Santa's Friend Chimney Service

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Does My Chimney Need Maintenance During the Off-Season?

During the warmer months of the year, the last thing you are thinking about is your chimney and fireplace system, but forgetting about this part of your home can lead to problems, including water leaks and unpleasant odors. Winter weather can damage the bricks and mortar joints of your chimney that can lead to water leaks and structural problems if this damage is left unrepaired. All of the soot and creosote that accumulated inside your chimney over the winter can cause stinky smells to invade your home through your fireplace during the summer. To keep your chimney and fireplace in good shape during the off-season, Santa’s Friend Chimney Service recommends that you schedule your annual chimney sweeping and inspection in the spring. We would like to tell you more about the benefits of taking care of these chimney maintenance tasks during the off-season.

Does my chimney need maintenance during the off season - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney Service

How can a spring chimney sweeping and inspection keep my chimney safe from problems during the off-season?

Your fireplace and chimney work hard over the winter, and Santa’s Friend Chimney Service can check to see if any damage occurred during the colder months of the year. Since your bricks and mortar naturally absorb water, that trapped moisture freezes and expands during the winter. As this water thaws, its force can cause the bricks and mortar to crack and break apart. This kind of damage needs to be repaired as soon as possible because the cracks and gaps left behind allow water to easily enter into the chimney. Our Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps will look for this damage and make recommendations for repairs. Our sweeps will also remove every bit of creosote and soot that has stuck to the wall of your chimney to prevent unpleasant odors coming into your home during the summer. This service also reduces your risk for a chimney fire because as the CSIA says, “dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires.”

What are the other benefits of a spring chimney sweeping and inspection?

The CSIA and other national fire safety organizations all recommend having your chimney professionally swept and inspected every year before you light the first fire. Many homeowners wait until the fall to take care of this chimney maintenance, and this means our sweeps at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service have extremely busy schedules in the fall. It can be difficult for you to get the date and time you need to have your chimney serviced, and you might even have to wait for a month to be able to get an open appointment that works for you. Scheduling these chimney maintenance tasks in the off-season allows you to easily make an appointment that fits with your schedule.

Take care of your chimney during the off-season to keep it working smoothly in the fall and winter. Contact us at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service to schedule an appointment for our professional chimney sweeping and inspection services today.

By Jim Robinson on April 26th, 2016 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

The Importance of Using A CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep

When you are looking for a professional chimney sweep company, you should always be sure the company is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), as we are at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service. This certification is so important because this credential is the industry standard and ensures you receive the highest quality service possible when working with a chimney sweeping company. We would like to tell you more about the CSIA and what their certification means so that you can understand the importance of only working with CSIA-certified chimney sweeps.

CSIA Certification - Jackson MS - Santa's Friend Chimney

What Is the CSIA?

Founded in 1983, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the education of the safety of chimney and venting systems. Dedicated to preventing and eliminating the hazards and dangers of chimney fires, carbon monoxide leaks, and other issues, the CSIA devotes many resources to inform the public, chimney professionals, and fire prevention specialists on how to reduce and correct problems in chimney and venting systems. Providing the only certification program in the chimney and venting system industry, the CSIA is truly the professional standard.

What Is the CSIA-Certification Process?

To receive certification from the CSIA, an employee or an owner must attend a six-day program at its training center at the headquarters in Indianapolis, IN. Combining classroom training at the technology training center with hands-on experience in homes the course provides over 30 hours of experience using the tools of the trade and working with different venting systems. After the completion of this program, most participants will receive the credential of being a CSIA-certified Chimney Sweep after passing certification exams.

What Are the Different Topics Covered in the CSIA-Certification Program?

During the six-day program, students will learn:

  • how to inspect and service chimney systems of all fuel types
  • about the different home heating appliances, including pellet stoves, wood stoves, inserts, factory-built fireplaces, furnaces, and central heaters
  • the standards of the National Fire Prevention Association 211
  • how to navigate the International Residential Codes, chimney performance problems, understanding draft and flow, diagnosing drown drafts, flow reversals, inadequate flow, stack effects, updrafts, pressure effects, and gauges
  • safety and health equipment and methods.

What If I Cannot Travel to Indianapolis to Attend the CSIA-Certification Program?

There is an alternative to taking the in-person program. CSIA also provides an online training session that people can take at home whenever convenient for them.

What Are the Other Steps to Becoming CSIA-Certified?

After completing the in-person or online training session, participants must pass an one-hour exam based on the CSIA textbook Successful Chimney Sweeping 2011 and NFPA 211 2013 and a 90-minute open book exam based on the 2006 International Residential Codes. After passing these exams, candidates must agree to pay the annual certification fee and sign the CSIA Code of Ethics.

You can depend on CSIA-certified chimney sweeps to do the best professional job possible. Contact Santa’s Friend Chimney Service to schedule your annual chimney cleaning with our CSIA-certified sweeps.

By Jim Robinson on September 13th, 2014 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

A Stinky Chimney Problem

No more holding your breath at home due to your smelly chimney. Just call us and we'll have your chimney cleaned in no time.

No more holding your breath at home due to your smelly chimney. Just call us and we’ll have your chimney cleaned in no time.

When your friends enter your home, you want them to smell something good. Let’s face it; chimney odors do not fall into this category. This is one reason why it is important to keep your chimney maintenance up to date. If you are experiencing problems like this or have any other chimney related questions, call the experts at Santa’s Friend Chimney Service today.

Why does my chimney stink anyway?

The main reason your chimney will stink is because of creosote. When wood is burned in the fire, these byproducts come up and begin to clump together on the inside of your chimney. This will not only cause drafts problems, but if left long enough they will begin to soak into the structure of your chimney and become harder to remove. As weather become warmer and more humid, the smell will become stronger. To prevent this from happening, it is recommended that you have an extra sweep in addition to your annual sweep and inspection. One should be done after burning season to remove anything that built up over the winter months, but the second should be done after summer to remove anything natural that may have made its way into your chimney.

Mold is another reason that a chimney or any other part of your home will smell. Chimney mold is built when there is a crack in the structure or a piece of the chimney is not in working order. Your Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified professional will be able to spot these things during your inspection. Mold can grow in as little as one to two days, so if you see a leak or something suspicious, call for help. One way to reduce water troubles is by having the technicians put a waterproof sealant on the outside of the chimney. This is especially recommended if you live in a wet area.

How do you properly prepare for a sweep?

Here is a simple checklist to make sure your home is ready for its examination:

  • Do not burn a fire for more than 24 hours before your sweep.
  • Move valuables’ and furniture away from the fireplace.
  • Lock pets away in a spare room for safety

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.