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Is It Time For Your Dryer Vents to Be Cleaned?

Clothing dryer vents, just like any other appliance vents, requires regular, professional cleaning to keep your appliance running safely and efficiently. When clothing dryer vents become clogged with lint, obstructed by outside debris or damaged, they can pose a serious fire hazard in your home. Clogged dryer vents can cause the appliances heating element to overheat and catch fire. If you have a gas clothing dryer, clogged dryer vents can lead to a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide in your home. At the very least, clogged dryer vents can cause your machine to work inefficiently, costing you time and money every time you dry a load of laundry.

How To Avoid Dryer Vent BuildupClothes taking a long time to dry? Time to have your dryer vents cleaned.

To avoid the dangers of clogged clothing dryer vents and to keep your clothing dryer running efficiently, it’s recommended that you have your dryer vents cleaned and inspected by a professional at least once per year. If you do a higher than normal amount of laundry in your home, you might even need to have your dryer vents cleaned more frequently. To determine whether it’s time to have your dryer vents cleaned and inspected, look for these signs that your clothing dryer vents are clogged:

• Drying time is longer than normal. The first sign that dryer vents are becoming clogged is that loads of laundry will begin taking longer to dry. Generally speaking, a load of clothing should not take more than 35 to 40 minutes, or one dryer cycle, to dry completely.

• Clothes smell musty when they come out of the dryer. Because clothes aren’t drying as quickly as they should be, your clothes might come out of the dryer with a musty smell when dryer vents are clogged.

• A burning smell. If your dryer vents are clogged, your laundry room might become filled with a burning smell when the dryer is running.

• Excessive heat. Because your dryer is working over time to dry clothes when dryer vents are clogged, you might notice an increase in heat in and around your dryer. The dryer itself might become very hot to the touch when it’s running, the laundry room might heat up noticeably when the dryer is running or clothes might come out of the dryer feeling abnormally hot to the touch.

• A strong smell of dryer sheets. Clogged dryer vents meant the air doesn’t exhaust from your dryer as it should. Because the air is trapped in the dryer, you might notice a very strong smell of fabric softer in the laundry room or in your clothes.

• A buildup of lint in and around the dryer. When dryer vents are clogged, lint that’s newly generated by your clothes and linens has nowhere to go. As a result, when dryer vents are clogged, you might notice a buildup of lint around your dryer’s lint trap, on the floor behind your dryer when the dryer vent attaches or outside your home underneath your dryer’s exhaust vent.

If you notice any of these signs that your dryer vents are clogged, don’t wait to have your dryer vents cleaned — You have a serious fire hazard in your home! Call A to Z Chimney Services to schedule a dryer vent cleaning and inspection to restore your dryer’s safety and efficiency.

It’s Fire Prevention Week: Are you ready?

Fireplaces, space heaters, Christmas trees and holiday candles: It’s easy to see why home fires are more common during the fall and winter months. To help keep homes and families safe, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has declared Oct. 7 through Oct. 13 its annual Fire Prevention Week. This year’s Fire Prevention Week is encouraging people across the county to “Look. Listen. Learn. Be Aware. Fire Can Happen Anywhere.”Fire prevention week prevents home fires like this one

Look.

The first step in decreasing your home’s winter safety risk is: Look. Look around your home for potential fire hazards. Hazards include overloaded extension cords or electrical outlets; fireplaces or chimneys that have not been swept or inspected before being used for the season; clothing dryer vents that haven’t been cleaned within a year; appliances like irons and curling irons that are left plugged in and unattended; and candles that are too close to combustible and that could be knocked over by a pet or a small child. Also take a look at your home’s heating appliances. There should be a minimum of a 3-foot “safety zone” around fireplaces, heating stoves, furnaces and space heaters that are left free of flammable items such as furniture, books, pillows, blankets, curtains or other items that could catch fire and spread.

Listen.

Know to listen for the sound of smoke alarms in your home. According to the NFPA, a working smoke alarm can cut your risk of dying in home fire by half. Make sure any children in your home know what your smoke alarms sound like and what they should do if they hear smoke alarms going off. Check your home to be sure it’s equipped with enough smoke alarms; there should be a smoke alarm on every level of your home and in every sleeping area. Each fall, test your smoke alarm to be sure they are in working condition. Get help when you test your smoke alarms; have someone stand at the opposite end of your home while you push the test button to be sure that they can hear the alarm going off. You should be able to hear at least one smoke alarm sounding from every area of your home and sounding loud enough to wake you up or alert you to a problem.

Learn.

Just having smoke detectors and listening for the sound of your smoke detectors isn’t enough. You and your family should have a plan of action for what to do when the smoke detectors sound. Your plan should include at least two ways out of every room in your home, a meeting place a safe distance from your home and a plan for calling 911 in the event of a fire. Make sure everyone in your home knows the plan well enough to execute it in an emergency; that might include practicing your fire exit plan, especially if you have small children in your home.

If you need help keeping your home safe from a home fire this winter, A to Z Chimney Services can help! We can sweep and inspect your chimney; service your fireplace or heating stove; or clean your clothing dryer vents to be sure that these appliances aren’t posing a risk in your home.

Fall Begins Sept. 22; Schedule Your Chimney Service Now!

Schedule Your Chimney Services This FallFall means one thing: Fireplace season is upon us! Fall officially begins Sept. 22, and that means that homeowners everywhere will begin calling their chimney sweeps to schedule their annual chimney sweepings and inspections. Call A to Z Chimney Services to schedule your appointment today so you don’t miss out!

Why you need to schedule an annual chimney sweeping and inspection

Your annual chimney sweeping and inspection is crucial to keeping your home safe from the danger of a chimney fire or a malfunctioning fireplace. In wood-burning fireplaces, flammable creosote builds up each time you burn a fire; if that creosote isn’t swept away, it can ignite and cause a full-scale chimney fire. In any fireplace, obstructions in the chimney can catch fire, and any weaknesses in the firebox or chimney can allow the heat and embers from your fireplace to leech out of the chimney and potentially spark a home fire. That’s why the National Fire Protection Association recommends that all fireplaces and chimneys are swept and inspected at least once per year.

Why you should choose A to Z for your chimney services

If you’re searching for a new chimney sweep, look no further than A to Z Chimney Services! A to Z Chimney Services has all of the experience and certification you should look for in a chimney sweep. We are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America, the National Fireplace Institute and the State of California. We are members of the National Chimney Sweep Guild and the Golden State Chimney Sweep Guild. We are also fully insured! On top of all of our certifications, education and memberships, A to Z Chimney Services has been around for 23 years and has earned a reputation as Sacramento’s best chimney service company.

Why you need to schedule your chimney service now

With Labor Day behind us and the first day of fall fast approaching, homeowners across Sacramento will be rushing to make their chimney sweeping appointments. Schedule now to beat the rush! Waiting too long to schedule your appointment can have you waiting weeks for an available service technician, and you might have to settle for an appointment time and date that aren’t convenient for your schedule. The sooner you book, the less time you will have to wait for an appointment, and the sooner you will be able to use your fireplace this fall.

Your annual chimney sweeping and inspection is crucial for the safe operation of your fireplace and chimney this fall and winter. In the Sacramento area, you won’t find another company with the certifications, training and experience of A to Z Chimney Services. Make sure you’re ahead of the fall rush; call A to Z to schedule your cleaning and inspection today!

Does Your Chimney Need to Be Repaired? Now’s the Time!

Your Chimney May Need to Be RepairedSummer will quickly yield to fall — is your chimney ready? If your chimney is in need of repairs, now is the time to schedule them! Scheduling your chimney repair now will ensure that you get your repair on your chimney company’s schedule before the fall rush hits and before colder, wetter weather can interfere with repair work. By having your chimney repaired now, you won’t risk being unable to use your fireplace when temperatures drop. What are some common repairs your chimney could need?

