Our Company Blog
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.
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.
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.
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!
When was the last time you thought about your chimney? With summer in full swing, the answer is probably not anytime recently. Taking the time to care for your chimney this summer pays dividends this fall. Here’s what you stand to gain by scheduling your chimney sweeping and inspection this summer.
When summer turns to fall, most homeowners turn to their fireplace and chimney systems in anticipation of cooler days ahead. That leads to a fall rush for chimney sweeps, which can have you waiting weeks to have your chimney swept and inspected. When you schedule your chimney sweeping during the summer, you beat the fall rush. You won’t have to wait weeks for a chimney sweep. You will also have an easier time finding an appointment that fits best into your schedule.
Ample Time for Repairs and Improvements
Usually, chimney sweepings and inspections are quick, no-fuss affairs. However, sometimes inspections uncover problems. Or, sometimes homeowners take advantage of their chimney technician’s expertise to discuss the possibility of hearth improvements. Whether your chimney requires a necessary repair or you’d like to upgrade your fireplace or chimney, a summertime chimney sweeping and inspection provides you with all the time you need to have work done. By not waiting for fall, you have ample time to have a repair or an upgrade made to your fireplace or chimney.
Eliminate or Avoid Chimney Odors
Chimneys can be stinky places. The byproducts that accumulate in your chimney can cause unpleasant odors on their own. Sometimes, animals or debris find their way in and cause an entirely different array of smells to emanate from your chimney. Odors often intensify during the summer, when chimneys sit unused and warm temperatures embellish any trapped stenches. Having your chimney swept in the summer can remove the root causes of chimney odors. This will save you from the frustration and embarrassment of having chimney odors fill your home on hot summer days.
Protect Your Chimney
In addition to causing odors, buildup in your chimney can cause damage. If animals make home in your chimney, their nests and claws can damage your chimney liner. In addition, rotting debris can hold damaging moisture against your chimney flue. The byproducts of your fires alone are corrosive and can wear away at chimney liners if allowed to sit in place. Sweeping your chimney as soon as the fire-burning season ends removes any damaging buildup. This in turn extends the life of your chimney liner.
Caring for your chimney during the summer instead of waiting until the fall allows you to conveniently schedule your appointment, gives you time to make repairs or improvements, eliminates chimney odors, and protects your chimney liner. A to Z Chimney Services can clean and inspect your chimney this summer so your fireplace is ready for the fall. Don’t forget about your chimney this summer – schedule your sweeping with A to Z Chimney Services today!
November ushers in the start of the holiday season. That means hectic schedules filled with shopping, family gathering and parties. It also means chillier nights spent gathered around the warm glow of your hearth. If you haven’t had your annual chimney sweeping and inspection yet, your busy holiday schedule could prevent you from enjoying your fireplace. Have your chimney swept now, before your schedule gets in the way, so your fireplace is ready for your holiday gatherings and chilly nights spent at home!
Don’t risk lighting a fire before your chimney has been cleaned and inspected.
Home fires caused by chimneys and fireplaces cause an average of 22,300 home fires each year, resulting in $97 million in damage and 20 deaths, according to statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. In most cases, chimney fires could have been prevented with a chimney sweeping and inspection.
The sweeping itself removes hazardous materials, such as creosote, animal nests or debris, that can ignite when the fireplace is in use. The inspection can locate weaknesses in the chimney structure or fireplace that could lead to a home fire. That’s why the National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys should be swept and inspected annual to lower the risk of a home fire. Ideally, you should have your chimney swept and inspected before you light your first fire of the season.
In addition to dramatically reducing your risk of a chimney or house fire, your annual chimney sweeping and inspection can help protect your family from dangerous carbon monoxide. Blockages within the chimney or malfunctions in your fireplace can cause carbon monoxide to build up within your home, putting your family and your pets at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Your chimney sweeping will make sure your chimney is free from obstructions, and during your inspection, your chimney sweep will check to make sure your fireplace or heating stove is functioning properly.
Schedule your chimney sweeping with A to Z Chimney Services today!
Get your chimney ready for the holiday season by scheduling your annual sweeping and inspection with A to Z Chimney Services. When you hire our CSIA-certified chimney sweeps to service your chimney and fireplace, you can trust that you are getting well-trained professionals who will properly care for your chimney and your home.
Every one of our chimney sweepings ends with a ChimScan video chimney inspection, so you can be confident that your chimney is free from debris and free from any structural weaknesses that could put your home at risk. If there is a problem with your chimney, you will be able to see it clearly on the inspection video, and our sweeps will be able to help you find the right strategy for addressing any problems with your fireplace or chimney. And our no-mess guarantee means that you won’t have to worry about cleaning up after our sweeps.
Enjoy your fireplace without worry this holiday season. Call A to Z Chimney Services to schedule your chimney sweeping and inspection today!
Early Chimney Sweeping
As fall days approach, homeowners will turn their minds to the crackling warmth of their fireplaces. With that, homeowners will be looking to have their annual chimney cleaning and inspection. Beat the fall rush by scheduling your chimney for its annual cleaning with A to Z Chimney Services now.
All chimneys should be cleaned and inspected once a year, according to the Chimney Safety Association of America (CSIA). With more CSIA-certified sweeps than any other company in the greater Sacramento Area, A to Z Chimney Services can ensure that your fireplace and chimney are safe and ready to help heat your home.
The experts from A to Z will remove any buildup of dangerous creosote, soot or glaze deposits from your wood-burning or gas fireplace. All cleanings are followed with a scan from A to Z’s ChimScan camera, which is inserted up your chimney to give the sweep a clear view of any obstructions or structural problems. If any problems are found, the technician will be able to show you on the camera’s monitor.
Making sure your chimney is clear each year is essential, both for the safety and the maintenance of your home. A buildup of creosote, soot or glaze, all of which are highly combustible, can lead to chimney fires. In fact, the majority of chimney fires are caused by an excess of creosote that could have been removed by routine cleaning, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Even a minor chimney fire can lead to costly repairs.
Masonry chimneys can crack and be displaced, causing overall structural damage to the chimney and giving flames an opportunity to reach the wooden framework of the home.
Though prefabricated chimneys are designed to stand up to high temperatures, the extreme conditions of a fire can damage them, and they should be replaced after a fire to ensure that they remain safe and effective.
In addition to raising the risk of a fire, a dirty chimney also can prevent gases, particularly carbon monoxide, from escaping the fireplace. That can force those gases back into the home. The acidic nature of chimney deposits also can cause damage to the inside of the chimney if the chimney is not swept routinely.
Even if a fireplace has not been used within the last year, animals can nest inside, causing blockages or damage. Your annual cleaning and inspection will ensure that the chimney is clear of any animals, buildup or debris, and that the fireplace is venting properly to the outside.
While gas fire places do burn more cleanly than wood-burning fire places, they still lead to buildup in chimneys that need to be cleaned. The chimney experts from A to Z Chimney Services have the tools and experience to maintain all kinds of fire places and chimneys, including masonry chimneys, prefabricated chimneys, wood-burning stoves and fireplaces, and gas fireplaces.
By scheduling your cleaning now, you can be confident that your chimney will be cleaned and safe for the first fire of the season.
Understanding the Process of Chimney Inspections
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.