We’re nearing the end of what is typically considered “hurricane season” here in the Greater Houston Area, which means your chimney may need some extra care and attention. Here are some of the main things to look for when assessing your potential chimney damage.
1. Missing Caps & Chase Covers
One of the biggest issues we discover after a hurricane is missing caps and chase covers. When those strong winds come in, your cap is often the first thing to go, and it could be multiple houses away by the time we have the chance to look things over!
And if your cap still seems to be intact, don’t let out a sigh of relief just yet. We’ve seen multiple cases where it gets blown off, only to fall right back into its original spot. This gives the appearance of a properly-fitted cap when in reality it’s barely hanging on.
Needless to say, investing in a new cap or chase cover as soon as possible is an absolute must. These keep out rain and downdrafts, and they prevent animal entry, as well. In the end, an affordable cap can be quickly installed by of our team of experts, and it will wind up saving you a lot of time, stress, and hassle over time.
Another indication of severe damage is discoloration throughout your structure. Now, hurricanes typically come in one of two forms – extra windy or extra rainy. If you’ve just experienced one with lots of water, then discoloration is often something you’ll notice in the aftermath.
If you see lots of white, for instance, this is a sign of efflorescence, or lots of green throughout the bricks indicates vegetation growth (a clear sign of standing water). You could also see brown or black patches, which indicates rust, creosote, or built-up soot. In the end, most types of discoloration can be traced back to water damage, so get our certified crew on the job right away if things start to look suspicious.
3. Gaps in Your Brickwork
Excessive wind and rain can easily trigger spalling throughout your system, which weakens your entire structurally significantly. Moisture has a big impact on the strength of your brickwork and mortar, and the more everything crumbles and breaks down, the more vulnerable you will be to gas leaks, fires, and even chimney collapses.
Our experienced crew will get things patched up in no time, and once we’re done we can offer waterproofing products that will help your masonry better withstand water and rainfall.
4. Leaning/Swaying Chimney
One thing we strongly encourage homeowners to do after a bad storm is to walk outside and take a good look at your chimney. Does something look off? If you notice tilting or leaning at all, then you’ll want a solid team of sweeps on the job quickly.
And while you’re looking, watch out for anything else that seems out of the norm. We mentioned discoloration and missing parts, but do you notice rust, cracks in your crown, worn down mortar joints, or anything else awry? Call us in. This is one area where you are always better off being safe than sorry!
Not Sure Where You Stand? Schedule an Inspection or Invest In A Virtual Assessment!
Now, if you’re just not sure what state your chimney is in, the best way to get an accurate assessment is to schedule an inspection. Getting our team out to perform a level 2 inspection will ensure any faults or structural flaws are spotted and addressed as soon as possible.
Or, if you have a busy schedule or you’re just inquiring about some reconstruction or remodeling work, send us a picture! We do virtual assessments, and we typically can give you all of the information you need without even having to come to your house. This saves time and expense on your end, and it can help you make an official decision as to whether or not you want to proceed with any changes or renovations.
You Deserve High-Quality Care
From strange smells to weird noises to worrisome drips, we can put all of your chimney-related worries to rest. The CSIA Certified Sweeps at Lords Chimney are experienced, and we take education seriously, so you can bet we’re always up-to-date on all of the latest techniques, tools, and technologies in the trade.
And remember – the more often you invest in care the better! By having your chimney serviced on a consistent basis, you make sure you get all of the insurance coverage you’re entitled to should a hurricane cause significant damage to your chimney. Regular maintenance offers you a track record that shows what state your chimney was in before the hurricane, so you can prove 100% that the storm was the cause of all your damage.
This is the time of year when people start thinking about putting their fireplace to more frequent use, so it’s not uncommon for us to get a lot of questions and phone calls regarding proper fireplace care and maintenance. If you find yourself wondering about inspections, sweepings, and more, check out some of the more common inquiries we get by reading below.
1) When should I start thinking about getting my fireplace swept and inspected in Houston?
Most people start thinking about scheduling their inspection right around this time of year. Fall is just around the corner, families start planning for the holidays, and homeowners suddenly realize that they better make sure their appliances are in good working order!
Unfortunately, because everyone tends to think the same thing at the same time, we get a lot of appointment requests throughout September, October, and November.
Needless to say, if you need work done, you will want to reach out as soon as you can! Repairs and inspections will book out later and later as the year progresses, and if you want a well-working fireplace by Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s much more likely to happen if you get in touch with us right away.
Then, next year, make sure to stay ahead of the curve by scheduling your inspection during late spring or early summer. May, June, and July are all ideal months to get your maintenance booked in a timely manner, and you’ll be more likely to get your appointment on a day and time that’s convenient for you.
2) Do you need to get an inspection done every year, no matter what?
Yes – an inspection should be completed every year to ensure optimal functioning. This way if there are small problems (like a small leak, crack, etc.), we can catch them while they are still minor and relatively easy to fix. If you wait until the issues are big and obvious, they will be much more expensive and time-consuming to fix.
All in all, preventative maintenance is always better on your budget, schedule, and stress levels, so don’t hesitate to get that yearly inspection on the books!
3) In terms of getting inspections done, is it just about how much you burn or is it also about heavy rain, hurricanes, and other major weather events?
The short answer here is… both! If you put your fireplace to lots of use, then you’ll definitely want it checked over for damages and build-up because both of these things can lead to some serious and dangerous issues down the line.
But bad weather will often lead to some major problems, too. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and the like can compromise your structural integrity a great deal, and by documenting your structure both before and after a natural disaster, you ensure your tracks are covered when it comes to getting compensation from your insurance company.
4) Most people know what sweeping a chimney sweeping consists of, but they don’t know what an inspection entails. Can you explain?
While a sweeping entails actually removing creosote out of the chimney with the use of brushes and vacuums, an inspection is what comes before that. Basically, we send cameras up your flue to check for any signs of cracking, deterioration, water damage, and more.
In the end, inspections are more about preventing more damages from occurring later on. We will also be able to tell what has happened to your system in the past (for instance, if it experienced a lightning strike or storm damage), which is especially good to know if you are buying a home. Home inspectors will quickly shine a flashlight in the appliance, then make a fast assumption on where you’re at. They aren’t actually required to look over a good portion of the chimney, which is a bit unsettling!
The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, “chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances.“ Hiring a certified chimney professional is always your best bet and ensures you don’t wind up paying more for the home than you should. And you’ll have all of your bases covered when it comes to insurance, too – well worth it!
5) Are there any sure fire signs that you have waited too long to get a chimney swept?
Other than experiencing a chimney fire, most signs of creosote build-up aren’t all that obvious. You won’t truly know where you are at until you get an official inspection completed by a team of qualified sweeps.
6) What’s the difference between using a creosote sweeping log and getting a professional chimney sweeping completed?
When it comes to creosote sweeping logs, the name can be a bit deceiving. While they can make the creosote in your chimney easier for the professional to remove, they don’t actually remove the harmful substance.
These products should never replace an actual professional sweeping, and they will not clean your chimney. All in all, they’re not bad for your chimney, but they may not be worth the money you pay for them.
7) How do I know I have hired the right chimney sweep for the job?
There are a few main things to keep in mind when hiring a sweep. The first is whether or not they’re trained (and trained correctly). A surefire to know this is by checking for proper certifications and memberships from organizations like the CSIA, the NFI, and the NCSG. And keep in mind that some businesses will certify one sweep, claim the status, then fail to indicate that other team members (likely the ones coming to your home) are, in fact, not certified.
You’ll also want to make sure they use an actual camera to look your system over, have a physical office that you can check in with if issues arise, and hold all necessary insurance and liability policies.
Here at Lord’s Chimney, we believe communication is a key component in quality customer service, which is why you get an actual picture or video of the technician that is coming to your home, along with their certifications. You can bet that we’ve got everything necessary to provide you with the highest level of care, so don’t hesitate to reach out now.
Are you running your dryer two or three times only to realize your clothes still aren’t getting fully dry? Do you smell a smokey/musty odor when running your dryer? When your dryer turns off does a humming noise come from the appliance? All of these are clear-cut warning signs that your vents, as well as your booster vent and terminations, may need some attention. Here at Lords Chimney, we’re qualified to help with it all.
What Is A Booster Vent?
Not sure what a booster vent is exactly? If you have a duct system that is long or has lots of turns, then it’s very likely you have a booster vent in place. It is designed to suck exhaust from the dryer vent, thus ensuring your dryer is not forced to work nearly as hard as it would normally have to.
Clearly these devices play a very important role in keeping your appliance functioning as safely and as efficiently as possible, but unfortunately, not many homeowners owners know much about maintaining them. In fact, some hardly notice they’re even there! The truth is that these pieces of equipment actually need to be cleared out at least once every two to three months, and if not given regular attention, they’ll force your dryer to work overtime. There’s also a hose that helps with the pressure system that is prone to fall apart, and if damaged will need replacing right away.
As you can imagine, the harder your dryer works, the fewer years it will last, and you could be looking at some expensive damages down the line, too. Along with this, a clogged up booster vent creates a huge fire hazard! In the end, some routine maintenance now is a lot more affordable than buying a new dryer or paying for home restoration work after a fire. Combine all that with increased energy bills and a higher clothes budget (since all those tumbling cycles are sure to wear down your wardrobe in a hurry), and you’ll be looking at a big dent in your bank account.
It’s a no-brainer – call on our team to check things over today. We’ll ensure you’re set up right in no time!
All About Terminations
Another area we are happy to help you with is terminations. These are the spots where your vents end and the fumes from your dryer then safely escape out of your home. These are located on either the side of your home or the roof, and every single one of them should have a backdraft damper. These ensure air can effectively escape, as well as prevent animals, debris, and backdrafts from getting in.
In regards to terminations, we recommend investing in metal devices that do not have a screen. Metal options simply last longer and stand the test of time against the elements, and if you don’t have a screen or mesh, then you don’t run into scenarios where lint and other things are building up and creating clogs.
Also, if possible, we urge all of our customers to invest in the rooftop terminations over the ones on the sides of your home. Why? Well, these are known for creating no back pressure, which then makes your dryer’s job much easier. In the end, your system will face less stress, which will help it last longer, and it won’t have to run as long to get your clothes dry, which will then have a welcome effect on your energy bills. These devices cost a bit more upfront, but in the end, they’re a much smarter investment than their on-the-wall counterparts.
What Risks Do I Face If Maintenance Is Avoided?
All in all, your vents, terminations, and booster vents need to be cleared out regularly, and investing in professional care is the only way to ensure the job gets done right. Avoiding these services puts your home at serious risk, and we can assure you that you’ll wind up paying a lot more down the line for repair services and replacement parts than you would for a simple and affordable cleaning now.
What could happen if maintenance is avoided? The main concern is dryer fires. Thousands of dryer fires occur across the country every single year, and these result in hundreds of injuries, multiple deaths, and thousands of dollars worth of damage. Needless to say, combining flammable lint with a system that’s overheating doesn’t result in a good scenario.
Another concern is carbon monoxide exposure. Carbon monoxide could easily pour back into your home if your vents are backed up, and this colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas is impossible to detect with basic human senses. This deadly substance is known as a silent killer, and many are hospitalized due to exposure. Avoiding it at all costs is vital!
Investing in professional care is a surefire way to prevent mishaps and dangerous scenarios, and you’ll definitely appreciate the added efficiency you gain. We also urge our customers to invest in both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for their home. These should be placed on every level of the property, as well as outside of all bedroom doors to ensure everyone inside is alerted at the first sign of trouble.
Need professional care? The team at Lords Chimney is ready to be here for you every step of the way. Give us a call today.
The rainy season is upon us here in Houston, and as we move into spring, this rainfall will only continue. Because of this, it is imperative that you ensure your chimney and fireplace are protected! Water leaks are all too common in the world of chimneys. Many homeowners fail to realize that this is actually one problem that is easily avoided if the right measures are taken.
The biggest reason homeowners face problems with leaks and water damage is simply a lack of maintenance. If the chimney cap is missing or the chase cover is cracked or rusted, water will easily work its way in. By then, it is too late.
Get the scoop on chimney caps and chase covers below, then rely on our team to help you out with it all. Owner and CSIA Master Chimney Sweep, Lee Roff, is ready and eager to keep all of Houston and its surrounding areas protected. Lords Chimney is definitely the company you want to trust!
The Importance Of Chimney Caps
How vital is a chimney cap to the overall function of your fireplace? Well, without a protective covering over the top of your chimney, it is left completely open and vulnerable to whatever wants to enter. Whether its rain, animals, or outside debris, it has an easy way to access your home. If water enters your flue, it won’t be long before your metal components start to rust, and your masonry will start to crack and crumble, too.
Water will also break down your liner which leaves you vulnerable to gas leaks and house fires. Using a damaged system is really dangerous, but many fail to realize that they are even experiencing issues. This is why investing in regular inspections are so important!
Chimney caps also work hard to keep out birds and curious woodland critters. One common animal that loves to set up camp in chimneys is the chimney swift. These birds nest on vertical surfaces, and the warmth and protection your chimney offers is ideal. Unfortunately, their numbers are in decline, which is why they are now protected by law. What does that mean for you? Well, it means you’re stuck with them until they leave on their own. In fact, trying to remove them will land you with some hefty fines.
Avoid Chimney Swifts
Like most other birds, these will eventually migrate away from their nest, but don’t think your troubles are over then! They’re known to come back to their same nesting grounds when they return. Fortunately, we have a solution – a chimney cap. With one of these affordable devices in place, you won’t have to worry about any animals entering.
Raccoons, squirrels, and other creatures are also known to work their way into your chimney. In fact, we’ve seen raccoons have babies on the smoke shelf. If your damper gets left open, they could find their way into your home! All in all, getting these animals out and getting your chimney opening sealed up is vital for keeping your chimney, home, and family safer! Now is the time to get your cap installed, so don’t hesitate to reach out to our crew today.
All About Chase Covers
Chase covers, or chase tops, cover the opening of prefabricated units. These models have grown in popularity over the years since they are easier and cheaper to install. They also don’t require the commitment of actually building a permanent fixture in your home. Unfortunately, the flues on the units have been proven to attract even more birds than those of masonry chimneys.
