Our Company Blog
When you need chimney or fireplace services in the greater Sacramento area, there’s no better place to call than A to Z Chimney Services. We’re Sacramento’s No. 1 choice in chimney services!
A to Z Chimney Services has been cleaning, inspecting and repairing chimneys and heating appliances in the Sacramento area for more than 20 years. The company was started by A to Z namesake Aaron Zambrana when he began sweeping and repairing chimneys to support himself through college. Since that time, Zambrana has taken his garage-based business and grown it into one of Sacramento’s largest and most reputable companies.
One of the best reasons to trust A to Z Chimney Services with your fireplace and chimney system is because of our certifications. We believe strongly in industry trainings so that we can provide our customers with the safest and best chimney services. In fact, A to Z employs more sweeps certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America than any other area chimney services company. A to Z Chimney Services goes far beyond that. We ensure that ALL of our chimney sweeps our certified where other companies generally only seek certification for the owner or a few select chimney sweeps. That means you can trust that whichever A to Z sweep is sent to service your chimney is fully trained to handle the job the right way.
On top of our CSIA certification, A to Z also holds certifications from the National Fireplace Institute and holds a contractor’s specialty license for chimney sweeping.
A to Z Chimney Services can handle all of your chimney and home-heating appliance needs! Some of the many services we offer include:
- Chimney and fireplace sweeping and inspections. All vented appliances should be cleaned and inspected at least once a year. This helps lower the risk of home fires and carbon monoxide buildup and to spot problems like leaks and structural decline. A to Z offers regular annual chimney sweepings and inspections, as well as more involved inspections for real estate transfers or damaged or dilapidated chimneys.
- Installation and construction. Looking to create the perfect hearth for your home? A to Z can help! We install fireplace inserts, heating stoves, chimneys, gas logs and more! Whether you’re looking to rehab an existing hearth with insert, have a prefabricated fireplace installed or have a traditional masonry fireplace and chimney constructed from scratch, A to Z Chimney Services can handle the job.
- Chimney repairs. A to Z Chimney Services can rehab your failing chimney. From replacing a chimney cap to repairing leaks or completely reconstructing a failing chimney, A to Z can restore your chimney’s look and function.
- Dryer vent cleaning. Just like your chimney, your clothing dryer vents require annual cleaning and inspection to keep your dryer operating safely and efficiently. Our chimney sweeps are trained and certified to handle the job!
Call A to Z Chimney Services to schedule your appointment today!
If you’re looking for the best chimney and fireplace services in the Sacramento area, call A to Z Chimney Services to schedule your appointment today! You’ll find highly trained sweeps and a complete lineup of hearth and chimney services.
If you’re considering upgrading your traditional open-hearth fireplace or your old wood-burning stove, you could be eligible for a rebate through Sacramento’s Wood Stove and Wood Fireplace Change Out Incentive Program. In an effort to cut down on air pollution in the city, the Sacramento Air Quality Management District offers up to a $1,500 rebate to low-income residents and up to a $450 rebate to non-low-income residents who upgrade from an open-hearth fireplace, or a wood-stove or wood-burning fireplace insert that is not EPA certified to an EPA-certified wood, gas or pellet stoves or fireplace inserts.
Why upgrade your existing wood-burning fireplace or stove?
If you’re lighting a fire in an open-hearth fireplace or a wood-burning stove that’s more than 20 years old, you are releasing fine particles both into your home and into the air through your chimney. The fine particles contribute to air pollution and draw warnings from groups like the American Cancer Society.
In Sacramento, wood-burning stoves and fireplaces add to the air pollution. On days during which the city is forecasted to have low air quality, residents are prohibited from burning wood in indoor or outdoor fireplaces or stoves.
What are your options under the incentive program?
Fortunately, there are many options for replacing your traditional wood-burning fireplace, outdated insert, or stove that will improve air quality within your home and in the city. If you enjoy a wood-burning stove or fireplace, Sacramento’s incentive program includes EPA-certified wood-burning fireplace inserts and wood-burning stoves. In addition to reducing your environmental impact, the EPA-certified wood-burning appliances are up to 70 percent more efficient, which also will save you money on fuel.
