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Have your chimney repaired this summer!

If you see signs of damage on your chimney, don’t wait until fall approaches to call your chimney sweep. Have your chimney repaired this summer! Chimney repairs can take some time, and chimney companies’ schedules fill up quickly in late summer and early fall. If you wait too long to schedule your chimney repairs, your chimney won’t be ready when temperatures drop, and you will miss the first opportunities to light a fire this fall.

There are other reasons to schedule your chimney repairs this summer! If your chimney’s masonry is in need of repairs, summer is the optimal time to address those repairs. Masonry materials need warmer weather to cure properly, and repairs may not be able to be undertaken if temperatures drop too low or if rainy weather hits. Summer repairs also can save your chimney from further damage. Leaking flashing, missing or damaged chimney caps, deteriorating mortar or chimney crowns, and spalling bricks all can allow more water to seep into your chimney or your home’s structure. Having those repairs taken care of now can save you the headache and cost of more extensive repairs later.

If your chimney needs to be repaired, A to Z Chimney Services can help!

We can repair any of your chimney problems, including:

  • Cracked or spalling bricks, Cracked Chimney Needing Repair- Sacramento CA - A to Z
  • Crumbling mortar,
  • Deteriorating or improperly constructed chimney crown,
  • Leaking flashing,
  • Rusting dampers,
  • Damaged flues, and
  • Missing or damaged chimney caps or spark arrestors.

In addition to traditional masonry chimneys, we can repair your prefabricated chimney! Regardless of which make and model of prefabricated chimney you have, we can find the right parts and make needed repairs to have your chimney repaired and safe for your fall fires.

A to Z Chimney Services also can help with preventative chimney maintenance. Summer is the perfect time to have your chimney swept and inspected to identify any chimney problems in time to have those problems addressed before you are ready to light your first fall fire. We also can help you take steps to protect your chimney from future damage. We can install a top-sealing damper atop your chimney’s flue to stop drafts and water from making their way down your chimney. We can apply a chimney waterproofing solution to block water from penetrating your chimney’s masonry and causing damage.

This summer, take a walk around your chimney to see if you can notice any visible damage, such as cracked or missing bricks, or a rusting chimney cap, or call to schedule a chimney inspection to make sure you don’t have any hidden issues lurking within or atop your chimney. If you want to repair and prepare your chimney for the fall fire burning season, call A to Z Chimney Services to schedule your repairs, consultation or inspection today!

The Anatomy of Your Chimney

Most people don’t give much thought to their chimney, as long as it is drafting properly and in good repair. You light a fire, smoke rises up and out of your home. There is a lot more to your chimney than you think! Especially if you have a masonry chimney, your chimney comprises many parts. Understanding those components can help you better identify issues with your chimney and discuss them with your certified chimney sweep.

Your chimney type

There are two general types of chimneys: Masonry and prefabricated. Unless you built your home or had a chimney installed yourself, you might not know which type of chimney you have. A masonry firebox or a masonry exterior structure doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. A masonry firebox can be paired with a prefabricated chimney, and a masonry exterior structure can be relined with a metal chimney liner. There is an easy way to determine which type of chimney you have. Simply shine a flashlight up your chimney and have a look.

Inside your chimneyThe Anatomy of Your Chimney Image - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

No matter which type of chimney you have, they will have one thing in common. At the firebox end, they’ll have a damper to keep drafts out of your home when the fireplace isn’t in use. Both types of chimney should be topped with a chimney cap, which prevents water from flowing freely down the inside of the flue, keeps animals and debris out of the chimney and blocks burning embers from flying out of the chimney and posing a fire risk.

The construction of prefabricated chimneys is fairly straightforward. They generally are the hollow tubes that people imagine the inside of chimneys to be. Masonry chimneys, however, can be much more complicated, comprising up to 22 different parts. The most basic components of a masonry chimney are:

  • The smoke shelf

In most chimneys, there is a horizontal shelf directly above the firebox. The smoke shelf is designed to prevent debris from falling back into the firebox and posing a fire hazard.

  • The chimney throat

The chimney throat is the first chamber that smoke rises into from your fireplace. It’s located directly above the firebox and damper.

  • Smoke chamber

After traveling into the chimney throat, smoke rises into a smoke chamber, which is angled to funnel the smoke upward through the rest of the chimney system.

  • Flue

The flue is what comes to mind for most people when they picture a chimney. The flue is the largest portion of the chimney. It is the long, hollow tube that smoke travels through before it exits your home.

  • Crown or chase

Masonry chimneys are topped with a masonry crown. It is constructed to angle downward to direct water away from the chimney and should overhang the outer walls of the chimney to keep water from running down the exterior walls of the chimney. Prefabricated chimneys are covered at the top with a chase cover, which also is meant to keep water away from the chimney flue.

Regardless of which type of chimney you have, the experts from A to Z Chimney Services can help you care for it. Call us today if you’re due for a chimney cleaning and inspection, or if you’re having any problems with your chimney.

Be on the lookout for common 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.Be on the lookout for 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 freshly cleaned chimney

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 cleaningStart Your Year With a Freshly Cleaned Chimney - 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!

Chimney Inspection FAQ

There are three different levels of a chimney inspection - call A to Z Chimney Services for your own today!

There are three different levels of a chimney inspection – call A to Z Chimney Services for your own today!

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) develops, publishes and disseminates more than 300 consensus codes and standards intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks. One code in particular, NFPA 211, is the industry standard upon which upon which certified chimney sweeps base their services. The code was written to provide for the reduction of fire hazards by ensuring the safe removal of flue gases, the proper installation of solid fuel-burning appliances, and the correct construction and installation of chimneys, fireplaces, and venting systems.

DIFFERENT LEVELS OF CHIMNEY INSPECTIONS

The NFPA and Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) classify chimney inspections into the following categories: Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3. Each level of inspection covers specific items depending on the individual appliance and how it is vented to the outside of your home. Let’s look at all three levels to get a better understanding of what’s completed during each:

Level 1 inspections

These are completed during your routine chimney cleaning. This is the recommended level when the conditions of use have not changed over the past year. It’s a more routine evaluation that, as such, should be carried out annually. Level 1 inspections are limited in scope to the portions of the chimney’s exterior and interior that are easily accessible as well as the portions of the fireplace and flue that are readily accessible. The technician will be looking to gauge the basic soundness of the flue and chimney structure as well as your basic fireplace installation and connections. The technician will also check to make sure the chimney is free of obstructions and combustible deposits.

Level 2 inspections

These are more detailed and thorough than their Level 1 counterparts and are recommended either when the conditions of use have changed during the past year or when a Level 1 inspection reveals an issue that warrants a more thorough inspection. A few notable issues that may call for a more in-depth inspection are homeowners opting to convert his or her traditional fireplace to a gas unit or when an event has occurred that possibly could have caused damage to the chimney (e.g., chimney fire, earthquake, or foundation settling). It’s also recommended upon the sale or transfer of the property. Level 2 inspections include everything Level 1 inspections include as well as the inspection of accessible areas of the attic, basement, and crawlspace and a video evaluation of the inside of your chimney.

Level 3 inspections

These are the most in-depth of all the inspection types and are conducted after either a Level 1 or Level 2 inspection reveals a major issue in parts of the chimney and/or flue that are not, by traditional standards, easily accessible. It’s important to note that the technician’s examination of concealed areas is limited to those areas that are reasonably suspected of containing hazards that can’t be evaluated otherwise. Level 3 inspections include all of the areas covered in Level 1 and Level 2 inspections as well as inspection of otherwise concealed areas to further investigate known or suspected problems. Because certain portions of Level 3 inspections require some sort of demolition to, within, or around your home, the technician will discuss these areas with you prior to the inspection beginning any work.

That’s a lot of information! However, it’s a lot of necessary information for any homeowner with a chimney and/or fireplace. Understanding the general scope of work required with each level of inspection is critical to being an informed homeowner and consumer. Knowing what you’re getting yourself into before getting into it will generally leave you feeling much better before, during, and after the situation than remaining blissfully ignorant ever could.

Regardless of how you plan to use your system, it’s important that you make annual chimney inspections a priority in your home. Contact the CSIA-certified professionals at A to Z Chimney Services today and we’ll help you determine what level of inspection you need.