Missing or damaged chimney cap

A chimney cap is your chimney’s best defense against water damage. That’s because having a chimney cap over your chimney opening prevents water from running straight down your flue every time it rains. Often, chimneys are missing caps or chimney caps are in disrepair and fail to protect the chimney. Your chimney should have a sturdy cap in place before fall begins, and your chimney cap should be surrounded by a wire cage to prevent animals and debris from entering your chimney.

Cracks in the firebox or chimney flue

When a chimney begins to deteriorate, the damage is often internal. Faced with the extreme heat from your fireplace, moisture from outside and corrosive byproducts from fires, the firebox and chimney liner can begin to corrode, crack or begin to crumble. This damage is dangerous, as weaknesses in the firebox and chimney can let smoke, heat and carbon monoxide to leak out of your chimney and into your home. If you notice cracks in your firebox, pieces or debris in your fireplace or have been told that your chimney liner has deteriorated, your fireplace and chimney interior should be repaired before you light another fire.

Crumbling chimney exterior

Exterior chimney masonry can fall victim to dangerous damage, too. Porous chimney masonry absorbs water, and over time, that water can cause chimney bricks to crack and mortar to crumble away. Chimney cracks, or crumbling masonry, allow even more water to enter your chimney. If exterior masonry chimney damage is ignored, the chimney structure can fail, and your chimney can begin to lean or even fall.

Rusted or warped chimney damper

Nothing annoys homeowners quite like a rusted or warped chimney damper. The heat from your firebox causes metal dampers to warp, while any exposure to moisture can cause them to rust. Cold air can leak around the dampers when your fireplace isn’t in use, chilling your living space, and they can become impossible to open or close. If you’re combating a warped damper, consider replacing your faulty damper with a top-sealing chimney damper, a superior damper design that completely seals off your chimney to moisture, cold drafts and animal intrusions.

If your chimney requires repairs, don’t wait for the fall chimney rush to strike; now is the time to have your chimney repaired! Call A to Z Chimney Services to schedule your chimney repairs today!

Don’t Forget Your Chimney This Summer — Have it Inspected Today!

When was the last time you thought about your chimney? With summer in full swing, the answer is probably not anytime recently. Taking the time to care for your chimney this summer pays dividends this fall. Here’s what you stand to gain by scheduling your chimney sweeping and inspection this summer.

Hassle-Free Scheduling

When summer turns to fall, most homeowners turn to their fireplace and chimney systems in anticipation of cooler days ahead. That leads to a fall rush for chimney sweeps, which can have you waiting weeks to have your chimney swept and inspected. When you schedule your chimney sweeping during the summer, you beat the fall rush. You won’t have to wait weeks for a chimney sweep. You will also have an easier time finding an appointment that fits best into your schedule.

Ample Time for Repairs and Improvements

Usually, chimney sweepings and inspections are quick, no-fuss affairs. However, sometimes inspections uncover problems. Or, sometimes homeowners take advantage of their chimney technician’s expertise to discuss the possibility of hearth improvements. Whether your chimney requires a necessary repair or you’d like to upgrade your fireplace or chimney, a summertime chimney sweeping and inspection provides you with all the time you need to have work done. By not waiting for fall, you have ample time to have a repair or an upgrade made to your fireplace or chimney.

Eliminate or Avoid Chimney Odors

Chimneys can be stinky places. The byproducts that accumulate in your chimney can cause unpleasant odors on their own. Sometimes, animals or debris find their way in and cause an entirely different array of smells to emanate from your chimney. Odors often intensify during the summer, when chimneys sit unused and warm temperatures embellish any trapped stenches. Having your chimney swept in the summer can remove the root causes of chimney odors. This will save you from the frustration and embarrassment of having chimney odors fill your home on hot summer days.

