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It’s never too late to have your chimney cleaned

The winter months are drawing to a close, and spring soon will be upon us. If you have failed to have your chimney cleaned and inspected, you may assume that it’s too late, now that the fire-burning season is drawing to a close. However, it’s never too late to have your chimney cleaned!

In fact, the end of the burning season can be the perfect time for your annual and inspection! A spring chimney cleaning can reduce your risk of a chimney fire, carbon monoxide poisoning, and chimney damage.Have Your Chimney Cleaned Image - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

Reduce your risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning

A spring chimney sweeping will clear out any of the creosote from this year’s fires. A buildup of highly flammable creosote is the leading cause of chimney fires, meaning that cleaning it out of your chimney drastically reduces your risk of a chimney fire. Blockages in your chimney, whether from creosote, animal nests or other debris, also can prevent carbon monoxide from exiting your fireplace, putting your family at risk from a deadly buildup of the gas within your home.

Additionally, the soot and creosote left in your chimney is highly corrosive. If you wait until the fall to have your chimney cleaned after the previous burning season, you’re allowing those corrosive materials to break down the inner walls of your chimney. A buildup of creosote also can have intrusive side effects — creosote can leave an unpleasant smell in your house during the warm, humid summer months. A cleaning and inspection at the end of the burning season is especially important if you have a pellet-burning appliance: Trapped pellets can swell in summer’s humidity, causing damage to your stove or fireplace.

Identify and address chimney damage

A spring chimney sweeping and inspection also identifies any water or fire damage your chimney endured during the fire burning season, giving you the opportunity to address it before it becomes a major issue. If you have your chimney inspected now and damage is found, that gives you plenty of time to determine the best way to approach repairs and have those repairs performed before you’re ready to use it again next fall.

Remember, any chimney damage, from water leaks to crumbing masonry, should be addressed as soon as it is identified. If minor damage is ignored, it can lead to major, expensive repairs in the future. And failing a failing chimney also can put your home at risk of a chimney fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you live around Sacramento, CA, and you’re overdue for your chimney sweeping and inspection, or if you prefer to have your chimney swept at the end of the fire-burning season, give the certified chimney sweeps at A to Z Chimney Services a call to schedule an appointment. It’s never too late for your annual chimney cleaning!

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.

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.

Waterproofing Your Chimney

The Importance of Chimney Waterproofing

If you live in the Sacramento area and Googled something like “waterproofing chimney,” chances are your chimney has sprung a leak and your Internet search has brought you to the A to Z Chimney Sweep site. Well, you’re in the right place! In business since 1995, we have yet to meet a chimney leak we can’t repair, and we almost always recommend that our customers have us follow leak resolution by also having their chimney professionally waterproofed.Chimney Waterproofing Image - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

If you’re not sure if your masonry chimney is leaking or not, you can look for the following signs: stained ceilings or wall coverings around the fireplace, stained chimney brick, crumbling brick or mortar, mold or efflorescence on or around the chimney, etc. Musty smells and dripping sounds are also dead giveaways that water has accessed your chimney. You will want to keep water out to prevent the spread of more damage, which can quickly become costly to repair.

Waterproofing is a preventative measure—something we prefer to do prior to any leaks—but it’s also a great thing to do after a leak has been repaired so that leaks won’t happen again. By applying a semi-permeable membrane called ChimneySaver to the exterior of your chimney we allow your chimney to “breathe” while keeping water out of your porous chimney brick and masonry. ChimneySaver comes with a 10 year limited warranty. In our experience, it really works for our customers.

What Else Can I Do to Keep Water Out of My Chimney?

In addition to waterproofing, there are a number of great ways to keep water out of your chimney, including:

  • Install a chimney cap or top-sealing damper
  • Install new flashing or repair existing flashing, counterflashing, or crickets
  • If needed, undertake any masonry repairs

Only a certified chimney technician will be able to tell you for sure what is causing your chimney to leak and to advise you on how best to fix this. The good news is that most of these repairs come with additional benefits—like energy savings or increased efficiency. Plus, they’ll help increase the value of your home and make your fires safer to burn.

If you have any questions about waterproofing a chimney or if you need to schedule a chimney inspection, we hope you’ll contact A to Z Chimney Sweep at (916) 850-2446 for more information.