FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions

Select a question below to find the answer

Check our members directory to see who services your area.

The chimney swift, a colony bird from South America, spends the summer in your chimney nesting and getting ready for the long flight back to the forests of Peru, Chile and Columbia SA. Chimney Swifts eat several times there weight in flying bugs the best know are mosquito’s.

Being a “colony” bird they will return to the chimney of birth each year, until you do something to prevent their return. We start seeing the birds in North Carolina mid to late April staying until mid Sept and are usually gone by the first cold snap. We like to wait until the birds are gone to put out the “No Vacancy” sign better known as capping the chimney with a high quality stainless steel chimney cap. They have have up to 3 nesting a year in your chimney. The time from eggs to birds flying out is appox. 4-5 weeks. It the times between nesting we can clean and prevent them from returning.

We recommend cleaning the chimney to remove the bird debris and any flammable material that may be in the chimney area. Next step is to install a chimney cap. This will prevent birds and other animals from entering the chimney along with rain and leaves. From then on your bird and small animal problem is solved and you are the hero. So, call your local chimney sweep today to schedule your appointment.

Way the By, be sure to tell your neighbor as your birds will head for the closest uncapped chimney around. A few local Sweeps have worked their way around cul-de-sacs installing caps as the bird moved from house to house. ( We love our job!! lol)

We also try to tell clients the advantages of chimney swifts and there ability to eat flying bug mainly mosquito’s. After capping a chimney you are in effect taking away the bird nesting place. We have seen and heard of structure made of wood called “Chimney Swift Towers” that become nesting places for the birds allowing them to nest and eat bugs. The Driftwood Society has info on building the towers.

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) recommends a yearly inspection and cleaning and repairs done as necessary. Free standing wood stoves or fire place inserts used to heat the home should be inspected and cleaned if needed every year. Regular open fireplaces need to be maintained and cleaned on a consistent basis as well. Usually a cleaning is needed for every cord of wood burned or at least 2-3 years.

It usually takes less than an one hour to clean most masonry chimneys. Our members are fully equipped so there is No Mess in your home. Pre-fab fireplaces typically take about 35-45 min. Inserts can take from 1-3 hours depending on how often they are cleaned, the type of wood burned, and the way the stove is operated. (Chocked down to slow smolder type burning will produce more creosote taking longer to clean.)

No, There is no mess. We have tarps, vacuums and brushes to clean your chimney without making a mess in your house.

Contact your local sweep to find out what they charge. Remember, the cost of prevention is small compared to a loss of ones home and possessions.

(Method used by most chimney sweeps, but your local sweep may do something different)

Upon entering your home we are careful not to make a mess and find the best way for us to get equipment and personal in and out of your home. We need some space in front of the fireplace to spread out the 9 x 12 ft tarp that covers the carpet and hearth, moving coffee tables and chairs if needed. “Special Stuff” on the mantel or walls above the fireplace is safe. If you want to remove items on the mantel please do. We set up all needed tools and our special chimney vacuum to aid in dust control. We wear coveralls, gloves and a respirator to protect us from harmful creosote dust and ash in the chimney. We assess the chimneys condition noting any problems and proceed with cleaning.

We start by removing the grates and any ash from the firebox. The walls and damper blade are brushed with a hand brush to remove any soot and creosote from this area.

We remove the damper blade and handle (if possible) to check for rust and missing parts. While cleaning the firebox area we are checking for cracks in brick and missing or severely eroded mortar joints.

On “Pre-fab” models fireplaces we are checking for cracks in the back and side refectory panels in the firebox. Some hairline cracks are acceptable and a part of normal operations, however we are looking for larger cracks and gaps that will allow fire to reach the metal box enclosure of the fireplace. This can cause damage to the firebox making it unsafe for use. These panels are replaceable so do not fear. We can most likely find and replace old damaged panel making your fireplace usable again.

On masonry chimneys we reach up inside the smoke chamber area with hand brush to clean the breast area and the sides where the larger brush misses. Next, we insert a steel wire brush attached to a flexible fiberglass rod and clean the upper smoke chamber area. The brush is pushed up into the flue, working in a scrubbing motion with sections of fiberglass rods added until the brush exits the top of chimney.

The process is reversed, and the liner is check for cracks, gaps and missing joints using a spotlight. We clean off debris that has fallen onto smoke shelf, the damper blade, handle and cotter pin is put back in place and dust is swept out of firebox. We vacuum off the hearth, and remove all equipment and tarp from your house, complete the invoice, get payment for the amount due, thank you for the business, sprinkle some good luck around and look forward to the next customers dirty chimney. The whole process takes about 1 hour more or less depending on conditions and such.

Yes, most of our members sell and install Stainless Steel and Copper Chimney Caps that carry a lifetime guarantee. A cap will keep out animals, leaves, twigs, and rain. Rain entering from the uncovered top, does most of the damage in a chimney by getting into the mortar joints inside the firebox causing them to become weak and deteriorate. Ask your local sweep about the benefits of installing a chimney cap on your chimney.

YES, most of our members do basic to complex repairs, everything from firebox repair and chimney relining. Replace lost or damaged damper blades or install a Lock Top® damper if a replacement blade is not available. If you are having problems with your chimney, we can most likely find a workable solution. Call your local sweep to discuss problems you are having with your chimney.

Currently, most masonry chimneys are built with terra-cotta clay tiles stacked and mortared inside the brick structure. These tiles serve as a gas-tight and heat-resistant insulator against the masonry structure. Without a liner, or with cracked and damaged liners, there would be heat transfer or actual seepage through the brick and mortar. A liner is a stainless steel tube inserted into a chimney to draft an furnace, woodstove or fireplace. The appliance will vent through that stainless pipe and use the existing chimney structure as an encasement. New liners are gas tight systems and insulated for highest efficiency. This system can solve most drafting and safety issues of chimney fire damaged or older unlined chimney flues.

Most of our members perform this type of service. Most dryer vents should be cleaned at least every two years or so. This depends on the length of your vent, how many twists and turns, and how often the dryer is used every week. Dryers that have short vents and little usage may be able to go longer than normal before being cleaned.

Cleaning the dryer vent can help prevent the possibility of a fire in your house or dangerous carbon monoxide gas, in the case of a gas dryer, from entering your house and, can save you money on electricity or gas cost. A clean vent pipe allows the dryer to move the proper amount air through the system taking the humidity out of the clothes, caused by the heating of burners or electric elements in your dryer thus allowing your clothes to dry quicker with less energy consumed. Take time to notice if your dryer is running longer with the same amount of clothes, it may be time to have the vent cleaned. And, with all the talk about power shortages we all must do our part and make sure all our appliances are operating at peak efficiency.

Some other ways of saving energy is to set your A/C temp at 77 or 78 degrees instead of 74, and during heating season try 68 instead of 70. You won’t notice the difference till the electric or gas bill comes. (If you need help figuring out how to spend all the money you saved give me a call… :) I try to hang clothes out on nice days to get the FREE drying provide by Mr. Sun. I figure some thing in life are free, you just have to take advantage of them…. climbing down off the soap box now……

We often see the white vinyl type vent coming out the back of 90% of dryers we service. This type of vent pipe is very highly flammable and causes dangerous fumes when burning. If the lint catches on fire while the dryer is running it can blow flames into the vent pipe catching the vinyl connector between the dryer and wall on fire. It can also blow flaming balls of lint around in the area where the dryer sits and behind the sheetrock behind the dryer which causing the fire to spread faster. Hopefully, you catch it soon enough and the Fire Dept gets there in time to keep the damage to a minimum. We can replace this old white vinyl material with the new flame resistant silver UL listed flex. The washer / dryer area is one place we recommend putting a smoke detector to give a early warning about smoke or fire in this area.

In addition, most members are equipped to completely replace an old unsafe vent system with new rigid sheet metal vents or metal flexible vents where needed in most cases. Call your local chimney sweep to see if they perform this service.

A pre-fab fireplace is made in a factory to exact specifications each time, while a masonry chimney is made at the on site and subject to the brick masons knowledge and experience in building a brick fireplace. A pre-fab chimney has a double wall metal pipe flue to vent smoke out of house. Pre-fabs are smaller and some have blowers built in.

All pre-fab fireplaces are UL listed. The pre-fab chimney is encased in a wood chase covered by a metal cap to prevent water and provided with termination cap on top. A masonry chimney is built on site using brick and terra cotta tile for liners and is more expensive to build to maintain. Most masonry chimneys do not have chimney caps installed allowing water and animals to get inside the structure and sometimes inside your house.

