Our Company Blog

Bird Nest & Beehive Removal

Having unwanted visitors in your chimney can be a frustrating ordeal, and getting rid of various animals isn’t always as easy as one might assume. Fortunately, the highly qualified team at Weststar Chimney Sweeps can handle the job! We specialize in bee and bird nest removal, so you can get back to normal again in no time. If you need some professional help, give us a call now!

Dangers Of Nesting Materials

If birds bring their nesting materials into your chimney, you’re going to start noticing all kinds of problems. First of all, birds and their chirping can get bothersome in a hurry, disrupting your lifestyle and making it a challenge to relax. They also bring in all kinds of leaves, twigs, and other materials to build their nests with, all of which clog up your flue and force smoke and other gases into your living space.

As you can imagine, having these fumes back up in your home can be quite hazardous to the health of loved ones. Not only will they stink things up and trigger bad odors, they’ll likely make people sick, as well. And some fumes, like carbon monoxide, are extremely hard to detect, making their presence that much more dangerous.

Along with this, excess debris obstructs airflow, causing creosote to accumulate more rapidly and increasing your chances of chimney fires. Chimney fires cause your liner and brickwork to break down considerably, which leaves open pathways for flames to escape to any adjacent woodwork. Using a fireplace that has damage from a chimney fire is extremely dangerous, and many homeowners don’t even realize a chimney fire has occurred until it is too late.

Play it safe by having us remove the animals and obstructions right away. Then, let us inspect and sweep your chimney! We’ll check for cracks, holes, and any other necessary repairs, so you don’t have to stress when fall comes back around.

Always Trust A Professional

While bird nest removal, beehive removal, and chimney sweepings may seem like something you can do yourself, this is really not the recommended approach. Even the smallest mishap can trigger tons of issues down the line, many of which will wind up costing you a lot more than a professional sweeping would.

On this same note, beehive removal can be a tricky and dangerous process. While many think lighting a fire will quickly scare the bees away, this action will only make matters worse by melting the honey, spreading the odor, and attracting even more bees. Trust in our crew from the very beginning. When you work with Weststar Chimney, you can rest easy knowing you’re in the best possible hands around!

Take Preventative Action Now!

The best way to keep bees, birds, and any other wildlife out of your chimney is by having a chimney cap or top-sealing damper installed right away! With springtime weather upon us, now is the time to get it done. Don’t give up control of your chimney and fireplace. Work with us, so that you stay protected for years to come! Call now!

What Is A Top-Sealing Damper?

Have you been having issues with your throat damper? You are not alone! These devices have worked well in the past. However, there is a new option available that homeowners seem to love. We don’t blame them! If you need a new damper, consider investing in a top-sealing damper for your chimney.

If you’re wondering just what a top-sealing damper is, let us explain. This device sits at the top of your chimney, rather than the bottom. It has a rubber gasket so that a tight seal is formed, and it is controlled by a lever that is inside of your fireplace.

Saving You Energy

There are a lot of reasons why top-sealing dampers tend to function better than throat dampers. One of the biggest is their ability to seal your home a lot better, saving you lots of money on heating and cooling bills.

With throat dampers, any outside air gets sucked down your chimney, then can easily seep in through cracks and any possible holes. That makes keeping things cool hard to do… and watch out for any cold, nasty weather because things will get chilly fast!

Worried about the A/C escaping throughout the year? Worry no longer! Homeowners that invest in a top-sealing damper see significant drops in their monthly bills, and we want you to get all the savings that you can. Consider these products so that the warm, humid air stays out of your chimney altogether!

Is Your Damper Doing Its’ Job?

Your fireplace damper is a vital piece in your chimney’s construction. It ensures proper ventilation while your fire is running, and keeps cold air from entering your home. Unfortunately, these devices can break down and there a number of reasons why it may not be working efficiently.

If you notice drafting and air flow issues in your fireplace, keep reading to educate yourself on the more typical damper problems that homeowners typically face. Call in a certified chimney expert to check things over and perform any necessary repairs that may be needed.

Watch Out For Build-Up

One of the more common issues that people face is built-up soot and debris blocking their damper. This would keep your damper from opening and closing properly and may prevent it from opening at all! If your damper can’t open, smoke will back up into your home, exposing you and loved ones to harmful toxins. Excess smoke backing up into your living room means something is wrong… if you think your damper needs some cleaning, contact us right away.

Another issue may have to do with your damper valve. If this is dirty, it will not function appropriately and your damper will not be able to do its job effectively. Let us check things over and we can set you up right.

Broken Damper

Another possibility is that your damper is broken. In this case, we could help you pick out the appropriate damper for your specific fireplace. We would also ensure that it is installed properly. Improper installation only leads to bigger and more costly issues down the line and choosing the right size and style for your needs is vital in helping the entire appliance run well, as a whole.

Depend On Us

The staff at Weststar Chimney Sweeps are trained and certified to perform a wide range of repairs. We can also clean and inspect your chimney, so you can safely run it all year round. If you are having ventilation issues, let us come take a look at your damper. We can make any necessary repairs or adjustments, as well as clean the chimney with appropriate tools and chemicals.

Our sweeps update their certifications with the CSIA on a regular basis, so we always remain up-to-date on any new advancements or changes in regulations. We pride ourselves on providing the best customer service around, which is why countless homeowners turn to us for any and all of their chimney or fireplace related needs.

