The National Fire Protection Association’s standard for chimneys and fireplaces calls for homeowners to have their system inspected and swept each year in order to keep the system as safe as possible. At Weststar Chimney Sweeps, we can make maintenance a breeze, and keep your system in top working order.
When you have a fireplace in your home, the most essential maintenance step you can do is hire a professional chimney sweeping company, such as Weststar Chimney Sweeps, to perform an annual cleaning of your chimney. This task ranks high in importance, as annual chimney sweepings prolong the life of your chimney as well as ensure the safety of your fireplace and chimney. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) has published The Homeowner’s Guide to Chimneys, Fireplaces, and Woodstoves to provide helpful information for understanding how these heating systems work and how to properly maintain them. We would like to share some facts from this guidebook with you to help you understand why annual chimney sweepings are so important.
Removal of Chimney Deposits
According to the CSIA, there are three types of deposits that build up on chimney walls:
- Soot — Primarily composed of carbon particles and possibly ash remnants, soot can be highly flammable, depending on the concentration of soot and ash. Since ash is not combustible, a higher ash content in soot reduces its flammability.
- Creosote — Naturally formed during the condensation process, creosote is a highly flammable residue of the by-products of incomplete combustion. Varying in its appearance, creosote can be black or brown, hard and shiny, sticky and tar-like, or crusty and flaky. No matter what it looks like, creosote deposits are hazardous as they are one of the main causes of chimney fires.
- Glaze — The most difficult deposit to remove, this shiny, tarry substance creates a large amount of fuel to burn and poses a serious danger of a destructive chimney fire.
Removing these deposits is the major reason for annual chimney sweepings. Preventing chimney fires, eliminating chimney odors, ensuring proper venting to the outdoors, removing blockages that could cause toxic gases like carbon monoxide to enter the home, and stopping deterioration to chimney walls from the acids in these deposits are all accomplished during a professional chimney cleaning by removing buildups of soot, creosote, and glaze.
Discovering Essential Repairs
Another important reason to have your chimney swept once a year: CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, including our staff at Weststar Chimney Sweeps, will look at the exterior of your chimney for loose bricks and mortar and other signs of water penetration damage, examine the condition of your flue liner to check for cracks and deterioration, and monitor the venting system of your chimney to ensure the toxic by-products of combustion are exiting through the chimney. When we find any needed repair work, we can fix it for you. We specialize in crown repair, resurfacing, repairing, or replacing damaged flue liners, water leak repair and prevention, and customized repair or replacement of flashing where your chimney meets the roof.
While an annual chimney cleaning generally is sufficient to keep your fireplace and chimney safely maintained, more frequent chimney sweepings should be scheduled under certain conditions. The number of cleanings needed depends on the amount of time your fireplace is used, the installation of your fireplace, the type of fuel used for your fires, and your burning habits. Our chimney sweeps can tell you if your chimney needs to be cleaned more often than once a year.
If you have not scheduled your annual chimney sweeping yet, contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps today to schedule an appointment. Keeping your family safe from the dangers posed by a dirty chimney is one of the most important tasks on your home maintenance checklist.
Essential to the safety of your chimney, bird and bee hive removal services can protect your family from the risks of having a chimney fire. Birds like to hibernate in chimneys, as they see them as a warm and safe place to call home during the colder months. When those birds part from a chimney, they leave all the nesting behind, which can cause a chimney blockage or fire. Bees commonly build hives on chimney walls, and the wax combs of a bee hive can be fire hazards as well. The trained technicians at Weststar Chimney Sweeps provide experienced bird and bee hive removal from chimneys and believe you should understand what this service entails.
If you have bees or birds living in your chimney, call Weststar Chimney Sweeps! We can safely remove their hives or nests, and prevent them from returning in the future.
The Dangers of Birds’ Nests
When birds build a nest in a chimney, they tend to choose the top of the chimney as the location. Not only does this pose a problem as a fire hazard, but the nest can also block the chimney’s flue. According to the Chimney Institute of America (CSIA), a chimney blockage can cause the dangerous gas, carbon monoxide, to enter your home and possibly lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Multiple nests can be inside a chimney and can cause major chimney blockage. Another risk of having birds in your chimney is the spread of histoplasmosis, a disease carried by birds that causes blindness in humans.
The Legalities of Removing Nesting Birds
Certain species of birds cannot be removed from a chimney while they are roosting inside because they are protected by federal law, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Chimney swifts, the most common type of protected bird, always nested in hollow trees in the past, but since many of these old trees have been cut down over the years, chimney swifts began building their nests inside chimneys. You should never trust a chimney sweep company that offers to remove nesting chimney swifts. Anyone who knowingly destroys these birds or their nests containing eggs or baby birds can be fined and penalized. You will have to wait until all chimney swifts leave before their nests can be removed.
A Solution to Prevent Birds from Nesting in Your Chimney
To keep birds out of your chimney, a chimney cap with wire meshing or a top-sealing damper needs to be installed properly on top of your chimney. Preventing birds from entering your chimney means you will not have to worry about the hazards birds and their nests can create.
The Problem with Honeycomb
Some people think they can smoke bees out of a chimney by lighting a fire; however, this can pose a problem. Not only are the wax combs a fire hazard, but when the fire heats up the hive, honey begins to melt down chimney walls. The smell of the honey can attract even more bees to invade your chimney.
The Answer to Stopping a Bee Invasion
Just as with birds, a properly-installed chimney cap or top-sealing damper works to keep bees from entering your chimney. At Weststar Chimney Sweeps, we will remove any bee hives from your chimney as well as customize a cap or damper on the top of your chimney to prevent more bees from building hives on your chimney walls.
Experiencing an invasion of your chimney by birds or bees? Contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps today to schedule an appointment for our CSIA-certified technicians to take care of this problem for you.