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by Mike O'Mara | Mar 20, 2020 | Home Buying and Selling
Ready to put your home on the market? Or maybe you’re in search of a great property to purchase. Either way, following certain guidelines will help ensure you handle the process as swiftly and as seamlessly as possible. We suggest relying on the following experts during this time to help guarantee you get the best deal possible and don’t wind up facing any unpleasant surprises along the way.
Hire An Appraiser
First things first, hire an appraiser (or home inspector) to look things over and give you a general overview of what the home is currently worth and what types of repairs will be needed in the near future. Buying a home that hasn’t been inspected can land you in some big trouble down the line! It’s definitely worth investing the money into an inspection now, as it will ensure you don’t find costly issues later on.
This step also ensures you stay safer by making certain that there are no dangers lurking in your potential new home. They can check for mold, radon, and countless other things that could put your family members at serious risk.
Or, if you’re selling, this process will help you get everything you deserve out of your home. Trust us – this is an investment that is well worth every penny spent!
Talk With A Financial Expert
Once your home is appraised, it’s important to talk with a financial expert who can advise you on loan options or see if you’ll even be approved for a mortgage. This is obviously an important step, as no loan means no home! Once everything is good to go, they can also offer advice and guidance for how you can best move forward from a financial standpoint.
Keep in mind that it’s typical for unexpected expenses to pop up throughout this process, and it never hurts to know what you should be prepared for. In the end, you’ll be able to go about things a lot easier (and less stressfully) if you get some insight in this category right away.
Contact A Real Estate Agent
Not sure where to start as far as putting your home on the market? Calling a real estate agent will be your next best step, then! These professionals are trained to help you get the best price available, and they can really upsell your home to potential buyers. In the end, most homeowners wind up getting a better deal when they use an agent, even with them taking a percentage of the final cut.
Along with this, there is a lot of documentation and paperwork involved in the home-buying and -selling process, so working with someone who knows their way around it all can be extremely beneficial. In the end, hiring an expert who has done this multiple times is a smart route to take.
Do You Need An Attorney?
There are cases when an attorney or lawyer is helpful when purchasing a home. While you aren’t legally required to hire one here in California (some states require them), they can be a really big asset if you are negotiating through complicated contracts or find yourself in a situation that’s out of the norm.
Seek Guidance From Friends & Family
Not all of your loved ones are likely “experts” at buying or selling homes, but we dare to bet that there are a few people who are experts on YOU! If you’re feeling uncertain about anything, it never hurts to reach out and seek advice from those you feel closest to. They may offer clarity on certain points, and inviting another perspective into the equation never hurts anything!
Is There A Fireplace? Schedule An Inspection With Us!
If the home has a fireplace in it, then hiring a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep to do a level 2 inspection is another important step to take. Home inspectors look at the easily accessible parts of the chimney, but they don’t get a thorough look up into it. A qualified chimney technician will send video equipment up your flue to ensure everything looks good and that no hidden damages or concerning issues are present [https://www.csia.org/inspections.html].
All in all, if there are problems with the liner, damage from a chimney fire, or just any type of general deterioration, this is something you’ll want addressed before making any commitments (or at least considered into the cost of the home). This is another instance where paying for an affordable service now is a lot better than pouring thousands into repair work down the line.
Looking for a trustworthy team to hire in San Diego or somewhere in the surrounding area? Turn to Weststar Chimney Sweeps! We are qualified to perform level 2 inspections and, should we find even more pressing issues, we can offer a level 3 inspection, as well. Looking to have problems resolved as soon as possible? We’ve got you covered there, too. We’re the team you count on every step of the way.
by Mike O'Mara | Feb 6, 2020 | Home Maintenance tips
We tend to see a lot of rainfall this time of year here in San Diego County, so it’s important to ensure your home is adequately protected. There are a lot of simple steps you can take to ensure you stay as safe as possible, as well as avoid expensive and time-consuming repairs down the line. Follow some of the guidelines provided below, and be sure to reach out to our team for all of your chimney- and fireplace-related needs. Weststar Chimney is ready to serve you every step of the way!
Unclog Your Gutters
If you don’t have sturdy gutters on your home, then it might be time to invest in some new ones. It may put a small dent in your bank account, but trust us – water-related damages are much more costly to address! If your gutters are in good shape, then get out your ladder and some gloves and ensure they are totally unclogged, so that water has a clear pathway off of your roof and away from your home. Or, if you’re not up to take on the task yourself, call on a professional to help you out.
