Total Chimney Care's Blog

Total Chimney Care celebrates 20 years

This May marks a major celebration for us at Total Chimney Care. We now have been providing top notch chimney services throughout the greater New Haven area for 20 years.20 Years of Total Chimney Care - New Haven - Fairfield CT- Total Chimney Care-w800-h800

Our story

Total Chimney Care founder Steve Sobczak moved to Milford, CT, following his retirement from the U.S. Navy and begin sweeping chimneys. As his business grew, thanks to his glowing reputation, Steve took the business full time in 1996, incorporated Total Chimney Care and opened an office at Total Chimney Care’s current location. As our business has grown, we’ve focused on selecting the right people to serve our clients. We train the most trustworthy applicants in our in-house training facility so our clients can rest assured that the technicians who clean, inspect and service their chimneys are qualified industry experts.

Over the years, as our staff and our expertise has grown, we’ve continued to expand our services and our service areas. In addition to providing sweeping and inspections in accordance with Chimney Safety Institute of America guidelines, we repair leaking chimneys, fireboxes and crumbling mortar; we replace fireboxes, dampers, chimney caps and chimney liners; we perform chimney waterproofing services; we clean and inspect clothing dryer vents to keep your dryer operating safely; and we clean air vents to ensure that the air circulating through your home is dust and allergen free.

Celebrate our anniversary with savings!

We know we wouldn’t be celebrating our 20th anniversary without the support of our loyal customers. With that in mind, we’re inviting our customers to help us celebrate our 20th anniversary with savings! Call the Total Chimney Care office nearest to you to hear about our 20th anniversary savings and discounts. Our office staff will help you determine how you can address needed chimney repairs and have regular chimney maintenance performed at Total Chimney Care’s anniversary prices!

And remember: This is the best time of year to celebrate your early bird chimney cleaning. When you schedule a chimney sweeping during the spring months, you can realize off-season discounts, enjoy faster scheduling times and can provide yourself with plenty of time to have any chimney repairs performed before the next fire-burning season. A spring cleaning removes creosote and ash from your fireplace and chimney, saving it from the damaging qualities of these acidic fire byproducts. Leaving creosote in your chimney over the summer can have other detrimental effects: When creosote mixes with moisture, humidity and high temperatures, it can emit a foul smell that can fill your home all summer long. An early bird chimney sweeping can help you avoid that!

At Total Chimney Care, we’re excited to be celebrating our 20th anniversary, and we hope you’re excited to celebrate with us. Call today to schedule your annual chimney servicing and to find out what anniversary discounts are available to you!

By Steve Sobczak on May 5th, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Schedule Your Chimney Sweep and Dryer Vent Cleaning Together

helpful_tips_total_chimney_care_milford_ctAs the warm weather and days of splashing in the pool fade away, fall and winter are suddenly right around the corner. Our minds quickly forget the memories of summer and instead look ahead to all the joys of the end of the year. From pumpkin carving to snowman building and holiday celebrating, fall and winter are times of excitement and family fun. Those chilly East Coast nights quickly give way to blankets of snow, and you are in the very throes of the season.

Many homeowners start to think about getting their fireplaces up and running right around this time of the year. As temperatures start to drop, some people want to run the fireplace to keep the house warm. Others simply enjoy the tranquil ambiance offered by a warm, crackling fire on a gray, winter evening. Whatever the reason for using the fireplace, having a mason out to inspect and sweep the chimney beforehand is an excellent practice.

Because fireplaces have a set time of the year that people use them, most homeowners find it easier to remember to have the chimney cleaned and inspected every year. It is much easier to forget to maintain home appliances that you use year round, such as your clothes dryer. The dryer also needs a cleaning and inspection at least once per year, but many people overlook the quiet, reliable machine. As a way to help you remember, schedule a dryer vent cleaning along with the chimney sweep and inspection. The same serviceperson may even be able to complete both jobs on the same day.

According to the US Fire Administration, having the dryer vent cleaned is vital to the safety of your home and your family. While cleaning the lint trap inside the machine is a good start, the vent that lets the hot air escape your home also needs attention. Over time, lint, debris and even animals build up inside the vent. Sometimes the vent itself needs to be replaced too, because it has experienced unsafe amounts of wear and tear.

