Total Chimney Care's Blog

Get Your Chimney Cleaned Before the Cold Strikes!

Fall is in full swing, and soon enough, winter will be upon us with its cold, windy snowy weather. You want to be sure that your home is ready to combat the cold with a safe and functional fireplace or heating stove. Here’s why you should be sure to have your chimney swept and inspected before the cold strikes.

Reduce the risk of chimney firesGet your chimney cleaned before the cold

The No. 1 reason to have your chimney swept and inspected before you light a fire this fall is to reduce your home’s risk of a chimney fire. Every time you build a fire, creosote or soot builds up within your chimney. Between fire-burning seasons, animals or debris can find their way into your chimney. Any of those things in your chimney can spark a chimney fire if an errant spark comes into contact with it or if the temperature of your fireplace increases drastically. For that reason, the National Fire Protection Association recommends having your chimney swept and inspected by a certified professional at least once per year.  This recommendation applies to all types of vented hearth appliances, including gas fireplaces and heating stoves.

Identify any deficiencies with your fireplace

Hearth appliances can malfunction like any appliance, and there is nothing worse than realizing your fireplace won’t light when the temperature drops and your home needs the supplemental heat. During your annual chimney sweeping and inspection, your chimney sweep will check all of the working components of your fireplace. He or she will identify any potential problems or failing equipment so that you can address those problems so that your fireplace will work when you want it to this winter.

Address chimney damage

Winter is notoriously hard on chimneys. Moisture finds its way into any weakness in the masonry, and when that moisture freezes and expands, it causes chimney masonry to break down even further, which can cause problems ranging from chimney leaks to structural failure. During your chimney inspection, your sweep will look for any cracks or weaknesses that would allow moisture into your chimney so you can protect your chimney against moisture this winter.

Make improvements to your hearth

Making an appointment with your chimney sweep this winter goes beyond regular maintenance; it gives you the opportunity to plan and carry out any improvements to your hearth system. Whether you’re looking to install a new insert to increase the efficiency or you want to upgrade the look of your fireplace with new fireplace doors, your chimney sweep can talk to you about your options and help you plan your hearth improvements.

Don’t be caught unaware by the cold this winter; be sure to have your chimney swept and inspected before the cold strikes! Call Total Chimney Care to schedule your appointment today.

By Steve Sobczak on November 16th, 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

Start 2017 Off With A Chimney Inspection!

A new year brings new beginnings. With that in mind, many people start the new year with a traditional deep cleaning of their homes. If you are trying to get your home in order, due to your new year’s resolution, start your with a chimney inspection!

A New Year Means a Fresh Start

You probably know that your chimney should be swept and inspected at least once per year to keep your home safe. A chimney sweeping inspection removes creosote buildups and other deposits within your chimney. It provides an opportunity to detect any cracks, deterioration, damage or malfunctioning in your chimney and fireplace system. While fall is the traditional time of year for a chimney sweeping and inspection, many people slide past their annual inspection date, past Christmas and into the new year.  The new year is the perfect time to have your chimney inspected. If your chimney is swept now, you still have plenty of the fire-burning season left to enjoy your freshly swept chimney.

A Clean Chimney Means a Cleaner Home

If you like to give your home a deep cleaning every new year, a chimney sweeping is a must. A dirty chimney can fill your home with unpleasant odors from creosote deposits, an animal nest or organic matter. If you have a stinky chimney filling your home with foul odors, your home won’t truly seem clean. A chimney sweeping will clear away the debris in your chimney that can cause unpleasant smells in your home.

Cleaning Your Chimney Now Means Less Work Later

By having your chimney swept as part of your new year’s resolution, you will cross one more thing off of your home to-do list! That means you will be able to enjoy your fireplace safely for the rest of the season, and you won’t have to worry about your chimney again until you light a fire next year. When the fall fire-burning season hits, you will already have a well-prepped fireplace.

A Chimney Inspection Now Let’s You Plan For Repairs

The best time for chimney repairs is in the spring and summer, when you’re not planning to use your fireplace. If you have your chimney swept now to prepare your home for the new year, you will have ample time to schedule your chimney repairs or improvements. This will prepare you chimney for good use next fall.

If you are ready to start 2017 off with a chimney cleaning and inspection, call Total Chimney Care to schedule your appointment today!

By Steve Sobczak on February 6th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Back to School Means Cold Weather Soon – Is Your Fireplace and Chimney Ready?

Back to School Means Cold Weather is Soon - Is Your Chimney Ready - Total Chimney CareAs schools start up after a long summer of warmth and sunshine, the cold weather finally begins to approach. The children stop playing outdoors, and you stop lounging by the pool. The only place to go is indoors, and when fall gives way to the bitter chill of winter, the family will be gathered around the fireplace once again. You wonder if your fireplace is ready to warm your home this winter, and if your chimney is likewise up to the task. While the children are at school, you consider having your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected by the professionals at Total Chimney Care before the cold weather sets.


