When to Call a Chimney Sweep for Help
Do you know when you need to call on a chimney sweep?
Just like a car, a chimney needs regular maintenance to operate safely and effectively. Having your chimney inspected and cleaned annually by a chimney sweep who has been certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) prevents the risk of a fire, decreases air pollution, increases your fireplace or stove’s efficiency and can save you from costly repairs. It could even save your life!
Though one inspection and cleaning a year is usually all that you need, there are times when you should call on a chimney sweep immediately. If you notice any of these problems, don’t wait until you next chimney inspection and cleaning rolls around. Take action now!
Signs of Water in the Chimney
Water is the number one enemy of chimneys. Excess moisture in a chimney can lead to serious problems including the growth of toxic mold, expensive structural damage and increased risk of a house fire. The 4 main causes of moisture in a chimney are a broken or missing chimney cap, a cracked chimney crown, broken masonry, and failing or insufficient chimney flashing. The most common signs that water is leaking into your chimney are chips or pieces of bricks lying around the chimney, water pooling in bricks, a powdery white substance staining the chimney bricks (which is called efflorescence), or a rusted damper. If you notice any one of these signs, you should reach out to a chimney sweep for an inspection to identify how water is getting in, assess the damage and resolve the problem before it escalates.
Your Chimney Smells Bad
Some bad smells require more than air freshener. If there is a strong odor coming from your chimney, it may be a sign that water is getting into the chimney. When water interacts with deposits of creosote (the tarlike substance that builds up along chimney walls) it gives off a strong odor. Negative air pressure can also make your chimney stink up your home. Negative air pressure causes a reverse airflow that sucks air down the chimney into your home. Along with making your house smell like a bonfire, negative air pressure forces your AC to work over time to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. If you use your fireplace when there is negative air pressure, carbon monoxide and other noxious gases from the fire will be pulled into your home instead of venting up the chimney putting you and your loved ones at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Calling in an experienced chimney who can clean out the stinky creosote deposits or provide you with solutions to resolve the air flow problem will allow you to breathe free.
A Smoky Fireplace
If the room gets smoky when you light the fireplace, it is a sign of either negative air pressure or a downdraft issue. Downdrafts are usually caused by an improper installation issue, such as a flue liner that is the wrong size, or a construction issue, like a chimney that is too short or missing a chimney cap. A qualified chimney sweep will be able to diagnose the cause and resolve it so that you can enjoy your fireplace or stove without inhaling smoke and carbon monoxide.
Critters in the Chimney
Animal nests in chimneys are very common. Over the years, we have come across some unlikely guests nesting in chimneys like snakes. Raccoons, birds, bats and squirrels are the most common critters that we find in chimneys. Animals can be loud and smelly house guests that can also bring diseases into your home. Trying to “smoke them out” can be bad for you and them. Animals often die in the process which leaves you with a rotting carcass and an animal nest logged in your chimney. Certified chimney sweeps, like us, have been trained on how to remove birds and other animals without harming them. We will also investigate how they were able to get into your chimney in the first place so that we can prevent it from happening in the future.
Calling in a chimney expert to inspect, clean or repair your chimney as soon as you notice a problem is the best way to protect your home and your health. If you are dealing with any of these issues, you can give us a call at Guardian Chimney Sweep (713) 401-2011. We know all the ins-and-outs of chimneys so that we can help you when you’re in need.