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Dealing with Chimney Molds

As a rule, the only time we really want mold in our lives is when we order blue cheese dressing. But unfortunately, we’re sometimes met with the unfortunate reality of finding mold in our homes — including in and around our chimneys.Chimney Mold - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

Clients sometimes notice mold problems in the walls or ceilings around the chimney; sometimes A to Z technicians discover mold issues during a chimney sweeping or chimney inspection. However it’s found, one thing is always the same: It needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible.

Rules Of Thumb For Dealing With Mold

If you notice mold growth around your chimney, take care not to touch it with your bare hands, and do your best not to breathe around it without a mask protecting you. Certain molds have toxic spores that can cause respiratory problems and other kinds of illness, so mold remediation is best left to the pros.

Truly clearing up a mold issue related to your chimney, however, means finding the source of the moisture that’s leading to the mold problem to begin with. If the mold is around your chimney, odds are your mold is the result of a chimney leak, and A to Z technicians specialize in leak troubleshooting.

What’s Causing Your Water Problem?

Chimney systems are designed to hold up well against the constant onslaught of sun, rain and snow, but certain parts of the system are prone to getting beat up by the weather. The only way to know for sure what’s leading to your water intrusion is for A to Z techs to thoroughly inspect your system. But a few common culprits:

Damaged Or Missing Chimney Cap

Without a functioning chimney cap, your flue opening is just that: wide open. And that means moisture can get right into your flue, potentially damaging your flue liner and seeping through to the masonry and building materials beyond, leading to moist drywall, and mold.

Cracked Chimney Crown

A chimney crown is designed and installed to route water away from your flue opening and chimney, but if the effects of heat, cold and moisture cause it to crack, that gives water easy access to your chimney’s interior, and your home’s interior.

Torn/Missing Flashing

The only thing keeping water from getting in where your chimney meets the roofline is flashing — so if flashing gets torn or torn off in bad weather, water can make its way right in there.

Masonry Damage

Bricks and mortar are durable, but if you have an older chimney, there’s a good chance your masonry is beginning to degrade. Intact masonry absorbs a small amount of water, but degraded masonry absorbs far more — almost sucking it in like a sponge. That can quickly lead to moisture damage inside the home, and mold growth. Properly repairing damaged masonry depends on the specific damage — we might recommend tuckpointing receded mortar joints, or with spalling bricks, we might need to replace them. We highly recommend having us apply a waterproofing sealant to masonry chimneys — that can make a big difference in halting leaks, and halting mold growth.

If you have a mold problem around your chimney, don’t stress — A to Z is here to help. Give us a call, and we’ll set you up with our experienced, CSIA-certified technicians!

Home fire prevention

When it comes to home fires, most homeowners prefer to not consider the possibility. Ignoring the risk of a home fire, however, could leave your home at risk. Instead of pushing aside the possibility of a fire in your home, look to prevention! Are you doing everything you can to keep your home safe from a fire? Here are several fire prevention elements that are often overlooked.

Chimney Sweeping

House Fire - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

Many homeowners neglect their chimneys, especially if they don’t often use their fireplaces or heating stoves. This can be a major mistake when it comes to keeping your home safe from a chimney fire. Chimneys that are clogged from creosote can catch fire. Even if you don’t frequently use your chimney, an animal, bird or debris that finds its way in can create a blockage that could combust. To lower your home’s risk of a fire, the Chimney Safety Institute recommends having your chimney swept and inspected by a certified chimney sweep at least once per year, generally between fire-burning season.

Chimney Relining

During your annual chimney sweeping, your chimney sweep should be on the lookout for a breakdown of your chimney structure, particularly your chimney liner, that could lead to a chimney fire. If there are cracks, holes or weaknesses in the liner, heat and sparks could escape your chimney and gain access to your home’s structure, sparking a fire. Be sure to ask about the soundness of your chimney liner and fire bricks during your annual chimney inspection. If your sweep advises that your chimney or firebox need to be relined or repaired, don’t burn another fire until you have had the necessary work done.