A pre-fab fireplace can usually be removed if damaged or too old for replacement part and replaced with new unit for less cost than masonry chimney. Pre-fab fireplaces are not any more, or, less safe than masonry fireplaces. They are just different. But both will help keep you warm and they are romantic!! Call your local chimney sweep for more info

There are several different types of gas logs. Most of our members deal with the most popular types, vented and non vented or heating logs. The differences between these two logs sets is very technical. But to boil it down, Vented type logs can only be used in fireplaces with a working chimney that meet current codes. The damper is locked open upon installation must be kept open when burning. Placement of the logs can be changed to make the fire look different. The flame has a more orange look and soot is more prevalent in the chimney. A chimney cap is HIGHLY recommended when using either type of log set to prevent water and other debris from falling on the log set. Water can rust the burner, grate and also damage the logs in a short amount of time.

Non vented logs can be used in firebox with no chimney but still meet current building codes. The damper (if there is one) is only cracked open (1/4″ to 3/8″) allowing most of the heat to enter the living space. Once logs are set up they must stay in this configuration through out their life. The flame is more blue with yellow tips and these logs produce no soot. In some cases they don’t look that great in the fireplace. However, most of the newer models have come a long ways in the looks dept.

To find out more info about the good and bad of unvented logs read this in-depth article at this fine site. click here. Another good article can be also be found here.

Most of our members sell and install gas logs and the gas line if needed. You need to contact your local chimney sweep to find out what they can do for you.

The white stains or powder-like material is often the result of water penetration of the chimney. During a rain, snow, or ice storm water is absorbed by the brick and mortar crown. In the case of snow or ice storm the freeze thaw cycles can enlarge the cracks on the top of the chimney mortar crown allowing water to enter the structure this way. The chimney will soon saturate with water. As the chimney dries, lime and salts from brick and mortar are pushed out of the pores of the chimney. Wood in contact with the chimney can also absorb water, and in most cases, start to rot. This is a common problem that we can help prevent. The cost of this service depends on many factors. Call your local sweep for more info and to schedule a visit.

The first step is a visual evaluation of the chimney crown, mortar joints and flashing. Often we find the crown has cracks caused by shrinkage of the mortar during construction. These start out as hairline cracks but get bigger over the years from freeze thaw-cycles and the natural expansion-contraction that occurs during the spring & summer seasons. If the chimney has darkened from mold and mildew, we recommend cleaning the surface of the brick by power washing. This opens the pores of the brick and cleans off mold and mildew deposits. A layer of CrownSeal is applied on the mortar crown sealing the cracks but remaining flexible to allow for expansion-contraction cycles. On the brick surface a water repellent product ChimneySaver® is applied with a low pressure sprayer. Both products have a 10-year warranty and we have confidence in their ability to perform as stated.

Because that is exactly what we are-Professionals. Chimney sweeping is a very straightforward, simple maintenance process but, there are aspects of chimneys and venting systems that are very technical. Ongoing training is needed to provide accurate evaluation reports and building codes are always changing. This helps us keep up to date with the latest changes in our industry and code changes at the state level.

In addition, members attend quarterly meetings with other chimney sweeps from the state and sometimes neighboring states. This interaction between professionals helps in the education process, plus it give us someone to call if needed help with a large project or for advise on how best to do a uncommon task.

Yes, we now have a great source where we can provide high temp tempered glass for fireplace doors. We need length, width, and thickness of glass and if the glass is enclose in full frame or has exposed edges. Turnaround time is 7-10 days.

We can also get super high temp ceramic glass especially for woodstove inserts and free standing models. For more info on replacement glass click here.

Yes, we now have a great source where we can provide high temp tempered glass for fireplace doors. We need length, width, and thickness of glass and if the glass is enclose in full frame or has exposed edges. Turnaround time is 7-10 days.

We can also get super high temp ceramic glass especially for woodstove inserts and free standing models. For more info on replacement glass click here.

 


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Did You Know?

The North Carolina Chimney Sweep Association was founded in 1976 and continues to provide training, certification and a venue for chimney professionals to gather for networking and learn from each other.

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