Chimney sweeping logs are no replacement for a certified chimney sweep!

Every time you burn wood in your fireplace or wood stove, condensation forms on your chimney’s flue. That condensation forms a dark, tar-like, highly combustible substance called creosote. When creosote builds up in your chimney, it can lead to a damaging and dangerous chimney fire, or it can force carbon dioxide back into your home, endangering your family.

Creosote sweeping logs promise a solution. They claim to reduce creosote buildup in your chimney simply by burning them in your chimney. Some such logs carry the seal of approval of the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), but even the CSIA acknowledges that the logs are not a replacement for your annual chimney sweeping and inspection by a CSIA-certified chimney sweep.

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Creosote sweeping logs don’t remove all creosote

Creosote sweeping logs work by sending chemicals up your chimney that react with the creosote, causing it to flake away and fall back down your chimney to your firebox, where it either burns up or can be swept away. At best, the logs only remove up to 60 percent of the creosote from you chimney over a 15-day period. That means that creosote still can build up to dangerous levels within your chimney, blocking smoke from leaving your chimney and potentially igniting a chimney fire.

Additionally, many fireplaces aren’t a straight vertical channel. That means creosote can fall to and gather on your chimney’s horizontal surfaces, where it can build up. If your chimney is a straight vertical line, the creosote that falls into the firebox can cause flare ups that can harm your hearth or someone standing near it.

Creosote sweeping logs can’t spot problems with your chimney

Your annual chimney sweeping is more than just a cleaning. Your certified chimney sweep also inspects your chimney for structural damage, water leaks, crumbling mortar, and other problems. A creosote sweeping log simply can’t help you identify and solve problems with your chimney. Missing your annual chimney inspection gives small problems, like a minor leak, time to grow into a major problem that potentially will be expensive to repair.

More importantly, your certified chimney sweep looks for problems that could lead to a chimney fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. That includes animals that have nested in your chimney or chimney fires that have gone undetected.

Schedule your annual chimney sweeping today!

While the CSIA recognizes that creosote sweeping logs can be a valuable piece of chimney maintenance, eliminating some creosote in between professional chimney sweepings, replacing your annual chimney sweeping and inspection with a creosote sweeping log is dangerous both for your home and your family. If you’re overdue for your annual chimney sweeping and inspection, call the CSIA-certified chimney sweeps at Lords Chimney. We’ll make sure that your chimney is creosote-free and ready to burn safely this winter.

The Importance of CSIA Certification

When it comes to fireplace and chimney service, installation, and maintenance, finding the right company to work with can be hard to do. With so many businesses to choose from, it can be difficult to determine the seasoned professionals from the seasonal workers.

Although anyone with a brush and a truck might be able to call themselves a chimney sweep, few have earned the Chimney Safety Institute of America, or CSIA, certification. By hiring a certified chimney sweep, you can feel confident that you are working with a highly trained and educated professional.

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Are all chimney sweeps certified?

Many homeowners mistakenly believe that all chimney sweeps are created equally. Unfortunately, there are few regulations or restrictions on the industry. Because of this, any handyman with a couple of brushes can call themselves a chimney sweep. Oftentimes, these “chimney sweeps” do little more than push around the ash and soot in your chimney, making more of a mess than actually cleaning the chimney.

In order to get the best service possible for your fireplace and chimney system, it is important to work with a CSIA certified chimney sweep. The CSIA certification is recognized as the gold standard in the industry. Chimney sweeps that hold a CSIA certification have completed extensive education, training, and testing and represent the best in the industry in terms of skill and professionalism.

In order to earn their CSIA certification, chimney sweeps must study and be tested on topics such as:

  • Fireplace and chimney safety practices
  • Local and national building and fire codes
  • Fireplace and chimney building dynamics for wide range of units
  • Installation and maintenance practices for fireplaces, inserts, and stoves
  • Current EPA standards for fireplaces, inserts, and stoves

CSIA certified chimney sweeps must also stay up to date on current industry practices. Because they must retest every three years in order to maintain their certification, CSIA-certified sweeps have information on the most recent safety and technology developments and best practices in the industry.

