Our Company Blog
You may have seen chimney cleaning logs that claim to remove and reduce the accumulation of creosote in your chimney when you burn one of these logs in your fireplace or stove. You may even have thought that this could take the place of your annual professional chimney sweeping. However, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Weststar Chimney Sweeps agrees with the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) that using chimney cleaning logs is not a substitute for the job our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps will do when they perform this yearly maintenance task on your chimney. We would like to tell you more about this product and why you should never rely on it as a way to properly and safely clean your chimney.
What are chimney cleaning logs?
A chimney cleaning log is a chemical product that does actually remove a portion of accumulated creosote from both masonry and metal chimneys. It does this through catalytic action that takes place when the log is burned in a fireplace or wood stove.
Why are chimney cleaning logs not a substitute for a professional chimney sweeping?
For one reason, a professional chimney sweeping from Weststar Chimney Sweeps will guarantee that every bit of accumulated creosote will be removed safely from your chimney. When you burn a chimney cleaning log, deposits of creosote will flake off and could either possibly cause a chimney fire by igniting after falling off or end up on the smoke shelf, where it creates another potential fire hazard.
Another reason is that a professional chimney sweeping includes much more than just creosote removal. Your chimney will be inspected to look for possible damage and potential problems. Our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps will also check for flue blockages and can take away birds’ or animals’ nests, leaves, and other debris that are blocking the exit of your chimney. This reduces the risk of a very hazardous situation: carbon monoxide leaks.
Should I use chimney cleaning logs in between my annual chimney sweepings?
The CSIA recommends that this type of chemical product should only be used under the supervision of a qualified chimney professional. Sometimes, layers of creosote can be so thick that chemical chimney cleaners must be used to change the chemical composition of creosote from hard or tacky to brittle or powdery in order to completely remove all of the creosote buildup. Our sweeps have been trained to use these chemical cleaners and know how to use them safely.
Have you scheduled your annual professional chimney sweeping yet? Contact us at Weststar Chimney Sweeps to make an appointment to have your chimney properly cleaned.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.