Santa's Friend Chimney Service

Santa's Friend Chimney Service Blog

Lengthening Your Chimney’s Life

If you take proper care of your chimney, it will last you more years than you expected. Adhere to the guidelines.

If you take proper care of your chimney, it will last you more years than you expected. Adhere to the guidelines.

There is an estimated average life expectancy for chimneys. We’d like to think that once we have ours installed and fully functional, then it would last until we become grandparents. But it doesn’t really work that way. The lifetime of each chimney depends on the various materials used. For instance, the mortar that’s used for the walls of the chimney has an estimated life expectancy of about 25 years while the plasters and paint used for waterproofing only lasts 3 to 5 years.

So, we at Santa’s Friend Chimney have decided to put together a short guideline to help you and every other homeowner out there looking to prolong the lifetime of their chimneys.

Chimney Inspection

First things first, it is important to have your chimney inspected. Having regular scheduled inspections allows you to be well-informed and updated as to the standing and status of your chimney. If it is important for us to have our regular trip to the doctor, then it is equally important for you to have your chimney inspected.

Chimney Sweeping

Next, you need to have your chimney regularly swept. As we all are well aware, the chimney is prone to a lot of external contaminations. These contaminations (such as leaves, animal droppings and rainfall) if left unattended would accumulate and could lead to a lot of damage.


Another thing of utmost importance is for us to waterproof our chimneys. Water is one of the deadliest elements and is one of the biggest threats to your chimney’s life. Once water gets inside of your chimney, it then dampens the area and creates an environment that is highly optimal for mold growth. And we all know what happens once molds start to grow. It means hundreds of dollars’ worth of repairs or replacements. So in order to avoid this huge mess from happening, it is best to waterproof your chimneys. Consider installing a chimney cap.

Chimney Repairs and Restorations

Lastly, it is important not to skip out on necessary repairs and restorations. Every little repair, replacement or restoration that is advised after your inspection is important and should be done as soon as possible. Prolonging repairs could lead to further damage and bigger expenses. And we wouldn’t want that, now would we?

It’s true that our chimneys have their own expiration dates. But if we follow these simple guidelines, then we can rest assured we are doing all we can to extend both performance and functionality of our chimney.

Remember Your Chimney this Spring

As you write down your Spring home maintenance checklist, make your chimney a top priority.

As you write down your Spring home maintenance checklist, make your chimney a top priority.

We’ve had our share of unpredictable spring and summer weather in Mississippi, and that affects our lives in a number of ways, from the way we prepare our homes to the way we prepare ourselves.

As chimney technicians, part of our job at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service is to make sure our clients’ chimney systems are prepared to withstand a rainy spring and stormy summer without developing chimney leaks or other forms of damage. That’s part of why we encourage clients to make chimney maintenance a part of their spring home maintenance checklist.

Getting Your Chimney Ready For The Warmer Months

Chimney maintenance is an ongoing process, and the more consistent you are with your system’s routine needs, by and large, the fewer unexpected and unwanted surprises will pop up. As we close out the heating system and your fireplace or stove is getting ready to rest, here’s what we recommend:

Schedule Your Annual Chimney Inspection and Sweeping in the Spring

Many homeowners choose to wait until the start of the following heating season to take care of their annual chimney maintenance, but scheduling a chimney inspection and chimney sweeping in the spring can make your life easier, and your spring and summer more pleasant.

If you’ve been using your fireplace or stove all fall and winter, your flue has developed creosote and/or other byproduct deposits that should be swept and removed before the next heating season. By having that work done in the spring, you’re not only prepared for next fall ahead of time, but you’ll enjoy a cleaner-smelling home now.

Creosote has a smoky, often unpleasant odor, and the heat and humidity of summer magnifies that. If you’ve noticed a dank smell in your living area in past summers, there’s a good chance that’s the culprit. A swept chimney gets rid of those deposits.

Scheduling your inspection at the end of your system’s season of hard work benefits you too. Any issues that might have cropped up over the winter — from a missing chimney cap to a damaged flue liner  — can be found and repaired before the rains and storms really hit in earnest, leaving your system (and the interior of your home) more protected.

