Creosote Burning Logs: What Are They & Do They Work?

dark creosote in a metal chimney pipeManaging the cleanliness of a chimney is an ongoing maintenance requirement for those who have wood burning fireplaces and stoves. It’s not just about looks, but about safety. Left alone, chimneys will begin to accumulate soot and creosote, as well as potential debris, and these can act as fire hazards and create issues with ventilation.

What exactly is creosote? It’s a dark, tarry substance that is produced as a result of burning wood or other organic materials. Creosote consists of various chemicals including tar, soot, and other volatile organic compounds – and it is highly combustible. Untended, it drastically increases the risk of chimney fires and can eventually find its way into your living space. Over time, it becomes more stubborn and difficult to get out of your chimney. Thus, the necessity of having it frequently removed.

Enter the creosote burning log. This is a product designed to help keep your chimney cleaner. But does it work?

What Are Creosote Burning Logs?

Creosote burning logs, also marketed as “chimney cleaning logs” or “creosote sweeping logs,” are specially formulated logs that claim to reduce or eliminate creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes. They are typically made from a combination of sawdust, paraffin wax, and other additives and work as a chemical cleaner.

When burned in a wood burning appliance, the chemicals they release are designed to react with creosote and help break it down. The idea is that this chemical attack will make creosote loose, flaky, and easy to remove.

Are Creosote Sweeping Logs Effective?

So, do creosote logs live up to the hype? The answer is a qualified yes – in other words, it is effective in some ways, but you will want to be sure you’ve managed your expectations. If you’re expecting a totally clean chimney with no other effort expended, you’ll be disappointed. However, creosote logs do have an effect on creosote.

As a chemical cleaner, creosote logs will do some work at making creosote more removable and cause some – maybe much – of the creosote to flake away. Because creosote is tough, this can be a really useful step towards a clean flue!

But it won’t actually remove or stop creosote from forming. You’ll have to give due diligence to carefully removing any flaked creosote from your firebox, flue, smoke chamber, or thimble area, since it can be a hazard in your home environment.

And keep in mind that since burning a creosote log becomes an unguided process, once the smoke starts moving up the flue, you don’t have control over where flaked creosote goes or how much is removed. It can drift into bends or other hard-to-access areas of your chimney system, possibly moving – but not eliminating – the problem.

Can Creosote Burning Logs Replace Professional Sweeping?

Creosote burning logs should never be viewed as a substitute for professional chimney sweeping. While they may help reduce creosote buildup to some extent, they aren’t a comprehensive solution to chimney maintenance. Having an experienced, CSIA certified technician sweep your chimney remains essential because:

  • Cleaning will be thorough. Professional sweeps have both the knowledge and tools to thoroughly clean chimneys, removing all types of creosote and other debris to help ensure optimal airflow and safety. They’ll be attentive to your particular system and employ targeted solutions to getting it clear.
  • Professional sweeps go beyond cleaning. Your chimney should be inspected every year to identify potential issues such as cracks, damaged components, or structural problems. These are things a trained technician will monitor and identify and a creosote log, of course, can’t address. But because attending to issues when they’re small helps keep your chimney running more efficiently, more safely, and longer, ignoring them can be very costly.

Chimney Sweeping Log Safety Considerations

Creosote burning logs are deemed safe for use in your fireplace by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). But while they offer some benefits in terms of reducing creosote buildup – and aren’t hazardous in themselves – it can be hazardous to put too much faith in them and therefore overlook their limitations.

logs burning in a brick fireboxOne such limitation is their overall effectiveness. The efficacy of creosote burning logs can vary depending on a number of factors, such as how often you use your fireplace, the type of wood burned, appliance design, and chimney configuration. If heavy buildup is already present or creosote is of a particularly stubborn composition, these logs may not effectively break it down. And without a careful assessment, it will be nearly impossible to know whether burning the log has been adequately successful or not. And if it hasn’t, the risks remain in play.

Keep in mind as well that while creosote logs are formulated to attack creosote, they aren’t necessarily removing any other type of blockage. So if leaves, twigs, or other types of debris have made their way into your flue, burning a creosote log won’t address these and lead to safe ventilation.

Can I Keep Creosote From Building Up in the First Place?

While the accumulation of creosote is accelerated by burning firewood that’s not properly seasoned (such as damp or green wood), even clean-burning wood fires will eventually contribute to build up because combustion will never be one hundred percent complete each time. So for those who use wood-burning appliances, diligent removal will be the best strategy for managing creosote. 