Dryer vent cleaning

Just like chimneys, dryer vents can become clogged over time and cause a fire risk in your home. Like your fireplace chimney, your clothing dryer vents should be cleaned and inspected at least once per year. A professional cleaning will thoroughly remove any lint that leads to a fire. If you do a higher than average amount of laundry, you may need to have your dryer vents cleaned more often; know that it’s a warning sign of clogged vents if your dryer is taking longer to dry a load of laundry or if your dryer or laundry room becomes unusually hot when the dryer is in use.

Install smoke alarms throughout your home

A smoke alarm won’t prevent a fire, but they are your home’s best defense against complete destruction, and your family’s largest protector in case of a home fire. Smoke alarms should be installed on each floor of your home and in every sleeping area. Be sure to check your smoke alarms at least once every six months to be sure that they are still working properly.

Call A to Z Chimney Services!

For chimney sweeps, we know it is part of our responsibility to help lower our customers’ risk of home fires, and at A to Z Chimney Services, we take that responsibility seriously. Whether you need a chimney sweeping, dryer vent cleaning or chimney relining, call A to Z Chimney Services to schedule an appointment today!

Protect Your Chimney from Rain

What’s the biggest danger your chimney faces? Many people assume that a chimney fire is the biggest risk your chimney faces. In fact, chimney water Chimney Rain Protection - Sacramento Ca - A to Z Chimney Servicesdamage is far more of a threat. Water damage to your chimney can cause cracks and leaks, and even deteriorate your chimney to the point of threatening its structural integrity. Water is so damaging to a chimney, in fact, that the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) has declared water chimney’s No. 1 enemy and cautions homeowners to do all they can to protect their chimney’s from water damage. Here are some things you can do to keep your chimney safe.

Put a cap on your chimney.

All chimneys should be outfitted with a chimney cap. A chimney cap shelters your chimney’s flue from falling precipitation. Without a chimney cap in place, water can flow down into your chimney every time it rains, causing damage to your chimney flue and creating damaging puddles in the bottom of your chimney. Installing a chimney cap is the CSIA’s primary recommendation from protecting your chimney from water damage.

Check your chimney crown.

In addition to a chimney cap, a chimney crown helps to prevent water from entering your chimney flue. However, many chimney crowns are improperly constructed from the wrong materials. A chimney crown should slope downward away from the opening of the chimney flue to direct water down away from the chimney flue opening. Your certified chimney sweep can check your chimney crown to verify that it’s been properly constructed to protect your chimney.

Address chimney damage immediately.

Chimney damage leads to more chimney damage. Cracks in your chimney’s masonry or in your chimney crown allows water to gain further access to your chimney and cause more damage. If you notice cracks in your chimney or chimney crown, if you notice that mortar has become soft and begun to crumble away, or if you notice signs that water is leaking into your home in or around your chimney, have the chimney inspected and repaired as soon as possible to prevent water from damaging your chimney or your home further.

Have your chimney waterproofed.

According to www.watermoldfire.net, one of the best preventative measures you can take to protect your chimney from water damage is to have your chimney waterproofed. Masonry materials are porous; they naturally absorb water, which can cause chimney damage. A chimney waterproofing solution can block 99 percent of water from entering your chimney while still allowing your chimney’s masonry to breath and exhaust the smoke and moisture created by your fireplace. Waterproofing your chimney can help keep your chimney protected from water damage for years.

Water can seriously damage your chimney. That damage can spread to your home, and it can compromise the integrity of your chimney, putting your home at risk for smoke or fire damage. A to Z Chimney Services can help keep your chimney and your home safe from water damage. Call today to schedule an appointment to have your chimney inspected to determine if it’s at risk for water damage!

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!

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?ChimScan Logo - Sacramento CA - A to Z Chimney Services

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!