Damaged parts of an old vent can also grab large amounts of lint and debris. Any obstructions like these in the vent collect the hot air as it tries to leave the house, and because lint is highly flammable, this significantly increases the risk of fire in your home. In fact, between 2008 and 2010, an average of nearly 3,000 dryer fires was reported each year to the U.S. Fire Administration, and the majority of the fires were caused by failure to properly maintain the unit.

If you live in the area of New Haven, Connecticut, contact Total Care Chimney for a professional consultation. Total Care can provide you with expert servicing for both your chimney and your dryer vent. Do not hesitate to call because your safety counts on it.

Common Chimney Repairs

At Total Chimney Care, we do all we can to help our clients avoid chimney damage, from advising on best burning practices to providing diligent annual maintenance (including chimney inspections and chimney sweeping and cleaning).

It is our mission to assure you that we will get the job done right, in a timely manner, and for a fair price. Our goal is to exceed your expectations!

It is our mission to assure you that we will get the job done right, in a timely manner, and for a fair price. Our goal is to exceed your expectations!

But the reality is, even with the best care possible, problems can and will crop up — your chimney is constantly under attack from punishing weather and high heat, so it’s almost impossible to avoid the need for repairs altogether. The key is to keep on top of those inspections so we can handle problems while they’re still small, and to call Total Chimney Care as soon as possible when you notice an issue with your chimney in between inspections. Our technicians can get your system back in shape quickly and properly, so you can enjoy your fireplace or stove again.

Wondering what to expect? Here are some of the more common chimney repairs we make:

Replacing Chimney Caps

Two things often bring an early end to the life of a chimney cap. One: a particularly bad storm with heavy winds, which can tear a cap off (and sometimes carry it away, never to be heard from again). Two: being made of galvanized metal. That material tends to be the least expensive, so cost-conscious builders and homeowners sometimes prefer them. The down side is that galvanized metal isn’t the most durable choice — it can corrode and degrade, leaving your cap unable to do its job of keeping moisture, nesting animals and falling debris out of your flue.

If your chimney cap is gone, literally or figuratively, Total Chimney Care can replace it with a properly sized and installed, highly durable new cap.

Repairing Or Replacing Chimney Dampers

Your chimney damper’s role is to close off the flue when you’re not using your fireplace, which makes it an important part of your home’s energy efficiency and your system’s protection against moisture intrusion. It’s not uncommon for throat dampers in older chimneys to eventually fail — the metal plate used to close off your flue can rust and corrode, get stuck or come off the track it’s on. Total Chimney Care can often repair damaged throat dampers, but we can also replace them with far superior top-sealing dampers, which are more energy efficient and more durable.

Repairing Damaged Masonry

Masonry materials are beautiful and durable, but time and the elements can and do take their toll. From masonry joints that recede from years of exposure to the elements to cracks that develop from your home’s settling, masonry damage can lead to leaks and to improper venting — and those are certainly things you don’t want. Total Chimney Care can handle all kinds of masonry repairs, from intricately tuck pointing damaged joints to repairing spalling chimney crowns, bringing your chimney back to looking and functioning its best.

Those are just a few of the more common repairs we’re called out to do, but Total Chimney Care is focused on what our name indicates. If you have a problem with your chimney, fireplace or stove, we can help — just give us a call!

By Steve Sobczak on May 20th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Dealing with a Leaky Chimney

You can easily stay on top of the maintenance of your chimney, but if you develop a substantial leak in your fireplace, you need to contact a certified professional as soon as possible.

You can easily stay on top of the maintenance of your chimney, but if you develop a substantial leak in your fireplace, you need to contact a certified professional as soon as possible.

Water can be your chimney’s biggest enemy, primarily due to the structural damages it can cause. With obvious signs like loose bricks on the exterior chimney and annual chimney sweeps and inspections, you can easily stay on top of the maintenance of your chimney, but if you develop a substantial leak in your fireplace, you need to contact a certified professional like Total Chimney Care immediately to assess and repair the leak. Our experienced technicians will find the leak’s location and fix what is causing the leak.

