Santa's Friend Chimney Service

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Common Repairs to Chimney Liners

Common Chimney Flue Liner Repairs

 Although many people have chimneys in their homes, most do not know much about the parts that comprise them. One of the most important parts of a functioning chimney is the flue liner. This is a layer, usually made of clay, metal, or ceramic tile that covers the inside of the chimney. Its function is to protect the inner wall of the chimney as well as to contain combustible materials while sending them out of the home. Keeping the chimney flue liner in good working condition is essential to having a safe chimney.

Prior to the 1940’s, it was not mandatory for homes to have liners in their chimneys. This is why tragic house fires were so common in the middle part of the Twentieth Century. Someone who is living in a home that was built before the 1940’s should have their chimney inspected and make sure that it has a liner to begin with. If it does not, one must be installed before the fireplace can be safely used.

Chimney Liners Prevent Fires - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney Service

Chimney Liners Prevent Fires – Jackson MS – Santa’s Friend Chimney Service

In most cases, the flue liner needs to be replaced or repaired because of normal wear and tear from years of use. In this case, the liner will simply start to wear away or, in the case of an older tile liner, it will begin to crack. This is dangerous because the liner will not be able to contain hazardous gasses the way that it is supposed to. These materials may be allowed to ignite, causing a devastating chimney fire.

Combustible gasses themselves will eventually take their toll on the liner, which is another thing a professional inspection should catch. When this happens, the connection between the liner and the wall of the chimney weakens, causing it to become loose. Although the cause is different, this creates more or less the same effect as an eroding liner. It can be extremely unsafe and a chimney in this condition should not be used under any circumstances.

When the time comes to repair or replace the chimney liner, people with metal or tile liners in their homes find that it is best to make a complete change. Today, it is often recommended that these liners be replaced with ones that are made of clay. The reason is that clay is extremely durable and can withstand not only exposure to combustible materials but also to extremely high temperatures. If someone installs a new clay liner in their chimney, they can expect that it will remain in good working condition for about fifty years.

While making the switch, it is important to avoid fire hazards by completely removing all pieces of the old liner. It is also necessary to measure the chimney precisely and account for any irregularities, such as a crooked chimney. In order to function safely, the liner must fit the chimney exactly. These repairs are extremely complicated and it is not recommended that they are done as a do it yourself project. A profession should always be employed to do this precise work and make sure that it is safe before use.

Although many people are not aware of the condition of their chimney liner, it is a very important safety issue. An annual chimney inspection will give insight into whether or not any repairs or a complete replacement is necessary. These days, many homeowners opt for a clay liner because it is durable and will most likely last for the duration of their time in the home.

By Jim Robinson on July 12th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment

The Camera Sees Where You Cannot

Technology is allowing chimney sweeps to do what they used to do in days gone by: get inside your chimney. Modern sweeps better understand the intricacies of chimney construction and operation and are able to more clearly view inside. Highly specialized cameras and properly trained eyes are coming together to make chimney inspections more valuable than ever.

Camera Lens - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney

Using Images to Locate Problems

Responding to the requirement that Level 2 inspections include assessment of the “accessible” flue, video scanning or other camera-aided viewing makes this easy. After all, remove the chimney cap and the flue is quickly visible. However, the scope of inspection needs to see beyond the top of the flue. Being able to snake down a camera allows for a thorough examination and ensures the safety of the sweep.

We cannot stress enough that camera inspection needs to be performed by a certified chimney sweep. The potential for damage to your flue is significant and sweeps have to be properly trained and equipped for this task.

When a Level 2 inspection is required, however, camera assistance is invaluable in ascertaining the true condition of the chimney’s interior. Closed-circuit video scans are becoming increasingly popular because of the certainty they bring to assessment of the flue’s condition. Additionally, still shots are extremely useful in supporting insurance claims and inspection reports.

Seeing the Condition As It Is

Being able to view the entire flue is necessary to make sound judgments about your chimney’s condition. With the wonders of Photoshop, an unscrupulous sweep could enhance the images to fit their agenda. Choosing an ethical chimney sweep is critical. Find a certified sweep who will use the camera to get the information needed to make the best decision for your chimney upkeep. Keeping checking for more chimney information.

By Jim Robinson on June 22nd, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

The Dangers of Animals in Your Chimney

Animals in your chimney may seem like a simple annoyance that can be ignored until you get around to doing something about it. However, there is far more to be worried about than an annoying scratching or banging sound. In fact, there are many serious risks to allowing animals to reside in the chimney without handling them immediately.

Raccoon - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney

If you suspect that you have animals in your chimney, you should know that they might be much bigger than a bird or small rodent. Animals as large as squirrels and even raccoons have been known to make their nests inside of a chimney. These animals may carry infectious diseases that pose a threat to anyone who tries to remove them. For this reason, it may be best to call a chimney sweep or animal control to deal with this situation.

Even if the animal does not carry a disease, there are risks associated with the possibility that they could make their way into the home. If an animal suddenly finds itself in someone’s living room, it will most likely become scared and defensive. This could result in an attack on anyone who comes near it. Even without the risk of a disease, this could result in a serious injury, especially for any children or pets that may be in the room.

