Chimney Services » fire safety
Our Company Blog
by Mike O'Mara | Jun 21, 2017 | Scheduling
If you own a fireplace, scheduling a yearly inspection is important. This regular maintenance helps ensure overall functionality, and it gives you peace of mind knowing that your home and family are being kept as safe as possible. In fact, the CSIA recommends scheduling an inspection at least once per year to help avoid chimney fires and exposure to harmful toxins.
If you’re due for an inspection, count on the staff at Weststar Chimney Sweeps. Our sweeps are CSIA trained and certified, so we are sure we can handle any job you throw our way. Learn more by browsing our site, then give us a call to schedule your appointment!
Keeping Your Home Safer
Inspections are necessary for maintaining the safety of your home and loved ones. Sweeps can spot any clogs, excess debris, or creosote buildup, all of which contribute to chimney fires and smoke backup. They can also look over your masonry to ensure no cracks, holes, or other damage is present. If your structure is suffering, you could eventually face a collapse or settlement.
On top of all that, nothing can beat an expert’s eye when it comes to the health of your system. Sweeps can recommend the next appropriate steps (repairs, cleanings, etc.), and they can advise you on some preventative measures to take, such as waterproofing. All in all, inspections help your system stay strong and durable for years of enjoyment.
Why Summertime Inspections?
So, why is now an ideal time to get that inspection done? There are many advantages to scheduling your fireplace and chimney maintenance in the summer. First of all, there will be more availability in our books, as our busy season won’t start up for another couple of months. That means you can schedule your appointment at a time that is most ideal for you!
On top of that, we will have more time to devote to your chimney. Should you need repairs, a sweeping, or anything else, we can easily get it all done in a timely manner. Once fall comes around, our books fill up fast, and squeezing in last-minute repairs isn’t always so easy. By scheduling now, you know your system will be up and running when the holidays arrive.
You Can Trust In Us
Here at Weststar Chimney, our staff is reliable, professional, and trained to meet your every need. We love serving this area, and we want to help out people all throughout it! One glance at our certifications, reviews, and decades worth of experience is all you need to know that we are dedicated and passionate about what we do.
Please give us a call today – we look forward to hearing from you!
by Mike O'Mara | Mar 1, 2016 | Chimney Maintenance, fire safety, Fireplaces
When you have a fireplace in your home, ensuring that it works safely is one of the most important responsibilities you have as a homeowner. Making sure your fireplace and chimney are in good condition can help you fulfill this responsibility. Of course, the most important thing you can do to guarantee your chimney and fireplace work safely and efficiently is to schedule an annual professional chimney sweeping and inspection. Weststar Chimney Sweeps is proud to provide these maintenance services to the residents of the San Diego area, and we only employ chimney sweeps who have been trained and certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). Since safety is our top priority, we would like to share with you some other tips on how to be sure your fireplace is safe.
Outside The Home
You need to check to see if there is a chimney cap installed at the top of your chimney as this prevents water leaks, keeps birds and animals out, and other important functions. If getting on your roof is too hazardous, you can use binoculars to get an up-close look at the condition of the cap to check for signs of damage and debris building up on the cap. While you are using the binoculars, check to see if the flashing system looks tight and shows no signs of corrosion damage, and then look to see if the flue liner is visible above the crown. You should also look for cracked or missing bricks from the chimney as well as any leaning or other signs of structural damage. Take a look at the trees near the chimney to see if any limbs are directly above the chimney. If you find any signs of damage or problems, contact us at Weststar Chimney Sweeps to ask us to come by to examine things further.
Inside The Home
Now you can check out your fireplace to see if anything looks like a potential problem or a safety hazard. According to HouseLogic, you will need a flashlight to look at the condition of the damper to be sure it opens, closes, and seals correctly. It is important that your damper works properly to keep air from leaking out the chimney. Then, open the damper completely and shine the flashlight up the chimney to look for any signs of animal invasions like nesting materials. To be sure nothing is blocking your flue, look up the flue, and if you can see sunlight at the top, your flue is clear with no blockage. Your next step is to look at the hearth to inspect the fireplace surround and firebox to be sure there are no cracked or missing masonry materials like bricks and mortar. This type of damage is very serious and can lead to dangerous hazards. The last thing you should look for any signs of moisture inside the firebox because this means you have a chimney leak somewhere in your chimney. As with any outside damage, any interior damage or possible issues deserves professional attention, so you need to call us as soon as possible to avoid any damage becoming worse.Ensuring the safety of your chimney and fireplace is extremely important. If you need professional assistance, contact us at Weststar Chimney Sweeps to ask us to come by to give your chimney an inspection from our CSIA-certified chimney technicians.
by Mike O'Mara | Jan 30, 2015 | fire safety
Make sure you are prepared in the case of a house fire!