The Importance of Preventing Chimney Leaks

If you have a masonry chimney (or any chimney, for that matter), the Chimney Safety Institute of America stresses the importance of regular maintenance to prevent chimney leaks. However, when you are experiencing a chimney leak, you can relax after contacting Total Chimney Care because our expert technicians know exactly where to look and what to do. Some of the most common reasons for a leaky chimney include:

  • Damaged chimney cap or crown – The chimney cap or crown (a chimney crown is the masonry fireplace version of the chimney cap) is one of the most important parts of your chimney because it covers the top of your chimney, protecting it from rain water, animals, and debris. If your chimney cap or crown becomes cracked or damaged, it needs to either be repaired or replaced. Total Chimney Care specializes in masonry chimneys, and we guarantee our work rebuilding your cracked and damaged chimney crown.
  • Damaged or improperly installed flashing – Flashing is sheet metal that is installed around the exterior of the chimney to offer even more protection against water leaks; however, it does not last forever. Rusting causes the flashing to become ineffective and fails to prevent water from entering the chimney. Furthermore, although flashing is sold in DIY kits and promoted as easy to install, this is a job best left to professionals. Improperly installed flashing is one of the biggest causes of water leaks in chimneys.
  • Condensation – When a gas like water vapor transforms into the liquid form of water, condensation has occurred. If there is no physical damage to the chimney cap or crown or to the flashing, it is likely there is flue gas condensation causing the leaking in your chimney. Usually, to solve this problem, your chimney needs relining to keep the flue gases hotter to eliminate the condensation.

Waterproofing your Chimney

If you are not currently experiencing a leaky chimney, there is something you can do now to prevent this nightmare from happening to you: waterproofing. Recommended by the Chimney Safety Institute of America after your leaky chimney has been repaired and cleaned, a waterproofing treatment will extend the life of your chimney for years. Applied to your chimney by Total Chimney Care’s certified professionals, this waterproofing sealant will reduce the amount of water entering your chimney, decrease the erosion process from water, and preserve your chimney’s beauty and function.

Suffering from a leaky chimney is not fun, but before you panic, contact Total Chimney Care. Our certified repair associates are on hand to solve the problem and then protect you from this nightmare experience from happening again.

Saving Energy = Saving Money

Get Better Performance And Savings With Energy Efficient Appliances

It’s easy to get attached to an old wood-burning stove or fireplace — there’s so much character and history confined inside these appliances, and, at their best, they bring such an unmatched, eye-grabbing charm to a space. But they do bring some serious drawbacks, too.

Open fireplaces and older wood stoves (meaning ones that were manufactured before 1990) just weren’t designed to be terribly efficient, in terms of heating power or fuel use. They waste fuel, waste heat and create higher levels of dangerous byproducts and deposits like creosote (which is what your Total Chimney Care technicians are working to get rid of during chimney sweeping appointments.Saving Energy = Saving Money - New Haven Fairfield CT - Total Chimney Care

Those old appliances also contribute more pollution to the air outside, and higher levels of particulates to their air inside your home. And if you really want to warm a room, your old wood fireplace isn’t going to offer a lot there — by design, a massive share of the heat created just gets sucked right up the flue. So while it’s understandable to be attached to that old unit, they’re not always the most practical.

Upgrading To Energy Efficient Appliances

Newer fireplaces and stoves on the market now were explicitly developed with energy efficiency and savings in mind. According to figures from the Environmental Protection Agency, newer, EPA-certified appliances are 50 percent more energy efficient (a new wood-burning unit can produce the same amount of heat as an old appliance using a third of the wood). Particle pollution is decreased with EPA-certified appliances too, by as much as 70 percent, and creosote build-up in the flue is dramatically reduced. The benefits here are broad, from the warmth in your home to the bottom line in your checkbook.

Gas Brings Convenience And Efficiency Too

If you have a wood-burning unit and want to really maximize efficiency and convenience, consider switching to gas, with the installation of gas logs or a gas insert. Gas units on the market today are highly efficient — direct-vent appliances show around a 70 percent efficiency rating, and ventless ones are often shown to reach efficiency rates in the 90s. You’re getting a lot of bang for your fuel buck with modern gas appliances.

If you have any questions about boosting your energy efficiency or upgrading to a new energy-saving appliance, Total Chimney Care is always here to help. Just give us a call!