especially wise if you tend to burn fires into the spring if temperatures warrant the additional heat.

You also can work throughout the winter to minimize the amount of creosote that builds up within your chimney. The hotter your fire burns, the less creosote will build up in your chimney with each fire. A hot fire needs dry wood and plenty of oxygen. Only burn hardwoods that have been allowed to dry for at least six months. In addition, always operate your fireplace with the fireplace doors and damper completely open, unless you have heavy-duty fireplace doors that are designed to be closed when the fireplace is in use.

Call Total Chimney Care to Help You Prevent a Late-Season Chimney Fire!

If you’ve been burning fires in your fireplace all season long, call Total Chimney Care to clean your chimney before you light another fire! A late-season chimney sweeping will help you to prevent a late-season chimney fire, and it will help prepare your chimney for the start of the next fire-burning season.

By Steve Sobczak on May 14th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

What to do with your fireplace ashes

Have you been saving your fireplace ashes all winter? Will your summer fires from the fire pit generate even more ashes? What could you do with all of these ashes from your fireplace and fire pit, you might ask? Most people throw them away, but there are so many useful way to put your old ashed to work around the house. Let’s walk through some ways we could use the ashes at your house.

Enrich your compost & keep pests away

If you’re a gardener, you can add ashes as nutrients for your plants. Ashes are rich in potassium, which is great for your flowering plants and fruits. They can also be added directly to the soil to bring pH levels in line for alkaline-loving plants. However, you should be super careful to keep ashes away from plants that prefer an acidic soil.

Don’t add more than six inches of ashes in your compost pile, as it could make the compost too basic for many plants. Because of their rough texture, ashes are perfect for keeping slimy garden pests such as slugs and snails away from your plants. All you have to do is sprinkle a ring of ashes around your plants to keep pests away.

Feed your lawn & fight algae growth

If you’re not a gardener, your ashes can still be useful for enriching your lawn! The nutrients from the ashes are very beneficial to your lawn. First, sprinkle ashes across your lawn, and then water your lawn to keep it from blowing away, which gives time for the ashes to permeate the soil completely. This simple and useful method will help nourish you lawn and provide luscious grass without spending too much money!

If you have a water feature in your yard, ashes can also help to keep algae at bay – thanks to its high calcium content! One tablespoon of ashes per 1,000 gallons of water encourages the growth of aquatic plants while fighting the growth of algae. When your desirable pond plants are healthy, they can keep algae from taking over your pond.

Clean sidewalk stains & other dull surfaces

Do you have unsightly stains on your sidewalks or driveways? Your ashes can actually help to clear up those stains! Sprinkle your ashes onto the unsightly stains and scrub it in. If it’s an oil stain, vigorously rub in the ashes to absorb the oil and then sweep it away.

Ashes make a wonderful all-purpose cleaner! They can be used to polish silver or scrub away stains on glass fireplace doors. You can mix old ashes with water and scrub surfaces with a cloth to revive any surfaces. You can also place bowls of ash in stinky places such as the back of your refrigerator to absorb foul odors, or scrub stinky surfaces with your ash paste to remove odors. If you love do-it-yourself projects, you can even find recipes online for converting your ashes into an all-natural soap!

Call us to learn more

There are so many ways to use your old ashes! You need to save your ashes next time and take advantage of them, rather than throwing them away! You can use them around your home and garden. However, if your indoor or outdoor fireplace or fire pit need attention this spring and summer, don’t hesitate to give Total Chimney Care a call to schedule an appointment today.

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

Spring Cleaning Tips For Your Chimney

Spring cleaning helps refresh your home. Don’t forget to include your chimney in your spring cleaning! From the inside or out, a dirty chimney can subvert your spring cleaning efforts. It can fill your home with unpleasant smells or add a dinginess to the overall look of your home. Here’s what you need to know about spring cleaning your chimney.

Cleaning the Inside of Your Chimney

When your chimney’s dirty on the inside, the air that drafts back fills your home with unpleasant smoky or damp smells. Those smells intensify during the heat of the summer. You can avoid foul smells by scheduling your annual chimney sweeping and inspection for the spring. This helps you avoid the scheduling crunch of

Cleaning Your Hearth

A clean hearth free of ash and debris freshens the look of your living space. You should also clean fireplace doors with a glass cleaner and dust your gas logs. Whatever your hearth material, it should be able to be cleaned with a mild detergent mixed with water. If there are severe stains or if your hearth is deeply imbedded with soot and grime, there are specialty products that can be applied and peeled away to remove that deeply seated grime.

Cleaning the Outside of Your Chimney

If your chimney’s exterior is dingy, it can lower the curb appeal of your entire home. Cleaning your chimney’s exterior is a relatively simple process, and the easiest way is to use a pressure washer.  If you have a masonry chimney, be sure to check out recommendations for the right setting for your pressure washer. Too much pressure could damage the mortar that holds your chimney together. Stains on your masonry chimney can be scrubbed with a brush and a mixture of bleach and water. If you do notice black, white or mold stains on your chimney, be sure to discuss them with your chimney sweep during your annual inspection. That can be a sign that your chimney is taking on water and is susceptible to water damage.

If you’re spring cleaning your house, call Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment today! We can help you get your hearth and your chimney in top shape.

By Steve Sobczak on April 11th, 2018 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment