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Be on the lookout for common chimney problems

Addressing Chimney Problems

Chimneys can bring on some common home maintenance problems. We’ve compiled a list of the most common chimney problems because being aware of a chimney problem allows you to address it early rather than waiting for major damage or a major emergency — like a chimney fire or carbon monoxide buildup — to occur.Common Chimney Problems - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

  • Creosote buildup. The most common, and most dangerous, chimney problem is a buildup of creosote along chimney walls. Creosote is an unavoidable byproduct of a wood-burning fire, and it is also highly flammable. Creosote can cause chimney fires, prevent carbon monoxide from venting properly, an unpleasant smell during warm-weather months and corrosion in your chimney. The only way to prevent serious problems from creosote is to have your chimney swept at least once a year.
  • Chimney obstruction. Chimneys, especially unused chimneys, are susceptible to blockages from a variety of sources. Animals can build nests in chimneys, or make their way in and become stuck. Leaves and twigs can build up in a chimney. A blocked chimney can lead to a chimney fire or cause smoke and carbon monoxide to flow back into your home. Again, an annual chimney cleaning and inspection is the only way to be sure your chimney remains unobstructed.
  • Eroding chimney liner. Most new chimneys are constructed with clay tile liners. The tiles are effective and durable, but they can break down over time from the heat of your fires, a buildup of moisture or acidic fire byproducts like smoke and creosote. Even stainless steel chimney liners can break down over time. A compromised chimney liner allows the heat and smoke from your fires to leach into your home’s infrastructure, which can be a serious fire hazard. Your annual chimney sweeping and inspection can help ensure your chimney liner is in good working order. If it isn’t, there are several easy and affordable ways to repair or replace your damaged chimney liner.
  • Cracked or crumbling chimney crown or chase cover. If you have a masonry chimney, it’s topped with a masonry chimney crown that diverts water away from the flue and helps keep water from running down the outer walls of the chimney. On a factory-built chimney, a metal chase cover serves the same purpose. Because chimney crowns and chase covers are exposed to the elements, they can crack, crumble or corrode over time, requiring replacement. An un-repaired chimney crown or chase cover can lead to major water damage for your chimney or your home.
  • Worn chimney cap. A chimney cap covers your chimney like a little roof, generally supported by a metal case. It prevents rain from running down the interior of your chimney and keeps animals and debris out of your flue. Like the crown or chase cover, the chimney cap can become worn or displaced over time because it’s exposed to the elements. Because of its role in protecting your chimney, a worn chimney cap should be replaced immediately.

When it comes to avoiding or correcting chimney problems, the most important thing you can do to protect your chimney is to have it cleaned and inspected annually. When you call the experts at A to Z, we’ll clear away creosote and debris and alert you of any dangers compromising your chimney. We’re proud to serve Sacramento, CA, and the surrounding areas. Give us a call today: (916) 850-2446.

Start Your Year with a Chimney Cleaning

The new year presents the perfect time to check things off of your to-do list. If you haven’t had your annual cleaning and inspection, you should start the year with a freshly cleaned chimney! An uncleaned chimney poses a risk to your home and family. Resolve to maintain your fireplace’s safety by scheduling a chimney sweeping with a certified technician from A to Z Chimney Services today!

Importance of annual chimney cleaningNew Year New Chimney Cleaning - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

The National Fire Protection Association advises homeowners to have their chimneys cleaned and inspected at least once per year. An annual chimney sweeping guarantees that your chimney is clear from dangerous creosote. A highly flammable substance, creosote buildup is a leading cause of chimney fires. Creosote also can interfere with your chimney’s draft or cause an unpleasant smell in your home during warm summer months.

Your chimney sweep also inspects your fireplace and chimney for damage and proper function. Your annual chimney sweeping can help you to address minor problems with your fireplace or chimney before they become major problems. Even if you don’t use your fireplace often, animals can build nests inside, or debris can build up, causing dangerous or damaging blockages. Your annual chimney sweep will make sure that your chimney is free and clear.

Other considerations for chimney cleanings

Remember, the recommendation for annual chimney cleanings states that homeowners should have their chimneys cleaned at least once per year. The new year can be a good midway point in the fire-burning season to address any problems you may be having with your fireplace or chimney. Your chimney should be cleaned if you notice any problems or change in its function. Water seeping, smoke back drafting into your home or visible cracks can all be signs that your chimney is in need of inspection or cleaning.

If you notice any soot or creosote buildup within your flue, it’s time to have your chimney swept again, even if your chimney was swept at the beginning of the fire-burning season. One-eighth inch buildup of creosote is considered a fire hazard, though any noticeable amount of creosote can cause damage to your chimney, as creosote is acidic and can corrode a metal, factory-built flue. Burning fires frequently, using unseasoned wood or burning pine in your fireplace all can cause creosote to build up more quickly in your flue.

Call to schedule your chimney sweeping!

Call the certified chimney sweeps at A to Z Chimney Services today at (916) 850-2446 to start your year with a freshly cleaned chimney! We’ll make sure your chimney is free from debris, dangerous creosote or damage. When A to Z sweeps your chimney, you can be sure that your chimney is clean and safe for the rest of the fire-burning season!

The Nose Knows: Don’t Ignore Odors Coming from your Fireplace

All fireplaces have a unique smell; however, a normal working fireplace will send the smell up and out of the chimney with the draft before it ever has the chance to seep into your home. Fireplace odor problems come from a variety of different things, the most notable of which are creosote deposits inside your chimney. The odors are usually worse in the summer (especially on days when the humidity is high), on rainy days, and/or when your air conditioner is running. A visit from a CSIA-certified chimney sweep can help eradicate those problem-causing creosote deposits, allowing you to breath a little easier.

Problem 1: Creosote Deposits Penetrate Beyond the Surface

Fireplace Odor Image - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

A fireplace inspection and cleaning is a good first step when a smell issue is involved, as it will remove excess creosote and rule out other common problems that may have caused the smell. It’s important to remember, however, that while a thorough cleaning and inspection are helpful, they don’t always take care of the root problem. Due to the nature of the porous masonry construction inside your chimney, creosote impregnates its smell deep beyond the surface. A chimney sweep will remove the surface buildup of creosote to limit the possibility of a chimney fire; however, the odors that have absorbed into the masonry itself are still left behind. Therefore, other actions must be taken to rid your home of the lingering smell altogether.

Problem 2: Negative Pressure Drives the Smell into your Home

Air coming down your chimney is a symptom of overall pressure problems. This negative air pressure can cause odors to enter your home, regardless of the cause. In a typical scenario, as long as the draft is working correctly and there is no negative airflow in the home, the inherent smells will remain in the chimney. In the event that your chimney has developed a drafting problem, however, the intruding air brings the chimney odors right along with it as it comes down your flue. A quick solution to the negative air pressure issue is to simply crack a window to encourage the pressure to change through the window rather than the chimney.

Problem 3: Throat-mount Dampers Don’t Always do the Trick

For a more permanent approach to keeping the smell inside your chimney and away from your nose, limiting the amount of air that’s able to come down your chimney and into your house in the first place is key. Closing your throat-mount damper is a good start, however, most don’t provide an adequate seal due to their typical cast iron construction. A top-sealing damper can help to get rid of the airflow and accompanying odor problems once and for all. In addition to minimizing the airflow problems, a top-sealing damper will help keep rainwater and moisture from coming down your chimney as well.

There’s never a bad time to make a commitment to having your chimney inspected. Chimney sweeps are available year round to inspect and clean your entire chimney system. Don’t allow your chimney’s hidden odors to become a problem in your home. Instead, contact the chimney experts at A to Z Chimney Services as soon as you first notice any unpleasant odors. We appreciate your business and look forward to serving you for years to come.

What’s Scarier than a Halloween Goblin? A Chimney Fire.

Scary Pumpkin Chimney Fire - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

Preventing Chimney Fires

October is the month that we celebrate the hallowed holiday of Halloween. It’s the time of year that little Ghosts, Goblins, and superheroes litter the streets with candy wrappers claimed from local residents. But what could possibly be scarier than a little haunted hellion roaming the streets after dark?

A monster in your chimney, that’s what!

You’ve never heard of a chimney monster? Well let me describe it to you……

It’s a cold outside and you’ve been looking forward to curling up to a nice warm fire all day. Your fire is happily roaring away as you just settle in for a good book when all of a sudden a chimney fire starts and you hear the chimney monster ROAR! The roar of a chimney fire comes from massive amounts of air whooshing into your fireplace as it’s sucked up the flue to feed the roaring chimney fire. It’s been described as the sound of a freight train passing through the living room or a jetliner hovering directly over the house.

With flames shooting out of the top of your chimney spewing flaming creosote all over your roof and surrounding trees and shrubs, experiencing the roar of a chimney monster can be a scary and potentially dangerous situation…. but you can avoid getting spooked by a chimney monster this October… do the right thing and get it swept!

Don’t get the pants scared off of you this Halloween season! Make sure your chimney is safe and ready to burn fires in this winter by having it professionally swept and inspected by one of A to Z’s certified chimney technicians. After all…. an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure when it comes to chimney cleaning and maintenance! It’s less expensive than most people think and the peace of mind is worth every penny.

Call 916-408-2496 in order to schedule your next chimney sweeping appointment before the fall rush sets in!

Beat the Fall Rush: Use the Summer to Sweep away Your Chimney Troubles

The Importance of Early Summer Chimney Maintenance

The demand for instant results has been creeping into every corner of our lives for quite some time now. We’re used to smartphone apps that virtually eliminate any wait time we might’ve had for certain services, computer processing speeds and capabilities that would make that old Commodore 64C roll over in its grave, Internet upload and download speeds that would make early dial-up providers stand in amazement, and movie and TV streaming services that begin in seconds because of the afore-mentioned Internet speeds.Summer Chimney Sweeping - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

This instant gratification has made us, as a society, far less patient than we once were. We’ll settle for instant coffee when we’d much rather have a delicious cup from our French press just because we think we don’t have a few extra minutes to spare. There’s nothing wrong with this. We’re all guilty of impatience at one point or another. If you’re a homeowner, you may be guiltier than the rest.

Most homeowners with a fireplace have been told about the importance of having their chimney system cleaned annually (or more often depending on how heavily they rely on it during heating season), and a large portion now acknowledge this importance and make an annual inspection and cleaning part of their yearly to-do list. Yet somehow chimney maintenance is deprioritized until colder weather sets in. Homeowners can then be seen scrambling to make their appointments so they can start using their fireplaces to keep warm at night. What many of these homeowners complain about, however, is the wait time involved between scheduling the appointment and actually having the work completed.

They’re not overly excited about waiting a few days or weeks for their respective chimney service companies to be able to fit them into their schedule. Some homeowners, due to their impatience, will settle for a non-certified chimney company; in doing so, they may be saving a few dollars in upfront costs, but they could very well be spending a lot more down the road, as these fly-by-night sweeps could overlook a small issue that could have disastrous consequences for you and your family.

Rather than settling for an untrained alternative simply because they can come service your chimney system a day or two sooner in October, why not call a reputable company during the warmer summer months to take care of all of your chimney system needs. This may prove to be a little difficult for some since your chimney might be one of the farthest things from your mind when it’s not cold outside. The professionals at A to Z Chimney Sweep would like to change your way of thinking. Your chimney safety is on our minds 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

A little planning and forethought can help to ensure that you receive your annual service from a reputable, certified company. Enjoy your fires this year with peace of mind, knowing your chimney was swept and inspected by one of A to Z’s CSIA-certified chimney sweeps. To make an appointment today, email us or fill out our online appointment form.