This time of year, we see signs of Spring everywhere we look. The birds are chirping, the grass is growing, and small animals can be seen running from place to place. Unfortunately, your chimney could be one of the destinations the animals seek. Animals of all kinds have been known to make their homes in chimneys. Animal nests in chimneys can lead to chimneys fires or carbon monoxide poisoning. We recently met a homeowner in Columbia, MD, who told us about a previous incident that occurred involving birds that nested in their chimney. The homeowner learned from experience that is always best to have their chimney inspected every year. Below is everything homeowners need to know about animals that nest in chimneys. We will also educate you on how to keep animals out of your chimney.
Why animals go into chimneys
Many animals look at chimneys as a place to den and make a nest. Chimney represent a warm place that is protected from rain and is safe from predators. It is that nature of all animals to provide a safe place for their offspring. Humans feel the same urge. In this case, animals have chosen a place that threatens your home.
Animals that Like living in chimneys
Different types of animals live in your chimney. These animals include:
- Birds, including chimney swifts, owls, sparrows, and starlings may build a nest in your chimney
- Rodents, such as rats and mice
Hazards created by animals nesting in chimneys
Chimney fires are an obvious danger of animal nests in chimneys. There are several other hazards that homeowners seldom consider.
- The nests can block off airflow, putting you at risk to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Rodents, squirrels, and raccoons can carry parasites. These parasites can leave their animal hosts and feed on the humans and pets within the home.
- Squirrels, rats, and raccoons may enter the home and damage wiring, furniture, and contaminate foodstuffs.
- Bats and raccoons can be carriers of rabies. Rabies is a disease that can be fatal.
- Rodents, squirrels, and raccoons can carry other diseases such as leptospirosis, hantavirus, plague, and other nasty bacteria and viruses.
What to do if you already have animals living in your chimney
Homeowners should contact their local animal control department to report animals living in their chimney. Animal control have the training and equipment necessary to safely remove wild animals from your chimney. Animal control can also determine if the animal inside of your chimney is part of a protected breed. Removing certain breeds or birds is a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Never attempt to remove the animals yourself.
How to keep wild animals out of your chimney
A chimney cap is the best tool to keep animals out of your chimney. It is possible for homeowners to install their own chimney cap. However, it is always best to hire a professional chimney service company like ours. The best option is to have a chimney professional conduct your annual chimney inspection. Looking for signs of animal nests is a standard part of chimney inspections. The chimney sweep will also show you how to keep animals out of your chimney.
Animals are a threat to every chimney. Installing a chimney cap and hiring a licensed chimney sweep to conduct an inspection is the best defense. Call your local chimney service company and schedule your annual inspection today. One nest can ruin your chimney.
Flower season is finally here. Everyone is getting started on their spring cleaning. It is essential to include your chimney in your spring cleaning routine. With winter dying down now is a great time to get a professional chimney sweep to look at your fireplace and make sure it’s in good shape after the harsh winter months. In addition to chimney cleaning, many homeowners decorate their mantle and hearth for the spring. We recently encountered a homeowner in Howard County that took great pride in her spring hearth decorations. Below are a few things that you can do to prepare your fireplace and chimney for the spring.
Clean & Paint Your Fireplace
Over the course of time, ash and debris can collect on your fireplace. Cleaning and repainting your fireplace can give a fresh look to an old fireplace. You have to start with cleaning the firebox and glass. Watch this video for an easy way to clean your fireplace glass.
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you also want to sweep out your firebox before you paint. Sweep the old ash and wood remnants. You can use a vacuum to clean up the remaining debris. After the debris is gone, give the firebox a good scrubbing and paint with high-temperature paint. Watch the video below for instructions on how to clean and repaint your firebox.
Decorate your mantle & hearth
Fireplaces tend to be the focal point of any room. Your fireplace and mantle provide an excellent opportunity to enhance the beauty of any place. Decorating your fireplace mantle and hearth is a fun way to add charm and flair to a room. You can find some great spring decorating ideas here.
Here is an exciting video with ideas for decorating your mantle with items from Dollar Tree and Walmart.
Schedule your annual chimney inspection and cleaning
Chimneys take a beating throughout the winter. It is crucial to have your chimney inspected by a professional chimney sweep company like ours. A professional chimney sweep technician will inspect your chimney, determine if it needs to be cleaned and identify any areas in need of repair. Catching problems early is the best way to prevent costly chimney repairs in the future. The chimney sweep will also make sure that your chimney cap is in good condition. Want to learn more? Read our previous article about why chimneys should be cleaned every year.
Important note: Some make the mistake of thinking only wood-burning fireplaces need annual inspections and cleaning. All chimneys should be inspected a minimum of every year. Even gas fireplaces require yearly inspections. Be safe. Get your chimney inspected.
Many people wonder if chimney cleaning logs really work. The answer is yes and no. Chimney cleaning logs can reduce some of the creosote buildups. However, they are not a safe replacement for a professional chimney sweep and inspection.
How Chimney Cleaning Are Supposed to Work
Whenever you burn fuel in your fireplace, gas particles travel up and out of your chimney. Some of the gas particles fail to completely exit the chimney. These particles condense and stick to the inside of your chimney, forming a thick tar-like buildup called creosote. Creosote is highly combustible. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) identifies creosote buildup as a common cause of chimney fires.
In theory, chimney logs release a chemical that causes the creosote to become flaky and brittle and fall through the flue. Chimney cleaning logs only reduce some of the creosote. They do not clean to the professional standards required to reduce potential hazards within your chimney.
Why You Need A Professional Chimney Inspection And Sweep
A professional chimney sweep includes more than cleaning your flue. A professional completes an inspection, cleans the chimney and educates you on potential hidden hazards within your chimney. Creosote buildup is only one of many factors that can affect your chimney.
Whether or not chimney cleaning logs work depends on how you define “work”. Do they reduce some of the creosote buildups? Yes. Do they do a good enough job for you to be confident that your fireplace is as safe as possible? No. Are they an acceptable replacement for a professional chimney sweep and inspection? Never. A professional is the best option.
Are you ready to get your chimney cleaned by a professional? Be sure to read this article on how to choose the right professional chimney sweep company.
During a recent chimney repair in Vienna, VA, a homeowner asked, what is a chimney liner? That is one of the most frequent questions that we hear. Chimney liners are one of the least understood, yet most important aspect of any fireplace system. Selection can determine the safety and efficiency of your fireplace and is therefore not to be taken lightly. Likewise, regular maintenance and prompt repairs will keep your chimney running and keep your family safe. Below you will find everything that you need to know about chimney liners.
What is a Chimney Liner? How Does It Work?
The Chimney Safety Institute of America defines a chimney liner as a “conduit installed inside of a chimney, intended to contain the combustion products, direct them to the outside atmosphere, and protect the chimney walls from heat and corrosion.” If chimneys are unlined, heat will move through them quickly, increasing the risk of woodwork or other elements catching on fire. Liners also reduce the exposure of corrosive materials to masonry.
Types of Chimney Liners
What is a chimney liner? That is just one of many questions you should be asking yourself if you are a homeowner. Since chimney liners are as versatile as every other aspect of your fireplace, asking yourself which chimney liner suits me better? It´s completely understandable. Selection will depend largely on your budget and the current state of your chimney. A few common types of liners are highlighted below:
Clay tile liners once dominated chimneys. If your home is more than a few decades old, it probably features a clay liner. Clay holds certain advantages but is mainly prized for its durability. It can hold up to a variety of corrosive materials, and, once installed, is likely to last at least half a century. Unfortunately, while the materials for this type of liner can be relatively affordable, the actual installation process may prove time-consuming and costly. Replacement is even more difficult, especially if the chimney is crooked.
Like clay liners, cast-in-place liners tend to be quite durable and can last several decades. Fireplaces with cast-in-place liners often burn cleaner, thereby producing minimal creosote buildup. Installation may be easier for cast-in-place liners than for their clay counterparts, but the process still requires considerable effort — particularly for chimneys with any bends or curves.
In recent years, metal liners have overtaken clay and cast-in-place models in popularity. Metal liners are by far the most convenient and affordable to install. They’re also quite versatile and can work well in chimneys of numerous shapes and sizes. The downside? Metal liners are typically more prone to corrosion.
Common Chimney Liner Problems
While chimney liners tend to be durable, a variety of issues can strike after decades of use. Liners are especially likely to show wear and tear if they weren’t constructed correctly in the first place.
As mentioned earlier, chimney liners may suffer corrosion or creosote buildup over time due to lack of proper service. Old liners are also prone to cracks near their mortar joints. Mortar joint erosion can be particularly dangerous, as it might lead to the leaking of harmful gases (such as carbon monoxide) inside of the home.
Proper Liner Maintenance
While only repair can effectively address an improperly constructed liner, most of the issues outlined above can be prevented or at least delayed through appropriate liner and chimney maintenance. Annual cleanings are imperative for reducing the risk of harmful buildup. Regular inspections allow homeowners to catch small problems before they become dangerous — and more expensive to fix. Click here to learn about the 6 most common Signs that you need chimney repair.
Regular maintenance is vital for both your chimney liner and your entire fireplace system. The team at All Pro Chimney services can keep your fireplace and chimney in excellent shape. Contact us today to learn more about our maintenance and repair services.
Many homes in the Washington DC area have gas fireplaces. When you own a gas fireplace, it’s important to know about some of the more common repairs. Some gas fireplace repairs can be done on your own while others require the help of a professional chimney sweep company like ours.
Fireplace Burner isn’t Turning On
You may find that when you go to light your fire, the burner isn’t turning on. If the pilot light is still working, it’s likely a problem with the thermostat. The good news is that you can often fix this on your own by checking that the current room temperature is below the thermostat setting.
If the problem isn’t in your thermostat, you may need a professional to help you with several other aspects:
- Faulty wiring
- Dirty orifice on the pilot light
- Thermocoupler needs to be replaced
Once a professional comes out, they can troubleshoot the issue and make the necessary repairs so your fireplace burner can begin working once again.
Fireplace Doors Not Sealing Properly
Often, the glass doors to your gas fireplace might not be sealing properly, which is a relatively simple fix. The first sign that will tell you that your seals aren’t in place is that you will smell the gas coming out of your fireplace. The clips and glass fasteners both have to be in place firmly.
The Ignition Isn’t Working
If you try to start a fire and the ignition isn’t working, you will need a repair of some sort. You may want to check the breaker box first to see if there has been a trip. Otherwise, it may be that you need to open the gas valve to restore the flow. If neither of these issues is the problem, you will want to get a professional in to check on the natural gas lines or the propane supply and to check the function of the wiring.
Gas fireplaces leave soot that can build up over time. You should be cleaning your fireplace on a regular basis so that you don’t get significant soot buildup. Residue can affect the oxygen flow within your unit. There may not be enough oxygen flow, or there might be too much gas flow. Additionally, you should consider getting a professional chimney inspection to find out if any blockages could be causing the problem.
A few other things that you can do for soot buildup
- Adjust the air setting
- Adjust the damper
- Align embers and logs according to fireplace instructions
- Clear off the combustion screen
- Remove leaves and debris from the chimney
When you can get soot buildup under control, it will help your fireplace to last much longer – and look its best, too.
A blower can create a grinding or shrieking noise. It may be an indication that the blower needs work. Loud blowers can be deceptive. Some older models are always louder than newer units. Newer technology has come out to provide fans that barely make any noise. You may want to call in a professional to see what they can do about your existing blower.
The type of gas fireplace you have may determine the kinds of repairs that you will have over its lifetime. For example, there are ventless and vented fireplaces. Unvented fireplaces shouldn’t produce soot.at all. In ventless fireplaces, you may experience odors as a result of such things as dirt, dust, and pet dander that get into the burner and the other components that are responsible for combustion.
Potential gas fireplace problems are the reason gas fireplaces should be cleaned every year. By keeping your fireplace clean, you can keep the unit in better condition. You can also catch problems at their early stages. Do the basics yourself and hire a chimney sweep every year to do the rest.
Want to learn more? Read this article from the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).