Hiring a certified chimney sweep

Because chimney maintenance can directly impact the safety of you and your family, it is important to work with a professional that you trust. Before hiring a chimney sweep, consider asking them the following questions:

  • How long has your chimney sweeping company been in business?
  • Can you offer current references?
  • Do you have unresolved complaints filed with any consumer protection agencies or the Better Business Bureau?
  • Does the company or the individual chimney sweep carry business liability insurance policy to protect my home and furnishings against accidents?
  • Will the company guarantee that a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep will be on my job site?

Don’t trust your family’s safety to the cheapest company you can find. Instead, hire a CSIA certified chimney sweep to ensure that your chimney’s maintenance and repairs are done correctly – the first time. In the Houston area, contact Lords Chimney to schedule an appointment with our CSIA certified chimney sweeps!

HeatShield Facts

Many homeowners mistakenly believe that if their chimney looks good from the outside, it must be safe on the inside as well. However, the structure of the chimney means that most of the functional parts of the chimney – including the flue – are inside the chimney structure and therefore invisible to the naked eye. Because of this, damage to these parts of the chimney can be difficult to spot.

One of the hardest areas to identify chimney damage is in the flue. Because the flue stretches from the firebox to the top of the chimney structure, there are yards of flue liner is which damage can occur – and go unidentified. Most damage to the chimney liner is found during an in-depth chimney inspection with the use of technology such as closed-circuit cameras.

When damage to the chimney liner is found, relining the chimney may be recommended. While there are a number of techniques and products that can be used to reline chimneys, one of the most innovative products available today is HeatShield.

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All about HeatShield

In the fireplace industry, HeatShield offers one of the most effective and long lasting methods of chimney relining. HeatShield is a cast in place chimney liner, meaning it is applied directly into your existing flue. This allows the product to form and fit your flue exactly. What sets HeatShield apart from the competition, however, is that it can be used in both small and large areas. Whether your need the entire flue relined or simply need to reinforce a few areas in the chimney, HeatShield can provide a safe and effective barrier against the heat, sparks, and embers created by the fireplace.

HeatShield also stands apart from the competition because of how it is made. Unlike similar products on the market today, HeatShield is made of only environmentally friendly, naturally occurring, and recycled materials. This means that when you choose HeatShield you can rest assured that you and your family will not be exposed to any dangerous chemical compounds.

The HeatShield application process

Unlike attempting to replace the existing clay tiles in the flue, the application process for a cast in place liner such as HeatShield is a relatively easy and mess free. Before relining the flue, a special brush will be created and fitted to your chimney; this ensures that HeatShield can be evenly applied throughout the chimney structure. After application, HeatShield is smoothed over the areas in need of repair, creating a level finish without any gaps or cracks.

HeatShield is unique in the fireplace industry in that it can be applied to both small and large areas. This means that if only a small portion of the chimney has been damaged – such as the flue tiles at the top of the chimney – you can repair the damaged areas without needing to reline the entire chimney.

If you have been told your flue is damaged or the chimney needs to be relined, choose HeatShield products to create a smooth and durable chimney liner that will last for years to come. Contact Lords Chimney today to learn more about what HeatShield can do for your chimney!

Don’t Wait Until Fall To Schedule Your Chimney Inspection

As the temperatures outside continue to rise, most homeowners have stopped using their fireplaces until the fall. Even though you may not be using it, don’t let your fireplace sit idle until the temperatures drop! Instead, use the summer as a time to have chimney maintenance done.

Summer is a great time to have annual chimney maintenance – including a chimney inspection – completed. By having work done now, you can start using your fireplace again in the fall with the knowledge that it is in good condition and safe to use!

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Why have chimney maintenance done in the summer

Because most homeowners do not use their fireplaces during the summer, it is the perfect time of year to have chimney maintenance done. As the summer is traditionally a “slow season” due to the lack of a need for fireplace use, it is much easier to get an appointment at a convenient time with a minimal wait time. Likewise, as some masonry repairs cannot be made in cold weather have summer repairs done ensures your chimney will be ready to use all winter long.

