5 Tips For Hiring A Chimney Sweep In Washington DC

chimney sweep tips

There are a lot of cleaning that you can do around your home on your own. However, when it comes to cleaning your chimney and making sure that it is in the best condition possible, you want to rely on a professional chimney sweep in Washington DC. After seeing these signs that you need a cleaning, it is important to hire the right chimney company.  In Washington DC homeowners want companies like ours that will do the job right at a competitive price.  Here are some tips for hiring a chimney company in Washington DC.  

1. Look for a company that believes in preventing problems before they become costly.  

A good chimney sweep looks for future problems in addition to existing chimney.  Some chimney companies only look for blaring problems.  They ignore minor problems in the hopes that they can charge more when the minor issue becomes a major problem later.  The best chimney sweeps look for signs of future problems and make recommendations.  Doing so often results in lower repair costs.  It is always cheaper to address minor chimney issues before turns into major repair needs. 

2. Choose a chimney sweep that offers additional services

You want to choose a company that can help you in a variety of different areas.  Doing so allows for you to take full benefit of their expertise.  Otherwise, you will ultimately end up hiring more than one company – and there is simply no reason for this.

Some of the most common services offered include:

  • Cleaning of chimney
  • Masonry repairs
  • Flashing repair
  • Waterproofing of chimney
  • Crown and caps repair
  • Purging of smoke chamber

 

In addition to cleaning the chimney and fireplace, it is also beneficial to look at any other services that the company might offer, such as dryer vent cleaning. After all, once you find a company, it’s best to rely on them for various other services around your home as well.

3. Read Up on the Chimney Sweep Companies Reputation

You should always look into the reputation of the company.  Your research should include sources such as online reviews, testimonials and their membership with professional organizations like the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).  Past customers reviews are a powerful resource.  If a large number of homeowners in your area have good things to say about the company, you are likely to have a similar experience.  Positive reviews will help you makes sure the company that understands how to sweep a chimney in a professional manner.  Taking a little bit of time to investigate the company before you hire them will ensure that you get the best services at the best possible price.

4. Find Out About Chimney Sweep Licensing

Washington DC requires that companies who provide chimney services to be licensed.  You want to make sure that the business that you choose is licensed and insured. Being licensed shows that they are professional and have taken the proper steps to be compliant with the regulations.  If you allow a company to come in and they are not licensed or carry adequate insurance, any damage could potentially be your responsibility.

5.  Ask for a Quote

You also need to ask for a quote for the services that you require.  Pricing should be relatively straightforward. When you get into repairs and installations, the company might need to come out and provide an inspection before they can provide a quote.   Most companies charge for inspections and cleanings.  However, they should not charge a fee to provide a price quote.  Unfortunately, there are some cases where a quote cannot be given without performing a full inspection. 

4 Ways to know you need your chimney cleaned

 

Regular chimney cleanings are an important part of maintaining your chimney and keeping it safe for use. Unfortunately, many homeowners go too long in between chimney cleanings or make the mistake of assuming that only burning a creosote log is “good enough.” In reality, professional chimney cleaning is highly recommended to protect your home and your loved ones from smoke and fire hazards caused by dirty chimneys.   We recently encountered a that needed chimney repairs in Ellicott City, MD that would have never needed the chimney repairs if the homeowner had decided to hire a chimney sweep every year. 

Not sure if your chimney is in need of a cleaning? We have got some telltale signs to watch.  Here are 4 ways to know that you need your chimney cleaned:

  1. It has been more than a year since your last chimney sweep.
  2. There is noticeable creosote buildup
  3. There is excessive smoke in fireplace
  4. Fire takes a long time to start

It has Been More Than a Year Since Your Last Chimney Sweep
annual chimney cleaning

First of all, when was the last time you had your chimney cleaned or swept? If it’s been more than a year, then it is time for a professional cleaning. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends that chimneys be cleaned every year.  Even if you have not used the fireplace in the past year, there’s a good chance you have organic build-up in your chimney that should be cleared out before you use it again.

Noticeable Creosote Buildup
chimney

 

After donning a pair of protective goggles and a breathing mask, grab a flashlight and take a peek inside the chimney itself. Specifically, be on the lookout for gray or black soot built up along the sides of the chimney. This is creosote, a flammable material that can cause chimney fires. If you have more than a quarter-inch of creosote buildup, it’s time to schedule a professional chimney cleaning.

There’s Excessive Chimney Smoke
smokey chimney

When you start a fire in your fireplace, do you notice that the room or even large areas of your home suddenly become smoky? If so, this could be a sign of creosote or other flammable buildups within the chimney itself. Check to be sure that your chimney’s flue is open (having it closed while burning a fire can cause excessive smoke, too). If it is, then you should refrain from using your fireplace until you can have it professionally inspected and cleaned.

Fireplace Takes a Long Time to Start
wood for fireplace

Another red flag to be on the lookout for is noticing that it is taking longer to get a fire started in your fireplace. This could be due to a lack of oxygen reaching the wood, which could be indicative of a blockage or other problem within the chimney itself. This issue may also be accompanied by strange smells coming from the fireplace or chimney as well. Either way, it’s time to call a professional.

These are just a few of the most telltale signs that your chimney needs a cleaning or sweeping. By having your chimney professionally serviced at least once a year, you can enjoy greater peace of mind when using your fireplace. You may also be able to avoid more expensive repairs down the road!

 

5 Ways to prevent costly chimney repairs

chimney repair maintenance 

When you own a home with a chimney, it’s important that you practice maintenance throughout the year. This will make it easier to prevent costly chimney repairs. Otherwise, you could end up spending a significant amount of money to repair your chimney.A recent job that we did in Ellicott City, MD is an excellent example of how acting quickly can reduce chimney repair costs.  Many of the most common repairs can be avoided when you know what needs to be done.

1. Use the Right Fire Wood

There are many types of wood that you can burn in a chimney. Any seasoned hardwood can be used. If it hasn’t been properly dried, the moisture can lead to problems, including creating more soot and ash that will lead to a clogged chimney. It will also increase the risk of fire inside the chimney, which is a danger.  Here is a good article on how to tell if your firewood is seasoned. 

“Green” wood should be avoided. If you buy firewood, look to see that it is seasoned so you can avoid issues.

2. Clean Out Ash from your Fireplace

Ash should be removed on a regular basis. Every time ash reaches the bottom of the grate in your fireplace is an indication that you need to clean it all out. It will make it easier for you to keep the air flow moving correctly. It only takes a few minutes after the fireplace has cooled, and can make a big difference in the long run. Cleaning supplies are sold everywhere, too, making it a simple task.

3.Get an Annual Chimney Sweep

Hire a professional chimney sweep once a year. They will be able to come in, provide a thorough cleaning of the chimney, as well as look for any potential issues. The sweep will know what to look for and can catch issues before they become problematic. This will also keep you “in the know” regarding the health of your fireplace.  We recommend considering our services

4.  Call for Chimney Repair When You See a Problem

The moment you see a problem, call for a repair. Some of the most costly repairs are because homeowners ignore the problem. Further, don’t focus on cost alone when choosing a chimney repair service. The “cheapest” repairs are often cheap for a reason – and you don’t want to pay twice to get the job done right.  Be sure to ask the chimney sweep company these questions

5.  Don’t Try To Fix Your Chimney Yourself

A DIY approach can be dangerous, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s best to hire a chimney sweep contractor who has a good reputation in your area. Also, one who uses floating cast chimney crowns is desirable because of having quality techniques to get the job done right.

In the end, you’re in control of the maintenance performed on your home. Having a fireplace and chimney can be a great feature in the colder weather, however, you need to know what can be done so you can avoid costly repairs throughout the life of your chimney and your home.

Chimney Repair – 4 causes of leaking chimney flashing

leaking chimney flashing

We recently were contacted by a customer in Silver Spring, MD who had a chimney that was leaking through the flashing.  This is a serious problem.  When water leaks into your home from your chimney, this can cause all kinds of problems. From water damage that seeps into your walls to shorting out appliances, chimney leaks are a problem for many homeowners.  Flashing is one of the most common sources of chimney leaks. There are many reasons that chimney flashing leaks, and it’s important to get this problem by a chimney repair company like ours right away before more significant damage occurs in your home. 

The Wrong Flashing Techniques Are Used

Incorrect flashing installation is a big culprit of roof leaks. We recently completed a chimney repair project in Silver Spring, MD that was caused by this problem.  Step flashing is necessary where the roof meets the wall, and beneath the flashing, an underlayment is needed that goes partially up the wall and along the roof.  This creates a solid barrier so that water can’t get through. The step flashing needs to be nailed onto the roof, and not against the wall. The counter-flashing has to be attached to the wall to account for wall expansion and contraction during weather extremes. Flashing that isn’t installed correctly isn’t going to work.

Old Flashing Needs to be Replaced

Over time, roof shingles and flashing can crack and break, requiring that the flashing gets replaced.  This is a common problem that we see when repairing chimneys in Washington DC.  While you may notice a small leak at first, flashing that is deteriorating will eventually lead to bigger leaks if it is left alone. Flashing gets ruined over time because of harsh weather conditions, and the expanding and contracting required during the weather extremes. While it is often made of galvanized steel, even steel can’t withstand harsh weather conditions forever.

The Seal Between the Flashing and Chimney is Cracked

Sealants are used to block water from entering your home between the flashing and the chimney. Sealants get dry and brittle over time, and they are prone to cracking. When a sealant is damaged, water will enter the home through the damaged sealant. If you don’t know how to replace the sealant on your chimney flashing, it’s time to call in a professional to repair the problem.

Water Damming at the Chimney

Sometimes shingles are not placed on the roof correctly, and this can cause water to dam up behind the chimney and seep into the roof of the home in this area. Even when the flashing is installed properly and not damaged, if water is not flowing off of the roof properly, water can dam up and cause problems with leakage.  We recently repaired this type of problem in a home in Ellicott City, MD.

When you have leaks in your ceiling that you can’t identify, it’s important to call in a professional to handle the situation. If you are unable to go on your roof to check for leaks, you need to hire someone to do this for you. When you ignore water leaks,

 

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.