Because of this, they need a protective covering, and that’s where your chase cover comes in. Nesting materials can clog things up in a hurry, causing draft and airflow issues. As nests are made of flammable materials, this also creates a fire hazard for your home. The smartest, safest, and most cost-effective route to take is to have a chase cover installed before any of these issues start to occur.
Unfortunately, a lot of these prefabricated models come with a chase cover that is made of weaker materials, which means it will rust and corrode before you know it. An ideal cover will be designed with a slight slope, ensuring water does not pool on top, and they should be made from strong products, such as galvanized metal, so you won’t need to worry about it breaking down any time soon. Ready for us to helpt? Reach out now – we’re more than happy to help.
We Are Dedicated To Our Customers
We go above and beyond to ensure our customer base is satisfied, and we are certain there is no better team than ours to trust throughout the Houston area. Our award-winning sweeps are certified with the CSIA and the NFI, and we’re members of the NSCG, too. We always use the high-quality tools and products we know you deserve, and you can trust that we never cut corners or take shortcuts.
The protection you’re looking for is a phone call away. Get in touch with us now!
Here in Houston and its surrounding cities, high temperatures are all too common, even during the winter months. Because of this, knowing the safest way to operate your chimney and fireplace on even the warmest days is essential. Fortunately, here at Lords Chimney, we have the tools, training, and technology to ensure you are set up right, no matter what the weather outside is doing. If you’re looking to keep your home and family better protected through it all, talk with our team today about your needs. We’d be happy to set up a time to look things over!
Is It Safe To Build Fires On Hot Days?
When it comes down to it, fireplaces are not meant to be operated when it’s hot outside. Wood-burning units are especially temperamental in these situations, but no matter the fuel type, it is important to practice caution when attempting to light fires on hot days. Is it even possible to light a successful fire? It can be! You just need to make certain you are set up right for it.
If you have a party or festive event coming up, then you are probably hoping to get some flames going. We get it! Sometimes, a fire is all you need to create the perfect mood. So, what can be done in these situations? Well, with our help, you can still use your fire effectively and safely. Get our experts on the job to check things up and down and ensure everything is in perfect shape.
The Dangers Of Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Exposure
One of the biggest risks involved with operating a faulty fireplace on a hot day is an increased likelihood of smoke and carbon monoxide entering your home. Both of these substances can be extremely detrimental to your health, and carbon monoxide is especially threatening due to its colorless and odorless nature. This gas has been deemed “the silent killer” since detecting its presence is so hard to do with one’s basic senses.
Getting your system working perfectly is a surefire way to significantly reduce your risk of experiencing smoke back-up or gas leaks. We’re here to help with it all, and we would be happy to answer any questions you have along the way, as well. In no time, our team will have you set up right, giving you the peace of mind you deserve whenever operating your fireplace. Get us in for an inspection right away, so that we can get this process started.
What else can you do to prevent exposure to carbon monoxide? Well, being aware of the symptoms associated with exposure is very important. Most people who have breathed in this poisonous gas report feelings of nausea, dizziness, headaches, confusion, vomiting, and chest pain. Others have even reported flu-like illnesses. If you are concerned there is gas in your home, and you experience any of these things, leave the area immediately and call for help. It’s always best to practice caution!
Another vital step in keeping your home safer is investing in both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Have them installed on every floor of your house, and make sure there are some outside of all sleeping areas. Then, check them regularly to ensure they are working. It’s also a good idea to change the batteries periodically, as well as replace the units themselves every 10 years.
Have any questions? Let us know. We would love to put you on the right track for keeping your household as safe and as comfortable as possible.
Trust In Our CSIA Certified Team
Anyone from Lords Chimney who comes out to inspect your fireplace will be certified with the CSIA and equipped with everything they need to get the job done right. In fact, the owner, Lee Roff, is Texas’s only CSIA Master Chimney Sweep, which means he has undergone years of training and has held certification with the CSIA for more years than most.
When it comes right down to it, when you put your chimney in our hands, you can rest easier knowing it will function better for your home and family. And with warmer days like these upon us, you can never be too careful! Don’t put your home in the hands of someone uncertified, inexperienced, and notorious for cutting corners. Trust in us from start to finish – you and your family deserve only the best!
We Offer Repairs, Sweepings & More
So, what can be done if our professional inspection reveals bigger issues at hand? Well, an extensive sweeping can work wonders when it comes to removing creosote and ensuring no harmful clogs or obstructions are present. And if your masonry or chimney parts are in rough shape, we can fix those up, too. We can replace components, as necessary, restore your brickwork and mortar, and patch up any gaps, cracks, and holes, as needed.
And these services only scratch the surface as far as what we’re capable of! Ready to learn more? Then, the time to reach out is now. We’re only a phone call away!