Protect Your Chimney

In addition to causing odors, buildup in your chimney can cause damage. If animals make home in your chimney, their nests and claws can damage your chimney liner. In addition, rotting debris can hold damaging moisture against your chimney flue. The byproducts of your fires alone are corrosive and can wear away at chimney liners if allowed to sit in place. Sweeping your chimney as soon as the fire-burning season ends removes any damaging buildup. This in turn extends the life of your chimney liner.

Caring for your chimney during the summer instead of waiting until the fall allows you to conveniently schedule your appointment, gives you time to make repairs or improvements, eliminates chimney odors, and protects your chimney liner. A to Z Chimney Services can clean and inspect your chimney this summer so your fireplace is ready for the fall. Don’t forget about your chimney this summer – schedule your sweeping with A to Z Chimney Services today!

Why you should install a top-sealing damper

Almost all fireplace dampers are the same, a cast-iron contraption located at the top of the firebox. Many homeowners assume that these dampers are the only type. However, there’s another option and you may want to consider it. Here’s what you need to know about chimney dampers and why you should install a top-sealing damper in your home.

The Problem With Traditional Chimney Dampers

Most chimney dampers use a basic technology. A metal ring or exterior surrounds the opening of the chimney flue at the top of the firebox. A flap either folds or twists to fit into that damper when it is closed and your fireplace is not in use. The problem with these types of dampers is that they are highly inefficient, and they become burdensome over time.

Due to the extreme heat of the fireplace, metal fireplace dampers warp over time and fail to form a tight seal. The warping can also impact the mechanics of the damper, causes it to get stuck or make it difficult to open or close. Once your chimney damper fails, your chimney lose a significant amount of air when not in use. This also makes it easier for cold drafts to make their way down your chimney.

The Solution to Inefficient Dampers: Top-Sealing Dampers

If your traditional throat chimney damper has failed or is allowing cold drafts into your home, the best solution is to get a top-sealing chimney damper. A top-sealing damper is fitted to the top of your chimney, rather than placed inside. These dampers feature rubber gaskets to allow the damper to seal off the chimney entirely when your fireplace is not in use.

When you install a top-sealing chimney damper, a cable runs down the interior of the chimney. The damper is opened or closed with the pull of a chain or a lever. You’ll also notice that warm air is sealed inside your home, while water and cold drafts will never find their way in again. It will also help your chimney flue to block off wild animals and debris!

Call A to Z Chimney Services to learn more about Top-sealing Chimney Dampers!

If cold drafts is coming down your chimney or your throat damper has failed, call our experts at A to Z Chimney Services to schedule an appointment right now. We can answer all your questions about top-sealing chimney dampers, and we can also assess your chimney to find the best one for you!

What is a ChimScan video inspection?

How do you know what’s going on inside your chimney? During a routine chimney inspection, a chimney sweep usually just shine a flashlight up and down from your chimney. However, the limited view can’t reveal any obstructions or deficiencies in the interior that are potential hazards. The only way to really know the condition of your chimney’s interior is to hire an expert to perform a ChimScan video inspection.

What is ChimScan?

chimney inspection cameras are designed specifically to look for blockages, excessive creosote, cracks or other dangerous flaws in your chimney flue. These closed-circuit cameras thoroughly examine the inside of a chimney flue after the chimney is cleaned. As the cameras travel up the chimney, your chimney technician get a real-time view of the interior. ChimScan chimney inspection cameras can get into all the nooks and crannies that otherwise would be impossible to see.

When are ChimScan inspections performed?

According to Chimney Safety Institute of America, ChimScan video inspections are performed in Level 2 and Level 3 chimney inspections. Level 2 inspections are required when you purchase a new home. It’s also required when changes are made to your fireplace and chimney system. Or if there has been a malfunction in the system or suspected damages. Level 3 chimney inspections are required when a Level 2 inspection reveals that there are likely dangers lurking within the chimney’s interior. It’s also required if  your chimney has been improperly constructed. However, some chimney sweeps believe that ChimScan inspections are a valuable tool for every chimney inspection.

