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Fireplace draft issues

One of the most common problems with fireplace is a smoky chimney. As the fire burns in your fireplace, you find your home filling with smoke. If your chimney is drafting properly, you should not notice any smoke in your home. However, if your fireplace does fill your home with smoke, it’s time to evaluate and resolve the issue. Smokey fireplaces are a nuisance, and they can degrade your indoor air quality. Here are some of the most common causes of chimney draft issues. At A to Z Chimney Services, we are here to troubleshoot any smoky issues for you!

Stuck or damaged damper

Fireplace Drafting Problems - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

Your chimney’s damper regulates the air flow of your chimney. If your home is filling with smoke when a fire is burning, the chimney damper often is to blame. The chimney damper could be stuck closed, preventing smoke from rising out of the chimney altogether, or it may not be opened fully. A partially closed damper can restrict the air exchange through your chimney, causing improper draft and filling your chimney and home with smoke.

Dirty chimney

A dirty chimney can also be a culprit of causing smoke to enter your home. If the chimney flue is restricted because of a buildup of creosote, the chimney won’t draft properly and smoke can fill your home. If your chimney has been recently cleaned, and your fireplace is suddenly smoking without another explanation, it’s still important to call a sweep. This often means an animal or debris could have made its way into your chimney, creating a blockage that prevents smoke from exiting your home properly.

Missing chimney cap

Your chimney cap plays a role in keeping smoke from entering your home when a fire is burning. The chimney cap prevents bursts of air from flowing down your chimney, blowing smoke back into your home. Sometimes, solving chimney draft issues are as simple as installing or replacing a chimney cap.

Cold chimney flue

If your fireplace smokes when a fire is first lit, but the smoking seems to subside once the fire gets going, your chimney might just be too cold. When dense, cold air fills the chimney, it can block smoke from drafting up and out of the chimney. This is often a problem for homes whose chimneys are on an exterior wall. You can solve this problem by warming your chimney before lighting a fire. Twist tight logs of newspaper and light one end. Hold the burning newspaper in your fireplace at the base of the chimney flue. Repeat this with two or three pieces of newspaper, and your flue should be adequately warm to allow proper drafting.

Improperly sized chimney

In some cases, chimney draft issues have to do with the chimney construction itself. If the chimney flue is too wide or narrow for your firebox, or if it is too tall or short for your fireplace, your chimney won’t draft properly and your home will fill with smoke. The only way to restore a proper chimney draft is with professional intervention. Most of the time, we can resolve the draft with a new chimney liner or a chimney extension.

If chimney draft issues left your home unpleasantly smoke this winter, get the issues resolved before you burn another fire! Contact A to Z Chimney Service to schedule an appointment today!

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

Chimney Repairs - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney ServicesSummer 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!

Common Issues Found During a Chimney Sweep

While the primary goal of your annual chimney sweeping may be to clear your chimney of soot, obstructions and flammable creosote, your chimney sweeping serves one more important function: checking your chimney for damage or defects that could pose a hazard. There are some common issues chimney sweeps find during chimney inspections.

Missing or Damaged Chimney Cap

Chimney Caps - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

A chimney cap plays a vital role in keeping water from pouring down your chimney, sudden burst of air from blowing down the chimney and animals from finding their way into the flue. Some chimneys were never capped, while for other chimneys, the caps were blown off, damaged by trees or debris or rusted or cracked. Missing or damaged chimney caps are a common finding during chimney inspections, and a missing or damaged cap should be immediately replaced to prevent water damage or downdrafts in your chimney.

Cracked or Crumbling Chimney Crown

Like your chimney cap, your chimney crown sits above your roof, subjected to gusts of wind and precipitation. On top of that, many chimney crowns were improperly constructed from the wrong materials. For these reasons, cracked or crumbling chimney crowns are a common issue turned up during chimney inspections. A failing chimney crown can give water access to the interior of your chimney, subjecting the chimney structure and the surrounding home structure to water damage.

Spalling Masonry

Because of the elements, the masonry exterior of your chimney is susceptible to spalling. That is, water enters the porous masonry materials and causes the masonry to degrade. That damage can manifest as spalling, the cracking and crumbling away of brick facing and mortar. If not addressed, spalling can allow water to gain entry to the interior of your chimney, and it can jeopardize the structural integrity of your chimney.

Damaged Flashing

Flashing seals the base of your chimney where it meets your rooftop. Either due to improper construction or age, flashing can begin to allow water to leak into your home around your chimney. Failing flashing can allow water damage in your roof structure and in the walls and ceiling around your chimney. A chimney inspection can identify failing flashing early, so you can have it repaired before it can cause major water damage in your home.

Fire Damage

Most chimney fires go unnoticed. They smolder, contained by the chimney liner. While your home might escape the initial fire unscathed, the now-damaged chimney puts your home at risk. The damaged chimney could fail to contain future fires, or it could give embers or smoke access to your home’s structure. A chimney inspection can spot that chimney fire damage before it puts your home at risk.

Your chimney inspection is crucial for spotting chimney damage before they become significant problems that endanger your home. Many common chimney problems can be easily remedied to prevent major problems down the road. To keep your chimney safe from common chimney problems, call A to Z Chimney Services to schedule your sweeping and inspection today!

How To Make Your Chimney More Efficient

Was your chimney working at its best this winter, or did you have problems with cold drafts or smoke finding their way back into your home? If your chimney left something to be desired, now is the time to make upgrades. If you are ready to increase your chimney’s efficiency this summer, there are several ways you can improve its function.

Install a Top-sealing Damper

Chimney Efficiency - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

One of the biggest chimney’s inefficiencies comes when your fireplace isn’t in use. Hot air from your home rises up and out of the chimney.  In the same way, cold burst of air can blow down through the chimney and into your home. Up to 8 percent of your home’s heat can be lost through the chimney, which means your chimney could be costing you money. Your damper is meant to block air exchange through the chimney when the fireplace isn’t in use. Most dampers warp over time and fail to seal off the chimney entirely.

A top-sealing damper can solve the problem. A top sealing damper is installed at the very top of your chimney. When closed, it seals off the flue entirely. This prevents downdrafts from entering your chimney and warm air from rising out of your home. If you are looking to make your chimney — and your home — more efficient, a top-sealing damper can help.

Replace Your Chimney Cap

Your chimney cap also can help to stop drafts from entering your home through your chimney. Many homes are equipped with cheap, builder-grade chimney caps that corrode rapidly or are easily knocked out of place. Installing a new chimney cap that’s made from a strong material, like stainless steel, can help make your chimney more energy efficient. The strong material helps block downdrafts of cold air.

Repair Chimney Damage

Cracking, crumbling or otherwise weakened masonry can also decrease the efficiency of your chimney. Cracks in the masonry allow air to escape through the walls of the chimney. Having chimney masonry repaired during the summer months can help keep your home warmer, and lower your energy bills, next winter.

Have Your Chimney Relined

If your chimney is drafting inefficiently, causing smoke to come back into your home, your chimney liner could be to blame. Cracks or uneven construction can cause smoke to draft upward inefficiently and ineffectively. Or, your chimney liner could be the wrong size to efficiently draw smoke out of your fireplace. Having your chimney liner repaired or relined could have your chimney working efficiently to keep smoke out of your home.

If your chimney wasn’t working as efficiently as it could last winter, call A to Z Chimney Services today! We can install a new top-sealing damper or chimney cap, repair chimney damage or reline your chimney. Complete these repairs this spring so that it’s ready to operate at its most efficient next winter.

Why does my chimney need a chimney cap?

We all love our chimneys! They add a certain aesthetic beauty to our homes and help keep our families safe from the smoke and harmful gases that would otherwise leak into our homes without them. Since we value them for the protection that they provide to our families, why shouldn’t we protect them a little, too? This is where chimney caps come into play. They’re not required by laws or codes to be on our chimneys; however, it is strongly recommend that you consider having one installed.

Chimney Cap on Masonry Chimney - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

The Purpose of a Chimney Cap

It’s quite simple actually. The basic job of a chimney cap is to cover the chimney’s opening in an effort to keep water, birds and other wildlife, leaves, twigs and other debris from getting into your chimney and/or house. Water is directed away from the center and off the sides of your chimney. Birds, other wildlife, leaves, twigs and other debris are blocked from getting to your chimney via the mesh screening on the side, thereby preventing it from becoming a giant trash can. If any of these things were to get into your chimney, they could damage the chimney and cause more problems for you down the road. On the other hand, keeping them all out can increase the lifetime of your chimney liner.

Various Materials are Available

Chimney caps are made from a variety of materials—galvanized steel, copper, stainless steel, and aluminum—and can be simple or ornate. Stainless steel caps generally give homeowners the most bang for their buck, as they are not impacted by the elements as much as are the other materials. Galvanized steel and aluminum caps can and will eventually rust and need to be replaced, while shiny, more expensive copper caps will slowly weather and eventually end up the same color as the Statue of Liberty (some homeowners may actually prefer copper’s natural patina and will be willing to fork over the extra money for it; it’s purely a personal preference).

Consider Having a Chimney Cap Installed

For those who are worried about the cost associated with a chimney cap, basic caps are available at a pretty fair price. Deciding to purchase a chimney cap and have it installed by a professional chimney technician is a choice you won’t soon regret, as it’s much cheaper to add a chimney cap now than to be faced with repairing or replacing your chimney liner much sooner than would otherwise be necessary.

It’s also a lot cheaper to have a cap installed than to hire a pest removal specialist like Rise Pest Control Indianapolis to remove a family of raccoons from your chimney. Unless you just really want to get a visit from Ernie “The Turtle man” Brown or the Verminators, do yourself a favor and have a chimney cap installed. With A to Z Chimney Services, you can be confident that you’re receiving the best in chimney care from experienced and educated technicians. All of our sweeps are certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and work to continuously improve their skills and add to their knowledge. We guarantee honest, high quality, clean work every single time we’re in the field.