Schedule a Chimney Sweep With Us Today

Burning creosote logs can offer a supplementary approach to reducing creosote deposits in chimneys and stovepipes, but they can’t replace professional maintenance, including your chimney sweeping. Homeowners should continue to prioritize regular chimney maintenance – think inspections and sweepings – performed by certified professionals to help mitigate risks, maintain efficiency, and protect their investment in their home.

If you need chimney care, book with Lords Chimney today by calling or reaching out online. We’ve got your back.

What Are Different Types of Chimney Caps?

Your chimney is an important part of creating a home full of cozy heat and free of smoke. What many don’t realize is that there are a number of different components to a chimney that allow it to function at its best. One of the most important parts of your chimney is the chimney cap. Sitting atop your chimney system, the chimney cap is providing multiple important functions for your home.

What Does a Chimney Cap Do?

masonry chimney with a single flue chimney capThe chimney cap sits above the opening of your chimney’s flue where it prevents water, birds and debris from entering your home. It also keeps animals that are looking for a warm and dry place to build a nest from becoming your live-in neighbor. In addition to keeping things out, it also allows smoke and other byproducts that come from burning to escape, so that your home remains properly ventilated and warm.

Because it is such an important part of your chimney system it is important to make sure your chimney cap is properly installed and free of defects. Loose, bent, corroded, or improperly installed chimney caps can cause expensive damage if not corrected. At Lords Chimney, we are experts at spotting defects and making sure your chimney is functioning at its most efficient capacity.

All that being said, sometimes you might need to upgrade or replace your chimney cap. So, which type is right for your needs?

5 Types of Chimney Caps

Fortunately there are many different types of chimney caps available. This means that whether you are updating your chimney cap to match the look of a remodel or replacing a chimney cap due to damage, there is a chimney cap for your needs. Here are five types of chimney caps and why they might be the perfect fit for you.

1. Single-Flue Cap

The single-flue cap is perfect for chimneys with only one flue. It is designed to cover the one opening and provide a protective barrier against rain, snow, and debris. These caps can be made from many different metals such as stainless steel, copper, or galvanized steel. They are durable and cost-effective. They provide basic essential protection to your chimney, while remaining durable and affordable.

2. Multi-Flue Cap

The multi-flue cap is designed specifically to cover chimneys with multiple vents. There are a wide variety of designs and materials available, so that they can be customized to fit over several flues at once. For homeowners with multiple flues, these caps offer a more affordable solution for protection than purchasing and installing multiple single-flue caps.

3. Outside Mount Cap

The outside mount cap is installed directly on top of the chimney crown. Its design extends beyond the edges of the chimney which results in additional protection against damaging moisture. This cap is also wider which allows it to push water further away from the chimney. You can find these caps designed for both single-flue and multi-flue chimneys, and they offer a simple installation process.

4. Specialty Caps

Specialty caps are perfect for chimneys with a unique build. They are specially designed with individual chimneys in mind. These caps often offer specific functionalities to enhance protection for the chimney. For example:

  • heavy rain beating down on a roof with trees in the backgroundWind-resistant caps: These caps are designed to further prevent downdrafts caused by strong winds by redirecting airflow. This is important for your chimney to be able to allow smoke to rise up and out like it should.
  • Spark arrestor caps: These caps are a great choice for homes or cabins that are built in locations that are prone to wildfires. Their design minimizes the chance of sparks from the inside rising up and out with the smoke and then landing on flammable roofing materials.
  • Draft-increasing caps: Sometimes the design of a chimney doesn’t allow it to vent smoke and fumes as well as it should. These caps create a vacuum effect within the chimney which draws the smoke and fumes up and out at a higher volume.
  • Decorative caps: Decorative caps provide homeowners with special designs to match the aesthetics of their home. While still fully functional, they may be formed into various shapes and sizes, as well as use different materials to compliment the look and feel of the surrounding architecture.

5. Full-Coverage Caps/Covers

Full-coverage caps are also known as chase covers and they are built to fully cover the chimney in its entirety, so as to provide the maximum protection possible. They are most often installed over prefabricated or factory built chimneys in order to fully keep out moisture, animals, and downdrafts. These caps/covers almost provide the best value to homeowners, as they provide comprehensive protection, look great, are easily installed, and last a long time.

Count On Our Experts Every Time

Lords Chimney offers you a team of experts who have a lot of experience helping people find the perfect chimney cap to provide protection for the chimney, keep the home dry and warm, and look great – all at the same time.

Call us today or book with us online to learn how we can help you make sure your chimney is capped to perfection.

What To Do if There Are Animals in My Chimney

Your cozy home and its inviting fireplace has the potential to attract unexpected guests – and we’re not talking about neighbors, in-laws, and your great-aunt Mildred. We’re talking about guests of the animal variety.

It’s not uncommon for animals to find their way into chimneys, seeking refuge from the elements or predators, or mistakenly stumbling upon what they perceive to be an ideal shelter. But once in your chimney, birds and mammals aren’t innocuous in their effects. How should you respond to an animal in your chimney system? And what preventative measures can you take to keep them out?

Here are some basics about what happens – and what action you should take – when animals find their way into your chimney. And if you have additional questions, be sure to reach out to see how we can help.

Why Are Animals in My Chimney?

Some common chimney intruders include:

  • baby squirrels gathered in the gutters of a houseBirds. Chimneys often resemble natural nesting spots for birds, providing elevation and shelter for their nests.
  • Squirrels and raccoons. These agile climbers can scale your home or use any overhanging branches as convenient pathways to your chimney. They may mistakenly venture down in search of a secure place for a den or a rest.
  • Bats. Because they’re dark and secluded, chimneys can be appealing as a roosting spot for bats.
  • Rodents. Mice and rats are notorious for exploring any accessible spaces in search of food or shelter.

It may seem harmless to have an animal nesting in your chimney, especially if it isn’t during the burning season, but there are a number of issues that playing host to wildlife can present.

Animals can obstruct the chimney flue, either with their bodies or with debris they create or carry in, preventing proper ventilation. These blockages can increase the risk of harmful gases like carbon monoxide entering your living space. Blockages also become fire hazards, increasing the risk of a chimney or other uncontained fire.

Animals don’t also create blockages in your flue, they can also create damage in your chimney system. Gnawing, scratching, and nesting can cause structural damage to your chimney’s interior. And there are health risks associated with animal droppings, parasites, and diseases that some animals carry, as well as the unpleasantness of noises and odors animals can generate.

How Should I Respond To an Animal in My Chimney?

If you suspect – or have confirmed – that there’s an animal in your chimney, there are two calls you may need to make. If a live animal is trapped and in distress, you can call animal control or a licensed wildlife removal service. They’ll use their training to try to execute a humane removal with attention to safety. Keep in mind that animals that are afraid can act unpredictably, so keep children and pets out of the way.

Calling your chimney technician may also contribute to animal removal, as we have tools that help us access different areas of your chimney system. In prefabricated fireplaces, animals may find their way into areas outside the flue, which will require specialized removal techniques.

Abstain from using your heating appliance if you have an animal issue. While some homeowners think smoke will drive animals out, if the animal is trapped or can’t make its way out and dies, your problem is increased rather than solved!

It’s important to know that one creature that’s particularly partial to chimneys is the aptly named chimney swift, a gray, acrobatic, migratory bird that can’t perch. Instead, chimney swifts cling to vertical surfaces, using their saliva to create nests to adhere to places like the inside of your chimney flue. These birds are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and removing an active nest is punishable by jail time and/or substantial fines. If you have a family of chimney swifts, you’ll need to wait for removal until all young have left the nest.

The Animal Is Removed – Now What?

In addition to helping remove the animal, your chimney sweep technician should be called upon to sweep and inspect a chimney that’s recently been infested. With the animal removed, sweeping the chimney will clear any leaves, twigs, droppings, feathers, or other debris from the nooks and crannies of your chimney system. This will help ensure that your system is unobstructed and ready for safe use again. If you notice odors coming from your chimney, the animal may have expired and animal removal, sweeping, and inspection is also needed.

two birds sitting atop a masonry chimneyAnother step to take once the animal is removed is asking your chimney professional about how to keep animals out in the future. This is one of those “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” cases.

If you don’t have a chimney cap, or if it’s in disrepair, installing one will be an important first line of defense. A chimney cap sits on top of your flue, where it guards against anything entering your chimney. This won’t only help with animals, but other debris and precipitation that can be harmful for your system. The chimney cap covers the opening of your chimney exhaust while still allowing smoke and gases to vent.

Another helpful addition that may be recommended for your masonry fireplace chimney is a top-sealing damper, which helps control ventilation but would also aid in preventing animal intrusion by acting as a physical barrier. Finally, having your chimney inspected yearly will help identify and address potential entry points for wildlife and address them – as well as serving a number of other vital purposes.