In the best-case scenarios, there will be no personal injury because of an animal living in the chimney. However, there is a still a good chance that the animal will cause significant damage to the actual structure of the chimney. If this occurs, the chimney may not function properly, which is annoying at best and dangerous at worst. Removing the animals is far easier and less expensive than replacing any part of the chimney.

If there are banging and scratching noises coming from the chimney, do not dismiss them as simply the sounds that houses make. There is a good chance that there is at least one animal living in there, which can be very dangerous. These animals may carry diseases that can infect the entire family or they could cause irreparable damage to the chimney.

By Jim Robinson on June 14th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , | Leave a Comment

How to Eliminate Chimney Odors

At the height of winter or summer, many people may begin to notice unpleasant chimney odors coming from their fireplaces. These odors can be caused by a number of different issues and, in addition to being unpleasant, they can be dangerous. If a horrible smell is lurking from your chimney, steps should be taken immediately to address and fix the problem.

Chimney Odor - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney

Many homeowners are inclined to simply light a candle or plug in an air freshener when they notice unpleasant chimney odors. Although this may make things seem better at first, it is a temporary solution to a long term problem. These items may cover up the smell for a time, but they do nothing to actually eliminate it.

The best way to eliminate odors from the chimney is to have it professionally inspected. A trained professional will be able to pinpoint the exact cause of the odor. They will then come up with a solution that will eliminate that particular issue for good rather than simply making it go away for the time being.

Preventative measures can be taken to prevent an odor problem altogether. Annual chimney cleaning should be a priority for anyone who has a fireplace in their home. Instead of waiting until there is an issue, have an annual cleaning at the beginning or end of fireplace season to keep the fireplace and chimney in good condition.

Everyone loves the smell of logs burning in the winter, but make sure that the smells coming from your chimney are normal and safe. Make it a point to maintain your chimney on an annual basis. Instead of simply covering up unpleasant smells with candles and sprays, hire a professional who can take care of the problem for good.

By Jim Robinson on May 27th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Chimney Swifts in Your Chimney

Chimney swifts in chimneys are a common problem because the migratory path of the birds is so far ranging. It extends from Canada across the entire eastern half of the United States at points, changing as they fly north and south every spring and fall. They LOVE chimneys, which is how they got their name and why they are such a common problem.

Chimney Swift - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney

Unfriendly Skies

That leads to what you can do about it if you live along their chimney-hopping routes. The first thing is to be concerned about their migratory path regardless of the frequency with which you see them fly in your skies. They are difficult to distinguish from other ‘long narrow cylindrical bodies’ up there, and we never see everything that happens above our heads.

If you are not sure whether or not their migration involves your neighborhood, it is important to find out. You can contact either fire safety professionals or certified chimney sweeps in your area…both will know. If you know you are in their line of fire, so to speak, it is equally important not to discount their presence just because you have never seen one.

Restrictions for Frequent Flyers

To repeat, chimney swifts LOVE chimneys.  If yours is unprotected, there is a 50-50 chance they will check it out, at some point during their migration. If your home is within their migratory path, you need a chimney cap or a bird screen, and it needs to be strong. If not, you risk the swifts choosing your home as their next vacation spot.

If they are already in your chimney, their removal is restricted by law and must be performed by someone with a Federal permit to do so. The legal protections for chimney swifts cover their nests as well, so even if the bird is gone, you cannot simply remove the nest and debris it left behind. Again, certified chimney sweeps in your area will have those permits and are also both trained and experienced in their removal.

By Jim Robinson on May 11th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

What Is the Best Season for Your Annual Chimney Inspection?

The language used in authoritative recommendations of annual chimney inspections contributes to the debate regarding this. “Before every heating season” and “before use” lead many to conclude that annual inspections should be done in fall. “Before further use of the fireplace” might or might not have caused fewer leaps to the same conclusions.

Annual Chimney Inspections - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney

The point really is that the chimney was inspected and then time passed. What was true about it before is no longer necessarily true. No one can know that it is still in good condition. Accordingly, somewhere between last-and-first regular uses – which often are responses to seasonal weather changes – the chimney needs to be inspected.  Which season is the best for that obviously varies with chimneys and circumstance.

There can be good reasons for inspections in any season. The important thing is that home owners not introduce fire to systems of uncertain condition. There are two quick points in that connection which together say, “Home-Buyer Beware!” A home inspector only inspects what he can see and lack of use does not stop time.

All of this becomes especially salient when chimneys have no caps and crowns are improperly constructed. It is extremely difficult, therefore, to pronounce one season better than another for your annual chimney inspection. We can tell you that when problems are detected in spring, there is time to correct them before fall.

We can also tell you that CSIA certified chimney sweeps are conscientious year round, so there is no real problem with fall inspections. That, however, assumes that a certified sweep found everything to be in great condition last fall and there was no change in use. These professionals can work around your choice of season. The important thing is for you to schedule annual inspections.

By Jim Robinson on April 26th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment