Our Company Blog

Signs Your Chimney Needs Professional Attention

Weststar Chimney Sweeps is your local source for chimney services!

Weststar Chimney Sweeps is your local source for chimney services!

When you own a home with a fireplace and a chimney system, you know that regular maintenance can help with keeping any potential problems under control. However, it is very common for repair issues to appear over the years. Sometimes you will know when your fireplace and chimney need repairing, and other times the signs that your chimney needs professional attention will be more subtle. Weststar Chimney Sweeps would like to tell you more about three different signs that can let you know that your chimney is in need of repairing and how we can fix these problems.

UNPLEASANT ODORS

If you happen to notice bad smells in your home coming from the fireplace, you most likely have a problem with chimney draft. Your chimney may not be producing enough draft to pull out the exhaust gasses from within, which causes that air to enter your home. Your flue could be too large for your heating appliance, or you could simply be having issues with how the wind is affecting your chimney draft. If the flue size is the issue, Weststar Chimney Sweeps can install a new stainless steel flue that exactly matches your heating appliance, which will improve both the draft and its performance. We can also install a draft-improving chimney cap on top of your chimney to help your chimney draft issues. This type of cap has vents on the sides that direct the wind to create a driving pressure at the top of the chimney. This driving pressure helps to pull out that smelly air so that it leaves your home instead of entering it through the fireplace.

LOOSE BRICKS

Whenever you notice any loose or missing bricks from the exterior of your chimney, you are seeing a sign of water penetration damage. As the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)  says, water is the biggest enemy of a masonry chimney because of the damage it can do. Water can get into your bricks and mortar and erode these masonry materials until they get to the point of cracking and breaking apart. If type of water leak damage is not repaired, it can worsen to the point of the entire chimney structure collapsing. This is a hazardous situation that you definitely want to avoid, so contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps as soon as you notice any water damage so that we can make repairs and protect your chimney from further water leaks.

SMOKE FILLING ROOM

Trying to start a fire only to have a huge cloud of black smoke come back into the room? Most likely, your flue is blocked which is causing the smoke to come back into the house as it cannot exit out of the chimney. You could have debris from nesting materials from birds or animals, leaves, and soot forming a blockage. Sometimes, loose bricks have fallen into the chimney to block the exit. Fortunately, our CSIA-certified chimney technicians at Weststar Chimney Sweeps are experts at removing chimney blockages. We can clean out your chimney to have it working smoothly again.

Notice any of these problems? Contact us at Weststar Chimney Sweeps to schedule a chimney inspection so that we can make any necessary repairs.

Your Spring Cleaning Should Include Your Chimney

Schedule a chimney sweeping and inspection as part of your spring cleaning!

Schedule a chimney sweeping and inspection as part of your spring cleaning!

March is upon us, which means spring is finally here. For homeowners, the arrival of spring means it is time to get started on annual spring cleaning chores. If you have a fireplace or wood stove in your house, that means your chimney should also be included. Weststar Chimney Sweeps is ready to help you with your chimney cleaning chores, and we would like to tell you more about our chimney sweeping process.

Why should I have my chimney cleaned and inspected in the spring?

It makes sense to have your annual sweeping done in the spring because most people schedule their annual chimney inspections in the fall, so you will not have a problem getting the appointment you want. Also, the sooner you have your chimney looked at after the heating season, the better. If there are problems that need repairing, you need to get them repaired quickly so no more costly structural damage occurs. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends homeowners have their chimneys inspected annually, so why not get into the habit of scheduling this appointment in the spring?

What should I expect from a chimney sweeping and inspection from Weststar Chimney Sweeps?

When you schedule a chimney sweeping and inspection with Weststar Chimney Sweeps, one of our licensed and certified technicians will come to your home and begin the inspection and cleaning process. Using modern technology, we use video cameras to allow us to closely examine the interior of your chimney and decide which type of cleaning technique we will need to do, based on the type of creosote build-up in your chimney and what kind of chimney you have. We use a few different chimney sweeping techniques, which include:

Standard Sweeping

Using the typical rotating brushes on long handles, along with a high-powered vacuum with a HEPA filter to keep debris and soot from getting in your home, this technique is effective for getting rid of average creosote deposits; however, if you have any major creosote build-up, as in 3rd stage, you will need a heavier-duty sweeping.

Mechanical Cleaning

In order to remove hard or glazed creosote deposits, high-speed rotating wire brushes, plastic cables, or specials chains are used to do the sweeping.

Chemical Cleaning

Sometimes mechanical cleaning is not enough, and chemicals may have to be used along with the high-speed rotating power tools to get rid of big deposits of glazed creosote.

What happens after the chimney inspection and sweeping is completed?

Once we do your sweeping and inspection, we will assess our findings and determine whether or not you need any repairs done to your chimney. Other than creosote build-up, the most common damage to chimneys seen after winter is water damage from leaks. If left unrepaired, this can lead to further, more costly structural damage. Weststar Chimney Sweeps can handle all of your chimney repair needs, if repair is necessary.

Do not forget your chimney when you are spring cleaning. Contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps to make an appointment for your annual chimney sweep and inspection.

Why Annual Chimney Sweepings are so Important

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.

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.

Kiss Your Masonry Stain Problems Goodbye!

What is the one thing that’s been an annoyance to chimney owners everywhere? Masonry stains. Throughout time, numerous homeowners have complained and scratched their heads over the hassle and irritation that these unwanted stains bring.

At Weststar, we care about and respect each of our customers, and are dedicated to ensuring that their chimneys and dryer vents are well-maintained and functioning properly. Whether you need masonry repair or annual maintenance, we’re here to help.

At Weststar, we care about and respect each of our customers, and are dedicated to ensuring that their chimneys and dryer vents are well-maintained and functioning properly. Whether you need masonry repair or annual maintenance, we’re here to help.

Here at Weststar Chimney Sweeps, we do our best to cater to your chimney needs. So, here are a few things that you should know about chimney stains.

Not all stains are created equally.

The stain on your chimney is characterized by the source of the stain. Once you are able to identify which type of stain you have, it will be easier on you or the chimney professional that you hire to find a solution.
The following are some of the most common stain complaints:

  • Smoke – It only makes sense that majority of the chimney owners complain about having smoke stains and are earnestly looking for ways to remove them. Since smoke is a natural byproduct of burning and the chimney is an area where the burning process occurs frequently, there presence of smoke is inevitable. Smoke stains, therefore, are going to occur.
  • Mildew – This is the white substance (a fungus, to be more specific) that usually grows on the surface of wet or warm conditions.
  • Efflorescence – This is that white, powdery and, often times, fluffy stuff (or so it appears) that accumulates around your chimney masonry.
  • Rust – We all know what rust looks like, right? And you may say that rust only appears in metal materials. But actually, rust thrives on both metal and nonmetal surfaces, therefore, you shouldn’t be surprised if you find a little rust in your chimney masonry every now and then.
  • Paint – It may range from small whisks to huge splatters. Paint stains are usually brought about by artistic or domestic accidents. It may happen to households with or without children and is one of the most common chimney masonry stains.

How can you remove these stains?

As each stain is classified differently based on its cause, there are also various methods and chemicals used to remove each type of stain. Boral.com has a short summary of ways to remove various stains. But to some people, handling chemicals is something with which they’re not really comfortable. Another option, therefore, is to contact a professional to help you out.

Gone are the days when you had to worry about your chimney masonry stains. The answer to all your stain problems is just a phone call or email away. So what are you waiting for?

Levels of Chimney Inspection

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.

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.

Level 1

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.

Level 2

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.

Level 3

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!