3 Things to look for in a chimney repair company

If your chimney needs maintenance or repair, it is in your best interest to find a reputable company to repair your chimney or install a fireplace.  Unfortunately, in many cases, this is far easier said than done.  Homeowners in Ellicott City, MD and Washington DC can find it a real challenge. Some chimney repair companies provide services that are not up-to-par in terms of quality of service.  In the case of fireplace installation, they may offer products that are not designed to meet the requirements of your home.  It is important to find a chimney repair or fireplace company that provides quality service.  Here are a few things you should look for when hiring a chimney repair company.

Focus on your needs vs Getting the lowest price

cheap chimney repairs

Another thing to consider when hiring a chimney repair company is whether they emphasize the needs of your home or a low price. Obviously, you don’t want to pay a fortune to have a company repair the chimney of your home. Therefore, chances are you aren’t hiring the chimney repair company that charges the highest prices for its services. However, you should be equally against hiring the chimney repair company that offers the prices that are seem too good to be true.   

If the prices are ridiculously low, chances are the chimney repair company cut a lot of corners to be able to offer such low prices. For example, they may reuse existing parts that should actually be replaced to get their prices lower.  They will replace the part that is leaking.  However, they will not address the rusted out part right next to it that will be malfunctioning any day now.  As a result, new problems arise in short order resulting in another service call.  They may also hire workers with inadequate training or expertise and equip these workers with equipment and products of low quality.  This can compromise the safety of the home because the job is simply not done well. If you hire a chimney repair company that offers incredibly cheap services, prepare to have the chimney repair job done twice because you may need to hire another company to fix the mistakes of the first.

Personalized Service

personalized chimney service

When looking for a chimney repair company to hire, one of the things you should consider is whether a company offers personalized services to their customers. Personalized service refers to the involvement of upper management in every project. You do not want to hire a chimney repair company that will send their employees to your home or business without performing any upper management control or quality checks. Unfortunately, many companies that repair chimneys or install fireplaces are like this in that they blindly send workers without the involvement of upper management.

Licenses and Certifications


Believe it or not, but the chimney sweep industry is unregulated in many states. However, to ensure that you hire a chimney repair company that offers quality services, there are licenses and certifications from organizations that are nationally recognized that you can check for.

You also want to check whether a company has memberships with nationally recognized organizations. This demonstrates that the chimney company is aware of industry standards.  For example, National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG) and National Fireplace Institute (NFI) provide their members with tips when it comes to professionalism and expertise in the chimney repair and fireplace installation industry. A membership with these organizations signifies that a chimney sweep company is interested in improving the services that it offers whenever possible.


As you can see, there are many things you should look for before you hire a company to repair your chimney or install your fireplace.   As long as you consider whether a company offers personalized services, focuses on quality over price, and has licenses and certifications from nationally recognized organizations, you can be confident that you will get a good chimney repair service in exchange for your money.  If you need chimney sweep, chimney repair or fireplace installation in Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Anne Arundel County or Baltimore, then you should consider calling us.  We are committed to exceeding your expectations of quality service. 

All Pro Chimney Repairs Chimney in Potomac,MD

We received a call to fix a leaky chimney in Potomac, Maryland. The customer informed us that they hired another company for chimney repairs but their chimney still leaks.  As a result, he thought it was a roofing issue.  A roofer came out to evaluate the situation and assured the customer that it was the chimney.  The customer was pretty upset with the other company. The customer started looking for a chimney repair company in Montgomery County that had a reputation for qualtiy work.  They decided to call us, All Pro Chimney Service.  After performing a chimney inspection we discovered that the only thing the other company did right was a chimney sweep.  There were still serious problems with the chimney cover and chimney cap.

chimney cap silver spring, md

(*The chase cover is the big rectangular piece on top.)

Here we have a picture of the chimney. The chase cover has been replaced with a stainless steel chase cover and the cap replaced as well with an aftermarket cap.

