Fire Safety & Maintenance

Keeping the focus on safety

Our clients’ safety is important to us, and at Lords Chimney, we want to do everything we can to help you minimize the possibility of fire hazards in or around your chimney system, from regular chimney maintenance to necessary repairs. That also includes helping you develop short-term and long-term fire safety plans that add up to a cleaner and better-performing system.

Maintenance Sets The Stage

peace of mind

This list of smart practices will help you continue using your heating appliance as safely as possible.

Every Time You Use Your Fireplace

Use the right fuel

Wet or green wood results in an increase in creosote in your flue, and more creosote means a bigger chance of creosote ignition. Use kiln-dried or seasoned firewood (or make sure you dry your own wood for at least a year before using it) — that helps you achieve the optimum small, hot fire, creating the lowest levels of creosote. Stay away from burning trash, Christmas trees, cardboard boxes or anything else that isn’t seasoned firewood, too — and never ever try to speed up lighting your fire by using any kind of flammable liquid.

Don’t leave your fire unattended

If you’re burning wood, it takes a while for the fire to thoroughly extinguish. Don’t leave a smoldering fire alone — if sparks or embers get out of the firebox or another problem arises, you need to be there to handle it.

Use a spark screen

Fireplace screens are affordable and useful — placed in front of the fire, they can create a barrier between flames/embers and your living area and the people and pets in it.

Keep things clean

Make sure you clean wood ash regularly, in the right way: Deposit ash in a metal bucket, and allow it to cool completely before disposing of it a safe distance away from your home. Whatever fuel you’re burning, keep the area around your fireplace or stove clean — keep a good distance between the appliance and anything flammable, from furniture and window coverings to decorative items.

new-year-chimney-sweeping-houston-tx-lords-chimney

Things You Should Schedule Annually

Chimney sweeping

Creosote will build up as you use your wood fireplace or stove, and it needs to be regularly removed from your flue for both safety and performance reasons. A cleaner flue is a safer and a more efficiently venting flue, and Lords Chimney can help.

Chimney inspections

If something goes wrong in your chimney system, you want to know about it — damaged parts and components can lead to leaks and water damage, dangerous carbon monoxide leaks and fire hazards. So keeping up with your recommended annual chimney inspection is important. 

If a cracked flue liner, third stage creosote or any other issue is limiting your chimney’s safety and efficiency, Lords Chimney can find the problem and suggest and complete the work necessary to fix it.

Don’t Forget About Your Dryer Vents!

We talk a lot about fire safety associated with fireplaces, stoves and chimneys, but your dryer vent needs your attention too. Lint-clogged dryer vents can become a serious fire hazard — according to estimates from the National Fire Protection Association, dryers or washing machines were involved in nearly 17,000 home fires in 2010, and the most prominent cause of those fires was a failure to clean.

As you use your dryer, lint slowly builds up along the ducts, and over time, that build-up can begin to constrict the vent. That blockage allows heat to build up, and since lint is extremely flammable, that heat can cause it to ignite.

Dryer Vent Cleaning - Before

Keeping your dryer vents clean limits that possibility — and Lords Chimney can help with dryer vent cleaning services.

If you have any questions about safer fireplace, stove and chimney practices – or dryer vents – Lords Chimney is always here to help. Just give us a call!

Diagnosing Chimney Odors

Chimney Odors Image - Houston TX - Lords ChimneyA chimney odor is far more than an inconvenience; these smells often indicate a far bigger chimney problem. While it may be tempting to spray some air freshener and hope the problem goes away, chimney odors should be addressed by a chimney professional as soon as possible. By having chimney odors diagnosed and repaired your family can begin enjoying using your fireplace again.

What causes chimney odors?

Whether it’s barely noticeable or overwhelming strong, chimney odors can affect your ability to live in your home. Unfortunately, there is no one single cause of chimney odors; chimneys odors are often the symptom of a bigger chimney problem. Because of this, a professional chimney inspection is often needed in order to uncover the cause of the smell. The following are three common causes of chimney odors.

  • Animal entry: Animals not only cause sharp, strong, rotting smells; wild animals from the smallest birds to the largest raccoons can all damage your chimney. If you hear scurrying, scratching, or crying coming from within your chimney, it is important to call a wildlife removal specialist or experienced chimney sweep as soon as possible. Nesting materials, food, droppings, or the bodies of dead animals can all cause extremely unpleasant odors, as well as the risk of exposure to bacteria and pests carried by the animals.

Many animals enter the chimney only to become trapped; removing them as soon as possible can reduce damage to the chimney, minimize the chance of chimney odors developing, and give the animal the best chance for survival. Homeowners should never attempt to smoke out trapped animals by starting a fire; not only does opening the damper give the animal access to your home, but the smoke and heat will kill most animals before they have the chance to escape.

  • Creosote: An excessive buildup of creosote in the flue causes sharp, smoky odors. These smells are often most noticeable during the hot and humid months of summer as well as when the air conditioning is being used. Getting rid of creosote odor is as easy as getting rid of the creosote; an annual chimney sweeping can remove creosote and make your chimney safer – and less smelly.
  • Water entry: A chimney leak can damage your interior and exterior masonry and fireplace components – as well as cause a dank, musty, damp odor. These odors are often caused when water from an unrepaired or undetected chimney leak is not removed. The cool, dark confines of the chimney create ideal conditions for the growth of mold and mildew; not only can this cause unbearable odors, but it can also negatively affect your home’s air quality. Children, the elderly, and those with breathing problems such as allergies and asthma are particularly affected by mold growth in the chimney.

Chimney odors can affect your ability to enjoy your fireplace. By having the smells diagnosed and the cause repaired, you can get back to enjoying your fireplace faster. For more information on diagnosing chimney odors or to schedule a chimney inspection, contact Lords Chimney today.

The Advantages of Forward Scheduling Your Sweeping Appointment

The Advantages of Forward Scheduling Your Sweeping Appointment Image - Houston TX - Lords ChimneyIn the hustle and bustle of our day to day lives, it can be easy to let minor home maintenance go by the wayside. No matter how frequently or infrequently your use your fireplace, however, it is important to have it swept and inspected at least once per year. Because of this, many customers find it easiest to forward schedule their future chimney sweeping appointments.

What is forward scheduling?

Forward scheduling is as easy as setting your next appointment at the time of your current appointment. While most of us are used to doing this for annual physicals or dental checkups, it can also be done for your chimney services! Forward scheduling your chimney sweeping allows you to pick the date and time for you next services and “set it and forget it!”

Advantages of forward scheduling your chimney services

Although it may seem odd to schedule chimney maintenance six months – or more – in advance, there are a number of advantages to forward scheduling your sweeping appointment.

  • Pick the most convenient appointment time. Scheduling several months in advance gives you the advance when choosing days and times for appointments. With schedules that are typically wide open, you can find the day and time that best work with your schedule instead of being at the mercy of the next available opening.
  • Make the appointment when it’s fresh in your mind. In the weeks and months after your chimney has been swept, scheduling your next appointment can become an afterthought. By forward scheduling, you can set up your next appointment at the time of your current sweeping, guaranteeing important annual maintenance will be done year after year.
  • Less stress and worry. Once your appointment has been schedule for the next year you can sit back, relax, and rest assured that your fireplace maintenance will be taken care of.

 

Benefits of annual chimney sweeping and maintenance

Regular yearly chimney sweepings and inspections are the best way to keep your fireplace and chimney burning safely and efficiently. Chimney sweepings remove soot, ash, debris, blockages, and the harmful and flammable byproduct of combustion creosote from the flue. Sweepings also help you get the most out of your fireplace by extending its lifespan. Likewise, chimney inspections can be used to help evaluate efficiency, look for signs of damage or deterioration, and uncover the cause of long-term chimney problems such as draft issues or leaks.

“A chimney inspection is like an annual dental check-up,” says Chimney Safety Institute of America Director of Education Ashley Eldridge. “It’s preventative maintenance that helps minimize potential hazards.”

With family, friends, jobs, kids, school, and more, it can be easy to forget to schedule your annual chimney sweeping. By forward scheduling your future appointments you can rest assured your chimney will be professionally maintained year after year. For more information on forward scheduling or to schedule your next chimney sweeping, contact Lords Chimney today.

Causes Of A Stinky Chimney

Causes Of A Stinky Chimney Image - Houston TX - Lords ChimneyWhether it suddenly appears or starts small and builds, a stinky chimney can make your home unlivable. While air fresheners may mask the odor, they cannot completely eliminate it; chimney odors are often the symptom of a more serious chimney problem. A chimney inspection is often needed to help identify the cause of a stinky chimney.

What causes stinky chimneys?

