Total Chimney Care's Blog

Keeping Animals Out of Your Chimney

If your chimney isn’t protected, you could find it playing home to an animal. Whether they enter the chimney by accident or are tempted into building a nest by the warmth and shelter of the chimney, birds, bats, raccoons, and squirrels are common intruders in chimneys. Those intruders can cause some serious problems, which is why you should take measures to prevent animals in your chimney.

Keeping Animals Out is Important

Once inside your chimneys, animals can bring a host of problems. At the very least, you can’t use your fireplace if the chimney is blocked by a trapped animal or an animal nest. And having animals removed from your chimney by a professional can be expensive. Some of the other problems animals in chimneys can cause include:

  • Chimney damage. A trapped, frantic animal can damage your chimney with clawing and scratching. A nesting animal can damage the chimney as it enters and exits, and as it builds the nest.
  • Fire hazard. Animal nests are usually constructed of flammable materials. If you have a nest in your chimney that you’re not aware of and you light a fire, the nest could ignite and start a chimney fire.
  • Carbon monoxide hazard. If your chimney is blocked by an animal or an animal nest, gases generated by your fireplace, including carbon monoxide, can’t exit the chimney. That can cause the gases to build up to dangerous levels within your home.
  • Foul odors. If a trapped animal can’t escape the chimney, it can die and decay, filling your house with a horrible smell. Nesting animals can leave behind smells from droppings, rotting food or rotting nesting materials.
  • Diseases. Animals carry diseases. When they enter your chimney, they carry a risk of spreading those diseases to your family or your pets.

Prevent Animals From Entering Your Chimney

There are three primary ways to protect your chimney from animal intrusions:

  • Chimney caps. Chimney caps are perhaps the most common method for keeping animals out of your chimney. Chimney caps cover the chimney opening, and a proper chimney cap is surrounded by a metal cage to keep out animals and debris.
  • Top-sealing dampers. Top-sealing dampers close off your chimney entirely when the chimney isn’t in use, keeping out water, animals, and debris. When the chimney is in use and the damper is open, the damper opening should be enclosed with a wire cage to keep animals out.
  • Chimney sweepings and inspections. A chimney sweeping and inspection won’t keep animals out of your chimney, but a chimney sweep can spot a trapped animal or signs of an animal nest. A chimney sweep can clear away any signs of an animal nest or animal droppings, and he can help with any repairs needed due to damage caused by animals.

If your chimney isn’t protected from animal intrusions, call Total Chimney Care to schedule an appointment today! We can install a chimney cap or a top-sealing damper to keep animals out. If an animal does enter your chimney, we can clear out a nest, clear away droppings and debris left by the animal, and make sure that your chimney is safe for use.

By Steve Sobczak on August 3rd, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , | Leave a Comment

What The Cold Is Doing To Your Chimney

What the Cold is Doing to Your Chimney - New Haven Fairfield CT - Total Chimney CareWhen winter strikes its ugly head, it’s easy to see what winter is doing to your car, your lawn and even your mood, but have you ever stopped to wonder what the cold is doing to your chimney? Often ignored until it is too late, your chimney endures a lot of exposure during the winter and it is important to understand the potential damage your chimney has after winter has taken its toll. Here are some ways cold affects your chimney and how you can maintain your chimney even during the coldest weather.

Cold Weather Can Damage Your Chimney

If the cold weather can damage other components of your home imagine what it is doing to your chimney. In the cold winter, all the masonry, bricks, and flue will contract. As the warm weather begins again, and each material will expand at slightly different rates and cause the bricks and mortar to crack, break and crumble. This is the same effect as we see increased potholes on the roads after the snow melts away. Any crack in your chimney in the inside or outside is not a good sign and can cause water leaking and water damage and continuing to use a fire in the fireplace with a cracked flue liner only causes more deterioration in the chimney mortar. If not addressed, your chimney will become unusable and can even shift or collapse and this can result in expensive repairs.