 If you look closely you can see the neighbors chase cover is rusted and will need to have theirs replaced as well. A rusted chase cover will not only cause leaks but also leave unsightly rust stains on the chimney.

 chimney leak silver spring, md

So with the chase cover having been replaced what else could the problem be? Well there are two issues’ here that were causing this chimney to leak.

First, the cap that was installed is not the correct cap for this fireplace/chimney. This fireplace uses a double wall ventilated chimney. This cap that was installed is designed for solid packed chimney which means that the cap does not have the air space build in to it to allow the chimney to ventilate properly and could cause it to overheat. The other issue with the cap is that it doesn’t completely cover the pipe so when it rains really hard and on windy days the rain can get in.

chimney collar silver spring, md

The second issue is that the storm collar is too small for the collar of the chase cover and is allowing rain to come right in. This storm collar looks to be the original one and was reused. The problem is that when they measured the chase cover they made the collar of the opening bigger than what was there initially so they should have replaced the storm collar with one that has a larger span to insure that water cannot leak in.

 new chimney cap and storm collar potomac, md

Here is a picture of the new cap and storm collar. This cap was made by the manufacturer for this fireplace/chimney system. It has the air space underneath the lid of the cap to allow chimney to ventilate properly. We installed a new stainless steel storm collar that completely covers the collar of the chase cover.

finished chimney repair potomac, md

After picture- The chimney repair in Potomac, MD is now complete.  We installed 2 of these at this house.  

The sad part of this story is that this customer had to pay twice to get their chimney repaired.  It is always better to hire a dependable professional chimney repair company the first time.  All Pro Chimney Service is the best choice for chimney repair.

 Tips and advice:

Things to ask the tech when gathering quotes for repairs:

1-      Are they licensed?

2-      Are they certified?

3-      What materials or parts are they proposing to use? If parts are going to be replaced will it be the same part or an aftermarket part. If aftermarket, ask why and will it affect the listing of unit being repaired.

4-      Ask for warranties on the products and services being provided.

5-      Ask for before and after pictures.



How to sweep a chimney

chimney sweep maryland

There is nothing quite as cozy and comfortable to snuggle up to on a cold winter’s night as a roaring fire in the fireplace. There is also nothing more disastrous than lighting that fire only to realize (too late) that your chimney is not in good working order.  Getting a chimney sweep is the best way to prevent this problem. As a result many smart home owners in Silver Spring and all over the state of Maryland hire chimney repair companies for annual chimney sweeps. 

That leads to an important question.  What exactly is a chimney sweep?

The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 (NFPA 211) recommends that chimneys, fireplaces, and vents should be inspected at least once a year so that the chimneys, fireplaces, and vents are sound, free from deposits, and that all clearances are met.  That is one of the many reasons homeowners should get a chimney sweep every year.  With such an important job at hand, it is vital that chimney sweeps only be performed by a certified expert that knows exactly what to look for and how to sweep that chimney in the safest, easiest and most efficient way possible.  Hiring a professional chimney sweep is the best way to ensure that your fireplace and chimney are in tip-top shape and ready for the season ahead.

What a Chimney Sweep Does

A professional chimney sweep does more than simply clean out the flue. Although an important part of the job, a licensed / certified chimney expert will also inspect the chimney structure and fireplace to ensure that both are structurally sound and free of obstructions and combustible deposits. This may include dangerous creosote deposits as well as soot and dust. A good inspection also ensures that your fireplace and chimney meets all local fire and building codes.

The flue will also be checked for damage during the annual inspection. Once the initial inspection is completed, the chimney sweep will clean the chimney and flue of all dust, soot and creosote found.

 How to clean a chimney

The primary purpose of a chimney sweep is to identify potential problems and remove dust, soot, ash from the chimney.  A chimney sweep can work from either inside (going in through the base of the fireplace), or from the top of the chimney. In some cases the sweep may utilize both entrances. Either way is acceptable and usually depends on the size and condition of the chimney, access availability, and weather conditions.