Why put it off any longer? Give us a call now, so you can rest easy and enjoy your fireplace to the fullest. We look forward to making your home great!

The Anatomy of Your Masonry Chimney

Can you identify the major components of your masonry chimney? If you cannot, you are not alone. Many homeowners have very little knowledge about their fireplace and chimney systems. When you do not know the names of certain parts or what exactly each part is supposed to do, it can be difficult to describe a chimney problem you could be experiencing. Knowing the details of each component of the anatomy of your chimney can help you discuss your issue with chimney professionals, like our staff at Weststar Chimney Sweeps. As part of our responsibilities as Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweeps, educating our customers about the major parts of their fireplace and chimney systems is one of our top priorities. We would like to explain each component of the anatomy of a masonry chimney to help you be able to identify these parts and their specific functions.

Masonry Chimney Anatomy - San Diego CA - Weststar Chimney

As identified by the CSIA, the anatomy of a masonry fireplace and chimney system consists of the following parts:

  • Mortar Crown – Also commonly known as a chimney crown, this component is located on top of the chimney to prevent water penetration of the bricks and mortar as well as to stop water leaking down the flue and into your home.
  • Flue – Found in different shapes and sizes, the flue is the chamber that vents out the corrosive byproducts of combustion from the fireplace. A single chimney can have multiple flues if several fireplaces or stoves are connected to the same chimney. Your flue should always be clear from blockages to allow proper airflow.
  • Smoke Chamber – Located above the firebox and below the flue, the smoke chamber allows smoke to mix and rise up the flue. Commonly constructed from terracotta tiles, this part is also known as the chimney throat.
  • Smoke Shelf – Functioning with the smoke chamber to push smoke out the flue, the smoke shelf can be found behind the damper and is at the bottom of the chimney.
  • Damper – Typically located in the same area as the smoke chamber and smoke shelf, the damper seals your chimney closed when the fireplace is not in use. A very important part of the efficiency of your chimney, the damper needs to function properly to keep heated air from escaping out the chimney when there is no fire.
  • Lintel – The heavy piece of angle iron that holds up the bricks over the center of the fireplace, the lintel can be found embedded into the brick.
  • Firebox – A crucial part of your fireplace and chimney system, the firebox is a two- or three-walled structure that contains the direct heat of the fire and guides the smoke into the smoke chamber. As the firebox is exposed to such high temperatures, this component tends to deteriorate faster than other parts of the anatomy of your chimney. It is crucial that the firebox is constructed with the right materials and kept in good repair.
  • Ash Dump – Located right below the center of the firebox, the ash dump is equipped with a door. When the ash dump door is open, ashes from the fire fall into the ash dump. This component allows for simple ash removal from the firebox.

If you have any questions about any of these parts, get in touch with Weststar Chimney Sweeps. We are happy to tell you more about the anatomy of your masonry chimney.

Chimney Throwdown: Throat Dampers Vs. Top-Mount Dampers

Essential for the proper venting of smoke and other byproducts of combustion out of your home, a damper is one of the most important components of your chimney and venting system. Just as an opened window, a opened damper allows air to flow out through the chimney. When the damper is closed, it keeps warm air inside the fireplace and your house. For safety reasons, you should always be sure that your damper is opened when you have a fire burning, but when your fireplace is not in use, your damper should be closed to keep warm air out and cool air in your house during the summer and cold air out and hot air in your home during the winter. If your damper is old and worn out, it should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible to keep your home energy-efficient. To help you decide which type of damper would be best for your chimney, Weststar Chimney Sweeps would like to tell you more about the two different types of dampers and how we can assist you when it is time for a new damper in your chimney.

Chimney System Diagram - San Diego CA

Throat Dampers

Found at the bottom of your chimney (or also known as the throat of your chimney) directly above your firebox, throat dampers are generally found in old masonry chimneys. Constructed from cast-iron, steel, or stainless steel, a throat damper rests on tracks directly above your fireplace. You operate this type of damper by moving a handle on the damper along its tracks to open and close it manually. Some prefabricated chimneys also have throat dampers; however, these steel dampers are often shaped as a square or circle and are opened and closed with a pull-down handle or a left-to-right lever and do not use tracks. You can also find newer throat dampers, which are inflatable devices that seal off the flue to any extraneous air that comes down the chimney, according to eHow. To ensure you have the best sealant, you should get the correct size for your inner chimney walls. Some disadvantages to this type of damper are they can be easily punctured, are not the most energy-efficient, and do not protect your chimney from birds and animals nesting inside your chimney.

Top-Mount Dampers

When you have an old throat damper that is beyond repairing, Weststar Chimney Sweeps will recommend that you install a top-mount damper, which sits on top of your chimney and can also serve as a chimney cap. Very energy-efficient, a top-mount damper is equipped with a silicone rubber gasket to provide an air-tight seal. Constructed from iron or steel, a top-mount damper functions well as a chimney cap when closed. This type of damper will protect your inner chimney from water leaks, debris, and bird and animal invasions. Although the main disadvantage of a top-mount damper is that it is more expensive than a throat damper, you will end up saving money on your heating and cooling bills as well as on costly repairs to your chimney caused by water leaks or nesting animals. Easy to operate, a stainless steel cable runs down your chimney to the firebox, and you simply pull on the cable to both open and close the damper.

Want to know more about these two different types of dampers? Contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps to let our staff help you decide which damper is right for your chimney.