Importance of chimney inspections

“A chimney inspection is like an annual dental check-up,” says Ashley Eldridge, Director of Education for the CSIA. “It’s preventative maintenance that helps minimize potential hazards.” A chimney inspection should be a part of your yearly fireplace maintenance. Unlike a chimney sweeping which focuses on the removal of soot, ash, and creosote, a chimney inspection focuses on the condition of your fireplace and chimney.

Levels of chimney inspection

There are three different levels of chimney inspection designated by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. A CSIA-certified chimney sweep can help advise you on what level of chimney inspection your home needs.

  • Level I: A Level I chimney inspection is the simplest kind of chimney inspection and is all that is needed for most homes that receive regular fireplace and chimney maintenance. During a Level I inspection, the certified chimney sweep will visually inspect all accessible portions of the interior and exterior of the chimney for signs of deterioration or damage. If any problems are found, repairs or a more intensive inspection can be recommended.
  • Level II: Level II chimney inspections are used if there has been a major change to the fireplace system, such as installing a new insert or changing fuel sources. Likewise, a Level II inspection may be recommended if you are preparing to sell your home or recently purchased a new home. This kind of chimney inspection often involves the use of technology such as closed-circuit cameras as well as accessing areas of your home such as attics, basements, or crawl spaces.
  • Level III: A Level III chimney inspection is the most in-depth – and most invasive – type of chimney inspection. For this reason they are only recommended in cases where serious structural damage is suspected, such as after an earthquake, chimney fire, or other natural disaster. During a Level III chimney inspection, portions of the chimney structure may need to be removed in order to better access areas of damage.

This year, don’t wait until fall to schedule your chimney inspection. Instead, have your chimney maintenance done during your fireplace’s summer downtime! Call Lord’s Chimney today to schedule your summer chimney inspection and help your fireplace be ready for fall!

Chimney Swifts

Spring has officially arrived, and with the warmer temperatures and longer days come new babies for many different kinds of animals. Unfortunately, many birds and small mammals may view your chimney as the perfect place to build a nest and raise their young. While many animals and their nests can be safely and humanely removed if they get into your chimney, one cannot: the chimney swift.

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About chimney swifts

A chimney swift can be recognized by their size, color, movements, and sounds. Chimney swifts are small birds with narrow bodies and long wings. While up close they are a brown-gray color, they may appear black when backlit against the sky. Swifts fly and twist side to side erratically, and have a distinct high pitched chirp.

Although chimney swifts spend their winters in South America, they migrate north to the eastern United States and Canada each spring to nest and raise their young. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “Their ability to travel over long distances and through a variety of habitats exposes them to a wide range of microorganisms.”

Chimney swifts got their name because of their unique ability to build nests that stick to the side of slippery flue tiles. While swifts traditionally prefer to nest in hollow or dead trees, the increase in size of cities, suburbs, and agricultural areas has forced them to adapt.

Removing chimney swifts

If birds take up residence in your chimney, your first reaction may be to have them removed as soon as possible. Unfortunately for many homeowners, chimney swifts and several other species of migratory bird are protected under the Federal Migratory Birth Treaty Act. This law makes it illegal for anyone to remove or destroy chimney swift nests, eggs, or hatchlings, with severe fines and penalties for anyone who violates the law.

Luckily for those dealing with an unexpected nest of chimney swifts, the birds have a relatively short nesting period. Chimney swifts can lay, hatch, and raise their young in about six weeks. Likewise, as they nest in the spring and summer when fireplaces are not typically in use, the presence of a chimney swift nest of often little more than a minor inconvenience.

Keeping chimney swifts out

Because chimney swifts cannot be removed once they have taken up residence in your chimney, the best thing homeowners can do to prevent them is to have their chimney regularly inspected. A chimney inspection can ensure that there are no areas for chimney swifts to enter through, such as a damaged chimney cap.

Likewise, because chimney swifts are migratory they tend to return to the same nesting ground each year. Because of this, if you have chimney swifts find their way into your chimney it is extremely important to have the chimney inspected and repaired after they leave. If not, you may find that your chimney becomes an annual summer home for a family of chimney swifts.

If you think you have birds in your chimney, contact Lord’s Chimney today. Our expert technicians will be able to find out if they can be removed as well as help prevent them from getting in again.