There is no one cause of chimney odors; different kinds of smells have different causes, and identifying the kind of odor your chimney has can help pinpoint exactly what is causing it. While a chimney inspection is the best tool to find the source of your home’s chimney odor, the following are four of the most common causes of stinky chimneys.

  • Animals: Sudden, sharp, rotting smells coming from the chimney often indicate the presence of a trapped animal. Birds, raccoons, squirrels, roof rats, and other small animals can find their way into chimneys through damaged chimney caps or other gaps around the flue; unfortunately, once they get in many animals are unable to get back out, leaving them trapped inside.

While live animals can cause odors from their food, feces, or nesting materials, a dead animal in the chimney can cause an overwhelming odor in the home – as well as effect the air quality. To avoid exposure to bacteria or microorganisms carried by wild animals, it is important to have them removed as soon as their presence is detected.

  • Creosote: Creosote is a naturally occurring byproduct of all fuel burning fires, but buildup of creosote is most commonly seen with wood burning fireplaces. A smoky or dirty smell can be the result of excessive creosote buildup; creosote caused odors are often most noticeable in hot or humid weather.
  • Drafting: If your chimney doesn’t draft properly, smoke and gas – as well as chimney odors – can blow back into and linger in your home. Smoky odors from drafting are often present long after the fireplace has been used, especially on hot or windy days. Drafting issues are commonly caused by an improperly sized flue; if you have installed a new fireplace or changed fuel sources, the flue may need to be resized in order to prevent drafting issues.
  • Water: While the exterior masonry of your chimney is built to withstand the elements, delicate interior chimney components are not designed to be exposed to water. Because of this, water can cause serious damage to your chimney components – as well as chimney odors. Dank or damp smells coming from the chimney may indicate the presence of an undetected chimney leak; it is important to repair leaks as soon as possible to minimize water damage to the fireplace and chimney.

Chimney odors do not go away on their own and are often the symptom of a bigger chimney problem. If you have a stinky chimney, contact Lords Chimney today to uncover – and repair – the cause of your chimney odor.

Diagnosing A Smelly Chimney

Fireplaces are supposed to add beauty to our homes and be the centerpieces of the room; however, nothing can detract from a beautiful fireplace quite like a foul odor. Unfortunately, most chimney odors are the result of a more serious problem; while an air freshener might be able to temporarily mask the problem, a chimney professional is often needed to diagnose the cause of a smelly chimney.

Diagnosing A Smelly Chimney - Houston TX - Lords ChimneyCommon causes of chimney odors

There are a number of different factors that can cause chimney odors. Because of this, it is important to have your chimney inspected by a certified chimney sweep in order to uncover the source of your chimney odor. Below are three of the most common causes of smelly chimneys.

  • Animals: Birds, raccoons, squirrels, and other small animals all love to find their way into chimneys for warmth, shelter, or a safe place to nest. Animals can cause a whole host of chimney odors – as well as chimney and fireplace damage – with their nesting materials, food sources, or droppings. However, the most serious and foul-smelling animal odors can come from trapped animals who have died in the chimney. These sharp, foul, or rotting smells can do more than affect your home’s air supply; the presence of an animal in the chimney can also expose your family to a whole host of bugs, bacteria, and other microbes.
  • Creosote: Creosote is a naturally occurring byproduct of fuel burning fires that can accumulate in your flue. Because it is extremely flammable, creosote should be removed by a certfieid chmney sweep during an annual chimney sweep and inspection. In addition to increasing your risk of accidental chimney fire, creosote can also cause smoky or sharp chimney odors. Creosote chimney odors are often worse in warm or humid weather and may not be noticeable when the weather is cool.
  • Water entry: While water can be extremely damaging to your exterior masonry, it can also wreak havoc on your fireplace system. In addition to damaging many chimney and fireplace components, water entry from a leak can also cause chimney odors. Dank, damp, or musty odors from the chimney are often the result of a leak somewhere in the chimney system; the odor is sometimes the only that a chimney leak is present.

    More so than the other sources of chimney odors, water entry is a major concern because it can cause the formation of mold or mildew in your chimney. Not only can this cause extremely unpleasant odors, but it can also negatively affect the air quality in your home. Young children, the elderly, or those with respiratory issues such as asthma are at particular risk of problems caused by mold or mildew growth in the chimney.

    If you have a stinky chimney, don’t just light a scented candle and hope it will fade over time. Instead, call one of the experts at Lords Chimney to help diagnose – and get rid of – the cause of your chimney odors.