Add Some Extra Protection Against Chimney Leaks

Even the strongest masonry chimney undergoes wear and tear over years of moisture and temperature fluctuations. And the more worn your bricks and mortar joints get, the more likely a leak becomes. Your masonry can begin sucking water in like a sponge, damaging the interior of your chimney and the interior of your home.

We can help protect your masonry, your chimney system and your home’s interior by applying a specially formulated chimney waterproofing sealant. This product stops your masonry from absorbing water, but it’s completely vapor permeable, so the natural expulsion of vapors and small particles — part of your chimney’s proper function — will still occur.

Let Santa’s Friend help you go into the spring and summer with a chimney system that’s strong and prepared. If you have any questions about what your chimney needs — or want to schedule an appointment with our CSIA-certified technicians — give us a call!

What’s Blocking Your Chimney?

A clogged up chimney flue can mean big trouble. Make sure there's nothing blocking your chimney by having it swept.

A clogged up chimney flue can mean big trouble. Make sure there’s nothing blocking your chimney by having it swept.

A fireplace can be a wonderful addition to any room in the house where the family might gather, providing warmth, light, and a cozy ambiance. However, a fireplace system has to be carefully maintained to make sure that they common problems that affect chimneys don’t impact the safety and beauty of your family’s favorite gathering spot. We as homeowners owe it to ourselves to remain constantly vigilant as far as the condition of any part of our homes are concerned. Like every appliance or piece of furniture we own, a chimney requires just as much attention; one could even argue that it requires more attention.

The Dangers of Creosote Buildup

So what exactly is creosote, and why is it dangerous to allow it to accumulate inside your chimney? Creosote is a sticky chemical residue that forms when wood is burned at low temperatures and is capable of building up to dangerous levels within your chimney. More creosote is formed from burning unseasoned softwoods in your fireplace than properly seasoned hardwoods. The residue begins as unburned oil in the form of gas; as it moves up the chimney, the oils build up into a coating inside the chimney as they begin to cool. This buildup is extremely flammable!

The residue can become quite thick over the course of a single season. Depending on the internal dimensions of your chimney, this can really restrict the flow of air, which can cause smoke to build up in the fireplace as well as in your home. This reduced airflow can also cause cooler burning fires because they’re not able to get the requisite amount of oxygen for increased combustion; all of this results in, you guessed it, more creosote buildup in your chimney. It becomes dangerous when it is allowed to accumulate in your chimney, as it becomes a fuel source for a possible chimney fire. The build up of creosote cannot be avoided completely, however, burning small, hot fires and using dry, seasoned wood can minimize the buildup.

There’s a What Living in my Chimney!?

If you are hearing noises in your chimney it may be one of two situations: a wild animal (such as a raccoon) is using your chimney as a den; or an animal (such as a squirrel or a bird) has fallen down the chimney and cannot get back up. Under absolutely no circumstances should you try to smoke an animal out of your chimney – you will only succeed in burning and/or killing the animal! Wild animals frequently mistake uncapped chimneys for hollow trees, and they have no idea that the “tree” is connected to your home! In contrast to hollow trees, however, the inside of a chimney is quite slippery, and raccoons seem to be the only animals capable of climbing up and down it.

One way to tell the difference between a denning animal (raccoon) and an animal that’s stuck (squirrel or bird) is by listening to the noise that the animal makes. An animal that is stuck is often frantic, and will scratch at the damper or flap its wings repeatedly in an effort to get out. If the damper is not closed, the animal may fall down into the fireplace, and even if he is able to get back up above the damper or onto the smoke shelf, it is important to recognize that this animal is unable to climb the entire length of the chimney. On the other hand, if the animal is using the chimney as a den site you may occasionally hear movement, as well as the sounds of wild animal babies calling out to their mother. The noises follow a more predictable pattern, and often occur only a certain times of the day.

While the firebox of your beloved fireplace can be easily seen and therefore monitored, the chimney itself commonly faces a number of troubles that are often caught only by a chimney professional during the annual chimney system inspection and sweeping. These things will help to ensure the safety and continued functionality of your fireplace and chimney for many years to come. You can always come to Santa’s Friend Chimney Service with any of your questions or needs. Our staff is always here to help.

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

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