What happens if you neglect this maintenance? Water will collect on your roof, causing all kinds of damage, and you’ll be experiencing leaks and interior and exterior home damage before you know it. It could also lead to water pooling near your home, causing a lot of issues throughout your foundation. The weaker this area becomes, the more likely you are to have structural issues down the line.
Check For Rot
The more moisture you have in your home, the more likely you are to experience rotting throughout your woodwork, which can eventually lead to structural damage and mold accumulation. Be sure to look for rot regularly and have any affected areas replaced as soon as possible. Then, take necessary measures to ensure these areas are not affected by water again down the line.
Is Your Roof In Good Shape?
Mold or leaky spots in your roof indicate that some work needs to be completed. It’s important to regularly replace broken or missing shingles, and be sure to invest in new roofing materials, as needed, to ensure your entire home stays safer and in the best shape possible. Rainy weather can be very hard on your roof, and you don’t want to discover leaks amidst a heavy downpour. Take action now – you’ll be happy you crossed this maintenance off of your list early!
Seal Your Windows & Doors
Window frames and door frames are especially vulnerable spots when heavy rains begin to fall. As various parts of your home settle, expand, and contract over time, these areas tend to break down the quickest, and you’ll notice water seeping through if they aren’t properly maintained. Keep an open eye for stains, rotting wood, mold, and other signs that moisture is making a presence. Then, seal them up as necessary.
Inspect Your Landscaping
Are there any places in your yard where water is more prone to collect and cause damage? Consider re-doing weak spots in your landscaping, and check that your sidewalks and driveway are appropriately sloped so that water flows away from your property, rather than towards it. These projects are a little more expensive to take on, but don’t compare at all to the costs of home repairs down the line should water gain easy access to your home.
Waterproof Your Masonry
Is your chimney sealed and protected? If not, then it’s time to call in some experts. Your brickwork and mortar are really absorbent, and they will soak in a lot of water if left to the elements. Water breaks down these materials quickly, and all too often people use store-bought paints and sealers to try and protect them. Unfortunately, these products trap the pre-absorbed moisture inside with no way of escaping, meaning your structure will continue to crumble, crack, and deteriorate.
Rely on our team to get the job done right with services and products you can rely on for the long haul. We’ll cover your masonry will specially formulated sealants that offer reliable protection, while still remaining vapor-permeable. This means no water will get in and anything stuck inside can easily escape over time.
Invest In Replacement Chimney Parts
Unfortunately, your masonry isn’t the only area of your chimney that can be affected by water. If your flashing, chimney cap, or top-sealing damper was installed incorrectly or if they are facing some type of damage, then it’s likely that water will pool and create rust and decay. These components can work wonders at protecting your home, but they have to be in good shape and set up right in order to do an effective job.
Let us look things over, and we can repair or replace parts, as necessary. Once everything is back in order, you can rest easier knowing you did everything possible to prevent further damage throughout your home.
We’re Here For You!
Ready to work with the best in the area? Our CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps are just a quick phone call away. Reach out now, so you can put your mind at ease throughout these rainy months ahead.
by Mike O'Mara | Jan 31, 2020 | Animals In Your Chimney
Did you know theft increases throughout the winter months? Burglars know that homes are filled with new and expensive items from Christmas, and the shorter, darker days offer more opportunities to break in under the protective cover of darkness. Not to mention, many families leave town for days on end to visit family members who live far away. All of these factors make it a lot easier for criminals to take what they want and get away with it.
Now, if you think you covered it all when it comes to keeping your home locked up and better protected, we urge you to reconsider. One spot many tend to forget about is the chimney, and this can easily offer a simple way for burglars to enter a home. A homeowner in Arizona almost faced an incident just like this but lucked out when the thief got stuck and needed assistance. But not every break-in has an ending like that!
Most of the time, someone looking to slide their way into your home through the chimney will have little issue doing so, which is why you need to ensure it is adequately covered. That’s where a chimney cap comes in.
What Is A Chimney Cap?
A chimney cap is a device that covers the opening of your flue or chimney. Its main purpose is to prevent rain and excess water from entering your structure, but it serves multiple other purposes, as well. Chimney caps should be sturdy and built from materials that will stand the test of time. All in all, there isn’t a single person in the chimney industry who would recommend operating a chimney without a cap, as they are an affordable way to avoid all kinds of expensive damage.
If you have a chimney cap in place, the ability for a burglar to enter your home through your chimney will diminish significantly. They would have to spend a lot of time trying to remove it, which draws attention from neighbors or anyone passing by the house, and anyone who sees a capped chimney will likely cancel out that option pretty quickly.
Caps Keep Out Other Unwanted Guests, Too!
Now, as we said, caps serve multiple purposes, and you can bet that criminals won’t be the only guests they keep out of your home. They also keep out birds, squirrels, and other woodland critters that might want to set up camp in your flue! When animals are ready to nest and have babies, they look for spots that are strong and sturdy, and that will offer good protection from any bad weather or predators.
Unfortunately, your chimney is an ideal spot for this, which is why you need to have a barrier in place to keep these animals out. If they are given the chance to build a home, you won’t be able to light any fires until they and their nesting materials are removed. By doing so, you would put both your home and the creatures at great risk, and you’ll greatly increase your chance of experiencing smoke back-up and chimney fires.
Along with this, some creatures that are prone to enter chimneys, like the chimney swift, are protected by law and removing them is illegal. This means, you’ll be stuck with the critters until they leave on their own, after which you can finally remove the nesting materials and move forward. But it may be quite a long wait!
All in all, a cap is an affordable and effective way to keep animals out for good. If you are missing a cap or if your current model is damaged and needs replacing, then don’t wait any longer to reach out to our team. We’d be happy to set you up right!
Other Functions Of A Chimney Cap
Believe it or not, your chimney cap can serve even more purposes than the ones we’ve already talked about! We mentioned their excellent ability at keeping out thieves, animals, and excess water, but did you know they can prevent things from getting out of your home, too? You see, many times when fires are lit, stray sparks and embers will go flying up the chimney and land of your flammable roofing materials. If these were to ignite, you’d be facing a disastrous situation in no time!
Chimney caps can stop these stray sparks dead in their tracks, putting them out before they are given the chance to land on your home.
Worried about outside debris working its way in and clogging things up? You can bet that your cap will prevent leaves, twigs, and the like from working their way in, and they even are known to stop downdrafts, which are notorious for affecting the draft and airflow of your system significantly.
When it comes right down to it, there is simply no reason not to have a cap installed right away, and our team has the training to get the job done right. Don’t trust in someone inexperienced and lacking the appropriate credentials. Call on the experienced, CSIA certified sweeps at Weststar Chimney today!
by Mike O'Mara | Nov 5, 2019 | Fireplace doors
Has a friend or neighbor recommended that you invest in some fireplace doors? Or maybe you’ve been considering adding them, but don’t know much about what they actually do. Regardless of your situation, you’re likely facing a lot of questions that you’ll need answered before making any investments.
Fortunately, we’re here to help you every step of the way. Weststar Chimney Sweeps has been serving the San Diego area for 20 years now, and we pride ourselves on offering knowledgeable, honest, and in-depth evaluations every time you hire us for the job. If you need help buying and installing your new fireplace door, don’t hesitate to reach out today!
Why Do I Need A Fireplace Door?
There are many reasons to install a fireplace door. First of all, they add a level of safety to your space. They help to keep kids and pets out of the firebox, they stop sparks from flying out and landing on your rugs or furniture, and they prevent any hot or burning logs from rolling out of the fireplace and landing in your living room.
Fireplace doors also help to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your home. They cover up any messy ash and half-used wood piles for when your fireplace isn’t in use, and many can be customized to your unique style preferences. You’ll have a personalized piece that guests and family members are sure to rave about for years!
Is your fireplace causing your energy bills to skyrocket? Whether you have cold downdrafts entering your living room in the winter or you struggle with all of your air-conditioned air escaping in the summer, an open fireplace can cause your HVAC system to work much harder than necessary, which means more money coming out of your pocket every month. This is less than ideal, but a fireplace door can do a much more effective job at keeping your home more comfortable than a throat damper or chimney cap.
All in all, you’ll get the style, efficiency, and peace of mind you deserve when you invest in fireplace doors for your home. Take the next step today by reaching out to our team to explore your options!
What Style Options Are Out There?
Now, when you choose to work with the crew at Weststar Chimney Sweeps, you get to explore a lot of choices when it comes to finding the perfect door for your home. We offer custom-designed models from Fireplace Door Guy, so you can choose which style would look best with your set-up. We’ll also measure your fireplace to guarantee an exact fit. From something plain and simple to something more ornate and intricate, we have an option for every preference.