Don’t Stress – We’re Here to Help

While it’s disconcerting to realize an animal has made its way into your living space, don’t panic. We’re here to help, and to offer solutions to guard against recurrence. We’re in the business of helping you keep your chimney system running safely and optimally – and that includes wildlife staying in the wild and not in your chimney!

With some action steps and a little help from your friendly neighborhood pros here at Lords Chimney, you’ll be back to enjoying your fireplace soon. Call or reach out online now.

Are Chimney Sweeps Lucky?

When you were a kid you may have spent some time looking for the elusive four-leafed clover to bring good luck and fortune. …but did you know in some cultures just hearing the song of a chimney sweep is enough to bring blessings on your household?

Around the world, different cultures have seen the chimney sweep as a bringer of good luck. From Europe to Asia, the humble sweep carries with him opportunities for an improved life. But is there anything to these tales or is it all just a bunch of hot air? Let’s take a look at some of those stories and see if the expert work from our sweeps at Lord’s Chimney is just because they are amazingly skilled professionals, or if they are carrying a bit of luck with them as they serve your chimney needs.

England: Marital Bliss & Royal Declarations

Many of the most famous and prominent folklore surrounding the chimney sweep comes from the United Kingdom. This is likely because London was becoming a world center of culture and diversity as the need for chimney sweeps was becoming an important part of culture. Stories of the chimney sweep bringing good luck are common in nursery rhymes, poetry, and art.

The Bride & Sweep

a bride standing next to her bridesmaids dressed in greyAs one such story goes, a chimney sweep was working high upon a rooftop when he slipped and fell. His boot caught the gutter and saved him from falling. A female resident in the house he was working on heard the commotion and ran to the window where she spotted the poor chimney sweep hanging upside down. The woman pulled him inside and, as she was rescuing him, she couldn’t help but fall in love.

The woman was engaged at the time, but quickly called off the arrangement when she realized that her heart belonged to the chimney sweep. They fell in love, got married, and lived happily ever after.

Now, it is considered lucky to encounter a chimney sweep on your wedding day. Some couples even invite a chimney sweep to their wedding ceremony where the groom actually pays him to give a kiss to the bride. Don’t worry if you missed out on having a sweep at your wedding though. It’s considered a positive omen to have a chimney sweep visit your home on your anniversary, as well.

The Royal Rescue

Another story from England involves a king, his horses, a dog, and one heroic chimney sweep. As the story goes, King George III was riding through town in his carriage when his team of horses were spooked by a barking dog. Just as things were looking like they were going to get out of control, a chimney sweep jumped in to separate the horses from the dog and calm them quickly enough to avoid disaster.

The king was so relieved that he declared the chimney sweep a beacon of fortune and good luck – a connotation that follows them to this day.

Though these stories began in England they have made their way throughout Europe and have become common in folklore throughout the entire continent.

Austria: Heroic Observations

In Vienna, popular folklore contains a story of a chimney sweep who was hired to clean out the shaft for the tiled stove in the palace of Schönbrunn. While working in the stovepipe he overheard a secret plot to assassinate the emperor. The sweep informed the emperor and saved his life – and avoided a historical shift in power for the nation. 

To this day, chimney sweeps in Austria wear the traditional all black uniform with a white cap. On the Viennese seal is the year 1447 because the first written reference to chimney sweeps in Vienna came from a document written that year. It is believed in Austria that shaking the hand of a chimney sweep will bring you good luck, good fortune, and protection for your home.

Germany: A Button Rub for Luck

a pile of different types of brass buttonsIn Germany, rubbing a chimney sweep’s coat button on New Year’s day is believed to bring blessings on a household for the year. Historically, the chimney sweep, or schornsteinfeger, would go from home to home and collect his earnings on the first day of the year. For the sweep, this day was lucky and, as the first one to wish blessings to each house, he became known as the bringer of good luck. 

Today, it isn’t uncommon on New Year’s day for a townsperson, as a gesture of goodwill, to visit homes carrying a jar of brass buttons with him for people to rub for luck.

Italy: A Sweeping Witch & Good Gifts

The story of La Befana in Italy is a tradition around epiphany where a good witch, who bears a broom is looking for baby Jesus, visits a home and brings with her gifts. With similar tones to the lore surrounding Santa Claus, this Italian witch comes down the chimney with her broom and brings gifts to good boys and girls. The story tells of the three wise men seeking Jesus asking La Befana for help.

The lore surrounding chimney sweeps is thick and has made its way around the world. For centuries stories of good luck and fortune have been applied to them. Even in the United States it is considered good luck to come into contact with a chimney sweep.