Cold Air Can Affect Your Fireplace Or Woodstove

If you heat your home with a fireplace or other wood-burning appliance then the cold air could be doing damage you don’t realize. When cold air is pushed down your chimney, it battles with the hot air attempting to go up the chimney when you light your fire. The result is often that it’s difficult for you to light fires in your home, and it may even cause your fires to not burn hot enough. This is what’s known as the stack effect, when the cold air pushing down towards your chimney, causing a backdraft []. This not only makes it difficult to light fires but can also result in unpleasant odors when you light your fire. You want to do everything you can to avoid drafts and prevent cold air from pushing down your chimney.

How You Can Protect Your Chimney

There are several things homeowners can do to protect their chimneys from cold air and other elements of harsh winter weather. For starters, make sure your damper is completely shut when your chimney and fireplace are not in use. This will prohibit cold air from plunging into your chimney. If you’d like to further guarantee that your chimney is protected you may want to consider investing in a top-sealing damper, which will seal the chimney from the top, instead of at the throat. Chimney caps are also available that will cover the chimney and seal it shut when it’s not in use. Additional benefits to these products include:

Moisture will not enter your chimney

Debris like leaves and sticks will not enter your chimney
Small animals and birds will not fall in your chimney

This winter, keep cold air where it belongs – outside your home. Invest in quality products and trust your chimney experts to keep your chimney clean, dry and warm. The chimney professionals at Total Chimney Care in New Haven and Fairfield [] are available to recommend products as well as inspect your chimney for any damage or leaks. Protect your chimney from cold air this season and don’t let winter get the best of your chimney.

By Steve Sobczak on March 12th, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

Your Chimney’s Spring Checklist

When we think of Spring, flowers, sunshine, and freshness come to mind. Sometimes, we forget all about the one that kept us warm and cozy all winter long. -- Don't forget to include your chimney in your Spring home maintenance checklist.

When we think of Spring, flowers, sunshine, and freshness come to mind. Sometimes, we forget all about the one that kept us warm and cozy all winter long. — Don’t forget to include your chimney in your Spring home maintenance checklist.

The long winter season is finally over, and spring has sprung into action! This means it’s time for spring cleaning, and when you are making your cleaning list for your house, don’t forget your fireplace and chimney. Spring is the best time to schedule your annual chimney sweeping and inspection because it’s easy to get an appointment, and your fireplace and chimney are at their dirtiest after using it all winter to warm your house. When you make your spring checklist for your chimney, you really only have one step to make: contact Total Chimney Care today for your annual chimney sweeping and inspection, and we will take care of the other steps on your spring checklist for your chimney.

What We’ll Do

  • According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, you must have your chimney swept and inspected annually in order to keep it safe and up-to-date on all repairs. When we arrive to your home to perform a chimney sweep and inspection, we will inspect your chimney with a video camera attached to a long rod. This will allow us to closely examine the interior of your chimney, letting us see if there is any hidden damage or other problems.
  • The next step is placing drop cloths down on the floor and furniture around your fireplace to protect them from soot and dust, and then our Total Chimney Care technician will vacuum your chimney with a clean HEPA vacuum filter to keep all the debris and dirt out of your house.
  • After vacuuming your chimney, our next step is sweeping your chimney to remove creosote buildup. We will also clear any blockages from your liner, firebox, smoke chamber, and damper.
  • The final step in our chimney sweep is to evaluate our findings in the video footage to see if there is any damage that needs repairing. This kind of damage includes loose bricks (indicating water leaking, which can lead to structural damage), creosote build-up (which can lead to chimney fires), and broken tiles (another sign of possible structural damage).
  • Other signs of needed repair that you can add to your spring cleaning checklist are a strong odor coming from your fireplace (indicating damper problems or air ventilation issues), a stained-black or discolored fireplace opening (meaning your venting needs to be replaced), and loose bricks or cracks in the mortar on the outside of your chimney (a sure sign of water infiltration causing structural damage).
  • If you do need repairs, Total Chimney Care has worked with every sort of fireplace and chimney problem. From cracked masonry to blocked chimney caps, we have handled it all. We will be happy to evaluate your problems and give you an estimate on any repairs needed.

Make your spring checklist for your chimney easy this season by scheduling an appointment with Total Chimney Care for your annual chimney sweep and inspection. Ask us about our “sweep you off your feet” guarantee when you contact us. We look forward to getting your chimney cleaned up for the spring season.