annual inspection Archives - Total Chimney Care

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Serving You & Serving Our Nation

Steve Sobczak and Stephen Jr

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

Stephen Jr and Steve Sobzcak at marine graduation

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!

What It Looks Like

creosote lump

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!

Your Oil Flue Needs to be Cleaned, too!

Oil furnaces work hard all winter long, running cycles to keep your home warm and comfortable. As the oil burns to heat your home, it creates soot and other byproducts that build up within your chimney. Your oil flue needs to be cleaned and inspected at least once per year.

The Importance of Oil Flue Cleaning and Inspection

As your oil furnace burns, it pumps combustion byproducts into the furnace flue. This includes soot, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water vapor. When an oil flue isn’t cleaned regularly, the soot can fall down to the bottom of a masonry chimney or back onto the heating unit. The buildup of soot can prevent the other combustion byproducts from safely leaving your home. That leaves you and your family in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

On top of the health danger, a dirty oil flue can compromise the efficiency of your heating system. A dirty flue system does not allow your heating unit to work efficiently. That can lead to higher home heating bills and the premature breakdown of your oil furnace.

Additionally, oil furnace flues can break down quickly, as the soot mixes with moisture to create a corrosive concoction. It is important not only to have the flue system swept, but to also have it inspected at least once per year due to rapid breakdown. Your flue inspection will evaluate the health of your oil flue to make sure that the system is safely removing the byproducts of your oil furnace.

The Oil Flue Sweeping Process

You might see your oil technician remove debris from the base of the chimney and dust furnace pipes, but that is not the adequate sweeping process recommended by the National Fire Protection Association. That’s why it is crucial that you schedule a cleaning and inspection with a CSIA-certified chimney sweep.

During your oil flue cleaning and inspection, a sweep trained in oil flue cleaning and inspection will seal any areas that may allow soot from the flue to enter your home. The sweep will then remove and clean the pipe that connects the oil furnace to the chimney flue. The technician will replace the pipe then conduct a thorough visual inspection of the chimney system. The technician will sweep the entire chimney flue if needed. Any loosened soot deposits will be removed, and the entire chimney system will be inspected to make sure that it is safe for use. Once the sweeping and inspection are completed, your technician will restart your oil furnace.

Call Total Chimney Care to Schedule an Appointment Today!

If you are overdue for an oil flue cleaning and inspection, call Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment today! Our CSIA-certified technicians can check the system to ensure that it is in good repair.

By Steve Sobczak on January 23rd, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Repair Your Chimney Before Fall

Warm summer nights probably don’t have you thinking of crackling fall fires, but taking the time to think about your chimney now can save you from delaying your first fall fire because your chimney has not been swept or is in disrepair. In fact, summer can be the best time for chimney services: You can have your chimney repairs completed before fall, and you won’t have to worry about trying to schedule inspections or repairs during the busy fall chimney sweeping season.

Masonry repairs are best completed in warm weather.Chimney Repairs Before Fall & Winter - New Haven-Fairfield CT - Total Chimney Care

If you know your chimney is in need of masonry repairs, whether it is rebuilding a deteriorated chimney crown or tuckpointing crumbling mortar, it is best to have those repairs completed before fall’s cool weather sets in. Warm weather allows masonry materials to cure properly. If the temperature drops too far, or if rainy weather sets in for the fall, you might have to delay necessary chimney repairs and risk delaying your enjoyment of your fireplace this winter.

Scheduling repairs now can prevent further damage.

Many chimney repairs can spiral into larger problems if they go unchecked. If you notice cracks in your chimney’s masonry or if your chimney cap, crown or chase cover have been damaged, that can allow water to pour into your chimney or seep into your chimney’s masonry during heavy summer rainstorms. Addressing needed chimney repairs this summer can prevent further chimney damage.

Summer maintenance can prepare your chimney for fall.

Chimneys require all sorts of regular upkeep to keep them operating effectively and safely. Summer is a great time to undertake chimney maintenance issues so your chimney and your fireplace are ready for the fall. Summer is the perfect time to have your chimney cap repaired or replaced to keep out rain, to install a top-sealing damper to keep out winter drafts and moisture or to have a waterproofing treatment applied to protect your chimney’s masonry from water damage.

A summer inspects prevents surprises.

While annual chimney sweepings and inspections are part of many people’s fall traditions, having a summer inspection has one major advantage. A summer inspection protects you from being surprised with a needed repair when you are ready to light your first fall fire. If your inspection turns up the need for a chimney repair, fireplace repair or a regular maintenance service, you still have plenty of time to undertake that repair before fall’s chill has you ready to light a fire!

If you have noticed the need for a chimney repair, or if you haven’t had your chimney inspection since last fall, call Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment today! We can handle any necessary chimney repairs, perform preventative maintenance services like waterproofing or inspect your chimney to ensure it is clean and in good repair for the coming fall.

By Steve Sobczak on June 30th, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Understanding how your chimney works

One of the most common complaints from fireplace owners is improper chimney drafting, or smoke entering the house from the fireplace rather than exiting through the chimney. The proper working of your chimney relies on the principles of physics. While it may sound complicated, understanding how your chimney works is really quite simple.

The physics of your chimneyUnderstanding the Machanics of your chimney - New Haven - Fairfield CT - Total Chimney Care

To understand how your chimney works, you first must understand that the air in your house is constantly moving. Warm air rises to the top of your home and attempts to force its way out of any cracks or crevices — including attic vents, light fixtures and cracks — it can find to reach the outside. At the lower levels of your house, cold air is attempting to get in to replace the warm air that’s exiting from the upper levels of your house. Somewhere in the middle, there’s the neutral pressure plane, the breaking point at which the air above is positive air trying to exit to the home and the air below is negative and trying to draw more air in.

Your chimney is part of your home’s circulatory system. When it’s full of warm air, as it is when there’s a fire in your fireplace, warm air rushes up the chimney while cool air is pulled into the fireplace. Any disruption in this system can interfere with your chimney’s ability to draft properly.

External disruptions to your chimney’s function

Believe it or not, any vented appliance in your home can affect the way your chimney is drafting. Appliances that draw air out of the house, including bathroom fans, kitchen hoods, clothes dryers and central vacuums, create negative pressure in the area of the fireplace. When there’s negative air pressure near the fireplace, that can prevent air from being draw into the fire and forced up the chimney, causing smoke to draft backward into your home.

Wind loading, when the wind outside is strong enough to put pressure on a portion of the house, also can disrupt your chimney’s draft. If the wrong portion of your house is pressurized by the wind, that can cause smoke to draft back into your home.

Internal disruptions to your chimney draft

One of the biggest culprits of a bad chimney draft is an improperly sized chimney. A chimney that is too tall or too short, too wide or too narrow can interfere with drafting and cause smoke to flow back into your home. Closed or jammed dampers can interfere with the chimney’s draft. Creosote can block your chimney, and your chimney flue or chimney cap can be plugged with debris that prevents your chimney from drafting properly and causes smoke to enter your home.

If you’re having problems with your chimney’s draft and suffering from an influx of smoke into your home from your fireplace, call the chimney experts at Total Chimney Care. We’ll inspect your fireplace and chimney, and help you identify and rectify the problem.