Houston, TX: Lord’s Chimney Sweeps

Here in Houston, Beaumont, and all of the surrounding areas, the Lord’s Chimney technicians will not only bring with them good luck… we also bring the most skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced team with us to make sure that your chimney is safe for use and working efficiently. Though, after we’ve left, we won’t blame you for thinking you’ve been bestowed with good luck.

Ready to Book Your Spot?

Call us today to find out how we can bless your home. Dial 832-280-9964 or reach out to us online now.

Your Chimney Waterproofing Questions Answered

Spring is upon us bringing longer days, warmer weather, and, sometimes, lots of rain. With all that water hitting your roof, it’s a good idea to make sure your chimney is in tip-top shape and properly sealed so that water stays outside where it belongs.

At Lords Chimney we specialize in the care and maintenance of chimneys. We want to help homeowners keep their chimney standing strong, looking good, and functioning properly, which is why we urge customers in the Houston area to invest in professional waterproofing services with us. Call today to get started.

Why Is Waterproofing My Chimney Important?

heavy rainfall coming off of a slanted roofYour chimney is fully exposed to the weather and whatever precipitation may come with it. And through all this, it has two very important jobs it has to do. The first is to allow smoke and the byproducts from burning wood to exit your house safely, and the second is to keep water and other debris from getting into your house.

…which is why waterproofing your masonry is an important part of your chimney maintenance routine. It strengthens your brick and mortar and protects your chimney from natural processes that can destroy your masonry – and even work their way into your home.

How Can Water Damage My Chimney?

Although looking at brick and mortar might cause you to think that water would have little to no effect on such a sturdy and durable structure, the truth is quite the opposite. Masonry is full of tiny pores that absorb moisture. Little pockets of water can hide out in your brick and mortar for long periods of time, which then makes your chimney susceptible to damage.

If left unchecked, damage will continue until one day your chimney will be broken down and unsafe for use.

What Are Some Signs My Chimney Needs Waterproofing?

There are some things that can tip you off to the fact that your chimney needs to be sealed. The most obvious might be cracking and crumbling brick and mortar. If you notice that your masonry seems weakened, it’s time to call a professional to help you repair and waterproof your chimney.

Another thing to look for is efflorescence appearing on the outside of your chimney. Efflorescence shows up when deposits of salt are picked up by water within the brick and mortar of your chimney. As the water evaporates it leaves behind a white, chalky-looking residue. This is a sign that water is being absorbed by your masonry – and it needs to be waterproofed.

Finally, if you notice leaking within your fireplace or around your chimney it likely means that water is getting into your chimney where it shouldn’t. Don’t hesitate to call us at Lords Chimney, so we can help you locate the source of the leak, get it repaired, and waterproof your masonry before more costly damage is caused.

How Long Does Chimney Waterproofing Last?

water droplets on a bright green leafA thorough waterproofing job done by a professional with a high-grade vapor-permeable product can keep your chimney’s water defenses up for years. Most products, when professionally maintained, will stand strong for around ten years. However, that length of time gets drastically shorter when the job is done by someone inexperienced  with improper chemicals and equipment.

Can I Waterproof My Chimney Myself?

An amateur waterproofing job will vary in effectiveness, and if done before repairing weak spots in your chimney, it can be a very costly endeavor. Using vapor-permeable sealants is a necessary part of sealing your chimney, and these not always readily available in retail stores. Having the knowledge about what kind of treatment will work best on your specific masonry is a must.

Fortunately, Lord Chimney’s team of trained techs have the experience and know-how to get your job done right the first time, saving your money, time, and lots of stress.

Will Chimney Waterproofing Prevent All Water Damage to My Chimney?

Water can damage a chimney in a lot of ways, and often, damaged or improperly installed chimney caps and flashing can be culprits of letting water in. So, while waterproofing your chimney will protect the masonry and keep it strong, your chimney may have other weak spots through which water can find its way inside.

Long story short – it’s essential to cover all of your bases! Lords Chimney is trained to be able to spot these weak areas. Our team is fully equipped to notice small imperfections that can have a big impact on your chimney, and we can help you repair these imperfections, eliminate weak spots, and drive water away from your chimney – for good.

Trust Us for a Job Well Done

Lords Chimney can get the job done right and done efficiently. Our professionals will make sure you’re left with a chimney that is able to perform how it was meant, providing you with the warmth and joy that a fireplace is meant to bring – all while keeping water outside for the long haul. Call us today to schedule your waterproofing job, or you can book online through our site.

Thanks for choosing us.