Our Company Blog
One of your best defenses against water penetration and animal invasions of your chimney, a chimney cap sits on top of your chimney’s opening. With several different types of chimney caps available, how do you know which cap is the right fit for the flue of your chimney? At Weststar Chimney Sweeps, we are experienced with fitting all types of chimney caps, even customized caps, and we know the importance of proper installation. We would like to tell you a bit about the different kinds of chimney caps and what you should know about selecting the right kind for your chimney to prevent damaging water leaks.
The main thing to consider when deciding which chimney cap is right for your chimney is the shape of your flue. Chimney caps come in different shapes to fit each type of flue. These shapes include:
Whether you have a clay, masonry, or metal flue, you can find a round chimney cap that can either attach the the outside of the flue or slip inside the flue. Round chimney caps are made from an assortment of materials including copper, stainless steel, and galvanized steel. Some round flue liners require chimney caps that must be inserted inside the chimney flue, such as round flexible flue liners and round solid pack flue liners.
SQUARE AND RECTANGULAR FLUES
The most commonly shaped flue, square and rectangular chimney caps can be attached to the flue, or, if you have a chimney crown, there are chimney caps in these sizes that can attach to the crown. Made from the same metals as the round chimney caps, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends you choose a chimney cap constructed from a sturdy, durable, and rust- and corrosion-resistant material to ensure a long-lasting cap. For chimney caps that attach to a chimney crown, you will need to choose from top mounted chimney caps.
Unless you have a custom-shaped oval chimney cap made for you by our technicians at Weststar Chimney Sweeps, you will need to look at rectangular shaped chimney caps that will cover the exterior of your flue.. When you look inside this type of cap, you can see how the corner tabs or interior ledges will accommodate oval flues.
There are other considerations other than preventing water leaks to think about when choosing a chimney cap. These include:
MESH SPARK ARRESTOR
To prevent animals from entering your chimney to take up a new residence and to keep sparks from flying out of your chimney and possibly starting a fire, your chimney cap should be equipped with wire mesh sides. Be sure the mesh openings are between ¾ to ½ inches in size to keep animals out, to contain large pieces of hot debris and ashes, and to allow toxic gases to escape.
COMBINATION OF A CHIMNEY CAP AND DAMPER
You can now find top sealing chimney caps that do double duty as a protective cap and as a damper. Perfect for new home constructions and for older chimneys in need of numerous repairs, the damper is located on the cap. When it is sealed closed, the air loss from your home is reduced by 90%. When the damper is opened, the wire mesh on the chimney cap protects your chimney from invading animals and prevents stray sparks from exiting.
Want to know more about the different types of chimney caps? Contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps today to talk to our expert staff about your many options.
We at Weststar Chimney Sweeps want to not only be sure your fireplace and chimney work safely and properly, but we also want your fireplace to look the best it can. If you have noticed that the bricks or stones around and inside your fireplace look dark and smudgy, it is most likely time to clean those bricks and stones. Of course, you could use elbow grease and scrub off the smoke stains, but we have an easier way to clean your masonry fireplace that will leave those bricks and stones looking brand new. We would like to tell you more about this revolutionary product, Paint N Peel Fireplace Cleaner, we use to remove smoke stains.
What is Paint N Peel Fireplace Cleaner?
A water-based cleaning poultice, Paint N Peel Fireplace Cleaner easily removes unattractive smoke, soot, dirt, and creosote stains from masonry fireplace fronts and hearths. Environmentally-friendly, this cleaner leaves behind no noxious odors and can be used indoors and outdoors.
How does Paint N Peel work?
Using our special tools, our chimney sweeps will paint on a thick coating of the poultice and allow it to dry for six to twelve hours. During its drying process, the layer becomes a tough, elastic topcoat on your fireplace surfaces. Once it has thoroughly dried, our sweeps will then peel away the layer to reveal clean bricks and stones.
To what surfaces can Paint N Peel Fireplace Cleaner be safely applied?
This product has been formulated to use on textured and smooth bricks, granite, marble, slate, limestone, concrete, and tile. Of course, Weststar Chimney Sweeps will be sure Paint N Peel can be safely used on your fireplace before we apply it.
Can I use Paint N Peel Fireplace Cleaner myself?
While you can apply this remarkable fireplace cleaner on your own, Weststar Chimney Sweeps recommends you hire professional chimney sweeps to do this job to guarantee the Paint N Peel Fireplace Cleaner is correctly used. We have lots of experience cleaning fireplace fronts and hearths with this cleaner and know exactly what to do. We know which areas will need a thicker coating with more time to dry. And, although this formula is non-toxic, it is always a good idea to let professionals handle any chemical cleaner or solvent. We will also be sure to protect all surrounding carpet, wood, fabric, metal, and painted surfaces from drips or spills that could stain these materials. We will also dust the areas of your fireplace before applying Paint N Peel to ensure the best possible results.
Interested in getting your fireplace front and hearth cleaned with Paint N Peel Fireplace Cleaner? Contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps to schedule an appointment for our sweeps to make your fireplace look new again.
At Weststar Chimney Sweeps, we are asked why a chimney sweep is considered to be lucky. Many Americans have not heard the legends of the luck of the chimney sweep as they all originated in Europe. In fact, because of these legends, it is considered to be very lucky for the bride and groom in England to see a chimney sweep on their wedding day. If that chimney sweep kisses the bride or shakes the groom’s hand, even more luck is brought to the new marriage. This belief is so popular that English chimney sweeps even rent out their services to appear at weddings to bring luck to the bride and groom’s new life together. Since so many of our customers are curious about these legends, we would like to share the three main stories about why a chimney sweep is considered to be good luck in love and happiness.
