Santa's Friend Chimney Service

Santa's Friend Chimney Service Blog

Avoiding A Chimney Fire This Winter

Most people try to avoid going to the dentist – even if you don’t have any cavities, it just isn’t that much fun, either. Does anyone try to get in a car accident? Of course not – that’s something to be avoided at all costs. Something else that you want to avoid at all costs? A chimney fire! Of course, this is nothing that anyone wants to happen – and there are definitely things that you can do which will help you avoid this type of devastating occurrence.

Causes of Chimney Fires

The biggest cause of a chimney fire is creosote build up. Creosote is the sticky or shiny, black or brown, nasty substance that builds up on the inside of your chimney – especially near the top. It’s formed when the chemical particles and water vapors that are released as smoke hit the cooler surface of the chimney and condense onto the bricks and mortar. This substance is incredibly flammable, and that means that any spark that flies up could cause a chimney fire.

Another thing that can cause a chimney fire is having something in your chimney that doesn’t belong there – anything from trash and dried leaves and twigs to a dried bird’s nest or animal’s nest. Your chimney is an ideal place for an animal to start a family – dark, warm, out of the way of wind or predators. Unfortunately, dried nests or garbage in your chimney can easily catch a spark or ember and cause a chimney fire.

Both of these problems are easily solved. All it takes is a good inspection and cleaning by a CSIA certified chimney sweep found at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service. They know how much creosote is too much, and also how to remove any obstruction that could be a fire starter.

Tips to Prevent Chimney Fire

Although calling in the experts from Santa’s Friend is the first step in preventing chimney fires, there are some things you can do on your own that will help, as well. One big step? Pick the right firewood! Make sure that the firewood you pick is dry. This will make it burn hotter, which helps prevent creosote build up. Another wood tip? Make sure you burn the hardest wood possible, as this also will burn hotter and help keep the creosote levels down. Anything you can do to keep the fires burning hot prevents the build-up of this highly flammable substance.

Prevention is the Best Solution

It is always better to avoid a difficult situation rather than deal with it after it happens. Avoiding a chimney fire is a way better solution than rebuilding your chimney or cleaning up after the fact. The best way to avoid a chimney fire? Call Santa’s Friend Chimney Service today and schedule your annual inspection and cleaning. They’ll make avoiding a chimney fire an easy thing to do!

By Justin Perkins on September 22nd, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

Getting the Gunk Out

Watch Out for Creosote

There’s just something about fireplaces and chimneys during the winter season that draw you in, again and again. The chill in your bones dissolves into the blissful crackle and pop of a roaring fire. But, if you built that fire with green or wet wood, you’d also have a smoky fire and a rapid buildup of creosote. It is a natural by-product of burning, but when the creosote isn’t regularly removed, it becomes a real concern.

Creosote or a substance commonly known as soot is formed through the condensation of gases and incomplete combustion of wood particles. It is found in your chimney flues and areas in the stone masonry and the four walls of your chimney. It is identified as silky black or dark brown dust.  This is formed by the specific element in creosote which is carbon (doubles the flammability level of creosote) and is also composed of ash which is non-combustible.

We are experienced in identifying and removing creosote from your chimney. Have you had your annual inspection?

We are experienced in identifying and removing creosote from your chimney. Have you had your annual inspection?

Thick formation of creosote is otherwise known as glaze. This is ten times more flammable than typical low-level creosote. This can accumulate a great amount of fuel to burn and is more difficult to remove compared to subtle amounts of creosote.

There are a few reasons why this exists; it might be that enough supplemental heat has already been provided and too much smoke is occupying your room rather than going up the chimney flues. When there is too much soot build-up in the chimneys, this might trigger blazing fires to erupt and destroy your homes in a matter of seconds. The formation of carbon monoxide is not far from the picture and can poison the people in your home and cause unfortunate accidents as well.

Sure enough, you wouldn’t want this dangerous chimney deposit to ruin your home. So it’s best to have your chimney and fireplace checked annually.  This is to control and remove the build-up of creosote and to prepare your chimney for heavy duty work during the winter season. The best and only option for the people of Mississippi is Santa’s Friend Chimney Service. After over twenty-four years of service, we are glad to offer you professional service and peace of mind.

By Jim Robinson on November 30th, 2013 | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment

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

A Pre-Fire Lighting Checklist: Get it Right Before You Ignite!

Following a simple checklist will ensure that the first use of your fireplace this season does not ignite more than you intend:

Match Lighting a Fire Safely - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney

  • Have your chimney professionally inspected.
  • Open the glass doors of your fireplace 30 minutes ahead of time.
  • Make sure your damper is open.
  • Clear the area around the fireplace of newspapers and other combustible materials.
  • Check the draft of your chimney with a match.

The first of these is obviously the most important, as it means assurance from a professional that your chimney is clean and in good working order. Until it is, a fire simply cannot be started, as it threatens not only further damage but your health and safety as well. Once your chimney has been certified to be good to go, you can begin your pre-fire check.

Opening the glass doors of your fireplace for thirty minutes before lighting the fire will give it a chance to reach room temperature. Cold air is heavier than hot air, so it sinks down the chimney from outside and gets trapped behind the doors. Opening them will allow the warmer air from the house into the fireplace and begin the movement of air up the chimney.

At one time or another, most homeowners and even apartment dwellers have watched their living room fill with smoke. In all likelihood, this is because they failed to check the damper before starting the fire and the smoke had no access to the chimney. Unless your damper has been permanently fixed in an open position, it should be checked every time you light a fire.

The area around the fireplace is not a good place to stack magazines and newspapers waiting to be clipped or recycled. Embers flying out of wood burning fireplaces seem to seek these out, and they provide fast igniting fuel. Unless a house fire is on your bucket list, paper, cardboard, and highly flammable materials should be stored elsewhere, preferably out of the house.

Finally, you should check the draft of your chimney before starting the fire. Light a match and hold it beneath the flue, watching to see in which direction the smoke travels. If it is coming down and back towards you, something may be obstructing the chimney, with small animals not timing their nest-building to avoid inspections. If the chimney is clear, the draft may just need a little help from a fire starting brick.

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

Chimney Fire Facts

We always hear about the romantic features of a chimney as well as the heating benefits when buying a home. What the real estate agents or existing homeowners do not tell you is about the dangers of fires. Now, this is not to scare you away from buying a home with a chimney or in having one installed; you just need to be aware of these dangers and how to prevent a fire from happening out of sheer ignorance.

The facts about chimney fires

Creosote buildup is one of the leading causes of chimney fires. Wood burning fireplaces can generate significant creosote buildup within the lining of the chimney. It only takes one eighth of an inch to be considered dangerous. This is a highly combustible material, and it is one of the main reasons we recommend an annual chimney inspection and cleaning.

When purchasing a home, there are several signs for which you can look to see if there was previously a chimney fire. You, or a professional, should look for these signs prior to purchase, as they could result in costly repairs in order to operate the fireplace safely again.

  1. Honey-combed creosote buildup
  2. Cracked flue tiles or tiles that have large chunks missing
  3. A discolored chimney cap
  4. If the TV antenna or satellite dish is located close to the chimney, check for discoloration
  5. Creosote flakes found inside of fireplace or in surrounding area outside of home (they may have been discharged from the chimney and carried by the wind)
  6. Warped metal damper
  7. Discolored or cracked masonry work on exterior of chimney

If you see any of these signs, call a certified chimney sweep immediately to have the chimney professionally inspected. There are multiple levels of inspections related to potential problems. In this case, you may have the upper tier of inspections to outline and problems as well as a plan of action to have the chimney repaired.

By Jim Robinson on November 17th, 2012 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment