Nothing can ruin a fire more than smoking problems. Whether smoke is blowing back into the room, the fire is burning sluggishly, or a smoky odor remains hours – if not days – after the fireplace has been used, smoking problems may be to blame.
Because there are a number of different causes of smoking fireplaces, there is no one easy answer or solution. Instead, a CSIA certified chimney sweep can use tools such as a chimney inspection to identify the underlying cause of the smoking problem.
Causes of a smoking fireplace
There are as many as 15 different causes of draft issues and smoking fireplaces. The following are four of the most commonly seen smoking problems.
- Flue blockage: Flue blockages occur when debris or buildup constrict or block air flow through the flue. This blockage causes the smoke to back up into your home instead of drafting up and out of the chimney. Two of the most common causes of flue blockages are debris such as leaves and sticks and animals and their nesting materials. A quality chimney cap along with regular chimney sweepings and inspections can help remove and prevent future blockages.
- Burning the wrong firewood: The type of wood you use has a surprisingly big impact on the quality of your fires. The best wood for indoor fireplaces is seasoned hardwoods such as birch, oak, or ash. Freshly cut or green wood has high moisture content and should be avoided; this causes the wood to smoke excessively as well as burn sluggishly with less heat.
- Improperly sized flue: A flue that is too large or too small for the fireplace cannot draft properly. If the flue is too large, the chimney pulls down too much air and smoke blows back into the room. likewise, a flue that is too small is unable to quickly draw smoke up the chimney, leading to smoke that lingers or sits in the home. Draft issues caused by an improperly sized flue are most commonly seen in homes where the original fireplace has been replaced. To avoid this, check with your chimney professional to see if you need to have your chimney relined if a new insert or stove is installed into an existing hearth.
- Negative air pressure: Chimney height, nearby buildings, and trees can all affect the air pressure around your home. For both safety and drafting purpose, standard building codes require chimneys to be at least two feet taller than any structures within a 10 foot radius. Building an addition, adding a second story, or allowing large trees to grow nearby can create a negative air pressure and prevent the chimney from drafting correctly.
Let us fix your smoking fireplace!
You don’t have to live with a drafty fireplace, smoky odor, or soot-covered furnishings. Let the expert chimney technicians at Lords Chimney uncover – and repair – the cause of your smoking chimney. Contact us today to help resolve your smoking chimney and enjoy your fireplace this winter!
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!
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!
Spring and summer rain showers and thunderstorms are often a welcome reprieve from the scorching temperatures. In addition to cooling us off, these rain storms also keep our lawns and gardens green and our rivers and lakes full and ready for summer fun.
Unfortunately, heavy rain can also lead to a leaky chimney. Chimney leaks are one of the most common chimney problems we see during the summertime. Even chimneys without previous problems can develop leaks – and their accompanying water damage – in as little as one season.
What causes chimney leaks?
Although chimneys look like simple brick or stone columns, they are actually complex structures with a number of different pieces and parts. Because the chimney is constantly exposed to the elements, its masonry is at greater risk for damage and breakdown.
The following are some of the most common causes of chimney leaks.
Chimney cap: The chimney cap protects the top of your flue from water entry, as well as animals and debris. Without a properly fitted chimney cap, the flue and fireplace are left completely exposed to water entry from rain.
Flashing: Flashing is the water tight strips that seal the seam between your roof and the chimney structure. If flashing is incorrectly installed, damaged, or merely loses its seal due to wear and tear or age, water can easily seep through any gaps. This can cause water damage to not only the roof and chimney, but also the ceilings and walls around the chimney.
Masonry damage: If one side or part of your chimney is often directly exposed to rainfall or other sources of water, the masonry may deteriorate or become damaged faster than the rest of the chimney. Water can cause bricks to crack and spall; in addition to making your chimney look aged or unkempt, it can also affect the structural stability of the chimney and lead to chimney leaks.
Symptoms of a leaky chimney
Many homeowners falsely assume that all leaky chimneys present themselves as visible water in the fireplace or flue. However, because of the size and complexity of most chimney systems, chimney leaks are often not recognized until they’ve already caused significant damage.
Below are some of the signs that may indicate your chimney is leaking.
- Water or condensation inside the firebox
- Sound of dripping water in the chimney
- Moisture, leaks, or water staining on walls or ceilings around chimney
- Musty or dank odors, especially after it rains
- Cracked or spalled interior or exterior masonry
Preventing chimney leaks
The best way to prevent chimney leaks is by having regular preventative maintenance done on your fireplace and chimney. Annual chimney sweepings and inspections can often identify any new chimney or masonry damage, allowing you to have it repaired before it leads to a chimney leak.
Another option for preventing leaks and water damage to your chimney is to have your masonry waterproofed. The waterproofing process involves the application of a specially designed sealant that keeps water out while allowing the masonry to retain its semi porous nature. These products can even be applied to chimneys with existing water damage as a way to keep it from getting worse.
If a summer rainstorm has left you with a leaky chimney, contact Lord’s Chimney today. Our expert staff can identify and resolve the source of your leaky chimney!
Gas fireplaces make a beautiful addition to any home and are an increasingly sought after feature for homebuyers. Valued for their beauty, functionality, and ease of use, more and more homeowners are converting their existing open hearth fireplaces to gas. However, what many may not realize is that their new gas fireplace is missing a required component – the damper stop.
Although many homeowners may not know what a damper stop is, they are a necessary part of a gas fireplace. Unfortunately, many homes with gas fireplaces – especially those that were not professionally installed – may be missing this important piece.
What is a damper stop?