When does A to Z Chimney use ChimScan?

At A to Z Chimney Services, we believe ChimScan video inspections are a crucial tool for our customers. That’s why we perform a ChimScan video inspection with every chimney inspection! With the ChimScan cameras, our technicians have the ability to show our customers that their chimneys are fully clean and free from potential dangers. If there are problems found during the chimney inspection, our ChimScan chimney cameras provide a clear view of the issue. Once your repairs are completed, our ChimScan chimney camera can show the difference, and we can ensure that your chimney is once again safe for use.

If you’re overdue for your annual chimney inspection, call A to Z Chimney Services to schedule an appointment today. We use the ChimScan chimney camera on every cleaning and inspection, you can rest assured that your chimney is safe and ready to use!

Can I have a chimney added onto my home?

Fireplaces are a highly sought-after amenity for homebuyers. In a recent survey, 78 percent of homebuyers reported that a fireplace was a top feature they were looking for in a new home. So what do you do if you own a home with no chimney, but you still love fireplaces? Can you have a chimney added onto your home? The answer is most likely yes. You’ll just need to take several things into consideration when planning and installing a new chimney.

Research local building codes.

One of the first things you’ll need to do when planning for a fireplace and chimney installation is research your local building codes. All jurisdictions have safety codes that dictate the infrastructure needed to support a fireplace, the clearances a chimney must have from the rust of a building’s structure, and the height a chimney must be. An increasing number of municipalities and states also are setting standards for fireplace emissions, which might affect the type of fireplace you’re able to install. Knowing your local codes for fireplaces and chimneys can help you begin to determine what type of fireplace and chimney will be right for your home.

Determine the location of your fireplace and chimney.

Where, in your home, are you looking to install your new fireplace and chimney? Are you looking for a stunning statement and a source of heat in your main living space? Are you looking to add a bit of ambiance to a den or master bedroom? Is your goal to bring heat to a portion of your home that doesn’t seem to get enough heat from the furnace? Depending on where you plan to install a fireplace and chimney in your home and how you plan to use that fireplace, it will all be influential factors for the type of fireplace and chimney you install. A stunning masonry hearth will require adequate support from your home’s structure, while an efficient closed gas unit can be installed on nearly any exterior wall or vented vertically where there is sufficient roof access.

Choose your fuel type.

Some homeowners know exactly what type of fireplace they’d like to install, while others are open to do some research to determine what type of fireplace is right for them. The good news is that it does not matter if you prefer the convenience of a gas fireplace, the efficiency of a pellet stove or the traditional ambiance of a wood-burning fireplace, you will most likely be able to find a fireplace for your home that burns your preferred fuel type. However, it is still a great idea to know your local building codes and the location of your fireplace within your home, because this might impact the type of fireplace you’ll be able to install.

Even though there are a lot of considerations when it comes to picking out the right fireplace and chimney you can install. The good news is that you will be able to install a fireplace and chimney onto your home, alongside the help from our fireplace and chimney experts. A to Z Chimney Services would love to help make your dream of adding a fireplace to your home a reality, call today to schedule a consultation!

How to Clean Your Gas Fireplace or Insert

After a season’s worth of fires, your gas fireplace or gas fireplace insert is probably showing signs of wear. Glass doors can get grimy, logs can collect dust, and dirt and debris can block blowers and burners. Left unchecked, this can begin to inhibit the function of your fireplace. To keep your gas fireplace looking great and working efficiently, you should be cleaning your fireplace regularly. Here’s a step-by-step guide to keeping your gas fireplace or insert in tip-top shape. For more details on your specific fireplace or fireplace insert, be sure to check your owner’s manual before you proceed.

Step 1: Turn off the gas.

Turn off the gas to your fireplace or insert to keep yourself safe and avoid any gas leaks during cleaning.

Step 2: Remove the ceramic logs.

If your gas fireplace or insert is fitted with ceramic logs, they likely can be removed and cleaned separately. This will make it much easier to clean the burners and other portions of your fireplace’s interior. To be sure that the logs are removable, and to discover how to remove them properly, consult your fireplace’s manual.

Step 3: Vacuum debris out of the firebox.

The first step to a clean fireplace is using your vacuum hose to clear away any obvious dust and debris. Be sure to get into the nooks and crannies of your fireplace with the hose to ensure that debris doesn’t have a chance to build up in the hard-to-reach portions of your fireplace.

Step 4: Scrub any difficult debris.

If there are any portions of your gas fireplace that are caked with more stubborn stains, you can gently scrub the stain with a soft cleaning brush.

Step 5: Clean fireplace doors.

The doors to your gas fireplace are often to show a buildup of dirt. You should be regularly cleaning the exterior glass doors with a non-ammonia cleaner, or preferably a cleaner that’s specifically made for fireplace maintenance. While you’re cleaning the interior of the fireplace, take the time to clean dirt away from the interior of the glass doors.

Step 6: Give the burners one additional cleaning.

For your gas fireplace to function properly, the burners have to be clean and clear of dirt or debris. That’s why you should end your fireplace cleaning with one final vacuuming of the burners, just in case any dust or debris has landed on or near the burners during your cleaning.

Once you’ve finished cleaning your gas fireplace or gas fireplace insert, put the logs back in place, close the doors and turn the gas back on. On top of your DIY gas fireplace cleaning, your gas fireplace or gas fireplace insert should be cleaned and inspected at least once per year by a certified chimney sweep. If your gas fireplace is due for a professional cleaning, or if you’re not daring enough to clean it yourself, you can call A to Z Chimney Services to schedule your gas fireplace cleaning and inspection today!

Why We Recommend Stainless Steel Chimney Liners

Your chimney liner protects your home and chimney structure from the heat, gases, and corrosive byproducts of your fireplace. With all the abuse that chimney liners take, they do require eventually replacement. In the event that your chimney liner needs to be replaced, A to Z Chimney Services recommends a stainless steel chimney liner. Here’s why.

Easy Installation

Newly constructed chimneys most often include a liner made from clay flue tiles. Clay flue tiles are cheap and durable, but they do a poor job of redistributing the heat of the fireplace, and they can crack and fail to contain the extreme heat of a chimney fire. When it comes time to replace a clay tile chimney liner, it’s almost never feasible to remove and replace the clay tiles, as it that would mean deconstructing and reconstructing the entire chimney. Stainless steel liners can be quickly and easily inserted into an existing chimney.

Safety

Stainless steel chimney liners are among the safest options for chimney liners. They evenly absorb the heat from your fireplace, and in the event of a chimney fire, a stainless steel chimney liner can help contain the fire to keep it from spreading to your home. As opposed to clay tile liners, stainless steel liners can completely block the gases from your fireplace, preventing carbon monoxide from leeching into your home. For wood-burning fireplaces, stainless steel chimney liners are easily cleaned of highly flammable creosote. There are even CSIA-approved stainless steel chimney liners.

Durability

In addition, stainless steel chimney liners last a lifetime. They are more durabile and reliable than their aluminum counterparts.

Versatility

Stainless steel chimney liners can work in nearly any chimney. They can be used for all fuel types, including wood-burning, pellet-burning and gas fireplaces, as well as for oil furnaces. Stainless steel chimney liners also come in a variety of sizes. Stainless steel chimney liners can also change the flue size of an improperly drafting chimney.

When the existing liner fails, the chimney needs relined. Liners fail due to a chimney fire and cracks or deterioration with age. The chimney liner could also be missing altogether. A new chimney liner also resizes an improperly sized chimney liner to correct chimney draft. If you have been told that your chimney needs a new liner, call A to Z Chimney Services to schedule a consultation! We can assess your chimney and let you know how you could improve your chimney with a stainless steel chimney liner.