Total Chimney Care's Blog

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 Repairs

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

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.

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.

Spring and Summer for Chimney Inspections

Spring and summer are seasons we often begin to do significant repairs around the home. But, for some reason, homeowners often let the chimney and fireplace go until they are ready to use it again. There is more than one reason homeowners need to seriously consider making chimney inspections part of their spring-cleaning routine.

Chimney Inspections - Bridgeport CT - Total Chimney Care

Chimneys handle both fire and water in winter. In a lingering winter, the latter is definitely a worry. There is an unusual amount of snow and rain for this time of the year, with new storms rolling across the country every few days. Spring – whenever it comes — follows “the heating season”, and – when it is like this one – it is only sensible to see what happened.

There is a lot of outdoor activity in the local animal kingdom during the spring. Animals of all sorts are getting out and about and looking for a new home. Chimneys are the ideal location for them, so spring is definitely the time to ensure they are properly capped.

There are other good reasons for spring inspections and summer, too, but – having raised concerns – it is time for some benefits! Repairing a chimney in either season is an absolute breeze compared to undertaking repairs in the heating season. If you catch defects in spring, there is plenty of time for careful selection of workers, materials, and schedules.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that just because you do not really use your fireplace over the summer that it is a good time to simply push it to the back of the “Honey Do” list. As in most cases, when something is not needed or used, it is much easier to break down and have it cleaned. If it has to be out of order for some time for repairs, this is the time. And of course, do not forget, just because you are not using it, does not mean some critters are not trying to make it their home!

By Steve Sobczak on June 14th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , | Leave a Comment