A damper stop is a piece of metal designed to ensure that the flue of a gas fireplace always remains partially open. With a traditional hearth fireplace, the damper is opened or closed when the fireplace is in use.
While gas fireplaces also need the flue to be open while in use, there is often no mechanism to close it; instead, the damper is simply left partially or fully open when the gas insert is installed. However, leaving the damper open at installation does not ensure that the damper will stay open forever. Strong winds, house settling, or other damage to the flue or damper can cause the damper to close.
Because of this, damper stops were designed to be installed as a way to keep the damper permanently open. Although they are required, some homes with gas fireplaces – especially those that were self-installed by previous homeowners or untrained installers – may not have them.
Dangers of a missing damper stop
A damper stop may seem like an insignificant piece of the gas fireplace. However, it is a specially designed safety precaution that can help protect your family, namely against carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas that is often called the “silent killer” because it is so difficult to detect. When the damper is open, carbon monoxide is able to safely travel up the chimney and out of your home. However, if the damper is closed this deadly gas can back up into your room, affecting the health and safety of you, your family, and your friends.
How to identify a damper stop
With a traditional hearth fireplace, it is easy to tell if the damper is open or closed; if smoke back flows into a room when the fireplace is in use, the damper is closed. Gas fireplaces, however, do not produce smoke, making it much more difficult to tell if the damper is open or closed.
Missing damper stops are most frequently identified during home inspections; however, they can be easily missed, leading homeowners to believe that there is nothing wrong with their gas insert or fireplace.
To make sure that your gas fireplace has a damper stop that is correctly installed, contact Lord’s Chimney to schedule a chimney inspection. Our trained chimney sweeps will be able to inspect your chimney and fireplace to determine whether or not your gas fireplace has a damper stop; if it is missing, one can be installed. To make sure your chimney is up to current safety standards, contact us today!
As a homeowner, there are lots of things around your home, both inside and outside, that need to be regularly maintained. And let’s face it – it’s easy to get so overloaded with household to-do lists that sometimes some of the most important places get overlooked.
We’ve noticed that fireplaces and chimneys tend to get thrown into this overlooked category since they are only used for a portion of the year. Sound all too familiar? Well, don’t burn yourself out figuring out how you’ll fit in yet another job. Simply give our experts a call to handle it all!
Chimney Inspections & Sweepings
Annual chimney inspections are essential when it comes to keeping your system standing strong for the long haul. All kinds of hidden dangers could be lurking and putting your home at risk, and it takes the trained eyes of a pro to spot and resolve them. Oftentimes, what homeowners think of as no big deal (even something as seemingly minor as a broken tile or brick) are actually quite dangerous.
When it comes to chimneys, the sooner any issues are spotted and addressed, the better. If there is a crack, it will only continue to grow. If mold shows up, it will only spread. If things aren’t heating correctly, this will only continue, costing you more to operate the appliance and putting your home at risk.
That’s why we urge all of our customers to book inspections at least once per year and always before kicking off your burning season. During these, our sweeps will look for any flaws, build-up, and imperfections, and then suggest any further maintenance, like sweepings or repairs, as necessary.
And what’s the importance of a chimney sweeping? To start, they remove any build up, excess debris, and creosote, which is the main cause of chimney fires. And apart from being fire hazards, blockages can lead to smoke in your home, carbon monoxide poisoning, and a lack of efficiency.
Repair & Restoration Services
Now, chimney sweepings and inspections are an important part of chimney maintenance, but they’re still just only one part of the equation. That’s why we offer a wide range of chimney, masonry, and venting services and repairs, all of which allow us to better serve our customers and meet all of their chimney and fireplace needs.
If your fireplace or chimney is worn down after years of use, we can help restore it to its former glory. Our fireplace restoration services can fix every part of your chimney, from the chimney cap at the top to the firebox at the bottom. Some of our many services include tuckpointing, leaky chimney repairs, chimney pressure washing, relining services, wildlife removal, troubleshooting, and even replacements or facelifts.
Not sure where you stand or what you need? Give us a call! We’d be happy to answer your questions and get you where you need to be.
Need Dryer Vent Services?
In addition to our chimney services, we can also clean dryer vents, as well as assist with installation and re-routing. Even if you regularly clean your lint trap, lint will still accumulate in your dryer vents and hoses over time, which can then create clogs and fire hazards. In fact, dryer-related issues cause thousands of house fires every single year. This one service well worth investing in.
Clean dryer vents can also help your dryer run more efficiently, wasting less energy and resulting in dryer clothes after each load. This saves you money month to month, and keeps your dryer and clothes from experiencing excess wear, too.
We’re Trusted Throughout Houston
At Lord’s Chimney, we have been proudly providing the greater Houston area with chimney, fireplace, masonry, and vent services for years. If you’re experiencing chimney issues, there’s no better crew to trust!
Why do so many turn to us time and time again? Well, for one thing, we make education a priority. We’re certified with the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), members of the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG), and maintain a long list of certifications, associations, awards, and 5-star reviews. One look at our credentials and it’s clear – we take what we do seriously!
In the end, when you hire a sweep for your chimney inspections, sweepings, and more, you deserve to work with someone you can trust. If your sweep is associated with reputable organizations, experienced, and has a strong relationship with the community it serves, these are all solid signs that they’ll have your back throughout it all. When you hire us, we’ll treat you and your fireplace with respect!
Keep Your Home Safer By Working With Us
A clean and well-maintained chimney and fireplace doesn’t just help with efficiency… it also ensures your home stays a safer place to live season after season. Stay out of harm’s way by reaching out to our highly trained and qualified staff today. When you work with Lords Chimney, you work with the best!