Can I Install The Door Myself?
In today’s technological world, it’s easier than ever to find do-it-yourself tutorials online for just about anything. Well, when it comes to your fireplace, we encourage our customers to rely on CSIA certified technicians to perform any and all of their installation work. This guarantees you get the best results possible for your appliance, and it ensures your family stays as safe as possible, too.
Not to mention, even a minor mishap can lead to some pretty big problems, all of which are very costly to fix. In the long run, you’ll be much better off trusting an expert from the very start.
What’s Better? A Door Or A Screen?
Now, fireplace screens are another alternative when it comes to keeping your household better protected. Screens are less expensive and they can play a big part in keeping your living space more comfortable. That being said, they may not do as effective a job as a fireplace door, and they tend to allow small sparks or embers into your space from time to time.
Don’t get us wrong – screens are a great option for many, and they can contribute a lot to the look and function of your fireplace. Along with this, they may not block as much heat as a fireplace door would. It’s all about finding what works best for your set up.
Or, if you want heightened efficiency, while keeping little ones and pets as safe as possible, why not invest in both? Doors serve a big purpose, but they get very hot since they are directly in front of the fire. By placing one of our folding screens in front of them, you ensure no little paws or fingers risk getting burned. And when the fire is out, just set it aside and out of the way. It’s as easy as that!
I Live In San Diego County – Who Can Help With This Process?
If you live in San Diego County, we encourage you to give the team here at Weststar Chimney Sweeps a call now. We serve countless cities including Alpine, Bonita, Rancho Santa Fe, Vista, Lakeside, Lemon Grove, and more, and we would be happy to set you up right before the holidays arrive in full swing.
Our team is CSIA Certified, so you can bet we know our stuff, and we are members of the NCSG, ensuring we stay informed and up-to-date on any advances in the industry. We pride ourselves on always putting you – the customer – first, and we offer honest and in-depth evaluations. Combine all that with our A+ BBB rating and our long list of positive customer reviews, and you’ve got a team you can trust in for the long haul.
Ready to get started? Reach out today!
by Mike O'Mara | Oct 22, 2019 | Carbon Monoxide
The CSIA recommends investing in annual chimney inspections, regular sweepings, and annual dryer vent cleanings. This maintenance gives sweeps the opportunity to check things over, clear out any buildup, and spot any damages or potential threats. Just one simple phone call to a certified technician could save you a lot of time, stress, and hassle this holiday season!
One major reason these practices are so encouraged is due to the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning. Clogged dryer vents can cause this gas to back up into your home, and it could easily find its way in through gaps and holes in your chimney, as well. Invest in the care you need now, so you aren’t left facing scary scenarios this fall and winter. The certified experts at Weststar Chimney Sweeps are here to help you every step of the way!
Carbon Monoxide Defined
So, what is carbon monoxide exactly? Most know that it is dangerous and needs to be avoided, but few actually know much about it. Well, any time a fossil fuel is burned carbon monoxide is produced. This goes for cars, stoves, dryers, grills, and more. Unfortunately, carbon monoxide (or CO2) is extremely harmful to one’s health, and it reportedly leads to hundreds of deaths every single year.
How Can I Detect It?
Once homeowners realize how deadly carbon monoxide truly can be, the next thing they want to know is what signs to look out for regarding its presence. Well, unfortunately, this gas is both colorless and odorless making it virtually impossible to detect – that’s what makes it such a threat! Because of this, purchasing carbon monoxide detectors is a must. Buy multiple devices and install them on every level of the home to ensure you’re alerted at the first sign of trouble.
It’s also important to be aware of the physical symptoms that occur after inhalation. If you suspect a leak in your home and notice any of the following symptoms in you or family members, leave the area and seek medical attention immediately: dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, headaches, confusion, weakness, or other flu-like symptoms. Unfortunately, if one is sleeping or intoxicated, symptoms will not typically be noticed in time – another reason why carbon monoxide detectors are so important!
Invest In Professional Care For The Protection You Deserve
An annual inspection could be the difference between facing a leak or not, so don’t put off the care you deserve any longer. It’s vital to find any damages or signs of danger well before putting your fireplace to use, and our experienced team would be proud to set you up right this fall and winter. This is one investment you won’t regret making. Stay safer by reaching out today to set up your appointment!