When cleaning the chimney, expect your sweep to follow these basic steps:

  •          Setting drop clothes in the area to lay equipment on and catch any dust or soot that may escape during the cleaning process
  •          Setting a vacuum to the contain the dust and soot in the fireplace
  •          Inserting a fitted brush inside the interior flue with flexible rod system to the brush to allow the sweep to make its way through the entire system
  •          Cleaning the interior of the flue and chimney, getting rid of all hazardous build-up
  •          Giving you a complete inspection report for your records
  •          Completing any small repairs to the system which may have been found during the initial inspection
  •          Scheduling your next inspection 

Getting your chimney is an important part of maintaining your chinmey and fireplace.  We recommend our chimney sweep company.   We provide chimney sweep service  in Silver Spring and most counties in the Washington DC and Greater Baltimore Metropolitan Areas. 



Recent Fireplace Installation Germantown, MD

 In this article, we will review a recent wood burning fireplace installation in Gaithersburg, Maryland by All Pro Chimney Service.  All Pro Chimney is headquartered in Silver Spring, MD.

The fireplace problem: The home had an old, outdated fireplace.  The homeowner wanted to find a cost-effective way to replace the fireplace as part of their plans to renovate the room.  

The fireplace solution:  Install a prefabricated fireplace.  Prefabricated wood burning fireplaces are metal fireplaces that are prebuilt and assembled on site. They cost less than a masonry fireplace, and the fireplace installation can typically be done in a day. 

This was the original fireplace when we first came out for the site visit for the estimate.   At this point, we took measurements and notes to provide an accurate estimate and go over any potential issues with the customer.   For this particular job the homeowners originally wanted to remove the fireplace, open up the chase and install a wood stove with a stone veneer lining the chase walls. Unfortunately, the chase was too small and did not meet the clearances required for the wood stove, so they opted to install another prefabricated wood burning fireplace. 

old fireplace replacement gaithersburg, md

All projects start with setting up drop cloths for the demo/removal of the old fireplace. We make sure that the only thing left behind is a beautiful new fireplace. No dust, no mess, no problem.

Gaithersburg, MD fireplace installation

When we removed the original fireplace, we wanted to minimize the amount of drywall that we cut out.  Doing so helps keep the area clean and shorten installation time.  


Silver Spring, MD fireplace installation

Once we removed the fireplace, we noticed that the chase was not insulated at all.  This will cause the area around the fireplace to be very drafty.  We often get chimney repair calls about cold air coming from or around a fireplace, and this is the main reason why.  Older homes may not have any installation.  On newer homes we will find that the chase has been insulated but the insulation was not closed off or sealed which will still cause it to be drafty.  Insulation is a standard part of our fireplace installation.  


insulate fireplace chase silver spring, md
In step 1 of the insulation, we installed R15 to insulate the chase.

fireplace chase insulation silver spring, md

In step 2 of the insulation process, we installed Thermo-ply to close off the insulation to further prevent drafts from coming through. 

We then installed the chimney air kit.  This kit allows the outside air which is used to cool off the chimney to go back outside instead of staying in the chase which can make the area around the fireplace colder when it’s not in use.  

fireplace air intake

We were sure to install a fireplace that included an outside air intake. This typically would be utilized if the fireplace was to be operated with the doors closed.  The customer opted not to have fireplace doors.  However, the outside air intake is still required for the installation in case the customer wanted to install doors at a later date.  This is also important because If the house is well insulated there may not be enough air to establish a good draft.  Installing this outside air supply prevents that problem.  

fireplace frame germantown, md

Once the fireplace, chimney air kit, air intake and chimney sections were in place, we finished framing up around it. *Note- the metal strip underneath the fireplace is the protective hearth strip which is there to keep embers off the combustible floor if an ember manages to fall in between the fireplace and hearth extension. 

fireplace drywall

Drywall was installed to close up around the fireplace.   Also, when we first came out the original hearth extension was removed so we build a new raised hearth extension. 

chimney atttic fire-stop

This is the chimney passing through the attic fire-stop. After the chimney was run up, we installed the attic insulation shield and insulated around the chimney to prevent cold air from coming into the chase. 

fireplace combustable clearance

 Once the chimney is installed we double checked and took pictures of the clearances to combustibles. This chimney required a minimum of 2″ from combustibles, and we have plenty of additional clearance space.  Safety is a top priority for any fireplace installation.  

fireplace installation silver spring, md

We installed new trim to match what was currently there.  We also installed a new slate hearth extension, new surround, and mantel shelf. The wanted to paint it themselves.  

old fireplace silver spring Maryland

(note: homeowner decided to do their own painting)
fireplace installation silver spring, md






5 Reasons to get a chimney sweep every year

chimney sweep silver spring, MD

Chimney fires cause over 14,000 fires every year in the U.S. and nearly $35 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.  What’s even more startling is that most of these chimney fires burn and extinguish themselves and initially are unnoticed by homeowners.  Damage produced by an undetected chimney fire is only discovered later when the homeowner has a chimney sweep company come to their home and provide a chimney sweep and inspection service.  The NFPA recommends that chimneys be swept every year.  It is important to hire a professional company that knows how to sweep a chimney. Homes in Silver Spring, MD need chimney sweeps in the same manner that every other home requires.  

Here are some reasons why homes need a chimney sweep every year

1. Creosote buildup in the chimney

Creosote buildup is responsible for the majority of chimney fires. Smoke emitted by burning fossil fuel or wood rises into your chimney where it cools and produces volatiles, carbon, and water condensation. Unless removed, this condensation quickly converts into an oily, black residue chimney sweeps call creosote.

Creosote develops in three stages: 1) crunchy or porous soot; 2) a sticky, tar-like substance; 3) a hard glaze that is real creosote. Be aware that creosote remains highly combustible in any stage and can almost instantly produce a dangerous, volcanic-like chimney fire.

Conditions that promote creosote buildup include:

  • Flues too large for unlined inserts (wood-burning appliance)
  • Restricted or reduced air supply
  • Burning rain-saturated or unseasoned wood
  • A surface flue temperature that is cooler than normal

2. Animals nest can clog the chimney flue

Even if you only use your chimney occasionally, Birds, bats, squirrels and raccoons may clog the flue their nests. In fact, chimneys with the least amount of use of the most common targets of animals seeking a place to build nests.

3. Chemicals alone won’t do the job

The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) does not recommend relying on chemicals to clean your chimney. Commercial chimney cleaning products claim to remove creosote from chimneys via fire-supported catalytic action. However, the CSIA states that these chemicals should not be used to replace a thorough cleaning and inspection performed by a professional chimney sweeper.

4. Unseen mortar and/or flue tiles problems

Broken or cracked flue tiles, deteriorated mortar and missing bricks may be inconspicuous to homeowners. Chimney sweepers are trained to detect the smallest hairline cracks and other minor damage that, when exposed to fiery heat, could cause a fast-moving fire.

5. Industry standards require an annual chimney sweep

The National Fire Protection Association’s standard recommends that chimneys be inspected every year.  This requirement is detailed in NFPA standard 211.

Tips for Preventing Chimney Fires

Only burn seasoned wood. The ideal moisture content of seasoned wood should be between 15%-20%. The best way to find out the moisture content is by using a moisture meter.

Use only dry kindling or clean newspaper when starting a fire. Never use kerosene, gasoline, wrapping paper, cardboard boxes and especially, your Christmas tree!

Finally, the Chimney Safety Institute of America strongly urges homeowners to have their fireplaces, vents and chimneys inspected at least one a year by an experienced chimney sweeper for “correct clearances, freedom from deposits and soundness“.

For more information about fireplace safety, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.


Chimney safety can be a matter of life and death.  Don’t wait until you have a problem to have your chimney cleaned.  Contact a local company and have your chimney cleaned every year.  

If you need a chimney sweep in Silver Spring, MD, Montgomery County, Prince Goerges County, Baltimore or other Maryland jurisdictions around Washington DC please contact All Pro Chimney Service 301-750-3149.