Why is it important to ensure that your fireplace and chimney are ready for the cold weather?

According to experts such as the National Fire Protection Association, “Chimneys [should] be swept at least once a year at the beginning of the winter to remove soot and debris.” Since your chimney regulates the airflow of your home and vents you fireplace, it is critical to make sure that it is working properly in the winter while you’ll be spending the majority of your time inside. Inspection, cleaning, and any necessary repairs of both your chimney and fireplace will guarantee proper operation and protect your home from fires and other safety hazards.

How do you ensure fireplace and chimney readiness for this winter?

An annual cleaning and inspection by a professional chimney sweep before the cold weather starts up can resolve a number of potential issues related to your fireplace and chimney system. Inspections can even reveal damage that requires repair before you can safely light a fire in the hearth.

  • Ensuring that your chimney cap is intact and fitted can prevent debris such as bird nests and leaves from blocking your chimney. Such blockages are life threatening and can prevent your chimney from venting the fireplace smoke, thereby causing carbon monoxide to remain trapped in your home. Not only do blockages pose a carbon monoxide hazard, but they also pose a fire hazard when they prevent embers from escaping out of the chimney.
  • A chimney and fireplace sweep can also prevent chimney and house fires by removing any built up creosote. Creosote is highly flammable and builds up in your chimney every time you use your fireplace. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) advises, “Whatever form it takes, creosote is highly combustible. If it builds up in sufficient quantities – and the internal flue temperature is high enough – the result could be a chimney fire.”
  • A chimney sweep professional will make sure your damper is sufficiently open. Because restricted air supply promotes creosote buildup, it is important to ensure that the damper is open wide.
  • If your chimney is leaning or the masonry is deteriorating, then you will need to have it repaired. Cracks in the chimney’s masonry make using your fireplace a fire hazard.
  • It may also be a good idea to have a metal mesh screen installed in front of your fireplace to catch flying embers.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to prepare your fireplace and chimney for the approaching frosty weather. The start of classes marks the time for you to get your annual inspection, cleaning, and repairs to ensure that your family can safely sit together by the fireside this winter. If you live in the New Haven and Fairfield areas of Connecticut, call or go online today to schedule your appointment with the professionals at Total Chimney Care.

Reasons To Consider A Mid-Season Chimney Cleaning

Mid Season Cleaning Benefits - Fairfield New Haven CT - Total Chimney CareFireplaces and wood-burning stoves have been immensely helpful to homeowners this winter season because we have endured an abundance of snow, ice and freezing rain. Many chimney sweeping professionals will recommend you have your chimney swept and inspected once a year if you use your wood-burning appliance very rarely. However, if you have been using your fireplace or stove all winter long, you may want to schedule a mid-season cleaning.

Why A Mid-Season Cleaning?

The reasons for a mid-season cleaning are simple: you want the peace of mind that your chimney is operating in the best possible condition. An inspection after a couple of months of use will let you rest assured your chimney is safe to use for the rest of the cold season. If you’ve been using your chimney regularly, blockage and build-up can occur, so a mid-season cleaning can alleviate potential problems and allow you to use your chimney safely. Spring is almost here, but we have still got some cold weather to endure, so make sure your chimney is in the best possible condition for the rest of the cold season.

Birds, Animals And Debris

When it is cold outside, many animals look for sanctuary. If your chimney cap has been open, they may have gone inside your chimney and built nests. Not only is this inhumane for the animals, it’s also not safe for your chimney. Nests are flammable, and can cause chimney damage if not removed safely.

Creosote Build-Up

Chimney sweeping companies talk about creosote a lot, because it is a harmful build-up that is highly flammable [] and can damage your chimney. If you use your chimney on a regular basis to heat your home, you want to sweep it out regularly to remove the harmful residue and prevent it from damaging your chimney.

Moisture In Your Chimney 

One of the biggest concerns during winter months is moisture getting into your chimney. If you are using your chimney regularly and leaving your damper open, it is possible that rain and snow have gotten into your chimney. This can create build-up and make it difficult for you to ignite fires and keep them burning hot, but it can also cause mortar damage to the mason work inside your chimney. A mid-season chimney sweep and inspection can remove moisture and help you feel comfortable using your fireplace or woodstove.

Hiring a professional to clean and inspect your chimney is one of the smartest decisions you can make as a homeowner. Damage can be evident from the exterior of your home, but only a licensed and qualified chimney sweep will have the tools and experience necessary to do a thorough inspection on the outside, as well as the inside of your chimney and fireplace. Before winter rears its head for the last time, schedule a mid-season chimney sweep and inspection with the professionals at Total Chimney Care in New Haven and Fairfield []. You will be able to enjoy the rest of winter with a comfortably heated home knowing that your chimney and your fireplace are working safely and efficiently.

By Steve Sobczak on March 22nd, 2015 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment