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Help…My Fireplace Stinks!

Your stuck up neighbors invited themselves in again and made a disgusted face as they walked past your chimney. You realize that smell is back and stronger than ever, and the countless amounts of air deodorizing spray and scented candles will not cover it up. Your chimney can produce odors for many reasons, so you should always call for help. A trained professional will ask if you have had all of your required maintenance and go from there to diagnose the problem.

If you have to hand out gas masks whenever you have friends over, you might have a problem!

If you have to hand out gas masks whenever friends come over, you might have a problem!

Why does my chimney stink?

Creosote, a byproduct of the combustion process, is the main reason that your chimney stinks. The first thing that will need to happen is that you will need to have your chimney swept. It is important that you have a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified professional handle all of your chimney’s work, especially cleanings and inspections. If there is any creosote built up on the interior walls of your chimney, they will overtime clump together and absorb into the structure. This can also cause draft problems, which will lead to the smoke not properly exiting the chimney and the potential for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning rising. The smell from inside your chimney will become much more noticeable when heat and humidity increase. One cleaning is typically enough for most users, but if your fireplace receives heavy usage during the heating season, you may want to consider having it swept twice. Mold growth will also contribute to the smell. Mold can grow in any area that water can sit; it can begin forming in 24 to 48 hours. If you see something unusual, call for help, as you may not recognize the many different colors and textures in which mold can come. To provide an additional degree of safety well into the future, you can have your chimney waterproofed as well. The process takes only one to two days and involves a technician spraying a coat of sealant on the outside of the chimney. The second day should be reserved for drying time and the application of a second coat if you live in a wet area.

How do you get ready for the sweep?

  1. Let your chimney cool down by not burning a fire for more than 24 hours before your scheduled appointment.
  2. Clear the area of anything valuable such as breakables, furniture, etc.
  3. Move any pets you may have into another room.

To speak with someone, call A to Z Chimney today! Our highly trained service staff is here to help you with all of your chimney system maintenance needs.

Tell Me About Creosote

Don't let creosote build up. Schedule your chimney for an inspection and cleaning.

Don’t let creosote build up. Schedule your chimney for an inspection and cleaning.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, creosote build-up is something you must always think about as it can be a major cause of chimney fires. With proper chimney maintenance like an annual chimney sweeping and an inspection from A to Z Chimneys, the levels of creosote in your chimney should stay on a manageable level. However, if this important task is ignored, you are risking a chimney fire as creosote is a highly flammable material. We at A to Z Chimneys want to inform you about creosote and its dangers.

What exactly is creosote and how is it formed?

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, chimneys that serve wood-burning fireplaces and stoves have the task of expelling all the by-products of combustion, substances produced when wood burns like smoke, gases, water vapor, tar fog, unburned wood particles, and assorted minerals. As these substances exit your fireplace and move through your cooler chimney, condensation happens, and the resulting residue that sticks to the inner walls to your chimney is called creosote.

What does creosote look like?

Varying greatly in appearance, creosote can either be brown or black in color. It can also be flaky and crusty, or drippy, sticky, and tar-like, or shiny and hardened. You can even have every different type of creosote possible in your chimney. No matter what creosote looks like, every type has one thing is common: it is highly-flammable and very dangerous when you have a lot of creosote in your chimney. Highly combustible, it doesn’t take much for a build-up of creosote to cause a chimney fire.

What encourages the buildup in creosote in your chimney?

Certain factors speed up the accumulation of creosote on the flue walls of your chimney: burning unseasoned wood and restricted air supply — both of these cause temperatures in your chimney that are cooler than normal. When you burn unseasoned wood, a lot of energy is used to burn off the water trapped inside of the cells of the wood, and this keeps the smoke temperature cooler than usual. Restricting the air supply by closing the glass doors to your fireplace or not opening the damper wide enough increases the smoke’s “residence time” in your chimney’s flue, making it more likely for creosote to form. Similarly, a wood stove’s air supply can also be limited by closing the damper too soon or too often, which leads to creosote buildup. Another cause of creosote buildup in wood stoves is overloading the firebox with wood.

Do I need to worry about creosote buildup with my gas fireplace?

No, creosote only forms from wood burning, so if you have a gas fireplace, you don’t have to worry about this chimney problem.

How do I prevent an excessive creosote buildup?

According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, there are certain things you can do to prevent creosote from building up in your chimney: burn only treated firewood, avoid burning fires that are slow and smoldering, be sure your airways in your chimney are not restricted (damper is open and glass doors are also open), and, most importantly, schedule your annual chimney sweep and inspection.

At A to Z Chimney Sweep, we provide chimney sweeps and inspections to find and remove excessive creosote buildups in your chimney to keep you safe from dangerous chimney fires. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your annual chimney sweeping and inspection.

Getting Ready for Your Inspection

It May Be Time for A Chimney InspectionWith the winter approaching fast, people are dragging out the blankets and making the hot cocoa.  However, be careful before lighting that chimney for the finishing touches.  Without the proper chimney inspection, your fireplace and chimney could be a hazard to your family and your home.  Thankfully, A to Z Window Screens, Chimney Sweep, and Dryer Vent Cleaning can come to your rescue!

This check up is like a physical for your chimney, and you should know what is going to be done to your precious unit when the professionals come.  The standard chimney inspection is known as a Level 1 inspection.  These are recommended to be conducted once a year and include a chimney sweep, which removes creosotes from the inside of your chimney.  This is helpful to prevent draft problems and chimney fires.  A Level 1 inspection is typically for anyone who hasn’t made any changes to their chimney.  A Level 2 inspection is recommended to follow any changes that have been made, or if a Level 1 inspection reveals anything out of the ordinary.  A Level 3 inspection is when a concealed part of the home or building must be checked, such as drywall.  To do a chimney sweep the technicians bring in a big hose and insert it in the chimney, then sucking and filtering the air and keeping soot from entering the room.  With giant brushes in hand, the professionals begin to scrub the in side of your chimney.

As with any appointment, there are things you can do to help prepare your chimney for its inspection.  First, do not have any fires for at least 24 hours ahead of time.  The inside of a chimney can stay hot for days, causing danger to the technicians and their equipment.  Also, have a clean area for the people to work.  A 6’ X 6’ area should be sufficient.  They will lie out tarps to protect your floor from anything that may come out of the fireplace.  It is best to have furniture and decorations moved as far away as possible as well.  Pets are also cumbersome, so have them locked away safely in the other room, ferocious or not, to prevent them escaping the home during the entering and exiting that will be done.