Whether or not you have a fireplace in your home, there is always a possibility of a house fire. If a fire does break out in your home, you may only have as little as two minutes to be able to escape. The best way to protect yourself and your family is the identification and removal of all fire hazards from your home. Another excellent way to protect yourself, your family, and your home is to know and follow important home fire safety tips. At Weststar Chimney Sweeps, we like to educate our customers on fire safety, and we would like to share with you some fire safety tips we feel are essential.
Install Multiple Smoke Alarms
According to the Red Cross, 60% of house fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms installed. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home, inside bedrooms, and outside sleeping areas. Make it a monthly routine to check your smoke alarms to be sure they are still working properly. Smoke alarms will usually last for at least 10 years; however, you will have to change the batteries to keep them working properly.
Have an Escape Plan in Place
Everyone in your home should know two ways to escape from every room in your home. Designate a meeting place outside the house to be sure everyone has gotten out safely. Use a two-minute time frame when you are planning your escape routes. Practice your escape plan with your family on a regular basis to be sure everyone knows how to proceed if an emergency should occur. Include waking up to smoke alarms, low crawling, and meeting outside during your escape plan practices. Be sure everyone in the house knows how to dial 911. Teach family members how to stop, drop, and roll if their clothes happen to catch on fire.
Never leave the kitchen unattended when cooking, frying, or broiling food, and do not leave your home when roasting, boiling, baking or simmering food. Set a timer to alert you when your food should be done cooking, baking, boiling, or roasting. Keep all flammable items like pot holders, towels, clothing, and plastic away from the stove. Keep all pets off cooking surfaces and counter-tops to prevent them knocking things onto the burners and to protect them from possibly burning themselves.
Practice Common Sense
Keep flammable items at least three feet away from space heaters, fireplaces, and other heating appliances. Turn off portable heaters when you leave the room and when you go to sleep. Never smoke in bed. Talk to your children on a regular basis about the dangers of fire. Always keep matches and lighters out of reach from children.
Be Aware of the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide
Just as you do with smoke alarms, install carbon monoxide detector alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms, and outside sleeping areas. If one of these alarms goes off to alert you of the presence of carbon monoxide in your home, move quickly to the fresh air outdoors or stand by an open window or door. Never use generators, grills, camp stoves, or any other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal burning devices inside a home, a garage, basement, crawlspace, or other partially enclosed space.
If you would like to know more home fire safety tips, contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps. As part of our responsibilities as CSIA-certified chimney sweeps, we take pride in educating our customers on fire safety procedures and precautions.
by Mike O'Mara | Sep 13, 2014 | fire safety
We at Weststar Chimney Sweeps are excited to tell you about a new service we now offer — fireplace door installation. We have partnered with another company, Fireplace Door Guy, who custom designs fireplace doors. Once you have purchased and received your fireplace doors, our expert technicians will come to install these doors. We would like to take the opportunity to share with you the benefits of having fireplace doors.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), every year thousands of homeowners experience property damage that could have been prevented if their fireplaces had doors. Even more serious, not having fireplace doors also causes thousands of deaths and injuries from house fires. How exactly do fireplace doors reduce dangerous home fires? Glass fireplace doors reduce the chances of sparks or logs falling out of the fireplace. This prevents damage to wood or tile flooring, destruction of carpet, and melting of linoleum floors. Additionally, you will not have to worry about sparks and cinders popping out of the fireplace and landing on clothing, furniture, and other household items, which can cause a destructive fire. Closing off the fireplace with glass doors has been proven to increase fire safety and prevention.
Increased Energy Efficiency
By minimizing and reducing air going out of your chimney, fireplace doors will save you money on both your heating and cooling expenses. An open fireplace is the same thing as an open window. If you do not have fireplace doors to close this window, warm air escapes your home in the winter, and cold, air conditioned air exits through your chimney during the summer. Remember, though, that if you are burning gas logs or a large wood-burning fire, you should open these doors.
Clean Up Reduction
When fireplace doors are closed, ash, wood chips, cinders, and other debris are contained, which decreases (or even eliminates!) the task of sweeping up these things after a fire. You also will not have to worry about ash smudges left by fallen ashes. Your household items near your fireplace are also protected from getting dirty from debris when the fireplace doors are closed.
Decor and Style
Adding fireplace doors can update the look of your hearth. One of the reasons Weststar Chimney Sweeps chose to partner with the Fireplace Door Guy is his variety of styles and designs of custom fireplace doors. Whether your decor tastes are classic and traditional or modern and contemporary, the Fireplace Door Guy has the perfect set of fireplace doors for you. With shapes ranging from rectangular to L-shaped to arched to U-shaped, you are certain to find the perfect fireplace doors for your hearth and home. You can even come up with your own design idea, and the Fireplace Door Guy can craft it from scratch.
If you would like to install fireplace doors, you can now contact Weststar Chimney Sweeps to do this service for you. Our staff can tell you more about these benefits of fireplace doors.
by Mike O'Mara | Aug 30, 2014 | Chimney Maintenance
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.