Pellet stoves are another option for those who favor wood burning. The stoves, which are more efficient than traditional log-burning wood-stoves, are fueled by pellets made of compressed sawdust and wood shavings, and sometimes corn and wheat hulls. In addition to lowering your environmental impact, pellet stoves offer convenience, as bags of pellets are readily available. The pellets are made from a renewable resource and save wood byproducts from the landfills, adding to their eco-friendly appeal.
Gas stoves offer one of the most air-friendly options, as the natural gas that fuels them has little impact on air quality. They also offer ease of use, as a fire can now be started without the need for logs or a match.
If you prefer the look of your open-hearth fireplace and enjoy relaxing next to the fire, gas logs offer another option. They provide the look and feel of a traditional fire, but without the air pollution. Gas logs, however, are more about ambiance than heat production.
Save money on your upgrade now
If you have been considering upgrading your fireplace or stove with a new, environmentally friendly insert or stove, call the experts at A to Z Chimney Services. A to Z’s knowledgeable staff can help you discover what type of appliance best suits your needs and guide you toward options that are eligible for a rebate under Sacramento’s Wood Stove and Wood Fireplace Change Out Program.
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!
Some winters in Sacramento are milder than others. Despite being only halfway through winter, we’re experiencing some unprecedented highs and warmer than normal lows. Even though we’re having some mild weather here on the west coast, homeowners are still tempted to light their fireplace. The truth is that it can be done, but it can be difficult, and there’s no real use for lighting a fire during warm weather. If you think you can avoid using the furnace by lighting the fireplace to “take the edge off” during warmer weather, it may be costing you—and in more than one way.
How the Fireplace Works
When it comes to your fireplace, there is a lot more at play than just the wood, the match, and the chimney. The chimney system is made up of many important parts that keep it working safely and efficiently. If the efficiency suffers at all, the fire suffers. More creosote and carbon are produced, smoke will not vent properly, and the chimney system will be dangerous and more susceptible to damage.
For a fire to burn, three things must exist — fuel, oxygen, and heat. During warm weather, you can certainly light a fire, but the trouble is in managing to keep it going. Once the fire is lit, it depends on heat from the fireplace to drive the smoke and toxic fumes up the flue. During cold weather, this is simple science. The heat rises up the flue even if the fire isn’t all that hot, because it is warmer than the air outside the chimney. When temperatures are warmer, however, the fire has to be very hot in order to push air up through the flue.
Pressures and temperatures outside the house can cause many problems. These issues can include the air inside the flue to stall completely, the fire to burn fuel incompletely and improperly. This pushes smoke into the house. If you want a fire during warm weather, the heat that you need in order for the chimney to work properly will be too much heat for your house! After all, fireplaces are designed for home heating during cool weather months. During warmer periods your fireplace can be extinguished and your damper closed. During the off-season, you can take other measures to close up your system for spring and summer.
Fireplace Alternatives for Warm Weather
If what you’re looking for is the ambiance of a fire during warm months, you can still enjoy your home without building a fire in the hearth. Many homeowners who enjoy a fire, but don’t need the high-heat from a wood fire will convert a traditional wood-burning fireplace into gas with the simple addition of a gas log set. Log sets do not always depend on the chimney for ventilation. In fact, some models don’t need to be vented at all. Gas fireplaces offer serious benefits to the environment as well as ease of use for the homeowner. Gas fireplaces have precise temperature control and even instant shut-off features. They make it easier to burn a fire without excessive heat and without a drop in efficiency that can lead to damage and danger.
Enjoy a Fire Year-Round
You don’t have to shut down your fire as soon as the temperature rises. You can still enjoy a crackling fire and dancing—but it may be outside! The great thing about an outdoor fire is that they’re great in spring, summer, winter, or fall. You can enjoy an outdoor fire pit, fireplace, chimenea, or torch. A little light from a gas or wood-burning outdoor fireplace will make hosting a breeze.
Outdoor Fireplaces in Sacramento
The weather is nice here in Sacramento, albeit a little chilly for a few more weeks. However, you don’t have to let that cramp your style. At A to Z Chimneys, we build outdoor fireplaces for homeowners in Placer, Sacramento, and Yolo counties. Whether gas or wood-burning, our outdoor fireplaces are the most stylish, functional, and beautiful. Adding an outdoor fireplace is a great way to complement your landscape and your home, improve your property value, and enjoy your patio, poolside, or garden year-round. Don’t worry about lighting an indoor fireplace when the temperature warms up this spring. Head outside for a nice outdoor fire instead.
If you’re still trying to use your fireplace during warm weather, make sure you are using the fireplace properly. Only burn properly seasoned firewood in your fireplace, no matter when you light it. Your firewood should be cut and stored to dry for at least six months before it burns. In addition, make sure you only burn wood in your wood-burning fireplace. Do not burn trash, cloth, or paper in your fireplace. These things should never be burned in a fireplace, but when the fireplace is less efficient during warm weather, these things will not burn properly or completely and may result in a fire emergency.
When you need help with your fireplace this season, call on A to Z Chimneys for Sacramento’s best. Call 916-408-2496 today.
We can also help our customers prepare the fireplace for the off-season when it hasn’t been lit for some time.
The big problem with chimney water damage and leaks is that many of the signs and symptoms of a leak go unnoticed. Homeowners assume many things are due to “wear and tear” or time and use. In actuality, any change in the way your chimney system looks or works indicates a problem.
Common Signs of Chimney Leaks
The white powdery substance or stain on the outside of a masonry chimney is called efflorescence. This indicates a water leak because the white substance is leftover minerals from water passing through the masonry. This is a common occurrence on unprotected chimneys in areas where there are a lot of salts in the air such as coastal regions.
Unlike efflorescence which is white, rust can leave red and dark staining on the chimney exterior. This usually happens at the top of the chimney beneath the flue cap and crown and means one or the other is damaged and allowing water into the system.
Usually, these dark stains occur inside of the firebox and can be confused with carbon stains. Dark water stains are usually accompanied by odors of mildew and mold, and upon close inspection may have visible mold spores. This type of stain means that water has been dripping inside the chimney system.
Whether you can see it or not, you may hear dripping in your chimney system. This water is not always visible from the fireplace opening. The water may be collecting on the smoke shelf or on some carbon or creosote deposit in the system. No matter where it falls, water is damaging something.
This common sign of a chimney leak is actually a sign of damage caused by a leak. Spalling masonry is cracked, crumbling, and falling mortar and bricks which allows water to move through the masonry and into the system. It is a common occurrence in the winter when the chimney isn’t properly protected against water damage.
Any odor from the chimney indicates a problem, but chimney odors that smell like dirty laundry, mildew, or mold is a sign that a leak is occurring in the system—and that it’s been leaking long enough for mold to grow! Mold in the chimney system can lead to stains, odors, the spread of mold outside of the chimney, and even respiratory problems for family and guests.
Water Damage and Prevention
The chimney may be the way water enters your house, but once it is allowed inside it moves to all parts of the house, causing damage everywhere it goes. When water enters the chimney, it can move through walls, floors, and ceilings until it reaches the lowest point where it pools and forms a leak. Many homeowners assume a leak in a living room or bedroom is caused by a plumbing or roof problem and call a general contractor. A general contractor may be able to fix the damage, but they won’t be able to repair the chimney and correct the leak.
If you experience a leak in your home and you have a chimney system, your first call should be a chimney professional. Only a certified chimney sweep has the expertise, training, and proper tools to diagnose a chimney leak, repair water damage and correct the problem at its source. Scheduling routine maintenance with a professional can actually prevent all the damage that is caused by a chimney leak.
Sacramento’s Chimney Repair and Prevention
Home and business owners in Sacramento and the surrounding area depend on A to Z Chimneys for chimney leak prevention and repair. We know where to look to find the source of your leak, we know how to repair the damage without costing you a fortune (or compromising quality), and we can prevent recurrence with routine maintenance as well as waterproofing services.
A to Z Chimneys diagnoses and repairs the leak itself, checking the flashing, cap, crown, and masonry. Then, we diagnose and repair the damage which may include the liner, damper, masonry, and stains.
In order to prevent future leaks and other chimney damages, we offer the routine services and maintenance that will keep your system working longer, safer, and better. We agree with the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) who say that the safest and most efficient chimney systems are those which are cleaned regularly and inspected annually. A to Z Chimneys offers chimney sweeps and CSIA inspections year-round so that our customers can have a safe and efficient chimney no matter how busy their schedule or what their finances look like. Schedule your important services when it makes sense for your family and home. Don’t wait until winter weather arrives.
Schedule now by calling 916-408-2496 today.