The Chimney Sweep who Saved the Life of King William of Britain
The legend of the luck of the chimney sweep began in 1066 in Great Britain. A chimney sweep spotted a runaway carriage heading right for King William of Britain, who was walking quietly down the road. With amazing courage, the chimney sweep rushed to push the wayward carriage out of King William’s path, which saved his life. As a sign of his eternal gratitude towards this lifesaving, brave chimney sweep, King William made a declaration to his people that all chimney sweeps as bringers of good luck. To further show how grateful he was, the king invited the chimney sweep to his daughter’s wedding to bring luck to the bride and groom. Ever since, Europeans believed that chimney sweeps are lucky charms at weddings, which has led to chimney sweep being frequent wedding guests for centuries.
The Chimney Sweep who Saved King George II of England
Another legend featuring a courageous chimney sweep that dates back to the 1700’s, King George II was riding his horse in a procession down a street in London when suddenly, an angry dog appeared before the horse, growled and barked fiercely, and scared the horse. Crazed by fear, the horse bucked and jumped uncontrollably and caused King George II to let go of the reins. Only one man was brave enough to come out to help the king by grabbing the horse and calming the animal down. This man was a local chimney sweep, and, by calming down the horse, he saved the king’s life. To show how grateful he was to this chimney sweep, King George II announced that from this day forward all chimney sweeps should be seen as signs of future success and deserved to be treated with the greatest respect. From then on, English chimney sweeps have been considered as bringers of luck, success, and good fortune.
The Chimney Sweep who Fell from the Roof and Fell in Love
An undated legend that originated in Europe tells the tale of a chimney sweep who was working on a roof and fell. Fortunately, according to Good Luck Symbols, his life was spared because his foot got caught in the gutter; however, he was not completely safe as he was hanging upside down. Fortunately for this chimney sweep, a young woman who lived in the house heard this cries for help and looked out of her window to see him dangling in front of it. Immediately becoming determined to save the life of this chimney sweep, she pulled him inside through the window and led him into safety. This young woman was engaged to be married, but once the chimney sweep composed himself inside, the two instantly fell in love at first sight. She ended her engagement and married the chimney sweep and lived happily ever after. This legend of a chimney sweep’s luck in love spread throughout the continent and the globe and continues to this day.
Interested in these legends of the luck of chimney sweeps? Contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps to hear our lucky chimney sweeps talk about their experiences with these stories.
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.
If you’re new to chimney ownership, it might surprise you when you learn not only that you need to be scheduling a professional chimney inspection each and every year, but that there are several different types of chimney inspections too.
It is vital to have your chimney inspected thoroughly at least once a year. Let our experts perform one of the three levels of inspection that is needed for your chimney.
Those different inspections are outlined as three different levels — 1, 2 and 3 — and Weststar Chimney Sweeps technicians are always happy to give you a rundown of when and why different inspections make sense for your system and your home. In the meantime, though, here are some basics to make those levels a little more clear:
Where Did These Levels Of Inspection Come From?
For a long time, the quality or thoroughness of your chimney inspection was largely left up to the individual professional doing the inspecting. While diligent, detailed chimney sweeps (like Weststar’s) have always been around, you generally just didn’t know what you’d get — a detailed peek into the state of your system, a quick glance with a flashlight and a mirror, or anything in between.
In January of 2000, the National Fire Protection Association outlined three different levels of inspection within NFPA 211, the standard by which our work — and the work of other CSIA-certified chimney technicians — is guided. This ensures that you receive a specific level of care, based on your chimney’s circumstances and needs, and that you know what to expect.
So What Should I Expect?
The Level of inspection that Weststar Chimney Sweeps technicians will recommend will be based on your specific system’s needs.
If your system hasn’t changed — if you’re burning the same fuel in the same appliance with the same flue liner, etc. — you’ll do well with a Level 1 inspection, the least intricate (but still highly detailed) inspection. We’ll examine all of the readily accessible parts of your chimney, from the firebox up through the flue, interior to exterior, looking for structural soundness, performance issues (like obstructions or excess creosote) and damage (like flue liner cracks that could lead to a leak). After our inspection, we’ll share our detailed findings with you, and make any necessary recommendations.
A more detailed Level 2 inspection makes the most sense in a couple of specific circumstances: when something in your system has changed, or if the property is changing hands. So if you’ve changed from wood to gas, added a new fireplace or insert, relined your flue or made other similar changes since your last inspection, Level 2 is appropriate. If you’re buying a home with a fireplace, a Level 2 inspection allows you to get the full picture of what’s about to become your responsibility — and potentially, your problem.
Level 2 inspections include that same thorough, top to bottom, in and out examination as Level 1, but we’ll also check your chimney in attics, basements and crawl spaces, look for proper clearance from combustible building materials and scan the flue using a specialized video camera that lets us get the closest look possible, and show our findings to you.
A Level 3 inspection is really only recommended when a potential hazard is found and a closer look is needed — and that closer look can include removing building materials (like doors or drywall) that block off certain concealed areas. With these inspections, we’re leaving no stone unturned so we can be sure we’re aware of any dangerous or damaging problems that need to be addressed.
We’re always happy to talk chimneys — including inspections and other regular maintenance — with our valued clients. If you have questions, or would like to schedule your annual inspection, give Weststar Chimney Sweeps a call!